Oakland Athletics Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Gwynn, Abreu, Noonan, Joseph, Tekotte

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Rays have released Erik Bedard and Juan Carlos Oviedo, according to MiLB.com. The Rays had designated both pitchers for assignment earlier in the week.
  • The Phillies have announced that they’ve re-signed OF Tony Gwynn Jr. to a minor league deal. He will report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Gwynn hit .163/.281/.204 in 119 plate appearances for the Phillies this season. They released him last week.
  • Instead of electing free agency, infielder Tony Abreu has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A by Giants, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Abreu was designated for assignment Tuesday after appearing in only four games. The 29-year-old owns a .280/.329/.428 slash line in 259 plate appearances this season for Triple-A Fresno.
  • The Giants announced infielder Nick Noonan has cleared waivers and will be outrighted to Triple-A Fresno. The 25-year-old was designated for assignment July 25. Noonan, the 32nd overall selection in the 2007 draft, made his MLB debut last season slashing .219/.261/.238 in 111 plate appearances, but has struggled this year with a .239/.281/.302 line in 340 plate appearances between Triple-A Fresno and Class-A Advanced San Jose. 
  • The Marlins tweeted left-hander Donnie Joseph has been outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans. The 26-year-old was designated for assignment Thursday after the Marlins acquired Jarred Cosart from the Astros. Joseph was picked up from the Royals for cash considerations June 30 and has spent his entire time in the Marlin organization at Triple-A posting an 11.05 ERA, 6.1 K/9, and 9.8 BB/9 in six relief outings covering 7 1/3 innings.
  • The Diamondbacks have acquired outfielder Blake Tekotte from the White Sox for cash, per the MLB.com transactions page. Tekotte, who made 36 plate appearances for the White Sox in 2013 good for a slash of .226/.306/.355, will report to Triple-A Reno. The 27-year-old posted a .251/.324/.438 line in 318 plate appearances for the White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate.
  • The Padres have released right-hander Billy Buckner from their Triple-A affiliate, according to the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page. The 30-year-old made one spot start for the Padres on May 24 allowing three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. In 15 appearances (14 starts) for Triple-A El Paso, Buckner has posted a 5.80 ERA, 6.2 K/9, and 4.7 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings.
  • Also from the PCL transactions page, the Angels have released catcher Luis Martinez from their Triple-A affiliate. The 29-year-old, whose last MLB action was with the Rangers in 2012, hit .262/.329/.403 in 212 plate appearances for Salt Lake this season.
  • Martinez didn’t stay unemployed very long as he was signed by the A’s and assigned to Triple-A Sacramento. The roster causality is catcher Luis Exposito, despite producing at a .303/.410/.394 clip since Oakland signed him June 26 after being released by the Tigers.
  • Ten players find themselves in DFA limbo, as tracked by MLBTR’s DFA Tracker: Dan Uggla and Tyler Colvin (Giants), Jeff Francis and Brian Roberts (Yankees), Josh Wall and Dean Anna (Pirates), Ryan Feierabend (Rangers), David Carpenter (Angels), Nick Christiani (Reds), and Pedro Hernandez (Rockies).

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


Waiver Trade Notes: Hosmer, Maholm, Skaggs, O’s, A’s, D’backs, Castillo

As we explained yesterday, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline does not spell the end of wheeling and dealing. Several teams are expected to continue shopping over the coming month as well. Here are some notes that relate to the upcoming August trade period:

  • Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer could miss much of the rest of the regular season with a stress fracture of his right hand, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Though he is expected to avoid surgery, Hosmer could be out for up to six weeks. It would not be surprising to see the club look to add a first baseman to hold down the fort in his absence.
  • Paul Maholm of the Dodgers has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports ( Twitter links). That only serves to increase the team’s need for rotation depth; though Maholm was operating out of the pen, he had been perhaps the likeliest option to step into a starting role if the struggling Dan Haren was demoted.
  • Angels hurler Tyler Skaggs left in the middle of a no-hit bid Thursday with a flexor tendon strain in his left forearm, as Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times explains. Skaggs has already been placed on the 15-day DL, and the team will surely exercise caution with the young starter, as forearm strains have been linked to more significant elbow injuries. Though the Halos can fill his spot in the immediate term by keeping Hector Santiago in the rotation, the injury leaves even more questions about the team’s overall starting pitching depth. With a two-month pennant race still to come, Los Angeles will likely take a hard look at the market for arms.
  • Before he was dealt to the Nationals, the Orioles made an effort to acquire Indians infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN.com. Presumably, Baltimore would have utilized him as the Nationals will, at second base, which indicates some likelihood of the club exploring an alternative over the coming month.
  • Similarly, the Athletics opened pre-deadline conversations with the Phillies regarding Jimmy Rollins, but talks did not progress, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Like the O’s, the A’s could still be looking for a middle-infield addition.
  • After making several deadline deals, the Diamondbacks expect to have more work to do in the coming month, reports Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. While he is not sure if any deals will be consummated, GM Kevin Towers says he anticipates that claims will be made on several players. Among the possible chips left in Arizona are second baseman Aaron Hill and several relievers, though Towers says it will take an “overpay” to pry loose any of the club’s pen arms, as Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reports.
  • The Red Sox remain interested in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo despite adding Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig at the trade deadline, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. While the club is expected to face stiff competition in the bidding, it just held a private workout for Castillo. If he goes to the non-contending Red Sox, it would certainly increase market demand for some of the pricey outfielders who stayed put at the deadline (such as Alex Rios of the Rangers and Marlon Byrd of the Phillies).

Reds Claim Jake Elmore, Designate Nick Christiani

The Reds have claimed infielder Jake Elmore off waivers from the Athletics, as Jane Lee of MLB.com reports on Twitter. In a corresponding move, the team has announced that it designated righty Nick Christiani for assignment.

Elmore, 27, had been playing in Triple-A after being added in a trade over the offseason. He has some past big league experience, however, with 209 total plate appearances. Over 211 trips to bat this year at Triple-A, he owns a .282/.374/.365 line.

Christiani, also 27, has not been successful in a 13-inning tryout this year, allowing eight earned runs and striking out only eight batters against six walks. He moved quickly to Triple-A after being drafted in the 13th round in 2009, and has put up solid enough results there (until this season, at least; he carries a 7.71 ERA).



July Trade Recap: AL West

We’ve got recaps in the books for the AL Central, NL CentralAL East and NL East, which means its time to turn our focus westward. We’ll start with the AL West, which had no shortage of interesting moves.

Angels

Astros

Athletics

Mariners

Rangers

Synopsis

The arms race was on in the AL West, with the three teams at the of the division shifting resources into present production and the two at the bottom looking to the future. Somewhat interestingly, the three buyers each had a key area that they addressed with multiple trades.

For a Halos club that is closing in on Oakland for the best record in baseball, the focus was clearly on the bullpen. GM Jerry Dipoto added four relievers (counting the since-released Hill), headlined by Street. It took a good portion of the club’s much-maligned young talent to make these deals. Street, in particular, required a fairly substantial return given his short, reasonably-priced contract. It bears noting that Grilli, added in a change-of-scenery swap for the former closer Frieri, has been lights out since coming to Anaheim (2 earned runs, 19 strikeouts, 3 walks in 14 1/3 innings). While the pen now looks to be in good shape, it will be interesting to see if (and if so, how) Dipoto adds depth to a rotation that now looks especially thin after an injury to Tyler Skaggs.

“Bold” seems too weak a descriptor to capture GM Billy Beane’s moves. He gave up the organization’s best-know player in Cespedes and its best prospect in Russell to get Lester (a tested, rented gun for the rest of the year), Samardzija (who has thrown like a top-line starter this year and comes with another season of control), and Hammel (an innings-eating, back-of-the-rotation arm who will soon be a free agent). The club sacrificed a lot of future value upside, though Cespedes’s is more limited than might be expected because he comes with just one more year of control and cannot be made a qualifying offer. But that is what it took to re-make the club’s rotation, which will obviously play a key role as Oakland looks to fend off the Angels in the division and ultimately make an extended postseason run.

Of course, Beane also had an eye on a crafty means of replacing the lost production of Cespedes. By adding Gomes in the Lester swap, the A’s will be able to utilize him in a promising platoon with Stephen Vogt. And Fuld will offer the team plenty of flexibility as well, with injuries clouding the outlook for regular center fielder Coco Crisp and reserve Craig Gentry, though the club surely would have preferred not to give up the useful Milone.

Seattle’s additions flew under the radar a bit, but nevertheless seemed very well-conceived. With a long-term second baseman at the MLB level and tons of bullpen arms, it did not hurt much at this point to move Franklin and Pryor. In return, the team added an above-average MLB center fielder (Jackson, controllable through arbitration next year) and a much-needed bat (Morales, whose path this season has been no less strange than that of Stephen Drew). Denorfia, too, looks to be a solid bench piece. Oft-doubted GM Jack Zduriencik deserves credit, especially for managing to insert Seattle into the David Price deal and coming away with Jackson as the prize for making the pieces fit for Tampa and Detroit.

Finally, we come to the sellers. Texas had more of the look of a traditional seller, with several veterans on expiring contracts that were of little use to a team that was obliterated by injuries. But the club elected not to make any of the really major moves that some imagined possible beforehand (Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, etc.), and even chose not to take a substandard return for outfielder Alex Rios (who remains an August trade candidate). The prospect haul for Soria looks solid, especially given the team’s need for arms in the mid-term, while Frasor brought back a player that looks like a younger, cheaper, longer-controlled version of himself. We don’t know what GM Jon Daniels could have achieved for the team’s more desirable players, but the lack of such moves seems to indicate that the club will seek to contend next year. It will certainly be fascinating to see how he goes about re-constructing a contender.

Houston, meanwhile, did not have many veteran pieces at all, let alone ones that figured to draw much interest. The team decided not to move closer Chad Qualls, a non-move which drew some jeers but might well have made sense if (as is likely) he was not going to bring much back anyway. The same holds true of resurgent southpaw Tony Sipp, who will be a cheap piece for the ‘Stros next year. Instead, GM Jeff Luhnow announced that he would consider moving some of the team’s young arms, and then sat back and waited to be overwhelmed. That apparently happened, as he pulled the trigger to move a talented-but-questioned arm in Cosart (along with the reasonably valuable Hernandez) in exchange for a few prospects who had no place (Marisnick) or had disappointed (Moran) in the Miami organization. Baseball Prospectus calls this a sell-low swap, and it looks that way from here as well. It’s certainly an interesting deal from the two teams that ended last year at the very bottom of baseball’s cellar. While the results will take years to tally, the deal could (but might not) have rather substantial effects on the trajectory of these two organizations.


Rosenthal On Cardinals, Miller, Price, Beane

Here are some notes from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal as he looks back on an incredibly busy Deadline Day…

  • Several Cardinals players were unhappy that Allen Craig and Joe Kelly were traded away, which didn’t necessarily surprise St. Louis GM John Mozeliak.  “We’ve had a tight clubhouse for many years, a lot of homegrown players who have been together a long time….When you have a young team, sometimes you don’t see these types of trades happening while you’re competing,” Mozeliak told Rosenthal.  “It caught some people off-guard. But time will heal all wounds.”  Rosenthal wonders if this trade and the recent signing of “notorious irritant” A.J. Pierzynski could’ve been made in order to shake up a clubhouse that had “perhaps grown too comfortable.”
  • The Brewers and Tigers were the other finalists for Andrew Miller‘s services before the Red Sox decided to trade the southpaw to the Orioles.  Boston received inquiries from between 10-12 teams about Miller’s services. Jon Morosi, Rosenthal’s FOX Sports colleague, reported yesterday that Detroit was close to a deal for Miller about 2.5 hours before the trade with Baltimore was finalized.
  • Some pundits have argued that the Rays should’ve gotten more from the Tigers and Mariners in the David Price trade, but Rosenthal is withholding judgement given how difficult the circumstances were for Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman.  The return could’ve been even less had Friedman waited until the offseason to move his ace.
  • In a tweet, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics decided against pursuing a Price trade in part because GM Billy Beane was worried that it would be tough to deal the southpaw this winter.  Price could earn up to $20MM on his 2015 contract in his last year of arbitration eligibility, so as good as the left-hander is, the salary and only the one year of control would limit Price’s trade value.

Slusser’s Latest: Cespedes, Milone, Fuld

Here’s some background news and notes on the Athletics’ big trade deadline moves from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle

  • It surprised many to see Yoenis Cespedes traded yesterday, but Slusser reports that the A’s were planning on dealing the outfielder this offseason anyway since the club didn’t think they would be able to extend him.  Cespedes has a contract option that allows him to become a free agent following the 2015 season.  In another piece, Slusser notes that “there never were very extensive talks” between Cespedes and the A’s about an extension.
  • Sam Fuld was the only Major League player being offered by any of the teams interested in Tommy Milone, which is why the A’s swung the deal with the Twins to provide immediate outfield help given Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry‘s injury problems.
  • Slusser notes that Oakland plans to keep Fuld for 2015, and he isn’t just a temporary solution while Gentry is on the DL with a broken hand.
  • The Athletics are still looking to add a second baseman before the August 31st trade deadline.

A’s Designate Evan Scribner For Assignment

5:30pm: Scribner has only been removed from Oakland’s 25-man roster and he remains on the 40-man, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter link).  Because it has been more than three years since Scribner’s Major League debut, he must be put on optional assignment waivers in order to be sent to Triple-A.  These waivers are revocable, so the A’s can pull Scribner back if another team claimed him.

3:38pm: The Athletics have designated righty Evan Scribner for assignment, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter link).

Scribner has a 1.69 ERA over 5 1/3 relief innings for Oakland this season, and a 3.87 ERA, 2.7 K/BB rate and 6.9 K/9 over 81 1/3 career innings with the Padres and A’s from 2011-14.  The 29-year-old was a 28th-round pick for the Diamondbacks in the 2008 draft.


Minor Moves: Thornburg, Johnson, Wilson

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Brewers moved right-hander Tyler Thornburg to the 60-day disabled list in order to create a 40-man roster spot for the newly-acquired Gerardo Parra, the club announced.  Thornburg has been on the DL since early June with an elbow injury and still seems weeks away from a return, if he pitches again in 2014 at all.
  • The Athletics released embattled former closer Jim Johnson, per a club announcement. Brought in via trade, Johnson failed to deliver on his $10MM salary. The A’s will be responsible for the rest of it, less the prorated league minimum rate if Johnson catches on with a new team.
  • The Athletics outrighted outfielder Kenny Wilson to Double-A yesterday, according to the MLB transactions page. The speedy 24-year-old outfielder has been no stranger to transactions this year, as he obviously holds appeal to clubs but is hard to keep on a 40-man roster.
  • Catching up on the always-shifting DFA rolls, the following players are currently in limbo, per MLBTR’s DFA tracker: Jake Elmore (Athletics), Nick Noonan and Jose De Paula (Giants), Juan Carlos Oviedo and Erik Bedard (Rays), Jeff Francis and Brian Roberts (Yankees), Josh Wall (Pirates), and Ryan Wheeler (Rockies).

Athletics Designate Jake Elmore For Assignment

The Athletics designated Jake Elmore for assignment earlier today, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Twitter. Elmore, a 27-year-old utilityman, was picked up in a minor trade over the offseason.

Elmore did not crack the Oakland roster this season, but does have 209 MLB plate appearances under his belt. In 211 plate appearances at Triple-A, he owns a .282/.374/.365 line. Though he doesn’t offer much pop, and has yet to hit a long ball in 2014, Elmore has contributed nine stolen bases.


A’s Acquire Lester, Gomes; Cespedes To Boston

2:12pm: The A’s are paying $650K of Cespedes’ salary but are getting back $1.8MM from the Red Sox for Lester’s salary, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

11:35am: The teams have announced the trade. Nightengale tweets the exact figure that will be heading to Oakland: $650K.

10:09am: Dave Cameron of Fangraphs reports another wrinkle in the trade: Cespedes’ contract calls for him to be non-tendered at the end of his deal (if he is not first extended) in order to assure him early free agency, and he therefore is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer following the 2015 season (Twitter links).

9:14am: The Red Sox are sending under $1MM to the A’s in the trade, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Meanwhile, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America tweets that the value of the Competitive Balance pick that Boston receives will be roughly $800K.

8:54am: Passan tweets that Oakland is also sending a competitive balance draft pick to the Red Sox in the trade, and Boston is sending cash to Oakland. The A’s landed the second pick in Comp Round B in last week’s lottery.

8:49am: The Athletics have acquired Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes from the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (Twitter links). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported that Lester had been traded to an unknown club, while Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com first connected the A’s and Lester earlier this week.

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The addition of Lester will give Oakland an incredibly formidable rotation for the balance of the regular season, but perhaps more importantly, in the playoffs. Lester, who has posted a 2.52 ERA with 9.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 43.2 percent ground-ball rate, will join fellow trade acquisition Jeff Samardzija, free agent signing Scott Kazmir and homegrown star Sonny Gray atop Oakland’s rotation.

It’s possible that the struggles of Jason Hammel, acquired from the Cubs along with Samardzija back on July 4, prompted A’s GM Billy Beane to aggressively pursue another sizable rotation upgrade. While the loss of Cespedes will hurt Oakland’s lineup, the team can afford to part with some offense; the A’s rank first in the Majors in runs scored, sixth in on-base percentage and eighth in slugging percentage. Gomes won’t replace Cespedes’ power or his .256/.303/.464 batting line, but he’s a formidable opponent against lefties, having slashed .302/.400/.431 against southpaws in 2014 and .279/.379/.495 in his career.

Cespedes will bring the Red Sox a much-needed outfield bat, though he’s only under team control through the 2015 season due to a clause in his contract that allows him to forgo arbitration and hit the free agent market after his initial four-year term. He’s slated to earn $10.5MM next season — the same sum that he is owed in 2014. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Cespedes recently voiced a disinterest in playing center field with the A’s, but he did so through a teammate rather than by approaching manager Bob Melvin directly, which likely didn’t sit well with the team (Twitter links).

Yoenis Cespedes

The pair of blockbuster trades by Beane signifies a clear “all-in” philosophy on the 2014 season. Oakland has traded its best prospect (Addison Russell), a 2013 first-round pick (Billy McKinney) and one of its most dangerous bats (Cespedes) in an attempt at the most dominant pitching staff it can muster for the playoffs. There will be no compensation if (or, perhaps more appropriately given his likely price tag — when) Lester departs as a free agent, as baseball’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits players who did not spend the entire regular season on one team from receiving qualifying offers.

For the Red Sox, who hope to re-sign Lester as a free agent this offseason, this trade at least gives them a chance, perhaps a slight one, to have Lester and Cespedes on the same team in 2015 when the club takes another shot at contending. Beyond that, the addition of a draft pick is an interesting wrinkle, as it allows Boston to enjoy the best of both worlds, in a way. GM Ben Cherington could have kept Lester and extended a qualifying offer in hopes of recouping a draft pick if Lester signed elsewhere in free agency. Now, the Sox will get a bonus pick regardless (albeit a slightly later one), and they also are guaranteed a middle-of-the-order bat for the 2015 season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Boston engage Cespedes in extension talks either, though that is nothing more than my own speculation at this juncture.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.