- A.J. Burnett Expected To Miss Four Weeks With Flexor Strain
- Athletics Claim Danny Valencia
- Red Sox President Larry Lucchino To Be Replaced
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- Dodgers, Braves, Marlins Complete 13-Player Trade
- Blue Jays Designate Danny Valencia, Ezequiel Carerra
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- Rangers Acquire Sam Dyson From Marlins For Tomas Telis
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In his latest notes column, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com addressed a number of interesting deadline issues, starting with Reds starter Johnny Cueto. There have been suggestions over concern among buyers with the health of the star righty, but Heyman cites one scout from a team with interest who tells him that Cueto “looks fine.” As far as interest, Heyman pegs the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros as “the most likely and logical landing spots.”
Here are some other highlights from an info-packed piece (which you’ll want to read in full for even more notes):
- The Braves are shopping the recently-acquired Juan Uribe, says Heyman, with the asking price of a “mid-range prospect” and full unloading of the approximately $3MM left on Uribe’s deal. Atlanta has had communications with at least the Mets, per the repor.
- While the Orioles had been looking at adding a starter, Heyman reports that the team now may instead be prioritizing bats. Though the report doesn’t specify a position, we’ve heard in the past that Baltimore had interest in adding to its corner outfield mix.
- Heyman writes that it’ll be interesting to see if Angels lefty C.J. Wilson becomes “even more available” now that Jerry Dipoto has resigned as the general manager. Per Heyman, Wilson was close with Dipoto, and the Wilson signing (five years, $77.5MM) was the one significant free agent pickup that Dipoto was actually responsible for. Angels owner Arte Moreno was behind the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton signings, as many other reports have indicated over the years.
- The Brewers are officially open for business and “may be considering a rather big sale,” one competing team exec tells Heyman. Interest in Jean Segura is down due to his poor play since an early 2013 breakout, but Gerardo Parra‘s big year has lots of clubs asking about him. Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Francisco Rodriguez are drawing interest, and the Brewers are open to packaging some of those players to improve the return.
- The Jon Niese saga continues, as Heyman hears that the lefty now doesn’t seem particularly available, with one Mets person telling Heyman that Niese never really was. In other Mets news, Heyman hears that the team floated the idea of a Rafael Montero-for-Ben Zobrist swap when Montero was still healthy, but Montero, of course, has since been injured. The Mets have also talked about Uribe, but there are other names higher on their list.
- While some have connected the Pirates to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur, the Bucs might be aiming a bit higher, looking at Marlon Byrd of the Reds and Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers — both former Pirates. Heyman lists Ben Zobrist as a target for the Bucs as well. Earlier today the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink linked Pittsburgh to Zobrist, Cliff Pennington and Clint Barmes.
- Yovani Gallardo could hit the trade market if the Rangers end up selling short-term pieces, and he’s not interested in springing for an early extension with his hometown team. Agent Bobby Witt has apparently told the Rangers that Gallardo is looking forward to testing the free agent market.
Full Story | 15 Comments | Categories: Aramis Ramirez | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Ben Revere | Ben Zobrist | C.J. Wilson | Cincinnati Reds | Cliff Pennington | Clint Barmes | Francisco Rodriguez | Gerardo Parra | Houston Astros | Jean Segura | Jeff Francoeur | Johnny Cueto | Jon Niese | Juan Uribe | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Mike Fiers | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Pittsburgh Pirates | Rafael Montero | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Yovani Gallardo
Last year, the signing saga of first overall draft pick Brady Aiken seemed straightforward until a controversial physical intervened. This year’s top choice, Dansby Swanson, has yet to put pen to paper, but MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes that the Diamondbacks are still expected to reach agreement without much drama. As Callis explains, Arizona should save a big chunk of money against its overall pool space with a deal, though the team may not have worthwhile targets from later draft rounds on which to re-allocate those funds. The piece goes on to address the signing status of several other players from the first and second rounds who have yet to agree with their teams. Callis suggests that the early selection who is most likely to forego a deal could be Dodgers draftee Kyle Funkhouser.
- There are “widespread rumblings” that the Reds organization could undergo change shortly after the conclusion of the All-Star Game, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. It’s unclear from the report what that might consist of, but it’s certainly conceivable that the on-field struggles could precipitate a shakeup at any level of the organization.
- As the Reds prepare to market staff ace Johnny Cueto, the three teams with the most earnest interest are the Astros, Blue Jays, and Royals, Nightengale adds on Twitter. Cueto’s cheap contract looks to be a significant factor in that interest, given that all three of those clubs currently operate at a lower payroll capacity (Houston, Kansas City) or reportedly lack financial flexibility at the deadline (Toronto).
- Mets righty Rafael Montero has long looked like an important part of the equation for New York, either on the big league roster or as a trade piece. But he’s been out of action for a lengthy stretch with shoulder troubles, and there had been little sign of progress. Montero took the bump today in the Gulf Coast League, however, marking his first competitive appearance since late April, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
- The first half returns show that Pirates GM Neal Huntington had a hugely successful offseason, writes Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. But the top Pittsburgh baseball decisionmaker also acknowledges that some of the output from recent acquisitions such as A.J. Burnett and Francisco Cervelli has surprised even the front office.
Here’s the latest out of the National League:
- Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday left last night’s game with what looked to be a fairly significant quadriceps strain, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but we can expect more information today. While the team does have options in left — Randal Grichuk, Peter Bourjos, and Jon Jay are all available on the MLB roster, and top prospect Stephen Piscotty is waiting at Triple-A — any lengthy loss would be a huge blow. Holliday, 35, has put up a typically strong (although atypically low-power) .303/.417/.421 batting line thus far. And St. Louis is already dealing with the loss of first baseman Matt Adams to a severe quad injury, leaving some questions in the middle of the order.
- The Mets are in an interesting spot as the trade deadline approaches, with some useful trade chips that are also somewhat redundant assets. Among the young, big league level players who the team could conceivably deal, catcher Kevin Plawecki is not really an option to be moved, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter links). Though he’ll likely be replaced soon by Travis d’Arnaud, the Mets don’t want to sacrifice depth behind the plate. But righty Rafael Montero could well be moved, says Puma, though he’ll need to get over his shoulder issues and back on track to carry the kind of value the team would hope.
- While the Mets continue to receive strong results from their rotation, the club’s handling of the staff has been problematic, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Top lefty prospect Steven Matz is being held down until Super Two avoidance can be assured, says Sherman, while the club struggles to figure out what to do with Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.
- Sherman adds that the club “may have been able” to get Juan Uribe from the Dodgers in exchange for Gee, but passed on the opportunity because the team did not yet appreciate the severity of David Wright‘s back problems. The club is now struggling to fill in at the hot corner, particularly with Daniel Murphy joining Wright on the DL.
The D-Backs announced today that they’ve placed right-hander Archie Bradley on the 15-day DL with a sinus fracture that was sustained in a frightening scene during last night’s game. Bradley was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez, though he was eventually able to leave the field under his own power. The situation could have been much worse, considering the reported 115 mph exit velocity on the Gonzalez line-drive; indeed, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes that the D-Backs’ promising young righty should be able to return right after his DL stint. To this point in the season, Bradley had been a bright spot for the Snakes, working to a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings.
A few more injury-related notes worth keeping an eye on…
- Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland underwent surgery today to remove bone chips from his elbow and will be out for at least two to three weeks, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. This is already the second time that the issue has plagued Moreland this season, though the first occurrence was treated with anti-inflammatory medication and rest. However, the problem flared back up after Moreland made a diving play in the field, and he’s undergoing to procedure to prevent the elbow from “locking up” again.
- Rockies closer Adam Ottavino told MLB.com’s Barry Bloom that he’s worried about the arm injury that landed him on the disabled list. Originally placed on the DL with triceps inflammation, further tests have revealed that the source of Ottavino’s discomfort is closer to his elbow. Ottavino will see team doctor Thomas Noonan when the team returns to Denver on Monday.
- Mets right-hander Rafael Montero will have an MRI performed after reporting right shoulder discomfort following his most recent start, writes MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. Montero was optioned to Triple-A following the outing, but as DiComo notes, the option would be rescinded if it’s determined that Montero is injured and would require a DL stint. The Mets have already lost Zack Wheeler for the season, and though Montero isn’t currently being counted on to contribute to the Major League rotation, an injury would thin their pitching depth and perhaps reduce the chances of a potential Dillon Gee trade down the line.
Cubs righty Jacob Turner will likely not return to action for another spring game, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports, but medical review after he experienced elbow discomfort revealed no ligament damage. “I’m just going to see how it feels,” said Turner. “The plan is four to six weeks of not throwing, and then go off how I feel.” Given his lack of options, I would expect the club to bring him along quite slowly — possibly utilizing a 60-day DL stay to free a roster spot.
Meanwhile, here are some roster situations percolating elsewhere in the National League:
- We noted earlier today that Tony Cingrani is destined for the Reds pen. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer discusses the implications of that move for the team’s rotation battle. Another candidate — David Holmberg — was bumped down to minor league camp, leaving the relatively inexperienced Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani to fight veteran non-roster invitees Jason Marquis and Paul Maholm for two permanent spots (and a temporary substitute for Homer Bailey to start the year). Skipper Bryan Price explained that considerations of control will come into play: “The thing is, we’ve got veteran guys like Marquis and Maholm and we don’t want to use them one start,” Price said. “If they’re going to be on our team, the hope is they’re on our team for the entire season if not longer. That’s how we have to look at it. You can back-and-forth a young guy. He can start a game or two, go down the minor leagues or go into the bullpen and help as a long guy. Marquis and Maholm are looking more like long-term, start-to-finish options for us.”
- The Diamondbacks will be fascinating to watch this year, albeit not necessarily in terms of the on-field product, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. As he notes, the team’s newly-installed front office leaders seem to have different ideas than many of their counterparts in the industry. While the organization is saddled with some less-than-ideal contracts, and seems higher on several players than others, it nevertheless has no shortage of young talent, trade chips, and roster options. That should make Arizona an active player in the transactional game over the course of the season.
- Meanwhile, it is time for the Mets to press forward with delivering a winning team, even with Zack Wheeler likely lost to Tommy John surgery, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. In the immediate term, there have been conflicting signals on how the club will fill in for Wheeler, with skipper Terry Collins saying Dillon Gee will move back to the rotation, GM Sandy Alderson declining to provide such a clear answer, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reporting that prospect Rafael Montero could have a chance at breaking camp. In the aggregate, there is enough depth and talent to make up for losing Wheeler, says Davidoff, removing his injury as an excuse if a legitimate contender does not emerge. For his part, Sherman wonders whether the club has staked too much of its future on the health and development of young arms, though it seems worth echoing Davidoff’s point here: the sheer number and upside of the alternatives in camp give New York ample options.
Toronto will host the Pan American Games this summer from July 11 to July 19, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Team USA could field a potent roster headlined by Byron Buxton, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, and others. To be eligible, players cannot be on a 40-man roster. They also need permission from their parent club to participate. Each team is different, but some will probably allow their top prospects to attend. Rangers prospect Joey Gallo could be among the players asked to participate, and GM Jon Daniels likes the idea of his players competing internationally. One wrinkle to watch: the Futures Game takes place on July 12.
Here are more prospect notes from around the league:
- Pitcher Jacob Nix could be a late first round pick in the upcoming Rule 4 draft, reports Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider required). You may recall Nix’s part in Houston’s Brady Aiken fiasco – he was the player who lost a $1.5MM bonus when Aiken failed to sign. Without Aiken’s expected under slot signing bonus, the club didn’t have the funds to honor Nix’s deal without losing 2015 draft picks and money. Nix is now pitching with IMG Academy, a post-graduate team in Bradenton, Florida.
- Of the prospects in Mets camp, Rafael Montero is the most likely to make the major league roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. The club has plenty of starting pitchers, but they could use Montero out of the bullpen. Others like Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will look to make a strong impression while at the big league camp. Remember, an opening day assignment to the majors can affect when a player reaches arbitration or free agency.
- Due to depth at the major league level, the Red Sox aren’t expected to add a prospect to their opening day roster. However, hard throwing righty Matt Barnes could be among the first called up, writes Ian Browne of MLB.com. Barnes pitched a few innings out of the bullpen last season, so he’s already on the 40-man roster. Another prospect with brief major league experience, Garin Cecchini, will work on improving his defensive versatility.
- The Twins will welcome number one prospect Buxton to their major league camp for the second time, writes Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. However, it’s 29th ranked prospect Alex Meyer who has the best chance to break camp with the club. The giant righty will compete for a spot in the rotation, although he’ll face competition from Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Stauffer, and Trevor May.
The Braves are expected to make a qualifying offer to Ervin Santana, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the event that Santana leaves, the team may pursue a top-of-the-rotation type of arm, O’Brien writes, but their lack of financial flexibility would make the trade market a more likely avenue than free agency. O’Brien adds that he finds it unlikely that Santana would accept the QO — a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. He also notes that should the club lose Santana, it might be more motivated to try to retain Aaron Harang, even though he is in line for a sizable raise from the $2MM he earned in 2014 (including incentives). MLBTR’s Zach Links recently profiled Harang, pegging him for a two-year, $14MM contract. Santana was also profiled by MLBTR, with Tim Dierkes projecting a four-year pact worth $56MM.
Elsewhere in baseball’s Eastern divisions…
- The Red Sox are prioritizing Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley as the look toward the offseason, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The team may also look at Aramis Ramirez, though he’s not believed to be as coveted as Sandoval or Headley and is said to prefer a return to Milwaukee, per Heyman, who adds that the Yankees would like to re-sign Headley. Red Sox third basemen combined to hit just .245/.305/.351 in 2014.
- Red Sox people strongly denied a previous report that Yoenis Cespedes is hated by the team’s coaching staff, Heyman writes in a second piece. One source called the report “totally untrue,” and manager John Farrell added on MLB Network Radio that the notion was “completely unfounded,” Heyman adds. He goes on to write that a trade of Cespedes is unlikely (though not impossible), given Boston’s overall need for power.
- The Phillies announced today that their entire coaching staff has agreed to return to the club for the 2015 season.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks at the second round of changes coming to the dimensions of Citi Field and writes that the new dimensions may give some type of hint as to which players are most likely to be traded by the Mets this offseason. The Mets are planning to make Citi Field more homer-friendly and build the pitching staff around arms that emphasize strikeouts and ground-balls. Names like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler fit that description, but Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and, to a lesser extent, Rafael Montero are all more prone to fly-balls, making them more likely to be dealt.
For the Mets and for other teams throughout baseball, undergoing a rebuilding process provides no guarantee that process will actually work for a sustained period of time, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Sherman argues that the Pirates prove that point — they had been rebuilding for years before they finally reached the playoffs last season, but this season they’re struggling yet again. (Even the Pirates’ playoff year depended heavily on outside additions A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Russell Martin, Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon.) Highly-touted young players like Pedro Alvarez don’t always gradually improve as projected, just as Ike Davis (now a Pirate) did not gradually improve with the Mets. Still others, like Matt Harvey, undergo significant injuries. Sherman argues that building the core of a team through one’s farm system is not without risk. Here are more notes from the National League.
- The Las Vegas 51s have announced that the Mets have optioned top prospect Rafael Montero back to them. Montero made four starts for the Mets, posting a 5.40 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9 in 20 innings. The move clears space for the Mets to promote fellow pitcher Buddy Carlyle. The Mets will replace Montero in their rotation with Daisuke Matsuzaka, as Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets.
- Pablo Sandoval “belongs in San Francisco,” and the Giants ought to work out a new deal with him before he’s eligible for free agency this fall, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins writes. Not only is Sandoval a popular player, Jenkins argues, but his positive outlook helps in the Giants’ clubhouse. Also, the Giants’ relative lack of organizational concern about plate discipline makes the team a good fit for the free-swinging Sandoval. Jenkins thinks the Giants might be able to get a five-year deal with Sandoval done before the All-Star break.
Mets co-owner Saul Katz has indicated interest in selling his share of the club, which is held in partnership with team chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon, reports Michael Schmidt of the New York Times. According to the report, while Katz is concerned with jeopardizing Wilpon’s control over the team, he is nevertheless wary of continuing to pump cash into the organization. For his part, Katz denied that he had such an intention through a statement released to the press. Sources told Schmidt that the team is expected to continue losing money this year and suggested that payroll is not likely to “jump substantially” in the near future.
Here’s more from New York and the rest of the National League:
- As suspected, the Mets will call up prospect Jacob deGrom to take a bullpen slot, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. The move is part of a series of maneuvers through which the team has begun shifting future assets onto its big league roster, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Baseball America ranked deGrom tenth among the team’s prospects coming into the year, noting that he could eventually develop into a mid-rotation starter.
- Perhaps the more important Mets promotion was that of fellow young hurler Rafael Montero, who will step into the team’s rotation. As Ben Badler of Baseball America notes on Twitter, Montero was inked for a mere $80K just three years ago after the club saw him impress in a Dominican Prospect League outing.
- The Phillies bench is in a state of flux amidst serious struggles, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Infielder Jayson Nix was just outrighted, while recently demoted utilityman Freddy Galvis fractured his clavicle upon his return to the minors. Meanwhile, John Mayberry Jr. and Tony Gwynn Jr. are struggling as reserve outfielders, and the team currently has just one utility infielder on its roster in Reid Brignac. While a recovering Darin Ruf could see another shot at the bigs, as could infielder/outfielder Cesar Hernandez, top prospect Maikel Franco is likely not going to be called up for a bench role. Philadelphia is still just four games back in a densely-packed NL East, and it will be fascinating (as always) to see how GM Ruben Amaro Jr. attacks the trade market this summer if the team stays within striking distance.
- While the Padres have seemingly been snakebitten in the early-career extensions they have entered, GM Josh Byrnes remains committed to his thought process, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “When they don’t work out, they are not killers, but they hurt,” said Byrnes. “We need our dollars to hit their targets, but I think the concept is still good. … The whole model for 20 years is the club is giving some security and taking some risk and sometimes it doesn’t work out.” Of course, the team most recently moved to lock up young infielder Jedd Gyorko to a $35MM pact.
MONDAY: The Mets have officially announced that Montero will be promoted and start on Wednesday in place of Mejia, who will be shifted to the bullpen. Montero would accrue 138 days of Major League service time this season, were he to stick in the Majors, making Super Two status very likely.
Of Montero, GM Sandy Alderson said to reporters (Twitter links to Newsday’s Marc Carig), “We think he’s ready now,” and “We understand it’s a debut on a big stage.” He will slot into what has been a solid Mets rotation behind Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. Additionally, as the Record’s Matt Ehalt tweets, Jacob deGrom has been pulled from his upcoming Triple-A start and will be on standby for the next few days should the team need additional bullpen depth.
For Mejia, the move to the bullpen could prove to be highly beneficial. He’s held opponents to a sparkling .193/.258/.246 batting line when facing them the first time in a game this season. That line, however, jumps to .245/.365/.415 when facing an opponent for the second time and a whopping .405/.500/.595 when facing opponents for a third time. That trend has been the case throughout his young career to this point, but it won’t be much of a concern in the bullpen.
SATURDAY: The Mets could have top prospect Rafael Montero start on Wednesday, tweets ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, citing Danny Knobler, also of ESPN New York. Jenrry Mejia, Wednesday’s scheduled starter, has struggled so far this season, and Montero pitched on Friday for Triple-A Las Vegas and therefore would be ready to start on Wednesday.
ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider-only) ranks Montero as the No. 60 prospect in baseball. Baseball America lists Montero at No. 68, and MLB.com ranks him No. 78, praising his low-90s fastball and good command. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 lists Montero as the Mets’ third-best prospect (behind Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud), noting that he could become a good mid-rotation starter. Montero currently has a 3.67 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 41 2/3 innings for Las Vegas, which is known as a tough environment for pitchers.
If Montero is promoted and sticks with the team, he would likely be eligible for arbitration as a Super Two player following the 2016 season. He would become eligible for free agency after the 2020 season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Steve Adams contributed to this post.