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Oakland Athletics Rumors
Rumors connecting the Red Sox and Cole Hamels have been circulating for months, with the lack of an ace atop their rotation being a common refrain. However, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Hamels and fellow established ace are unlikely candidates for the Sox, as their top priority heading into the trade deadline is to target younger arms that are under control beyond the 2015 season. Neither Cueto nor Hamels fits that mold, as Cueto is a free agent at season’s end and Hamels is 31 years of age.
The Red Sox are looking at both starters and relievers in their search for pitching, according to Bradford, which widens the array of possible trade targets even further. There’s little sense in speculating which arms will land on Boston’s wish list, though recent reports have indicated that one pitcher who meets this criteria, Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray, is off limits as the deadline nears. Said assistant GM David Forst said point blank in a recent radio appearance (h/t: CSN Bay Area’s Joe Stiglich): “Sonny Gray’s not going anywhere.”
Boston has employed this approach recently, acquiring young starters Joe Kelly and Wade Miley in separate trades over the past calendar year, though the results have been mixed, at best. Miley got off to a rough start in his tenure as a member of the Red Sox, but he’s been very good since May 1, working to a 3.41 ERA in 68 2/3 innings. The results for Kelly haven’t been as promising; the former Cardinal has a 4.96 ERA in 24 starts with the Cards due to shaky control and a hittable fastball, all of which contributed to the decision to option the hard-throwing righty to Triple-A Pawtucket last month.
GM Ben Cherington and his staff will have multiple avenues to explore in an attempt to achieve this goal. As we saw last July, the Sox moved veteran righty John Lackey in order to acquire Kelly along with first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig. In the offseason, Miley was acquired for young righties Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. Boston’s been willing to deal from its farm system and its Major League roster in order to pull in this type of pitcher, and the front office should again be able to go either route. The Sox have a rich, if somewhat depleted farm system that includes the likes of Manuel Margot, Henry Owens, Garin Cecchini, Brian Johnson and Rafael Devers, among others. Similarly, however, there are veteran pieces on the team that would figure to fetch a nice return. Clay Buchholz has been outstanding of late, and late-inning righties Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have both performed well in 2015. Perhaps none of those names could fetch a premier young arm on their own, but any could be paired with young talent to facilitate a deal.
Boston also has the type of Major League ready talent that many clubs covet around the diamond. We’ve heard multiple times that Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart are each likely untouchable, but perhaps the Sox would reconsider if a tantalizing enough pitcher were to be dangled from a trade partner. Other MLB-ready pieces that may be easier to acquire could include Jackie Bradley Jr. and Deven Marrero, both of whom are appealing but likely have lower ceilings than the aforementioned young talent.
Boston is currently 36-44, placing them last in the AL East and seven behind the Orioles for the division lead. Of course, the entire AL East is essentially up for grabs, with the Orioles, Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays all separated by only a game and a half in the standings.
The Athletics have announced that the team has acquired righty Cody Martin from the Braves. In return, Atlanta will receive the 53rd overall international signing slot, which carries a bonus allocation of $388,400. To create roster space for Martin, Oakland has designated first baseman Nate Freiman for assignment.
Martin, 25, gives the A’s a Major League ready bullpen option that has logged 21 2/3 innings in the Braves’ bullpen this season. He’s struggled to a 5.40 ERA in the Majors, but Martin has excelled in the minors, working to a 2.10 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 34 1/3 innings — six starts and one relief appearance.
Freiman, 28, was a Rule 5 pick of the Athletics out of the Astros’ organization in 2013. He batted .256/.309/.408 between 2013-14 with the A’s, playing primarily against left-handed pitching, but he’s struggled to this point of the season at Triple-A. In 35 games with Nashville this year, Freiman has batted just .171/.225/.188 in 129 plate appearances.
10:43pm: Martin will earn $1.95MM, Jim Callis of MLB.com tweets. It would appear, then, that Oakland has just under $300K to play with for selections made after the tenth round. Bonuses for players selected outside of the slotted rounds count against a team’s total allocation only to the extent that they exceed $100K.
5:33pm: The Athletics have announced the signing of first-round draft pick Richie Martin. The University of Florida shortstop was taken with the 20th overall selection.
Bonus terms have not yet been reported, and unsurprisingly were not announced by the club. Oakland’s first pick came with a $2,214,000 pool allocation (via Baseball America).
Most prospect writers placed Martin in the 30 to 40 range among draft-eligible prospects. Baseball America ranked him highest (31st), citing Martin’s strong overall athleticism and defensive ability. At the plate, BA says that the infielder is a line-drive hitter who could have some future power potential.
ESPN.com’s Keith Law was somewhat less impressed, rating Martin 75th on his board. While he praised Martin’s improvement as a hitter, Law says that the former Gator “projects as an average hitter with below-average power” and could add value on the bases.
Martin becomes the last of the A’s picks from the first ten rounds to reach agreement (via MLB.com’s bonus tracker). As things stand, the club has undertaken $827,800 in above-slot obligations to sign high school righty Dakota Chalmers and UNC outfielder Skye Bolt, and has saved $632,900 on its remaining picks. The team can go up to 5% over its total pool allocation without losing draft picks (instead only paying a tax on the overage), freeing an additional $272,205.
Put it all together, and the A’s were capable of spending up to $77,305 over slot on Martin (in total, $2,291,305). If the bonus comes in below that number, the difference could be applied toward later-round selections.
Though Clay Buchholz figures to draw plenty of interest on this year’s trade market, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines that the Red Sox should be steadfast in their refusal to trade him. Lauber notes that Buchholz, earning $12MM in 2015, is slated to earn $13MM and $13.5MM via club options over the next two seasons — bargain rates for a pitcher with his talent, even if it comes with inconsistency and injury risk. Meanwhile, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes a different approach, opining that the Red Sox owe it to themselves to at least entertain offers for Buchholz. MacPherson looks back to last year’s return for 1.5 years of Jeff Samardzija and notes that 2.5 years of Buchholz could bring a similarly strong return. Though the team will need pitching in 2015, MacPherson writes that Buchholz’s value is unlikely to ever be higher, and a team willing to pay for the type of pitching he’s been doing over his past 10 starts (2.33 ERA) may very well make too good of an offer to refuse. MacPherson wonders if old friends Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, now with the Cubs, would be interested in parting with some premium young talent to acquire Buchholz.
A few more notes from the AL East…
- Prior to the Red Sox‘ signing of Pablo Sandoval last year, the team inquired with the Athletics about Josh Donaldson but were told he was not available, reports Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. That would seem to line up, to some extent, with comments from A’s officials early last winter indicating that little consideration would be given to moving Donaldson. (“That would be stupid,” one official told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser last October.) Donaldson, of course, wound up with the division-rival Blue Jays and is enjoying a monster season.
- With Ivan Nova now healthy and back in the Yankees‘ rotation, Adam Warren will shift into the team’s bullpen, the right-hander tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. As Feinsand notes, Warren was the likeliest candidate to do so, given his recent success in the bullpen and the fact that he’s already exceeded last year’s innings total while working as a starter.
- Bud Norris has struggled a good deal for the Orioles this season, but there’s no current talk of removing him from Baltimore’s rotation, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Some have speculated that Norris is pressing in light of his upcoming free agency, and as Connolly writes, Norris indirectly touched on that topic following another rough start Monday. “I don’t know where my future’s gonna take me,” he said. “All know is I can handle what’s in front of me right now and trying to work through this is the No. 1 priority and getting back out there and helping my team win games.” Norris said he’s not worried about the possibility of losing a starting spot to Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright or Tyler Wilson, but Connolly wonders how long the club will stick with the struggling veteran.
- Manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli, that the Orioles are trying to get Norris on a roll. “That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Showalter. “He has some periods where he’s pitched well, but not as consistent as he did for a long period of time last year, and will again. I try to keep in mind we haven’t even played half the season yet and Bud will do some good things for us.”
There were 13 players selected in the Major League phase of the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, and nearly halfway through the year, a surprising percentage remain with their new clubs. Here’s a look at each of the Rule 5 picks, where they’re currently playing and if they have a chance to remain with their team…
- Oscar Hernandez, C, Diamondbacks: Selected out of the Rays organization despite never having appeared above Class-A, Hernandez broke his hamate bone in Spring Training and has been on the DL all season. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at the time, that actually made it a bit easier to get some time to evaluate Hernandez, as the D-Backs can see him on a Minor League rehab assignment and don’t have to roster such an inexperienced bat all season. Hernandez is on his rehab assignment now, and the early returns at the plate aren’t good (.200/.259/.280 in nine games). Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s hit poorly, though, so perhaps the team will prefer Hernandez’s big arm for that spot.
- Mark Canha, 1B/OF, Athletics: Selected by Rockies out of the Marlins organization, Canha was immediately traded to Oakland for right-hander Austin House and cash. Canha hasn’t been great for the A’s, but he’s provided league-average production at the plate to go along with passable corner defense. At this point, it would be a surprise if Canha didn’t finish the season with the team.
- Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Rangers: The Rangers plucked the former No. 8 overall pick out of the Astros organization, perhaps hoping that DeShields could be a speedy bench piece. DeShields, like the Rangers club as a whole, has been far better than most expected, hitting .269/.358/.386 and going 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts. A hamstring injury has had him on the DL for much of June, but he’s on a rehab assignment right now and should return to the team in short order. DeShields’ .368 BABIP will likely regress, but he’s been the game’s second most-valuable baserunner, per Fangraphs, despite his limited playing time. He certainly seems likely to remain with the Rangers.
- Jason Garcia, RHP, Orioles: The Astros were the team to technically select Garcia out of the Red Sox organization, but Houston quickly traded him to Baltimore for cash. Garcia pitched poorly in 13 innings to open the season before landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that has since seen him transferred to the 60-day DL.
- J.R. Graham, RHP, Twins: A former top prospect with the Braves, Graham was selected by the Twins on the heels of an injury-shortened 2014 season. He’s seen a lot of time in mop-up duty, but Graham has delivered a solid ERA, albeit with less encouraging peripherals. In 35 2/3 innings, hs has a 3.03 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 39.1 percent ground-ball rate. The Twins have said they plan to retain Graham, who’s averaging better than 95 mph on his fastball.
- Jandel Gustave, RHP: Gustave was selected by the Red Sox out of the Astros organization, then traded to the Royals. Kansas City tried to put him through waivers this spring but lost him to the Padres, who ultimately returned him to Houston. He has a 2.54 ERA but a 17-to-13 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings with Houston’s Double-A affiliate.
- Taylor Featherston, INF, Angels: The Angels acquired Featherston for cash considerations after the Cubs selected him from the Rockies. The Halos seem committed to keeping Featherston, as he’s still on their roster despite just 60 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old hasn’t hit — .127/.169/.218 — but he’s provided sound defense at three positions late in games and in his rare starts.
- Odubel Herrera, CF, Phillies: The Phillies nabbed Herrera out of the Rangers’ organization after a strong Double-A showing in 2014, and the infielder-turned-outfielder has seen the bulk of time in center for the Phils. He’s hitting just .251/.282/.359, but the Phillies are the exact kind of team that can afford to give a Rule 5 pick regular at-bats as opposed to costing him valuable reps via limited usage. He’ll remain with the team.
- Andrew McKirahan, LHP, Braves: The Marlins were the team to select McKirahan, but the Braves claimed him off waivers in Spring Training. McKirahan cracked the Opening Day roster with the Braves, but he pitched just 4 1/3 innings before being suspended 80 games for a positive PED test. The Braves will get a second look at him on a rehab stint in the minors before they have to make a call. He’s eligible to be activated on July 20.
- Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Mets: The Mets took Gilmartin out of the Twins organization and converted the former first-round pick (Braves, 2011) from a starter into a reliever. The result has been a 1.88 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.8 B/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate in 24 innings. Curiously, Gilmartin has significant reverse platoon splits in his first taste of big league action.
- Daniel Winkler, RHP, Braves: Winkler was the Braves’ actual selection out of the Rule 5. Winkler is recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch in 2015 at any level. He’s on Atlanta’s 60-day DL.
- David Rollins, LHP, Mariners: Seattle took Rollins out of the Astros organization, and the lefty made a strong case in Spring Training to break camp with the team’s bullpen. However, he was suspended 80 games for PED usage and wound up on the restricted list. Rollins is on a rehab assignment now and could still pitch with the Mariners in 2015. Rollins has tossed 7 1/3 innings of scoreless ball in rehab and will have served his suspension after four more games.
- Logan Verrett, RHP: The only other player to be returned to his team at this point, Verrett was selected by the Orioles out of the Mets organization. Baltimore lost him on waivers to the Rangers, who carried him on the roster briefly before eventually returning him to the Mets. Since being returned, Verrett has debuted with his original organization at the big league level.
Full Story | 14 Comments | Categories: Andrew McKirahan | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | David Rollins | J.R. Graham | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Minnesota Twins | MLBTR Originals | New York Mets | Oakland Athletics | Odubel Herrera | Philadelphia Phillies | Rule 5 Draft | Sean Gilmartin | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers
As the Angels continue to hover around the .500 mark, internal tensions have arisen, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It appears that the particular issue that has led to some discord involves the respective roles of the front office and field staff regarding the use of data in on-field decisionmaking. Of course, GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia have had some well-publicized differences of opinion in the past, and Rosenthal suggests that there are signs of a new rift.
Here’s more from the AL West:
- The Astros have a variety of difficult 40-man decisions upcoming, as they did last year when they ultimately left Delino DeShields Jr. unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes (in a piece we cited yesterday regarding the club’s pitching needs). That could seemingly drive a deal or two this summer or in the future. GM Jeff Luhnow acknowledges the roster pressure, but rejects the idea that he’ll move valuable assets solely for that reason. “Yeah, I mean, you could argue that we have a lot of guys to protect, and we’re going to leave some unprotected, so why not turn that into something we can use right now? It’s a fair argument,” Luhnow said. “At the same time, we’re looking for the best 25 players, and we never know if that’s going to come from those guys that need to be added to the 40-man (roster) down the road or now. You have to balance the short term and the long term. We’re certainly going to be open to trading players. Whether they’re already on the 40-man or have to be added to the 40-man this offseason to ease the logjam a little bit, we wouldn’t trade someone just to ease it.”
- Per Drellich, one Astros 40-man occupant who could conceivably be dealt is L.J. Hoes, who is currently playing at Triple-A. The Orioles have some interest in Hoes — who they shipped to Houston as part of the Bud Norris deal a while back — as well as Alex Presley, who is not on the 40-man. Likewise, the Angels are “thought” to be giving some consideration to Hoes, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The 25-year-old Hoes has slashed an excellent .335/.417/.466 over 255 plate appearances at Fresno this year, with eleven stolen bases and three long balls.
- Athletics GM Billy Beane is still considering his trade deadline options, as Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com reports. Oakland had been on a nice run before being swept by the Royals over the weekend. “Time will tell, it’s an important time period,” said Beane. “Despite having played better in the last couple weeks, we’re still in quite a hole. Any definitive direction would be decided by how we do moving forward.” If the club does ultimately pull the trigger on a sell-off, Beane suggested that he may be inclined to seek younger assets to bolster the club’s prospect pool. “At some point, if we consider going another direction,” he said, “we’re probably best served to take a [look at] depth and rebuild our farm system. That’s the currency for us. We fully expected [the farm system] i not to be at its peak because we’ve traded a lot of players.”
Josh Hamilton could return from the DL as early as Monday, and he could be coming back to the Rangers as a center fielder. As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes, Hamilton played center in each of his last two minor league rehab games and he could displace the struggling Leonys Martin from the starting CF job. Hamilton has only played 13 games in center since the start of the 2013 season, and while his advanced defensive metrics have varied from year to year, Hamilton has below-average numbers (-8.4 UZR/150 and -16 defensive runs saved) over his career as a center fielder. Here’s more from around the AL West…
- Several clubs have been scouting Athletics pitcher Scott Kazmir recently but, for his part, the veteran doesn’t want to leave Oakland, as John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group writes. “I would love to stay here. This is a group of guys I love being around. When you go up and down the team, the organizational staff, there’s a lot to like. I’d like to stay here,” Kazmir said. Hickey notes that scouts from the Astros and Blue Jays were on hand Saturday as the 31-year-old pitched against the Royals.
- Also from Hickey, he questions why the A’s have kept Max Muncy on the MLB roster when there’s no obvious route for him to find any playing time, a situation that doesn’t help the team or the player. Muncy has only played in two of Oakland’s last 11 games, and Hickey wonders if this rustiness might’ve contributed to a key throwing error Muncy made during today’s 5-3 loss to the Royals.
- Could the Mariners look to reunite with Ichiro Suzuki? Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times opines that Ichiro could be a good fit for the team, as he would add some defensive help to the outfield and also add a contact bat with a bit of on-base ability to the struggling M’s lineup. Baker doesn’t suggest the club should give up anything too valuable for Ichiro, as the Mariners are already on the fringes of the playoff race.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- The Marlins have outrighted righty reliever Vin Mazzaro, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. Mazzaro had recently been designated for assignment. It’s not clear whether he’ll accept the outright. He pitched 12 innings for the Marlins this season, posting a 3.75 ERA with six strikeouts and six walks. Mazzaro has pitched in the big leagues in all of the last seven seasons, but in the past two years he’s spent most of his time in the minors. He’s pitched 20 innings with Triple-A New Orleans this season, with a 3.15 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9
- The Marlins have announced that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Cole Gillespie, who will take Giancarlo Stanton‘s place on the active roster as he heads to the disabled list with a hamate fracture. The 31-year-old Gillespie has played for the Diamondbacks, Giants, Cubs, Mariners and Blue Jays in a big-league career that has spanned small parts of four seasons. He was hitting .291/.356/.360 in 281 plate appearances for Triple-A New Orleans.
- The Braves have selected righty Jake Brigham‘s contract, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that the Braves haven’t made a corresponding move but that that could depend on whether the Braves’ game today in Pittsburgh is postponed due to rain. Williams Perez hurt his foot in yesterday’s game and could be placed on the disabled list, but if the Braves have to play a doubleheader tomorrow, Brigham could simply be used as the 26th man. The 27-year-old Brigham has a combined 3.13 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 at Double-A and Triple-A this season. He has never pitched in the big leagues.
- The Athletics have released outfielders Matt Carson and Kent Matthes, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. The 33-year-old Carson hit .209/.296/.336 for Triple-A Nashville after the A’s acquired him from the Dodgers last month. The 28-year-old Matthes was once a highly regarded prospect in the Rockies system, but he also struggled for Nashville in 2015, hitting .233/.294/.358 in 239 plate appearances after also hitting poorly at the Triple-A level last year.
- The Red Sox have released catcher/first baseman Luke Montz, Bill Koch of the Providence Journal tweets. The 31-year-old was hitting .167/.270/.333 for Triple-A Pawtucket. He appeared briefly for the Nationals in 2008 and the Athletics in 2013 and has a .163/.250/.347 in his very brief big-league career.
The Athletics have signed lefty Phil Coke to a minor league deal with a July 10 opt-out, according to Class A+ Stockton Ports broadcaster Zack Bayrouty (on Twitter). Coke has been assigned to Stockton. He is a client of Full Circle Sports Management.
Earlier this week, Coke declined an optional assignment and became a free agent after 2 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays. Previously this season, he had pitched for the Cubs, who released him in late May.
The opt-out in Coke’s new deal suggests both he and the A’s think he has a shot to get back to the big leagues quickly. Coke has struggled to a 5.68 ERA in the big leagues this season, but with reasonable strikeout and walk numbers (12 strikeouts and five walks in 12 2/3 innings) and a strong 59.0 ground ball percentage that suggests the 32-year-old might have more gas left in his tank. For his career, much of which he’s spent with the Yankees and Tigers, Coke has a 4.20 ERA, 7.7 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
As we continue to read the tea leaves on the coming trade market, here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
- With the Reds and Athletics playing winning baseball of late, the trade market is “tightening,” Rosenthal tweets. “No one is available, really,” a GM tells him. That jives with comments earlier today from Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who noted that very few clubs are truly out of the race at this juncture. Of course, much can change in a matter of weeks.
- Nobody would suggest that the Phillies are anything but sellers, but the club seems to be in something of a “holding pattern” in discussing transactions while it waits to finalize its reported front office moves, Rosenthal further reports on Twitter. That is understandable, given that Andy MacPhail is expected to be installed in a critical oversight role in short order. He’ll presumably desire a chance to evaluate the situation and have a role in any significant decisions.
- Some in the game aren’t sure whether MacPhail is the right executive to bring the Phillies up to speed with the analytical developments in the game, Rosenthal writes. But Rosenthal says that he believes that the organization and MacPhail are well aware of the need to modernize and will make that a priority.
- Reds outfielder Marlon Byrd may now be a more valuable trade piece because of his recent DL stint, Rosenthal notes. Byrd’s $8MM option would vest next year if he makes it to 550 plate appearances, but he’s racked up only 205 thus far. Of course, he’d still reach the mark if he stays in a lineup on an everyday basis.
- Rosenthal adds one interesting note on the Braves‘ recent acquisition of Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks. Atlanta’s current director of baseball operations, Billy Ryan, was Arizona’s assistant GM at draft time last year, and actually was heavily involved in getting Toussaint to sign.