Ryan Howard Rumors

East Notes: Syndergaard, Castillo, Howard

Top Mets pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard likely won’t get to make his big-league debut this season, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports. Mets manager Terry Collins says Syndergaard, who has pitched 124 1/3 frames for Triple-A Las Vegas this season, is close to hitting his innings limit for the year. Las Vegas will also make the PCL playoffs, so their season will continue past the usual early-September endpoint. Collins also says that if Syndergaard were to be promoted, the Mets would want it to be for more than just an inning or two. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • Rusney Castillo was able to get such a big contract from the Red Sox in part because his skill set of speed, defense and power will be rare in this offseason’s free agent market, his agent tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “[E]specially when teams were evaluating what was going to be available either at the trade deadline this summer or, more importantly, in free agency this winter, there just weren’t players that matched (Castillo’s) skill set,” says Brodie Van Wagenen of Roc Nation Sports.
  • The Phillies need to seriously consider removing Ryan Howard from their roster this offseason, David Murphy of the Daily News writes. Howard has, of course, struggled this season, hitting .222/.300/.373, but Murphy points out that Howard’s offensive struggles go all the way back to 2012, and there were signs of decline even before that. Meanwhile, as the Phillies attempt to remake themselves, plate appearances represent an asset — a way to gain information about a player who might help in the future, like Darin Ruf. Instead of finding playing time for Ruf primarily at first, though, the Phillies are moving him around, cutting into Domonic Brown‘s playing time.

Quick Hits: Cuban Smuggling, Martin, Jackson, Howard, Castillo

While news of Cuban ballplayer Rusney Castillo continues to dominate the news cycle, the human trafficking side of Cuban imports also made headlines. Eliezer Lazo entered a guilty plea in connection to the smuggling of over 1,000 Cubans, including Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin, reports Curt Anderson of the Associated Press. The article covers some of the sordid details involved in this human trafficking case.

  • In related news, a lawsuit brought against Martin by a Mexican baseball academy associated with Lazo will likely be dropped as a result of the criminal case. The Estrellas baseball academy alleged that Martin agreed to pay them up to 35% of his major league contract, but Martin only paid $1.2MM of his $15.5MM deal.
  • The Braves and Cubs discussed a proposal that would have sent Edwin Jackson to Atlanta in return for B.J. Upton, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. The deal would have served as a straight swap of albatross contracts. The sides apparently weren’t close to finalizing a trade but could re-open talks over the offseason. It appears this was probably the rumored trade first reported on August 9.
  • In what is likely to become an ongoing “will they, won’t they” story, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer speculates about moving on from Ryan Howard. The club currently has Darin Ruf taking the occasional start in left field while Howard blocks his playing time at first base. Philadelphia seemingly needs to decide which of three players possess the higher upside – Howard, Ruf, or left fielder Domonic Brown. Given Howard’s age, 34, and rapidly diminishing numbers – he had a .678 OPS before today’s home run – it’s fair to wonder if Howard should be the odd man out. Corner infield prospect Maikel Franco could also figure in the mix before long.
  • We at MLBTR seek to find answers for the pressing questions such as “Does Rusney Castillo know Jay-Z?” Castillo, who is represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports and Brodie Van Wagonen of CAA, does indeed know the mogul, according to the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber.

NL East Links: Phillies, Colon, Cabrera, Braves

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki runs down a number of decisions with which the Phillies are faced in the coming offseason and examines some of the perceived problems on the roster. Sources have indicated to Zolecki that despite manager Ryne Sandberg’s desire to play Darin Ruf more often at first base, the Phils feel they need to let Ryan Howard play if they have any hope of moving him to an AL club this winter. Zolecki adds that while Sandberg would like to learn more about Ruf via extra playing time, the organization feels it knows that Ruf is a platoon player — a view shared by other clubs as well.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • Despite the common belief that the Mets should move Bartolo Colon this offseason, Ben Berkon of SNY.tv’s MetsBlog opines that the pitching-rich Mets should at least consider the possibility of moving a different starter such as Jon Niese. While Colon could potentially net some minor league pieces to help out in 2017-18, flipping Niese and his desirable contract (but oft-questionable health status) could bring the Mets more immediate help. Berkon speculates that Niese — perhaps paired with prospects Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki and/or Rafael Montero — could allow the Mets to land an impact bat that the Mets have been lacking despite strong seasons from Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda.
  • The acquisition of Asdrubal Cabrera has helped the Nationals not only on the field but in the clubhouse as well, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. Manager Matt Williams offered nothing but praise for Cabrera’s professionalism, and shortstop Ian Desmond said he strives to live up to the clubhouse reputation and league-wide repsect that Cabrera has built.
  • Between top prospects Christian Bethancourt and Jose Peraza, only Bethancourt should expect a September callup, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Peraza has very little experience above Class A to this point, whereas Bethancourt impressed the Braves in his handling of the pitching staff in a brief two-week audition this summer. Bowman feels that the Braves’ comfort level with Bethancourt’s glove increases reason to believe that Evan Gattis should be traded to an AL club this winter. That seems like a leap in my eyes, given Bethancourt’s modest production at Triple-A and struggles against MLB pitching. Of course, Bethancourt, 22, is quite young to have played a full season at Triple-A as well, making his pedestrian numbers more understandable.


Placed On Revocable Waivers: Monday

Now that we’re beyond the July 31st trade deadline, players must pass through revocable trade waivers in order to be dealt to another team.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd broke down the August trade rules and what it means when you see several major names placed on waivers over the next few weeks.

Here are today’s notable players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…

  • Also going on revocable waivers today were Jason Hammel of the Athletics and Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, Rosenthal tweets. As Rosenthal notes, it seems likely that clubs will claim Miley, but that he will be pulled back by Arizona. As for Hammel, a deal still seems rather unlikely since Oakland dealt away some important rotation depth in Tommy Milone.
  • Hitting the wire today from the Phillies were Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz, Rosenthal tweets. They will be on waivers until Wednesday.
  • The Phillies placed Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  The moves all took place on Saturday, so since the waiver period lasts 47 hours, we could know by today if any of the players were claimed.  I’d expect Bastardo and Burnett to be claimed given that both drew significant interest before the July 31st deadline, and there is virtually no chance any team would claim Howard and risk being stuck with the roughly $68MM remaining on his contract.

NL East Notes: Howard, Colon, Mets

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.

East Notes: Price, Lester, Howard, Papelbon, Mets, Braves

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.

Stark’s Latest: Howard, Peavy, Reds, Red Sox, Rollins, Murphy

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.

Amaro: Phillies Have Not Considered Releasing Howard

FRIDAY: Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “emphatically” denied reports suggesting that the team was considering a release of Howard, writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury“That is not something we are contemplating,” Amaro told Salisbury. “I don’t know where that’s coming from.” Later in the interview, Amaro repeated that releasing Howard “has not been a thought” and added that Howard “should have no concerns” about being released.

Amaro did note that a platoon situation was a possibility if it improved the club’s production, but he said his real hope was to get Howard’s bat back on track. “I don’t expect him to be the Ryan Howard of 2006, 2007, 2008,” said Amaro. “What we expect is him to perform better than he is. I know he’s a better player than this.”

THURSDAY: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has some additional details on Philadelphia’s efforts to deal Howard. The club has shopped him, indicating that it would eat “much or most” of his remaining salary. Rival executives say that Philly is working hard to line up a match.

As Heyman notes, an American League team would seem most likely to add the former MVP, and two GMs told him yesterday that Howard was probably worth between $3MM and $5MM annually at this point. (Though presumably that does not mean that a multi-year commitment at that price would be desirable.)

WEDNESDAY: As his struggles worsen, the Phillies have had internal discussions about releasing one-time star first baseman Ryan Howard after the season, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Howard is owed the rest of his $25MM salary this season and comes with $60MM in future guarantees.

It does not appear that the club has reached any finality in regards to Howard’s future. The possibility of a trade has been explored, but Philadelphia has not found another club interested in taking on any substantial part of Howard’s contract. That is not surprising, of course, given that the 34-year-old is slashing a career-low .224/.305/.377 through 417 plate appearances on the year.

Now, with Howard’s decline becoming more pronounced, Philadelphia appears set to give more playing time to younger first base option Darin Ruf, who was recalled today. Manager Ryne Sandberg did not call it a platoon situation, but suggested as much. “As far as the lineup, that will be a day-to-day thing,” he said. “I think it’s important to see what a guy like Darin Ruf can do also going forward,” the skipper added.

Howard signed his extension at the start of the 2010 season, coming off of a four-year run in which he put up a composite .278/.379/.589 line and hit 198 home runs. Though he continued to produce at an above-average clip at the plate for two more seasons, things began to head south when he tore his Achilles tendon while making the last out of the team’s Game 5 loss in the 2011 NLDS. (That, of course, was also the Phils’ most recent postseason game.) Since that time, Howard — long considered a substandard fielder and baserunner – has mustered only 917 trips to the plate and owns an OPS that falls below league average.


NL East Notes: Mets, Howard, Gonzalez, Capps

Dismissed Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens set off some controversy today when he told Michael Kay of ESPNNewYork.com (audio link) that, if Mets GM Sandy Alderson could do everything he wants to do, they would have a winner here,” and suggested that the club’s ownership needs to “let the purse strings loose.” Of course, it is worth noting that Hudgens added that he has no personal information as to how the front office is run. For his part, Alderson said that payroll was not the problem in New York, as Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.

Here’s more from the Mets and the rest of the NL East:

  • The Mets received good news on top prospect arm Noah Syndergaard, whose MRI results were negative. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets, Alderson said that Syndergaard is “essentially fine.” Certainly, a prolonged absence for Syndergaard would have dealt another tough blow to the club’s timeline for putting a competitive MLB club on the field.
  • Darin Ruf started in place of Ryan Howard against a lefty today for the Phillies, which could potentially be the beginning of a platoon, reports Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard has struggled mightily against same-handed pitchers over the course of the season, with a 41.7% strikeout rate and 73 wRC+. When asked if Ruf might keep seeing time against lefties, manager Ryne Sandberg responded: “Yeah, if it happens to work. It’s an opportunity to have a lineup like that, and if it produces that becomes an opportunity … to possible get some consistency with the offense against right-handed and left-handed pitching.” Howard, of course, is earning $25MM this year and is still promised an additional $60MM over 2015-17.
  • Meanwhile, Phillies‘ international signee Miguel Gonzalez has experienced a case of dead arm and will be checked out by the team’s top physician, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gonzalez, 27, had been working on a rehab assignment at High-A, where he had allowed seven earned runs (on three strikeouts and nine walks) over 9 1/3 innings. “Hopefully, it’s nothing serious,” commented GM Ruben Amaro Jr. As Gelb implies, it looks increasingly unlikely that the club will get any major league production out of Gonzalez this year.
  • The Marlins are hoping to avoid losing another pitcher to season-ending elbow surgery, as reliever Carter Capps will shut down and rehab an undisclosed elbow injury, reports Craig Davis of the Miami Sun-Sentinel“He’ll be down for an extended period of time and start building back up, and see where we’re at,” said manager Mike Redmond. Capps, a hard-throwing 23-year-old righty, came to Miami in the Logan Morrison trade, and had tossed 12 innings of 3.00 ERA ball with an impressive 11.25 K/9 against just 2.25 BB/9. The injury situation is all the more difficult in light of the fact that the Fish surprisingly remain right in the thick of things in the NL East.

Phillies Notes: Howard, Amaro, Papelbon, Rollins

It's been a rough season for the Phillies, with injuries to many of their top players weighing down the team's record prior to the firing of longtime manager Charlie Manuel. We know they'll be looking for both bullpen help and catching help this offseason to try to right the ship, but here's the latest on the Phils in the meantime…

  • Interim manager Ryne Sandberg says that it would be "counterproductive" for Ryan Howard to return this season, writes Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sandberg told reporters that he doesn't feel playing 10-15 games when he's not at full health would do Howard much good, and instead he needs to focus on being as fit and healthy as he possibly can in 2014. Sandberg still believes that Howard can be a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat if he returns to full health.
  • Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly conducted a Q&A with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., in which Amaro said that while the bullseye may be on him after Manuel's dismissal, he's not currently feeling any heat from ownership: "David Montgomery has been very supportive. David and the ownership group — I know they’re disappointed, but they’re supportive."
  • Amaro also said that Jonathan Papelbon's presence at the back of his bullpen is "crucial" to winning games, and he thinks Papelbon will be part of a Phillies contender in 2014. Amaro added that he's heard good feedback about Papelbon's work with the team's young relievers, though he did stop short of firmly calling Papelbon a positive clubhouse force when asked by Salisbury.
  • "You'd have to ask Jimmy," Amaro replied when Salisbury asked if shortstop Jimmy Rollins would benefit from a change of scenery. Rollins has a no-trade clause that he's not interested in waiving anyhow, but he's been questioned for lapses in hustle recently. Amaro didn't sound interested in the thought of trying to move Rollins, stating: "Jimmy is our shortstop. We signed him for a reason."
  • Amaro also told Salisbury that in addition to signing solid relievers, the team needs to do a better job of adding good depth pieces to the bullpen. As Amaro notes, Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo had strong track records, but injuries to Adams and a suspension for Bastardo have exposed a lack of depth.