Randy Choate Rumors

Marlins Could Become Sellers

The Marlins have let opposing teams know they may be in sell mode later this month if they don't turn their season around, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). The Marlins will be willing to discuss every player on their roster, including Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Johnson and Omar Infante, if they decide to sell, Olney wrote earlier today.

Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes that the Marlins would listen to offers for Stanton and others, but points out that a long-term extension for the young slugger is more likely. We shouldn't expect Stanton to go anywhere, but Anibal Sanchez and Randy Choate could be traded, Frisaro writes. The Marlins haven’t made any players untouchable, though some are unlikely to be traded, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel adds (on Twitter).

Miami has played to a disappointing 43-46 record after generating considerable hype leading up to the 2012 season. They signed Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle, added manager Ozzie Guillen, moved to a new stadium, and changed their team name and uniform during the 2011-12 offseason.

Quick Hits: Damon, Choate, Braves

August 18th featured significant trades in 2009 (Ivan Rodriguez to the Rangers) and 2010 (Derrek Lee to the Braves). So far, today we've seen the Rangers acquire Tim Wood from the Pirates. Here are today’s links…

Marlins Notes: Choate, Morrison, Fernandez

The latest on the Marlins, who are taking on their expansion cousins in Denver tonight…

  • The Marlins placed left-hander Randy Choate on waivers today, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). Other teams now have two days to place a claim on Choate, who earns $1MM this year and $1.5MM next year. Assuming he does get claimed, Florida will have two business days to consider possible moves with the team that makes the winning claim.
  • Logan Morrison, who is now in Triple-A, doesn't appear to plan to file a grievance against the Marlins for demoting him, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). It appeared over the weekend that Morrison would consider a grievance after the Marlins' surprising decision to send him to the minor leagues.
  • The Marlins plan to get 14th overall selection Jose Fernandez into games before the minor league season ends, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Florida will assign the right-hander to the Gulf Coast League this week. The Marlins signed him for $2MM last night.

NL East Notes: Braves, Pence, Minor, Beltran, Marlins

The Phillies sent Bobby Abreu to the Yankees on this date five years ago. Now they're buyers and they have Hunter Pence to show for it. Here's the latest on Pence and his new division…

  • The Braves are working hard to acquire an outfield bat, but there are "still no dance partners" according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).
  • The Astros sent $2MM (not $1MM) to the Phillies in the Pence deal, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). The Phillies won't have to pay the luxury tax this way, Stark reports. 
  • Kevin Goldstein and R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus break down the trade that sent Pence to the Phillies.
  • The Braves would have included Mike Minor in a deal for Pence, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
  • One executive tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Braves have six untouchable players (Twitter link).
  • The Mets thought they were going to trade Carlos Beltran to the Rangers earlier in the week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Texas was being more aggressive than other teams and even though they weren't willing to include elite prospects, the Mets considered a multi-prospect package. Finally, the Giants offered Zack Wheeler and the Mets moved on from the Rangers, who wouldn't budge on certain requests.
  • The Marlins intend to keep Leo Nunez, Omar Infante, Ricky Nolasco and Randy Choate, according to Olney (on Twitter). They've gotten tons of hits on those players, Olney reports.

NL East Notes: Marlins, Lowe, Nieves

The NL East looks much different than it did 24 hours ago. Carlos Beltran is out, Zack Wheeler is in and the Phillies and Braves will have to turn elsewhere in their respective searches for offense. Here are the details on the division…

  • The Marlins are asking for a lot in exchange for Leo Nunez and Randy Choate and Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez are off-limits at this point, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
  • It appears that the Braves will hold onto Derek Lowe, according to Heyman (on Twitter). 
  • The Brewers obtained $1 from the Braves for catcher Wil Nieves, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (on Twitter). That's right – one dollar. The Braves will pay Nieves' remaining salary while he plays for their Triple-A affiliate.

Knobler On Tigers, Vargas, Fister, Marlins

Danny Knobler of CBS Sports has the latest on the market for starters, from Miami to Detroit to Seattle. Here’s the latest:

Knobler On Marlins, Trade Market, Royals, M’s

Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has some interesting tidbits of note in his latest blog post. Here's the latest …

  • The Marlins could be an intriguing seller this month, with closer Leo Nunez, starter Ricky Nolasco, reliever Randy Choate and infielders Omar Infante and Greg Dobbs potentially being made available. However, Florida does not yet consider itself a seller and won't commence an all-out firesale, what with a new ballpark opening in 2012.
  • The slow-developing trade market can be attributed to the league's great parity this season, but the generally healthy financial situations of most teams is playing a role, too. Few teams need to dump big contracts.
  • The Royals, for example, will be willing to listen on veteran outfielders Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, but Kansas City is under no pressure to trade either one.
  • The Mariners, like the Fish, are still deciding whether they are ready to sell. Third-place Seattle is 7 1/2 games behind the division-leading Rangers.

Olney’s Latest: Choate, Bell, Isringhausen, K-Rod

In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney notes that while the market for right-handed relief pitching is bountiful, the market for lefties is pretty thin. The Nationals will talk about Sean Burnett but the Cubs will not discuss Sean Marshall, though one southpaw to keep an eye on is Randy Choate. Olney says the Yankees have already asked the Marlins about his availability.

Here are the rest of Buster's rumors…

  • The Padres are unlikely to trade Heath Bell to the Diamondbacks even though the latter would love to have him. Padres owner Jeff Moorad used to run the D'Backs.
  • "The key guys this time of year really aren't the general managers," said one GM. "The owners are the key guys. Because they'll decide whether to add payroll, and when to raise the white flag on the season."
  • Jason Isringhausen of the Mets is "destined to draw a whole lot interest" because he's cheap and experienced. A handful of GMs feel that a Francisco Rodriguez trade is "all but impossible" because of his vesting option.
  • Teams have received their preliminary 2012 schedule, and the chances of realignment dwindle with each passing day.
  • Labor negotiations are progressing as scheduled, though recent buzz that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement could be announced at the All-Star Game has been dismissed.

Checking In On Former Rays Relievers

Six prominent Rays relievers hit free agency and signed elsewhere for a total of $67.65MM last offseason (for reference, the Rays’ payroll has surpassed that figure exactly once since 2000). We know how the Rays' new 'pen is working out (pretty well, so far) but let’s check in on last year’s relievers:

  • Rafael Soriano – three years/$35MM, Yankees – After allowing 12 earned runs and 14 walks in 62 1/3 innings last year, Soriano has allowed 9 earned runs and 9 walks in 14 innings this year. His ERA is approaching 6.00, his strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up. What's more, he underwent an MRI on his right elbow this week. It doesn't appear that he'll need DL time, as there's only mild inflammation. Still, Brian Cashman must be shaking his head over this one.
  • Joaquin Benoit – three years/$16.5MM, Tigers – Benoit has already allowed more earned runs (10) in 2011 than he did all of last year (9). After allowing just 30 hits in 60-plus innings last year, he has allowed 17 hits in 13 2/3 frames for his new club. The spike in hit rate is no doubt related to the fact that opponents had an improbably low average on balls in play against Benoit last year (.192) that has since risen to an unusually high level (.356). His strikeout (7.2 K/9) and walk (2.6 BB/9) numbers have fallen off, though they're still strong. 
  • Grant Balfour - two years/$8.1MM, Athletics – Balfour's walks are up, but he is still striking out over a batter per inning and his ERA is under 2.00.
  • Dan Wheeler – one year/$3MM, Red Sox – Wheeler, currently on the DL, has an 11.32 ERA for the Red Sox despite an 8K/1BB ratio through 11 appearances. Wheeler appears to be unlucky in terms of opponents' batting average on balls in play (.389) and home run per fly ball rate (21%).
  • Chad Qualls - one year/$2.55MM, Padres – Qualls has replaced Ryan Webb in the Padres' 'pen and has already pitched 20 2/3 innings. The results are good so far despite a drop in Ks, as Qualls has limited baserunners and been considerably more fortunate than he was in 2010.
  • Randy Choate – two years/$2.5MM, Marlins – Choate has been excellent so far; the lefty specialist has an 11K/2BB ratio and a 1.50 ERA in his first 14 appearances as a Marlin.

The early results are disappointing, as Wheeler and Soriano are dealing with injuries and Benoit hasn’t come close to replicating his 2010 performance. The results will likely improve for Wheeler and Benoit, who have been unlucky so far. But this group probably won’t reproduce the 2010 performances that helped the Rays win the AL East. Reliever performance is simply volatile, even for pitchers who appear to be safe investments.

New York Notes: Castillo, Choate, Garza, Soria

In his Insider-only ESPN.com blog, Buster Olney writes that the Mets have internally discussed the possibility of simply releasing Luis Castillo. The team has repeatedly tried to free up some money by trading the second baseman, but has yet to find a taker. Olney indicates that it's possible the Mets could drop both Castillo and Oliver Perez before Opening Day. Here are this morning's other New York-related notes:

  • The Mets were one of the teams pursuing Randy Choate before the southpaw signed with the Marlins, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff. Davidoff says the Mets made Choate a one-year offer worth about $1.4MM, but the veteran lefty accepted more years and more guaranteed money from Florida. If the Mets still intend to add a Pedro Feliciano replacement, Davidoff continues, it'll probably be someone on a minor-league deal, since the market is thinning.
  • Brian Cashman told Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News that he felt the asking price for Matt Garza was too high to seriously pursue a trade with the Rays. "We never got off the dime, but strong impressions were that it would be something that would cost us more because we are in the division, kind of like Roy Halladay," said the Yankees GM.
  • Considering Andrew Friedman's comments about using the money saved in the Garza deal to sign other players, Chad Jennings of the Journal News wonders if the Rays' targets could overlap with the Yankees'.
  • The Royals have told interested clubs that Joakim Soria will not be traded, a stance which Bill Madden of the New York Daily News finds puzzling. Madden suggests the Yankees were willing to part with Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez for Soria.
  • In his blog entry linked above, Olney disagrees with Madden's argument that the Royals need to trade Soria. According to Olney, Soria's contract is so team-friendly it makes it nearly impossible for the Royals to get equal value from the Yankees or anyone else at the moment.