Russell Branyan Rumors
Branyan, 36, missed considerable time with back issues this season. The slugger played in just 33 games for Scranton Wilkes-Barre but posted an impressive .309/.438/.655 slash line with eleven homers. Branyan has not played in a game since July 6, when ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggested that he might have played his way into drawing trade interest.
- Chase Headley could be the most coveted player of the summer, Olney writes. The 28-year-old third baseman has a .372 on-base percentage, earns just $3.48MM this year and has two years of team control remaining after 2012. Some rival evaluators expect Headley’s power numbers would improve if he played at a more hitter-friendly park in a more potent lineup, Olney writes.
- The Dodgers, Pirates, Indians, Orioles and Diamondbacks are among the teams believed to have some interest in Headley, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday.
- The Phillies haven’t decided to trade Cole Hamels, but the Rangers are already viewed as favorites to acquire the left-hander should Philadelphia make him available.
- The Dodgers could consider Russell Branyan, Olney suggests. Branyan, who has 194 career MLB home runs, has 11 homers and a .302/.436/.660 batting line in 133 plate appearances for the Yankees' Triple-A team this year.
- Michael Pineda is headed to the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, but John Harper of The New York Daily News says the trade was still the right move for the Yankees even if the right-hander won't pay dividends right away.
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters (including MLB.com's Bill Ladson) that the team is close to bringing Jason Michaels back. Washington released the outfielder earlier this week.
- The Orioles released a handful of minor leaguers according to Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com (on Twitter). Among those released were former big leaguers Josh Banks and Jeff Larish.
- The Yankees saved about two months of salary by releasing Russell Branyan and re-signing him to a new minor league deal yesterday, reports MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
The latest minor moves from around MLB...
- The Astros released first baseman Jimmy Van Ostrand and right-hander Lance Pendleton, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com tweets.
- The Brewers released catcher Mike Rivera, according to the team (via media relations director Mike Vassallo on Twitter). The 35-year-old appeared in one game with the 2011 Brewers and has experience in nine MLB seasons.
- The Yankees announced that they released Russell Branyan from his minor league contract and re-signed him to a new one. The Yankees appear to save $100K with the maneuver.
- The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Ryota Igarashi from the Pirates for cash considerations or a player to be named later, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports (Twitter links). Davidi suggests the Blue Jays will likely assign Igarashi to Triple-A. The 32-year-old appeared in 45 games for the 2011 Mets, posting a 4.66 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 6.5 BB/9 in 38 2/3 innings.
- The Phillies announced that they traded minor league first baseman Matt Rizzotti to the Twins for cash considerations today. The 26-year-old spent the 2011 season at Double-A Reading and posted a .295/.392/.511 line with 24 home runs, 34 doubles and 79 walks in 587 plate appearances.
The Yankees freed up some money yesterday by agreeing to trade A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for two minor leaguers and a total of $13MM in salary relief. They'll save $5MM in 2012 and $8MM in 2013. Reports indicate that they're expected to sign both Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez once the trade becomes official.
Chavez will fill out the bench like last year, but Ibanez would step in as the left-handed half of a DH platoon with Andruw Jones. Even though Spring Training is right around the corner, there is no shortage of DH-type bats on the open market as our Free Agent Tracker shows. If the Yankees were to decide to pass on Ibanez, they could always turn to Vladimir Guerrero or former Yankees Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. Guerrero is a right-handed hitter, however. They also signed Russell Branyan to a minor league contract recently.
Given Yankee Stadium's short right field porch and the presence of Jones, it makes sense for the Yankees to pursue a left-handed bat. Ibanez hit .245/.289/.419 overall last year but .256/.307/.440 against righties, which is good but not great. Damon (.255/.314/.401) and Matsui (.242/.318/.336) weren't any better against righties, and in fact Guerrero outperformed all three of those guys against northpaws (.291/.315/.428). The Yankees have no shortage of DH options, but which one is the best?
The Yankees signed first baseman Russell Branyan to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, reports Dan Martin of the New York Post. The move does not impact the team's pursuit of Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Raul Ibanez, notes Martin, though it could affect their interest in Eric Chavez. Branyan will make $750K plus incentives if he makes the big league roster, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Branyan, an ACES client, hit .197/.295/.370 in 146 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks and Angels last year. The D'Backs released him in May. The powerful left-handed hitter has 194 career home runs and a .485 slugging percentage.
Links for Monday night...
- Russell Branyan intends to play in 2012, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. Branyan posted a .197/.295/.370 line with the Diamondbacks and Angels in 2011, but hit 25 home runs in 2010.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty said he hopes to lock Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips up long-term, even though doing so would require major commitments, MLB.com youth correspondent Meggie Zahneis reports. "Everyone has to understand that these are expensive deals and there is only so much we can do," Jocketty said. An extension for Votto would likely require one of the largest deals in MLB history.
- Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner argues that the Mariners should make another move or two, even if they don’t project to contend in 2012. There’s value in staying in the pennant race and the Mariners can maximize their chances of staying competitive by adding to the roster before Opening Day, Cameron writes.
- Ben Badler of Baseball America offers scouting reports on six intriguing international players not named Yoenis Cespedes. Outfielder Jorge Soler, lefty Gerardo Concepcion and right Armando Rivero are worth watching, Badler writes.
- Astros owner Jim Crane announced that the team will not be changing its name. “The Houston Astros are here to stay,” he said.
The Angels announced that they have signed free agent first baseman Russell Branyan. Howie Kendrick, who has been one of the best players in the league so far, has been placed on the DL with a right hamstring strain.
The Diamondbacks released Branyan on the weekend, prompting Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports to suggest that the Angels could sign him and have him share time at first base with Mark Trumbo. Because Kendrys Morales is out for the season, the Angels have less depth than expected at first.
Branyan, 35, hit just .210/.290/.339 with one homer in 69 plate appearances for Arizona before getting released. The left-handed hitter posted an .874 OPS against righties last year, when he hit 25 homers for the Indians and Mariners. That makes him a possible platoon partner for Trumbo, who has hit lefties (.805 OPS) better than righties (.630 OPS) in his brief MLB career.
Happy birthday to Matt Wieters! The Orioles catcher turned 25 today, and he celebrated with a 2-for-4 performance in Baltimore's 8-3 win over Washington.
Here's some news from around the majors....
- The Rangers' offseason courtship of Cliff Lee is recapped by Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. Lee was brilliant against his former team today, holding the Rangers to just five hits and two walks over eight shutout innings in a 2-0 Philadelphia victory.
- The Mariners don't have any room, or particular need, for Russell Branyan, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. Branyan was released by the Diamondbacks earlier today.
- The Orioles activated Alfredo Simon from the restricted list a day earlier than expected and he was available to pitch today against the Nationals, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.
- Terry Francona was Jim Hendry's choice to manage the Cubs had Dusty Baker not taken the job before the 2003 season, reports Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. Francona was also a finalist to manage the White Sox (along with Cito Gaston) before Ozzie Guillen was hired.
- Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report looks at the Rays' cheap, effective bullpen revamp from this past offseason as an example of how the Rangers should approach improving their relief corps.
Here's the weekly 'Full Count' video from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com...
- Three different scouts have told Rosenthal that the Phillies have asked the Astros about Hunter Pence. A deal seems unlikely for a number of reasons -- Pence's salary (he's owed roughly $5MM more this season), the Phillies' reluctance to move top prospects in a deal, and the fact that Jim Crane wouldn't want to begin his ownership of the Astros by dealing their best player.
- Ruben Amaro tells Rosenthal that Phillies ownership hasn't yet given him direction about what the GM can or can't do at the deadline. Amaro says the Phillies could find some payroll space without having to deal Joe Blanton, which might be impossible anyway given Blanton's struggles, high salary and the fact that Blanton is currently on the DL.
- The Angels are looking to acquire a corner infielder with some pop. Rosenthal suggests Russell Branyan, just released by Arizona, could be signed to share time at first base with Mark Trumbo. Wilson Betemit could be acquired to play third, since the Royals will shop Betemit to clear space for Mike Moustakas.
- Ian Stewart is another possible target for the Halos, but the Rockies aren't likely to deal him since they don't have any other answers at third base. The Rockies are also "relucant to sell low" on the struggling Stewart; Rosenthal says the Pirates recently asked about Stewart but were "simply bottom-feeding" rather than making a serious offer.
- The Dodgers were one of C.C. Sabathia's "top choices" when he was a free agent after the 2008 season, and he would "love to have the Dodgers as leverage" when he (as expected) opts out of his contract with the Yankees this winter. As Rosenthal says, impending free agents hope the Dodgers solve their ownership problems quickly so the team can resume its status as a big-market destination.
- Jose Reyes "is going to make a killing" in free agency this winter and Jimmy Rollins should also do well given the lack of quality shortstops around the league, Rosenthal predicts. The Brewers, Mets, Dodgers, Giants and Athletics are just a few of the teams that could be in the market for a shortstop in the offseason. The Giants and A's may be a particular fit for Rollins, an Oakland native.
- The Phillies, of course, could re-sign Rollins themselves. Rosenthal notes it would be difficult for the Phils to part with their long-time shortstop, particularly if the club makes another deep postseason run.