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Ryne Sandberg’s handling of Ryan Howard is becoming a key to the early portion of Sandberg’s tenure with the Phillies, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer writes. “I do think it’s important to have players who fit my type of players,” Sandberg said last week. “That’s important going forward. I think getting younger will be a step going forward.” It’s becoming clear that Howard, who Sandberg has repeatedly (and arguably with ample justification) benched, is not Sandberg’s type of player. Gelb notes that Sandberg’s years managing in the minor leagues impacted him, meaning that he would rather play a youngster than an unproductive veteran. GM Ruben Amaro, meanwhile, recently said that he was planning on Howard playing first base for the Phillies next year. A report last week indicated that the Phillies were considering releasing Howard, although Amaro has denied that’s the case. Here are more notes on the NL East.
- Two NL East starters who could be traded, A.J. Burnett and Bartolo Colon, will face off Monday, Tim Healey of MLB.com writes. Colon says that he’s ignoring the possibility that the Mets might deal him. “I don’t know anything about that,” he says through an interpreter. “Those are decisions for the upper management, and you can’t control that stuff.”
- The Mets are not likely to be buyers or sellers in the traditional sense, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com writes. That doesn’t mean they won’t be on the market, however — they will likely approach it with the goal of improving in 2015. GM Sandy Alderson says he isn’t likely to deal prospects for rentals. At the same time, they do not seem to be chomping at the bit to trade Daniel Murphy, although trading Colon could be a possibility.
Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:
- Yankees pitcher Bruce Billings has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Chris Cotillo tweets. He also notes that Phillies catcher Koyie Hill has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
- The Yankees have outrighted pitcher Chris Leroux, according to MiLB.com. They designated him for assignment on Friday. Leroux has posted a 5.08 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 28 1/3 innings this season in Triple A.
- The Nationals have released left-hander Zach Jackson from their Triple-A affiliate, per the International League’s transactions page. Jackson, who signed a minor league deal with Washington in January, came out of the bullpen 26 times for Syracuse this season posting a line of 6.06 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, and 10.9 H/9. The 31-year-old last pitched in a MLB game in 2009 when he made three appearances (one start) for the Indians, who acquired him the year before in the CC Sabathia trade.
- Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, nine players remain in DFA limbo: Esmil Rogers (Blue Jays), Juan Carlos Oviedo (Rays), George Kottaras (Cardinals), Jim Johnson (A’s), Matt Guerrier (Twins), Darwin Barney (Cubs), Tony Gwynn Jr. (Phillies), and Jose De Paula and Nick Noonan (Giants).
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
6:51pm: A source from the Dodgers indicates there are no significant discussions between the Dodgers and Red Sox involving Kemp or Lester, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo tweets.
4:00pm: The Red Sox are considering a trade with the Dodgers involving Matt Kemp and Jon Lester as the principals, a club source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. The Dodgers’ interest in Lester was reported yesterday by Edes.
Kemp’s name is being floated since the Dodgers are unwilling to part with top outfield prospect Joc Pederson, according to Edes. Centering a deal around Kemp, however, is problematic from the Red Sox’s perspective because of the $107MM remaining on his contract. For the deal to make any sense for Boston, Edes reports the Dodgers would have to be willing to eat a considerable amount of money, but they might be willing to do so for a pitcher of Lester’s caliber despite him being no more than a two-month rental. The Red Sox preference, however, is a package centered around Pederson.
Edes also notes Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels is not available and the Red Sox have not inquired about Cliff Lee. For more on the 2014 trade market, check out MLBTR’s position-by-position breakdown.
Here’s the latest on the Yankees’ search for starting pitchers, via CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. Heyman covers a long list of potential options, so be sure to click over to his article.
- John Danks of the White Sox appears to be among the Yankees’ top possibilities, Heyman writes. Heyman reported last week that the Yankees and White Sox were discussing a possible Danks deal. Danks, 29, has a 4.40 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 131 innings for Chicago this season. His contract, which will pay him $14.25MM in both 2015 and 2016, shouldn’t be a huge obstacle, although Heyman notes that Danks’ declining velocity (with a drop in his average fastball from 91.6 MPH in 2011 to 88.2 MPH this season) might be a concern.
- The Yankees do not seem to be discussing an Ian Kennedy deal with the Padres.
- New York isn’t currently thinking hard about acquiring Cliff Lee from the Phillies, since he’s currently working his way back from injury and should be able to clear waivers in August. The Yankees may not have the prospects necessary to acquire Cole Hamels, and he’s “barely available” anyway. The Yankees are not believed to want A.J. Burnett to return.
- The Yankees are more likely to consider signing Jon Lester in the offseason than to trade for him.
GM Brian Cashman said recently that the team sees adding offense as the first priority. Heyman explains that, while the rotation is an obvious need, the club never intended for Ichiro Suzuki to play everyday and may be looking for depth given Carlos Beltran‘s struggles with injury.
Willingham may hold more appeal to New York than other corner outfield bats like Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Alex Rios of the Rangers, says Heyman, because he is cheaper now and does not come with future commitments. The latter two players, however, have not been ruled out by New York as targets.
Of course, the 35-year-old Twin also figures to be available for a lesser prospect return. Coming off a tough 2013, he was out early with a fractured wrist. He has, however, been productive upon his return. While is batting average is just .215, he has slugged .420 (with ten home runs) and reached base at a .357 clip through 227 plate appearances.
Jayson Stark discussed some of the best run organizations in an audio interview with Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog. Stark makes special note of the A’s, Rays, Tigers, and Cubs as tightly run organizations with a coherent, “nimble” plan. Stark and Cerrone then touched on the Mets plan, noting the excellent pitching depth in the organization. Rival scouts like the Mets future outlook according to Stark, but they may need to trade some of their pitching depth for position players.
- In an interview with Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was circumspect when describing the club’s needs heading into the trade deadline. Based on Rizzo’s comments, the club is happy with its current depth, even with Ryan Zimmerman suffering from a hamstring injury. The bullpen was also discussed, which Rizzo described as “pretty good…solid.”
- In a separate piece, Ladson reveals that the Nationals inquired after Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre but were rebuffed. Combining the two reports, it seems as though the Nationals would like to acquire an elite talent but aren’t overly anxious to add patches.
- There’s definitely a market for Marlon Byrd, but his contract could get in the way, notes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. While the Phillies are obvious sellers, their assets all have some sort of contractual complication. Byrd would like his 2016 option picked up for a trade to the Mariners or Royals – two teams on his no trade list. Heyman also mentions Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, and Jimmy Rollins as other Phillies with contractual barriers, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
All eyes were on Tampa, where David Price of the Rays and Jon Lester of the Red Sox are squared off in a match-up of top starting pitchers — and top potential trade pieces. And that includes many top scouts around the game, as several reports suggest. At least 17 clubs had eyes in the stands, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. That includes two each for the Royals, Giants, and Pirates. A scout from the Phillies was also on hand — according to a tweet from Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, he is the club’s top evaluator — though presumably not for the two starters. Other teams with “top evaluators” watching, presumably with a variety of possible motives, included the Braves, Orioles, Mariners, Cubs, and Nationals, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Of course, it remains to be seen whether either of the two lefties is shopped, but the ramifications of the decisions of their respective clubs will obviously be widespread.
Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:
- In comments after the game, Lester said that he is “aware of what’s coming next week,” referring to the possibility of deals, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (via Twitter). If he does end up being shipped out, Lester said that he would still be open to re-signing with the team as a free agent.
- The Red Sox-Lester situation remains a complicated one, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com explains. Boston’s decision-makers have clearly put out the word through the press that the club wanted to re-start extension negotiations, but were told that was not Lester’s preference. Meanwhile, sources tell Bradford that Lester’s camp would be willing to talk if the Sox came in with a realistic starting point. The underlying tension appears to be the basis for the notion that the fading club could consider dealing its best arm. If that does not happen, Bradford suggests that the team may intend to pursue a strategy it has employed in the past: make a larger offer after evaluating things in the offseason that falls shy of other open-market bids, banking on the player desiring to continue playing in Boston.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. expanded on his comments regarding first baseman Ryan Howard, as Todd Zolecki of MLBcom reports on Twitter. “I fully expect him to be our first baseman next year,” said Amaro.
- Meanwhile, the Phillies have told teams that they are willing to hold on to some of the $18MM still owed to closer Jonathan Papelbon, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While there is still some market for Papelbon, Heyman says it does not look strong. His $13MM vesting clause for 2016, in particular, is a looming threat that would seem to complicate any deal.
- The Mets are not engaged in any “substantive talks” at present, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). Of course, as Rubin notes, that does not mean that chatter won’t pick up in the coming days.
- There were two injury updates today for the Braves, both via Joe Morgan of MLB.com. Southpaw Jonny Venters is making progress and is expected to begin throwing bullpen sessions soon. It still seems that he is a ways off, however, and manager Fredi Gonzalez made clear that the club is not yet counting on a return this season. Meanwhile, starter Gavin Floyd is also moving forward in his recovery from a fracture in his elbow, but Gonzalez says he will not even be evaluated again for a month. Needless to say, Atlanta does not seem destined to receive a surprise, late-season comeback from Floyd, who will be a free agent after the season.
6:53pm: And it is now official: having taken his second plate appearance tonight, Rollins’ 2015 option has vested.
8:59am: Jimmy Rollins currently has 1,098 plate appearances between the 2013 and 2014 seasons, meaning that his next two plate appearances will trigger his $11MM vesting option for the 2015 season (as noted by Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com on Twitter). The only thing that would prevent the option from kicking in would be if Rollins were to finish the season on the disabled list. Even in that case, the option could still be guaranteed if a mutually agreed upon doctor deems him ready for Opening Day 2015.
Rollins has enjoyed somewhat of a rebound season in 2014, slashing .243/.326/.398. He’s already more than doubled his 2013 home run total (from six to 13) and has swiped 19 bases in 24 attempts after stealing just 22 bags in 2014.
The former MVP, now 35 years of age, has 10-and-5 rights (10 years of Major League service time, five straight with his current team), meaning that he can block trades to any club. However, if he decides to waive those rights, teams might look be interested given his respectable production at the plate and still strong defense (UZR/150 pegs him at +5.5 runs this season). However, that seems unlikely, as Rollins has said that his preference is to remain in Philadelphia — the only organization he’s ever known.
Here are today’s outright assignments and minor moves from around the league…
- After being designated for assignment recently, Bruce Billings has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Yankees, according to the International League transactions page. As he has previously been outrighted, Billings will have the right to elect free agency.
- The Phillies announced that Jeff Manship has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Manship was designated for assignment earlier in the week when righty Phillippe Aumont was recalled from the minors. The 29-year-old veteran posted a 6.65 ERA in 23 innings for the Phillies this season.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spent an hour chatting with readers about the trade deadline. Here are some highlights from his session…
- The Phillies have offered Ryan Howard to any American League club they think could theoretically use him and received no takers. GM Ruben Amaro has even offered to pay the vast majority of Howard’s deal while asking for little in return, but to no avail.
- The possibility of Jake Peavy heading to the Cardinals is still very much alive, Stark hears. The Red Sox just sent their top scouts to watch St. Louis’ short-season Class A club, which would fit with previous reports that Boston likes outfield prospect Rowan Wick (though he has since moved up to the Midwest League).
- Despite a six-game losing streak, the Reds are still buying, and their preference is to add a bat that they can control beyond this season. As such, Marlon Byrd and Ben Zobrist both are targets, though it’s far from a guarantee that the Rays will sell.
- Stark says he’s “barely heard [Stephen] Drew‘s name” on the trade market due to how poorly the shortstop has played since signing. If the Red Sox sell, he notes, the team will trade some combination of Peavy, Andrew Miller, Jonny Gomes and Junichi Tazawa. The addition of Tazawa’s name is a new wrinkle in the trade market. The 28-year-old has been dominant for the Sox and is controlled through 2016 via arbitration. One would think he could fetch a very nice return, given his 2.52 ERA (2.66 FIP), 9.4 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9.
- The Giants “really want a starter,” but Stark can’t see them seriously pursuing David Price. He does note that GM Brian Sabean usually ends up getting what he’s looking for at this time of the year. San Francisco has also shown some interest in Jimmy Rollins, but the chances are very low due to the former MVP’s 10-and-5 rights, his contract and the fact that Brandon Crawford would have to slide over to second base. (Alternatively, Rollins could simply play second, given Crawford’s defensive prowess.)
- While most reports out of New York indicate that the Mets don’t want to trade Daniel Murphy, Stark hears that they’d “definitely” move him if they received enough quality in return. I’d imagine the asking price on Murphy to be very high, given Alderson’s reluctance to sell off assets that are under control beyond the current season.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Andrew Miller | Ben Zobrist | Boston Red Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Daniel Murphy | Jimmy Rollins | Jonny Gomes | Junichi Tazawa | Marlon Byrd | New York Mets | Newsstand | Philadelphia Phillies | Ryan Howard | San Francisco Giants | St. Louis Cardinals | Stephen Drew | Tampa Bay Rays