The Athletics have designated lefty reliever Eury De La Rosa for assignment, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The move clears space on the 40-man roster for infielder Max Muncy, who’s needed because the A’s are placing Ben Zobrist on the 15-day disabled list. Slusser also tweets that if Zobrist has arthroscopic knee surgery, which currently seems to be a possibility, he would likely be out three to six weeks.
The Athletics acquired the 25-year-old De La Rosa in a December trade after the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment. He’s spent the beginning of the 2015 season pitching at Triple-A Nashville, where he struck out four batters and walked five in six innings. Last season, he posted a 2.52 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings at Triple-A Reno, along with a 2.95 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 36 2/3 innings in the big leagues.
As we noted yesterday, the Angels and Rangers are close to a deal that would send troubled outfielder Josh Hamilton back to Texas, with the Angels receiving $15MM or less in salary relief in return. The deal isn’t yet complete (and it’s easy to see why, given the complexity of dealing with the approximately $80MM on Hamilton’s contract), but here are a few early reactions.
- Given the reported terms of the deal, the Hamilton trade is a low-risk gambit by the Rangers, Dayn Perry of CBS Sports writes. Hamilton’s left-handed power should play better in the Rangers’ ballpark than it did in the Angels’, and also, Hamilton could prove to be more comfortable in Texas, where he produced many of his best seasons. Meanwhile, the $15MM or less the Rangers are reportedly taking on isn’t an exorbitant commitment.
- Arguing in a somewhat similar vein, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News argues that the Rangers have little to lose from the trade. Hamilton won’t block any outfielders who are performing well, and the Rangers can provide a supportive environment that can help Hamilton as he battles his addiction issues.
- Hamilton’s Angels teammates hope he has good luck in Texas, Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reports. “No matter what the situation is, Josh is going to pick up a 35-inch bat and go swing,” says C.J. Wilson. “That’s what he’s good at, and I think that’s what he needs to be doing right now.”
- Along with Gary Matthews Jr. and Vernon Wells, Hamilton will be the third high-priced outfielder in recent years who the Angels have traded with two or more years left on his deal, Bill Shaikin of the Times notes. The Angels just $2MM when they sent Matthews to the Mets, and $14MM when they shipped Wells to the Yankees.
Here’s a look back at this week at MLBTR.
Designated For Assignment
Key Minor League Signings
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game:
- The Braves have outrighted righty Juan Jaime to Triple-A Gwinnett, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The 27-year-old Jaime, who throws very hard and gets plenty of strikeouts, surely would have been an interesting project for any number of teams, but other clubs were likely deterred from claiming him because he was out of options. In 41 innings at Gwinnett last season, he posted a 3.51 ERA with 13.8 K/9 but an unsightly 7.9 BB/9. He walked four batters in 1 1/3 innings with the Braves this season.
- The Dodgers have outrighted righty Daniel Corcino, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets. They claimed Corcino from the Reds earlier this month. The 24-year-old posted a 4.14 ERA with 7.1 K/9 in 143 1/3 innings at Double-A Pensacola last season. He walked too many batters, with 4.4 BB/9, but given his relative youth and prospect status (Baseball America ranked him the No. 94 prospect in the game heading into 2013), he should provide the Dodgers with valuable minor-league depth. Corcino is the second former Reds pitcher the Dodgers have claimed and then outrighted this month, the other being reliever Ryan Dennick, who they removed from their roster when they claimed Corcino.
Prior to being hired as the Diamondbacks‘ general manager, Dave Stewart reached out to Dusty Baker to let him know that he may have interest in Baker as a manager if he were to get the GM role, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, Baker never heard back from Stewart before the D-Backs hired Chip Hale. Baker said he has no hard feelings about not getting an interview. Stewart told Heyman that he does indeed have a good deal of respect for both Baker and former Rangers manager Ron Washington, both of whom he initially considered for the managerial vacancy. Baker tells Heyman that he hopes to manage again, and Heyman notes that he has applied to three positions, including the Mariners, Tigers and Nationals since being let go from the Reds. “I didn’t fire myself,” said Baker. “I didn’t retire.”
Here’s more from out west …
- The Dodgers have now acquired and designated no fewer than four relievers, and have made a host of other minor roster moves in the season’s early going. That has all taken place as part of the club’s plan entering the season, manager Don Mattingly explains (video via the Tout feed of J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Media Group).
- Padres righty Josh Johnson tossed a 40-pitch pen session today and is nearing a rehab stint, manager Bud Black tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock (Twitter link). The 31-year-old has not made a major league appearance since 2013, but represents some nice low-risk upside for an a San Diego club that is off to a nice start.
- The Mariners have struggled somewhat with keeping runs off the board, a subject that I discussed with Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune on today’s podcast. In addition to starting poorly, veteran Hisashi Iwakuma has hit the DL with shoulder fatigue (officially called a strained lat), as Dutton reports. He will undergo an MRI tonight, though the hope is that some rest will do the trick. Of course, Iwakuma is also a free agent after the season, and he’ll have some catching up to do to re-establish his value at age 34.
There’s been quite a bit written about the Red Sox‘ lack of an ace, but as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe notes, acquiring an ace-caliber pitcher is harder now than ever before. Speier looks back at the top 20 pitchers in terms of WAR from the 2004 season and notes that not only did pitchers remain elite later in their careers, but they were also more readily available in both free agency and trades. The average age of the top 20 pitchers in WAR has dropped from 29.5 to just under 28 in the year 2014, and none of the top 17 were signed as free agents. One talent evaluator noted to Speier that teams simply aren’t trading established aces anymore. The evaluator continued, “Very few come from free-agent signings given that, traditionally, their age was such that when they signed, they’re aces in age but not in [future] performance.”
Here’s more from the East:
- The Red Sox have continued to field a lineup that stresses “grinding” at-bats, but at present have yet to deliver much power, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. That continues something of a trend from last year, says MacPherson, who notes that unearned runs have propped up the team’s run scoring totals.
- Complaints about the Blue Jays‘ Rogers Centre turf have been hard to ignore, with Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reporting on Twitter that the Orioles actually considered forfeiting a recent game rather than taking the field. Baltimore has contacted the league, per Encina, though Jeff Blair of Sportsnet.ca tweets that the commissioner’s office has not received any formal complaint.
- Top Phillies prospect Maikel Franco has been on a tear at Triple-A, but the team still does not have immediate plans for a call-up, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Service time remains a factor despite the fact that he saw action at the MLB level last year; as Zolecki explains, by waiting until approximately mid-May, Philadelphia can earn itself an extra year of control. With the big league club seemingly going nowhere and fellow youngster Cody Asche playing well at third, there is little reason for the team to move quickly on Franco.
- There have been some limited bright spots for the Phillies, of course, and veteran righty Aaron Harang may be chief among them. The 36-year-old righty has tossed 26 1/3 innings of 1.37 ERA baseball, allowing a meager .800 WHIP and striking out 21 batters. Despite an excellent 2014, Harang signed a one-year deal for just $5MM (which he discussed recently with MLBTR’s Zach Links). He is starting to look like a rather appealing summer trade candidate for clubs that need to fill in at the back of their rotation.
The Blue Jays have designated infielder Steve Tolleson, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. With the move, the club has cleared roster space for the activation of outfielder Michael Saunders.
The 31-year-old Tolleson saw just 12 plate appearances this year for Toronto, picking up three hits and a walk. He saw his most extensive MLB action last year with Toronto, slashing .253/.308/.371 in 189 plate appearances. Tolleson has seen limited action in two other seasons.
In yet another round of reliever roulette, the Dodgers have designated the just-acquired Xavier Cedeno for assignment. The club selected the contract of veteran righty Sergio Santos, necessitating the move.
Cedeno, a southpaw, was just added in a deal with the Nationals, who had designated him. Like Ryan Dennick and Daniel Corcino before him, Cedeno was added to the roster only long enough to be designated off of it, presumably with intentions of seeking outright waivers to facilitate a stashing in Triple-A.
Santos had an opt-out clause that was due May 1, so it was a use him or lose him situation for L.A. The 31-year-old has had a roller coaster of a career to this point, flashing plenty of talent while struggling with a variety of arm ailments. In 4 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year, he has allowed two earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out eight opposing batters.
The Rangers have designated righty Logan Verrett for assignment, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter. The move clears roster space for the addition of Wandy Rodriguez.
Verrett was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Orioles from the Mets, and was later claimed by Texas. He would ultimately be offered back to New York if no other club decides to put in a waiver claim once he hits the wire (as is likely).
The 24-year-old threw nine innings of relief for the Rangers in just four appearances. He struck out three and walked four in that span, and was charged with six earned runs. Verrett had worked as a starter in the minors, always exhibiting outstanding control and progressing quickly through the Mets system.
4:57pm: Hamilton “balked” at a scenario that would have sent him to extended spring training, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
The Rangers, meanwhile, would be willing to bring Hamilton back, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com tweets. He cautions that there is “no word yet if that will happen.”
4:51pm: Hamilton will be moved via trade, Rosenthal tweets. It is not done yet, but appears likely to happen, he adds.
4:50pm: The Angels are “close to parting with” slugger Josh Hamilton, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports (via Twitter). Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann wrote earlier today that it appeared a move that would sever ties between Hamilton and the club could be made within days.
Hamilton had been said to be preparing to work back from injury in extending spring training. His relationship with the team hit a low point when he admitted to an offseason drug relapse. Though the league pushed for a suspension, an arbitrator ultimately ruled that Hamilton had not violated his drug treatment program and thus could not be suspended.
The team’s negative reaction to the news that Hamilton would not be suspended certainly seemed to portend a possible end to the relationship. At the same time, it has been hard to see a way for the club to accomplish that other than simply cutting him loose.
Indeed, even now, it remains entirely unclear what action the team will ultimately pursue to finalize the separation. A trade is at least hypothetically possible, with a buyout of some kind perhaps making more intuitive sense at first glance.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Braves have selected the contracts of right-handed relievers Michael Kohn and John Cornely from Triple-A Gwinnett, Mark Bowman of MLB.com first tweeted earlier this morning. Kohn and Cornely both had to be added to the 40-man roster, though the team had enough space on the 40-man roster to accommodate them without designating anyone for assignment. Kohn originally inked a Major League deal with the Rays this offseason, but Tampa cut him from its roster, and he eventually latched on with a Minor League deal in Atlanta. He’s shown the ability to miss bats at the Major League level (8.7 K/9 in 110 1/3 innings) but has struggled with control (6.0 BB/9) en route to a 3.67 ERA. The 25-year-old Cornely will be making his MLB debut the first time he appears for the Braves after being selected in the 15th round of the 2011 draft. He has a career 2.75 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 219 2/3 Minor League innings. Relievers Brandon Cunniff and Sugar Ray Marimon have been optioned to Gwinnett to make room on the 25-man roster.
The Marlins announced that they have designated left-hander Grant Dayton for assignment. The move frees up a 40-man roster spot for catcher Jhonatan Solano, whose contract was selected today when Jarrod Saltalamacchia was placed on the paternity list.
The 27-year-old Dayton was Miami’s 11th-round pick back in 2010 out of Auburn University. Baseball America ranked him among Miami’s Top 30 prospects prior to each of the 2012-14 seasons, ranging from 17th to 25th. Dayton has worked almost exclusively as a reliever over the course of his Minor League career, totaling a 2.63 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 263 innings of work. He’s typically been old for his level, however, and didn’t reach Triple-A until his age-26 season in 2014.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark is said to be “ready to reach out to [Kris] Bryant soon to determine his mindset” on whether or not a grievance should be filed against the Cubs for holding him in Triple-A to start the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his latest Inside Baseball column. Heyman notes that the union could file a grievance on Bryant’s behalf even without his consent, though that’s unlikely. The issue at hand, of course, would be whether or not Bryant was clearly one of Chicago’s 25 best players and the demotion was made purely for service time implications. (Chicago bought an extra year of control over Bryant by stashing him in the Minors for all of eight games/11 days). Heyman points out that it would be difficult to an arbitrator to rule in Bryant’s favor, as there’s no precedent for this type of grievance. Players in similar situations have historically been hesitant to file a grievance, he adds, because it would be a contentious way to begin a relationship with a team to which a player will be tied for the next six-plus years. A “Cubs connected person” called the notion of a grievance “laughable” when asked by Heyman. However, the points that Bryant was recalled on the first day the team could add him while still delaying free agency and slotted directly into the cleanup spot could make a case that the club had an understanding of his value, Heyman writes. From the union’s perspective, it’s understandable that they’d have interest in preventing this type of situation in the future, even if it’s a long shot.
More highlights from a lengthy Heyman column…
- The Padres don’t yet view Melvin Upton Jr. as a throwaway piece and will use him as an occasional outfielder and pinch-runner, Heyman writes. He also looks back on Upton’s original five-year, $75.2MM pact and notes that it’s one of the worst contracts in recent history, particularly given the fact that the next-highest offer was believed to come from the Phillies at somewhere in the $40MMs.
- The league’s investigation into the Rays‘ allegations of the Cubs‘ tampering in the Joe Maddon saga could come to a close as soon as next week, per Heyman. MLB was still interviewing people as recently as last week, but to this point there “is believed to have been no smoking guns found.”
- The Reds never approached right-hander Mike Leake about a contract extension this offseason, and the free-agent-to-be is said to be a bit hurt not to have been contacted. Leake’s not a front-line starter, but he’ll hit the open market heading into his age-28 season and currently sports a 3.56 ERA in 427 1/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2013. A third straight season of 190+ innings and an ERA in the mid-3.00s should position him for a nice contract, especially considering the fact that half of his starts have come in the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
- Multiple teams have worked out Rafael Soriano, and while he’s on the Tigers‘ radar, there’s also been some contact with the Mariners. Heyman adds the Pirates, Indians and Dodgers as “logical suitors,” though I’d imagine the Pirates and Indians in particular would have some payroll constraints, depending on the asking price of agent Scott Boras.
- Heyman echoes ESPN’s Buster Olney in speculating that the Dodgers could make a run at extending Howie Kendrick, noting that the Dodgers love Kendrick both on the field and in the clubhouse. He also notes that the Dodgers are impressed with Alex Guerrero‘s bat and may coming around on him as a passable option at third base or in left field, though the team is already well-stocked at each position.
- The Pirates and Gregory Polanco may have come as close as about $1MM on agreeing to a seven-year contract, Heyman hears. The biggest holdup was over the three club options on the deal, which ranged from $11-13MM, and when the team would have been required to exercise them.
- Though recent reports have indicated that John Lackey hopes the Cardinals will approach him about an extension, Heyman writes that it’s not a likely scenario. St. Louis likes its pitching depth and the young starters in line beyond those in the 2015 rotation.
- The Orioles asked the Blue Jays for both of the team’s first round picks from the 2014 draft — right-hander Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost — in exchange for the ability to hire EVP/general manager Dan Duquette as their new president, according to Heyman.
Jeff runs through the week’s quick hits before talking Mariners with Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune.
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Asked by Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com if he’ll be disappointed if he isn’t traded to a contending team this year, Jonathan Papelbon replied, “Yeah, I will be, if we continue to lose.” Papelbon again voiced a preference to win with the Phillies, stating that “there’s no better reward than that,” though clearly that isn’t looking likely, as the Phils are off to a 5-11 start with a -33 run differential. More than anything, it seems that Papelbon wants to avoid a season full of trade rumors without a deal coming to fruition. “I will be disappointed if this continues to happen,” said Papelbon. “If we continue to do the same things as we’ve done the last couple years with me, where we try to do something and get something done with me and then nothing still happens.”
In more Papelbon/Phillies-related news…
- Salisbury’s colleague, Corey Seidman, feels that the league has undervalued Papelbon recently due to his abrasive personality, his contract and his diminished velocity. However, as Seidman notes, Papelbon has been working with diminished velocity dating back to Opening Day 2014, and he’s still pitching excellently, throwing an increased amount of sliders and effectively working the corners of the strike zone more than in previous years. Seidman speculatively lists the Blue Jays, Tigers and Nationals as fits for Papelbon. He also runs down the number of struggling, injured or already-replaced closers in the league just 16 days into the season, using that as evidence to suggest that further openings will surface this summer.
- The Phillies announced this morning that Chad Billingsley will continue a rehab assignment tomorrow night with Triple-A Lehigh Valley as he works toward his Phillies debut. To this point, Billingsley has allowed three runs on six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings at Triple-A as he builds his pitch count and gets re-acclimated with pitching in game situations.
- Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke with Dustin McGowan following yesterday’s spot start, and McGowan says he’s not sure if he’ll be asked to start again following an outing with mixed results. As Lawrence notes, McGowan did well, given the circumstances. He fired three scoreless innings to open the game after being given less than 24 hours notice that he’d be starting, but fell apart in the fourth inning. That, perhaps, should not have been unexpected, as he hadn’t thrown more than 28 pitches in a game since last May. Manager Ryne Sandberg told Lawrence that the Phillies didn’t consider promoting one of their younger arms to fill the short-term spot in the starting rotation. Billingsley, he notes, may be ready to join the club by May 8-10, but he has another two weeks remaining on his rehab assignment.