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Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin is “a top target” of the Athletics as they explore upgrades at the keystone, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Franklin’s name has been a fixture in trade rumors ever since the M’s signed Robinson Cano, with the Royals and Rays among the clubs most recently connected to the 23-year-old infielder.
As Slusser notes, there are some obstacles in the way of an Oakland/Seattle trade match on Franklin, mainly that the Mariners may not be interested in helping a division rival. The Mariners are also known to be asking for a high price for Franklin, and the A’s may not have enough young talent left in the system following their recent major trade with the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
Franklin played 104 games for Seattle in 2013 and was seemingly being groomed as the Mariners’ second baseman of the future before Cano signed. Franklin has appeared in only 17 games with the M’s this season and has spent most of the year dominating minor league pitching — he owns a .300/.394/.481 slash line in 283 PA at Triple-A Tacoma. With experience at both second and shortstop, Franklin could be a fit for the A’s at either position; Oakland’s long-term shortstop plans are somewhat in flux with Addison Russell traded and Jed Lowrie set for free agency this winter, though 2012 first-rounder Daniel Robertson is enjoying a big year at high-A ball.
Among more experienced second base targets, Ben Zobrist may not be a fit for the Athletics since the Rays want a big return for the utilityman, and he may not be available anyway since Tampa remains on the fringes of the AL East race. The Phillies had one of their top scouts at Sunday’s A’s/Orioles game, which could hint at a connection with Chase Utley, though Slusser notes that Baltimore could be looking for second base help as well.
The Cubs have the prospect depth necessary to acquire David Price from the Rays, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, and acquiring Price (and then extending him past 2015) is just the kind of big move Rosenthal feels the Cubs need to get them into contention sooner rather than later. Price is intrigued by the idea of playing in Chicago, friends of the southpaw say, and Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson was Price’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt.
Here’s some hot stove buzz from Rosenthal’s latest piece…
- The Athletics are getting calls about left-hander Tommy Milone, who lost his rotation job when Oakland acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. The 27-year-old Milone is controlled through 2017 and has a 3.84 ERA, 3.23 K/BB rate and 6.5 K/9 over 468 2/3 career innings, though his significant home/road splits could make some teams wary about his effectiveness outside of Oakland. The A’s aren’t too keen to move Milone since they value having rotation depth.
- The Phillies are willing to eat some money on their major veteran contracts in order “to effectively buy prospects” in trades, though with teams so hesitant to move their young talent, Philadelphia might be better served by just pursuing salary relief.
- Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon “is generating little interest,” sources tell Rosenthal.
- Many of the would-be best trade chips on the White Sox aren’t producing, which could make it tough for the Pale Hose to make deadline deals. Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza, for instance, look more like non-tender candidates than valuable acquisitions in the view of one rival executive. John Danks might be the most attractive trade candidate on the Chicago roster, while the Sox might wait until the winter to explore dealing Alexei Ramirez when the trade market is more open.
- The Blue Jays‘ search for offense could be mitigated by the impending returns of Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie from the DL within the next week or two. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said yesterday that he was still looking to add a bat before the trade deadline.
- Eugenio Suarez has played well enough at shortstop that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski doesn’t think his team will look for an upgrade at the position before the deadline. Rosenthal notes that Suarez’s presence could create a bit of a logjam next season when Jose Iglesias returns from injury.
- The Tigers do have a need for more lineup balance, as the team is short on left-handed hitters.
- With so little prospect depth, Rosenthal thinks the Yankees‘ best trade strategy would be to offer salary relief for large contracts. In hindsight, Rosenthal writes, the Yankees might’ve been better off trading Robinson Cano for prospects last summer, even though being a deadline seller is unheard of for the always-contending Yankees.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alejandro De Aza | Alexei Ramirez | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | David Price | Detroit Tigers | Eugenio Suarez | Gordon Beckham | John Danks | Jonathan Papelbon | New York Yankees | Newsstand | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Tampa Bay Rays | Tommy Milone | Toronto Blue Jays
The Astros have a perception problem, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. The Astros missed out on top overall pick Brady Aiken and another top pick, Jacob Nix, because of a disagreement about Aiken’s health. During part of the time they might have been negotiating with Aiken, Drellich points out, GM Jeff Luhnow was on vacation with his family in Mexico. That might not have had any bearing on their ability to sign Aiken, Drellich notes, but it doesn’t look good, and the Astros generally don’t get the “benefit of the doubt” with such matters.
Drellich also takes a close look at each party’s motivations as the Astros and Aiken tried to negotiate. He points out that, if Aiken goes to junior college and reenters the draft next year, it will be hard for Aiken to top the $5MM the Astros offered, given that the Astros themselves will have the No. 2 overall pick as a result of losing him, along with their own standard first-round pick, which will also be one of the early ones. For a player to get $5MM is very difficult under the new bonus pool system, especially with the Astros taking two very early picks. Here’s more from the AL West.
- Astros scouting director Mike Elias is disappointed with the way the draft signing deadline went, Drellich writes. “I haven’t been very happy about anything to do with it, because of just the unfortunate situation that I think all parties found themselves in,” says Elias. “It’s something that I think we, and everyone involved with, will look forward to ultimately having behind us at some point.” Add the failures to sign Aiken, Nix and Mac Marshall to top 2013 pick Mark Appel‘s poor performance, and it’s a tough time all-around for Elias.
- The Athletics would like to trade reliever Jim Johnson before the trade deadline, John Hickey of IBABuzz.com writes. The A’s don’t want to just cut him and swallow the rest of his salary, and they’re also having trouble drumming up interest in him. Johnson is a pitcher without a role — the A’s have been using him in low-leverage situations given his struggles this season, but even that is a problem, since he isn’t a multi-inning pitcher.
The Blue Jays have claimed lefty Brad Mills off waivers from the Athletics, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Mills was designated for assignment on July 7 to make room for trade acquisition Jason Hammel.
In his first MLB action since 2012, Mills allowed eight earned runs in 16 1/3 frames while striking out 14 batters and issuing seven free passes. Before his acquisition by Oakland, Mills had impressed at Triple-A for the Brewers, compiling 75 innings of 1.56 ERA ball with 9.2 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9.
Toronto does not have rotation space for the out-of-options Mills unless it sends one of its younger arms (Drew Hutchison or Marcus Stroman) to the pen or the minors or pushes out J.A. Happ (another lefty). The Jays could presumably utilize Mills in a relief role, though the club has enjoyed reasonably effective performances from fellow southpaws Aaron Loup (3.20 ERA) and Brett Cecil (3.68 ERA), the latter of whom is also out of options.
ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required and recommended) offers a bounty of information on the trade market as we draw to within two weeks of the deadline. While you’ll want to give the piece a full read, here are some of the many highlights:
- The Rays are in no hurry to deal ace David Price, and some possible trade partners increasingly believe that he will not change hands before the deadline. The club still wants to see if a post-season run remains possible; though the club sits 9.5 games back at the break, the division does still look somewhat vulnerable. If Tampa does look to move Price, arguably the best potential trade chip in baseball, it will demand more in return than the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija — who, you may recall, was the key piece in a package that brought back one of the game’s elite prospects in Addison Russell. Needless to say, Price is a rare commodity, especially given his additional season of control, and his potential absence from the market (combined with the A’s early strike for two other top starters) could have interesting repercussions.
- One player whose trade attention would potentially rise if Price stays put is Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who of course has plenty of value regardless. Bowden says that GMs around the league get the sense that Philadelphia will be very hesitant to move their star lefty, however. (Fellow top southpaw Cliff Lee, meanwhile, looks more and more a potential August trade piece.)
- Ultimately, while the Phillies will not conduct a true fire sale, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated through conversations with his peers that the club is prepared to sell. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is the most likely to go, says Bowden, though his contract presents some complications. While the Mariners are interested in him, Bowden says that the recent free agent signee will ask that the club guarantee his $8MM option for 2016, which Seattle is not currently willing to do. The Royals could also make sense as a partner, but also appear on Byrd’s four-team no-trade list and do not want to take on that level of mid-term commitment. It would appear that Byrd’s representatives at ACES advised their client well in selecting the relatively paltry number of teams to which he could refuse a trade.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno has enabled GM Jerry Dipoto to be aggressive in trade talks, says Bowden. In addition to Huston Street and Ian Kennedy (read more on them here), the Halos have asked the Padres about righty Tyson Ross, though the Super Two hurler is unlikely to be moved. Indeed, now in the midst of his second consecutive season of high-end production, the 27-year-old starter (and his three remaining years of control) would require a significant return.
- The Athletics remain aggressive on the second base market, with GM Billy Beane also said to be exploring more creative means of improving his club. Oakland is not inclined to deal away shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson after moving their top prospect, says Bowden, with the club’s internal evaluators believing that he could have as much future value as the more-hyped Russell.
- The Reds are still looking to add a hitter, with Ben Zobrist of the Rays making a perfect match on paper given his positional flexibility and the club’s current injury situation. (Of course, the same could be said of several other clubs.) With Josh Willingham of the Twins set to hit free agency, he has also been looked at by Cincinnati.
- Bowden provides several other interesting notes. Among them: the Braves have canvassed the market for a southpaw reliever and could be interested in James Russell of the Cubs and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely add a starter. The Cardinals are planning to scout Twins‘ catcher Kurt Suzuki as they assess things behind the plate. And the Giants remain interested in a second base addition in the event that Marco Scutaro cannot stay healthy and productive.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Ben Zobrist | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | David Price | James Russell | Josh Willingham | Kansas City Royals | Kurt Suzuki | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Minnesota Twins | Newsstand | Oakland Athletics | Oliver Perez | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Tyson Ross
The AL West has three teams on pace for postseason play and is home to the two best records in baseball. The 59-36 A’s hold a slim lead over the 57-37 Angels, while the Mariners’ 51-44 record gives them a 2.5 edge over the Royals and Blue Jays for the second AL wild card slot. On the flip side, Houston (40-56) and Texas (38-57) hold the American League’s two worst records, with the Rangers’ eight-game losing streak dropping them to worst record in the game.
Here’s the latest from around the AL West…
- Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller will receive a second interview for the Padres‘ general manager job, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Of the dozen or so candidates known to have interviewed for the job, Preller is thought to be the first to receive a second meeting with San Diego’s upper management team.
- Also from Fraley, he notes that the Rangers are projected to draw around 400,000 fewer fans than last season, and he speculates this drop in attendance could impact the club’s 2015 payroll.
- Joey Gallo‘s power was the talk of yesterday’s Futures Game, and WEEI.com’s Alex Speier is already wondering how the Rangers prospect could have fallen to the 39th pick of the 2012 draft. The Red Sox, in particular, had two bonus compensation picks plus their own first-rounder with Gallo still on the board and yet passed on him all three times (drafting Deven Marrero, Brian Johnson and Pat Light instead).
- When Drew Pomeranz is ready to return to the Athletics‘ 25-man roster, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle hints that the A’s could make room by parting ways with Jim Johnson. The A’s nearly dealt Johnson to the Marlins last month and there have been reports that Oakland would be willing to eat most of Johnson’s remaining salary (approximately $4.2MM) in a trade. Johnson has been a major disappointment in his first season as an Athletic, posting a 6.18 ERA and losing his closer’s job to Sean Doolittle.
- The Athletics‘ seven All-Stars took some very different paths to get to Oakland, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes, which is a tribute to how creatively the team has built its first-place roster.
1:50pm: The A’s have now released a correction that lines up with the Yankees’ announcement (hat tip: MLB.com’s Jane Lee). Francis and cash considerations are indeed heading to the Yankees for a player to be named later.
1:17pm: The Yankees, however, have announced that they will be receiving Francis and cash considerations in exchange for a player to be named later. The discrepancy is puzzling, but it appears Oakland could be receiving what would likely be a marginal player to be named later in the deal.
1:03pm: The A’s have announced the trade of Francis to the Yankees in exchange for cash considerations.
Francis, 33, has pitched 18 1/3 innings this season for the A’s and Reds, allowing 12 runs (5.89 ERA) with a 14-to-3 K/BB ratio. Formerly the ninth overall pick in the draft (2002), it’s been awhile since Francis enjoyed success as a member of a big league rotation. He posted a 4.19 ERA in 414 1/3 for the 2006-07 Rockies — no small feat in Coors Field, as evidenced by his park-adjusted 116 ERA+ — but it’s been a struggle since that time for the Canadian hurler. Francis owns a 5.22 ERA in 632 2/3 innings since that time.
The Yankees are undoubtedly on the lookout for pitching depth with yesterday’s news that Masahiro Tanaka has a slight tear in his right elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament. Francis has pitched well over the past three seasons in Triple-A, registering a 3.75 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 163 1/3 innings between the Reds and Rockies organizations.
Jim Bowden of ESPN talked to Athletics general manager Billy Beane for the latest edition of his “GM’s Office” video blog, and the two discussed a number of trade-related topics, including a fairly in-depth breakdown of the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel blockbuster (video links). While the entire interview is well worth watching (and is only about 10 minutes total), here are some highlights from their conversation…
- Beane first reached out to Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein about a month ago because he felt there was a lot of value to striking early, especially if the A’s were going to be aggressive with their prospect package, which they clearly were.
- The Cubs were initially looking to split Samardzija and Hammel in different trades, but trade talks picked up steam when the A’s decided that they wanted both players. After a dormant period, things came together quickly in a matter of 24 to 36 hours, says Beane. He added that he and Epstein discussed some one for one swaps on each pitcher that obviously didn’t pan out.
- That Samardzija is under control through 2015 was “critical,” said Beane, noting that he’s excited about the added depth that the 2015 roster will have with Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin returning from injury.
- On what motivated him to make the trade, he offered the following: “I’ll be honest with you, I happen to think the Angels and the Mariners right behind us are two of the better teams in all of the game and they happen to sit in our division. So the narrative that this was a ‘postseason move,’ I think was a bit presumptuous.” He went on to say that winning the division is Oakland’s priority and stressed the dangers of getting involved in a one-game Wild Card playoff. “If you had a one-game playoff and you’re the Wild Card, one of the guys you might be facing is that guy up in Seattle, and that’s not a good situation to be in.” Beane, of course, is referring to Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
- Bowden asked if the A’s would have made this deal had Parker not gone down with Tommy John surgery in Spring Training, Beane thought out loud before concluding that he and his staff probably would not have had to make this deal had Parker been healthy.
- Beane offered high praise for prospect Billy McKinney but even higher praise for Addison Russell, listing him alongside Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada as one of the best position prospects he’s ever had. The emergence of minor league shortstop Daniel Robertson, whom the A’s selected 21 picks after Russell, made it easier to part with Russell, though it was still difficult for Oakland.
- Asked if this was the best team he’s ever constructed, Beane said he couldn’t judge that at this point and offered praise for his assistant GMs as well. One element of which Beane is very proud is that 23 of the 25 players on the Athletics’ roster were acquired via trade — a very different method of construction from the 2001 “Moneyball” A’s.
- Asked if the A’s are done or would pursue trades for second basemen, Beane grinned as he replied: “Well, you know, there’s a lot of time left, Jim. … Whether you have needs or not, you have to take advantage of the environment. … This is a time that everybody comes to the table. And whether you’re actively pursuing something specific, you want to be a part of the conversation. … I don’t want to say we’re done. … The short answer is: I hope we’re active still.”
The Athletics announced that they have acquired minor league right-hander Rodolfo Fernandez from the Brewers for the No. 57 international bonus slot, which carries a value of $339K.
The Brewers have been rumored to be on the hunt for some additional bonus money, as they’ve agreed to terms with Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara on a $3.2MM bonus but have an international bonus pool of just over $2.6MM. This new move boosts their overall bonus pool $2,950,800, which is still $249,200 short of Lara’s reported bonus. That means that their agreement with Lara would still result in an overage of 8.4 percent, which would be enough to prevent them from signing a player in next year’s signing period for any more than $500K.
While MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez has since listed Lara’s signing bonus, even that $149,200 overage would still result in a 5.05 percent overage. The Brew Crew needs to keep the overage under five percent in order to avoid restrictions on their spending next season, so it seems likely that the team will pursue further bonus slots in order to come in under that number. Further trades will have to be completed before Lara’s signing is officially announced, as teams cannot acquire additional bonus money once they have already exceeded their signing pool.
Fernandez, a 24-year-old Cuban right-hander, has a 2.87 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings at Low Class A this season. He didn’t rank among Milwaukee’s Top 30 prospects, per Baseball America or the team’s Top 20 prospects, per MLB.com. The trade serves as another example of teams moving international bonus money for relatively marginal returns.
Oakland acquired Mills from the Brewers earlier this summer, and the southpaw made three starts for the defending AL West champs, pitching to a 4.41 ERA with a 14-to-7 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings. He was excellent in 75 innings for Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate this season, pitching to a 1.56 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Even with those strong numbers, he has a 4.19 ERA in 635 2/3 career Triple-A innings to go along with a 6.98 ERA in 69 2/3 big league frames.
Mills’ spot in the rotation was lost with this weekend’s blockbuster acquisition of both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs, and his DFA will clear a 40-man roster spot for Hammel to be activated, MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets.