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Oakland Athletics Rumors
The Rangers announced tonight that outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow to remove a bone spur and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season. The loss of a player to season-ending surgery has become a familiar refrain for Rangers fans, who have seen Prince Fielder, Martin Perez, Mitch Moreland, Jurickson Profar, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando all go down for the season, while Derek Holland has yet to step on a big league mound as of Aug. 25. Clearly, the Rangers were hoping for more than the .242/.340/.374 batting line turned in by Choo in his inaugural season with the club, though he’s been bothered by ankle injuries all season in addition to the aforementioned elbow problem. Michael Choice will take Choo’s roster spot for the rest of the season.
Here’s more on the Rangers and their division…
- As if the loss of Choo wasn’t enough, Jon Daniels said in an interview on 105.3 The Fan that he is doubtful Yu Darvish will pitch again in 2014 (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News). While the Rangers GM said the team has stopped short of definitively ruling out its ace, it seems safe to assume that Darvish can have his name added to the list of Rangers whose seasons ended prematurely due to injury.
- Geovany Soto tells Jane Lee of MLB.com that he was “very surprised” to learn of his trade from the Rangers to the division-rival Athletics, but he’s happy to have the opportunity to play on a contending team and work with the Oakland pitching staff.
- The Angels don’t appear to be a fit for Bartolo Colon at this time, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Colon, who cleared waivers today, is owed $1.77MM for the remainder of the season and $11MM in 2015, and the Angels would likely have interest only if the Mets were to assume some of the remaining salary, DiGiovanna says.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that the team will not comment on the federal investigation that is looking into the team’s data leak earlier this year. He did, however, reassure Drellich that the team’s systems are now secure.
The Athletics were awarded a waiver claim on Yunel Escobar this weekend, but Rays manager Joe Maddon tells reporters, including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, that Escobar will not be traded via waivers this month (Twitter link).
The 31-year-old Escobar is controlled through the 2016 season at annual rates of $5MM (2015) and $7MM (2016) with a $7MM club option or $1MM buyout for the 2017 season. Those salaries are the result of an extension inked by Escobar earlier this season, but his production thus far likely hasn’t been what the Rays were expecting.
Escobar has batted just .253/.317/.318 this season — numbers that are far inferior to the .256/.332/.366 batting line he posted for Tampa in 2013. However, Escobar hasn’t been known for his bat for quite some time. Rather, his value has been in providing top-tier defense at shortstop, but metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating (-13.9 runs) and Defensive Runs Saved (-18 runs) feel he’s been well below average in that regard as well in 2014. Single-season samples of defensive metrics rarely tell the entire story of a player’s defense, however, and this is the first year in which Escobar has posted anything but a positive total in either metric. He’s been bothered by shoulder problems this season, which could have had some impact on both his swing and his throws across the diamond (though his range appears to be the culprit on defense, based on his Fangraphs fielding page).
Oakland has been using Andy Parrino at short of late due to a fractured finger from regular shortstop Jed Lowrie. The fact that Lowrie is a free agent at season’s end could also have played a part in the Athletics’ decision to claim Escobar, as his affordable salaries for the coming seasons would fit well within Oakland’s typically tight payroll. However, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this morning, Lowrie could soon begin throwing, which would give him a chance to play by the end of the month.
It’s possible that the Rays could move Escobar this offseason if they feel they can find a suitable alternative on the free agent market, or if they feel that veteran Ben Zobrist or trade acquisition Nick Franklin can hold down the fort at shortstop. However, Zobrist hasn’t been a regular shortstop in years, and scouts have long questioned whether or not Franklin can handle short. Many feel that his ultimate position will be second base.
MONDAY: Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle also hears that a deal for Escobar is unlikely, in part due to the progress that Lowrie has made on his injured finger. Lowrie could begin throwing within the next couple of days, which could allow him to return by the end of August.
SUNDAY, 6:51pm: The Athletics and Rays don’t appear likely to reach agreement on a trade involving Escobar, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. If they can’t, Escobar would stay with the Rays.
1:48pm: The Athletics have claimed shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Rays on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. That means the two teams will have until Tuesday afternoon to agree upon a trade, if they’re going to make one.
Escobar is making $5MM this season and is already signed to a two-year, $13MM deal for 2015 and 2016 that also includes a club option for 2017. He had been a solid, underappreciated player for several years before this one, but this season he’s struggled, hitting .250/.315/.316 while getting uncharacteristically bad marks for his defense — UZR had rated him as an above-average shortstop for seven straight seasons before this one, but this year he’s 14 runs below average. That figure might be somewhat fluky, but he’s nearly 32 and has also struggled offensively, suggesting he might be declining.
Given Escobar’s contract status, then, it’s a little surprising that the Athletics claimed him, but perhaps they feel he has rebound potential, and they do have a need at shortstop. Jed Lowrie is currently on the disabled list and will be a free agent after the season, and journeyman Andy Parrino has recently taken his place. The A’s also recently shipped top prospect Addison Russell to Chicago in the Jeff Samardzija deal.
25 years ago today, Bart Giamatti banned Pete Rose from Major League Baseball for life for gambling on the game. As Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller points out, the next year could be a turning point for Rose, as Rob Manfred replaces Bud Selig as commissioner and MLB prepares to host the All-Star Game in Cincinnati next July. Miller suggests it’s time for baseball to give its all-time hits leader a second chance. Here’s more from around the game.
- The Athletics recently claimed Yunel Escobar from the Rays on revocable waivers, but Escobar does not want to play for Oakland, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. “I am very concerned with Yunel having been selected on waivers by Oakland,” says Escobar’s agent, Alex Esteban. “While I believe Oakland is an excellent organization, I don’t feel that it is the best organization for him.” Esteban adds that Escobar has a good relationship with Rays manager Joe Maddon. Of course, Escobar does not have a no-trade clause and cannot block a trade to the A’s, but his disinterest in playing for them is one variable to keep in mind as the situation develops. Escobar has stayed out of trouble in Tampa, but he did not get along with Bobby Cox in Atlanta and received a suspension for a homophobic slur while playing for Toronto.
- White Sox top prospect Carlos Rodon dominated Sunday in his second career start for Triple-A Charlotte. Rodon pitched four innings and struck out eight batters, including five of the last six he faced. Less than two months after signing as the third overall pick in the draft, Rodon is already pitching well at the highest level of the minor leagues.
- Martin Prado and Brandon McCarthy have played well since the Yankees traded for them this summer, writes Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com. Prado played mostly third base with the Diamondbacks, but since being traded he’s played there sparingly, instead appearing more often in right field and at second base. That’s not surprising, given that the Yankees had acquired Chase Headley the previous week. “They talked to me about that the first day before I even stepped out on the field,” says Prado. “I had this experience in the past with the Braves. It’s not like I haven’t done it.”
- The most likely destination for Bartolo Colon is either the Angels or Dodgers, one executive tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (via Twitter). The Tigers don’t have the money for him, Rubin writes. The Mets placed Colon on revocable waivers on Saturday. Rubin tweets that he does not think the Mets will get rid of Colon simply to avoid paying him his $11MM salary next year.
- Wilin Rosario is dealing with a wrist injury just as he might be coming to a fork in the road with the Rockies, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes. Rosario is eligible for arbitration after the season and he hasn’t made an overwhelming case to start next season, hitting .248/.289/.399 while concentrating on improving his defense. One element possibly in Rosario’s favor, though, is that there won’t be many good catchers available on the free agent market — Russell Martin is the only obvious starting-caliber catcher.
We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.
- Lefty Casey Crosby, who was released two weeks ago by the Tigers, has re-signed with them, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Crosby is out for the rest of the year due to injury, and he’ll rehab with Detroit before becoming a free agent after the season.
- The Athletics acquired Geovany Soto from the Rangers this afternoon, and they’ve just announced yet another deal for a catcher — they’ve acquired minor-leaguer Bryan Anderson from the Reds for a portion of their international bonus pool. Anderson, 27, has hit .315/.395/.530 in 269 plate appearances split between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville this season. The former Cardinals prospect got cups of coffee in St. Louis in 2010 and 2012 and with the White Sox last season.
- With Soto’s departure, the Rangers have announced that they will select the contract of catcher Tomas Telis from Triple-A Round Rock tomorrow. The 23-year-old has hit .319/.353/.434 in a season split between Round Rock and Double-A Frisco.
The Athletics have acquired catcher Geovany Soto from the Rangers, according to a tweet from Mark Madson. The Rangers will receive cash considerations for Soto, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets. The Athletics announced that they cleared space for Soto on their 40-man roster by moving Kyle Blanks to the 60-day DL.
The 31-year-old Soto has played sparingly this season due to injury, but he’s now healthy, and he was very effective in 2013, hitting .245/.328/.466 in part-time duty. The Athletics already have two good catchers in Derek Norris and John Jaso on their active roster, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Jaso has recently experienced worsening concussion symptoms and will likely need a stay on the disabled list. And as ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets, Stephen Vogt, another catcher on the active roster, is currently dealing with a foot issue that makes catching difficult. (Vogt can also play first base and outfield.) Soto could see time at DH as well as behind the plate, but he has no significant history at any other position.
Soto, a former National League Rookie of the Year (with the Cubs), re-signed a one-year, $3.05MM contract with the Rangers this offseason. He’s owed $600K through the end of the season, at which point he will be a free agent. Soto is hitting .237/.237/.368 this season, although that comes in a small sample of just 38 plate appearances. In 2483 Major League plate appearances, Soto is a .248/.333/.438 batter.
The Angels have had a run of terrible luck in the second half, losing both Tyler Skaggs (Tommy John surgery) and Garrett Richards (torn left patellar tendon) for the remainder of the 2014 season (Skaggs will miss most or all of 2015 as well). Following the news of Richards’ diagnosis yesterday, GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters he would be on the lookout for further pitching help. As quoted by MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links): “Between now and Sept. 1, we’ll try to be as open as we can be. And after Sept. 1, hopefully what we’re missing in Garrett Richards we’re able to somewhat make up for in volume and depth.”
Here’s the latest on Anaheim’s search for pitching and other Angels-related matters…
- The Angels have been connected to Bartolo Colon in the wake of these injuries, but Peter Gammons reports (Twitter links) that he’s heard Astros right-hander Scott Feldman‘s name in connection with the Halos as well. However, neither right-hander had been put on waivers as of earlier this morning, and Gammons notes that it might be difficult for the Angels to land a pitcher on waivers because, as one baseball source explained to him, the Orioles and Yankees “are claiming everyone.”
- Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times looks at the diverse background of educations in the Athletics‘ front office and how those varying personalities fuel the team’s analytical approaches. Baxter spoke with assistant GMs David Forst and Farhan Zaidi for the piece, with Zaidi noting: “It cultivates a lot of debate in our office, just having diverse educational backgrounds and having people that aren’t necessarily guys who have spent their whole careers in the industry … As a group we are less prone to just let assumptions stand and let opinions go unopposed.”
- Robinson Cano is hitting .329/.397/.469 and has been worth five-plus wins above replacement this season, but Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes that his on-field work isn’t the only way he contributes to the Mariners. Divish spoke with skipper Lloyd McClendon and outfielder Dustin Ackley about Cano’s positive and relaxed personality and the impact that his demeanor has on the team.
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.”
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.
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.