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The Reds have the toughest upcoming offseason of any team, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. They could lose most of their rotation following the 2015 season, they still have big commitments to Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Homer Bailey, and they’re facing dealing with three good NL Central competitors and another in Chicago that could have a very bright future. Sherman suggests the Reds consider trading Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and perhaps Jay Bruce. “We still have a small window,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty protests. “This year is disappointing because of the injuries. From the very beginning, we had 11 DL guys and eight were key. … I feel we still have a small window if the guys come back healthy.” Here’s more from the National League.
- The young Cubs are waiting for Kris Bryant to arrive in the big leagues, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “Yeah, we’re imagining what [Bryant] can do,” says pitcher Kyle Hendricks. “I mean, the whole group together. It’s definitely exciting. You can feel it. Everyone’s talking about it around the clubhouse. It’s just awesome seeing these guys coming up and having success.” There’s already plenty of buzz surrounding Jorge Soler‘s debut, and already plenty of young talent in Chicago, and yet Bryant, arguably the Cubs’ best young player, remains in the minors, where he’s hitting .296/.417/.635 in 283 plate appearances with Triple-A Iowa.
- Padres 2B/3B/OF prospect Cory Spangenberg tweets that he will be promoted to the big leagues. Spangenberg has hit .331/.365/.470 in 304 plate appearances this season for Double-A San Antonio. Spangenberg has often been overshadowed by others from his draft class — he was taken between Javier Baez and George Springer in the first round in 2011. But after a strong fourth pro season, he’s about to make it to the Show.
There have been plenty of historic moments this season, but one under-the-radar chase of an MLB record came to a close today, as Giants right-hander Yusmeiro Petit set a new Major League record by retiring his 46th consecutive batter (video link). Petit’s 46 batters came over a span of eight appearances and included an impressive 26 strikeouts. The 29-year-old will make for an interesting arbitration case this offseason if he remains in the San Francisco rotation going forward, as he’s quietly strung together a pair of excellent seasons after pitching just 4 2/3 innings in the Majors from 2010-12.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- The man that Petit replaced in the Giants rotation, Tim Lincecum, is perhaps best suited to become a closer at this point in his career, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Cameron notes that the move to the bullpen would likely restore some of Lincecum’s lost velocity, but more importantly, he points out the stark contrast between Lincecum’s numbers with the bases empty and with men on base. Because of his struggles pitching from the stretch, Lincecum wouldn’t be a great fit to be a middle reliever that would inherit runners. Rather, pitching the ninth inning would give him as many opportunities to begin an inning with a clean slate as possible, Cameron writes.
- Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall was a guest of Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM today (audio link), and the Arizona executive discussed the hiring of Tony La Russa: “Tony’s been terrific. I’ve really enjoyed being with him every day and he’s put a lot of work into this and he’s motivated and he’s so competitive it is fun to watch each and every day. But I think his assessment, his evaluation is very close to being complete.”
- Hall also discussed the future of GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, telling Duquette and Ferrin that the organization was getting close to deciding on the future of each. “…when we make those decisions, the sooner the better. … It doesn’t make sense to go into the offseason, when we already have so many decisions to make with our player personnel, to still be wondering what we’re going to do in the front office. … So I think we’re getting close to the point of knowing what we’re going to want to do and act swiftly so that when the season does end we’re ready to go and get ready for 2015.”
- Speaking of Towers, the longtime GM participated in a Q&A with Steve Gilbert of MLB.com earlier this week and discussed his recent scouting trip of the team’s minor league system as well as his relationship with La Russa: “It’s nice to have a guy that’s been as successful in uniform around. … It’s nice to be able to pick his brain. I always wanted to pick his brain when he was in the other dugout with the Cardinals. Now when you have him on the same team, it’s very valuable.” Also of note is the fact that Towers said to Gilbert that it was unlikely that top prospect Archie Bradley would be receiving a September callup.
- Trevor Hoffman will be inducted into the Padres‘ Hall of Fame on Saturday, and to commemorate his historic career, MLB.com’s Corey Brock spoke to a number of catchers that had the privilege of catching the likely Hall of Famer. Brock’s story is full of excellent stories from a number of catchers, including current Brewers backstop Jonathan Lucroy, who recalls catching Hoffman’s 600th career save as a rookie in 2010. In describing the legendary closer, Lucroy states: “I always reference Trevor Hoffman when I talk about the kind of guy I want to be.”
The Pirates have announced that they’ve claimed pitcher Bobby LaFromboise from the Padres. San Diego designated the lefty for assignment last week. To make space on their 40-man roster, the Pirates designated infielder Tommy Field for assignment.
LaFromboise has spent the 2014 season in the bullpen at Triple-A El Paso, posting a 4.75 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 53 innings. The 27-year-old pitched 10 2/3 innings for the Mariners last season, striking out 11 batters and walking four while allowing eight runs, seven earned. The Padres claimed him in April.
The Pirates claimed Field from the Angels two weeks ago. He’s hit .289/.359/.452 at the Triple-A level in 2014 while playing second base, shortstop and third base.
The Dodgers will change their Triple-A affiliation from Albuquerque to the Oklahoma City RedHawks next season, Michael Baldwin of the Oklahoman reports. Oklahoma City is currently affiliated with the Astros. Mandalay Baseball Properties will reportedly sell the RedHawks to a group tied to the Dodgers for a sum in the $22MM to $28MM range. Baldwin writes that the Dodgers are trying to get out of Albuquerque, a difficult environment in which to evaluate prospects because its park is so favorable to hitters. The move is part of what could be a big shakeup in the Pacific Coast League, with the Athletics also moving from Sacramento to Nashville (currently a Brewers affiliate) and the Giants moving from Fresno to Sacramento. It’s unclear where the Astros and Brewers will end up in such a scenario. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- Brady Aiken may have selected a junior college after being selected first overall and then going unsigned in a dispute with the Astros, MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets. Aiken could end up at Yavapai JC in Arizona, which has helped develop future big-leaguers like Curt Schilling, Kole Calhoun, Bob Milacki, Billy Hatcher and Kyle Blanks.
- Carlos Quentin is likely “on his way out” with the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes in a recent chat. Quentin is under contract for $8MM in 2015, but the Padres likely won’t want to keep him, given his struggles to stay healthy. (What they might do with him is a different question — it’s hard to imagine Quentin having much trade value, given that he’s hit poorly in limited action this season.) Seth Smith and Rymer Liriano are the only near-locks for spots in the San Diego outfield next year, Lin writes.
- With Andrew Susac emerging as a potential starting option at catcher and Buster Posey showing signs of wear, the Giants might consider moving Posey to a new position in the future, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News writes. The Giants have no plans to move Posey at this time, however. If Posey does eventually move, he will probably move to first base.
- With Garrett Richards out for the rest of the season, the Angels will presumably be looking for pitching, and Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com has a list of pitchers who might be available. Given the obstacles to making August trades, perhaps it’s no surprise that it isn’t an incredibly inspiring list, with some of the better options possibly being either unwilling to play for the Angels (A.J. Burnett, who can block trades to West Coast teams) or unlikely to make it all the way to them on waivers (Mat Latos).
THURSDAY: The Padres have released Conrad, according to the team’s transactions page.
Additionally, the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page reveals that the Padres have released right-hander Hector Ambriz. After spending 55 2/3 innings in the Astros’ bullpen from 2012-13, the 30-year-old Ambriz saw just two innings with the Friars this year. Much of his season was spent at Triple-A El Paso, where he posted a solid 3.93 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 55 frames. He had signed a minor league deal with the Padres back in Spring Training.
TUESDAY: The Padres announced that they have designated Brooks Conrad for assignment. In related moves, left-hander Frank Garces will be called up from Double-A San Antonio and right-hander Jesse Hahn is on his way back to San Antonio.
Conrad signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January after spending some time in Japan. The infielder has spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, slashing .278/.349/.529 with 18 homers in 337 plate appearances. In a limited sample size of 34 major league appearances in 2014, he hasn’t been able to produce the same results. For his career, Conrad owns a .200/.271/.660 line across parts of six big league campaigns.
With the injuries piling up within the Dodgers‘ rotation, Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times wonders if the team erred by not making any significant additions both at the trade deadline or even last offseason. In refusing to deal any of their top prospects for Major League upgrades, “you have to wonder if the Dodgers’ desire to have it both ways — win now while simultaneously rebuilding the farm system — might not cost them their best chance at winning this season,” Dilbeck writes. Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- Rookie Kevin Quackenbush recorded his first career save last night, and if the youngster produces over the rest of the season, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune feels the Padres might go with the younger (and cheaper) option at closer in 2015. This would make Joaquin Benoit, the Friars’ current stopper, into an offseason trade candidate.
- David Peralta went from being a failed Cardinals pitching prospect to a reliable everyday outfielder for the Diamondbacks with an independent league stint in between, and FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi chronicles how Peralta’s unlikely career revival was due to one persistent D’Backs scout.
- Justin Upton is enjoying another strong season with the Braves, which again begs the question of why the Diamondbacks traded of the star outfielder in January 2013. A former D’Backs employee tells Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC subscription required) that the low-key Upton simply didn’t fit Arizona’s model for a superstar. “Management there wants it done a certain way. They want their guys to be Luis Gonzalez, who was very active in the community,” the source said. “They wanted Justin to be the face of the franchise — they had that ‘Uptown’ sign in the outfield — but that’s not Justin. He would say, ‘I just want to play the game.’ “
The Mets have not yet tried sending Bartolo Colon through revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. One reason this is significant is because Colon would represent one possible upgrade for an Angels team that just lost Garrett Richards to what appears to be a significant knee injury. It’s unclear whether Colon would be claimed by another team before getting to the Angels. He’s pitched fairly well this year, despite his age, and he’s set to make a reasonable salary of $11MM in 2015. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- At least so far, the David Freese / Peter Bourjos trade has worked out fairly well for the Angels, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Freese got off to a slow start but has hit well since June, while Fernando Salas has been steady out of the Angels’ bullpen. Meanwhile, Bourjos hasn’t hit well in a part-time role with the Cardinals (although he continues to provide defensive value), and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk has spent most of the season at Triple-A.
- Calls for the Marlins to trade Giancarlo Stanton may have been premature, writes Rosenthal. Next season, Stanton will still only be 25 and under control through 2016, and the Marlins will have a healthy Jose Fernandez. They might also get more help from young hitters Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, so they could contend in 2015. While they likely won’t be able to sign Stanton long term before he becomes eligible for free agency following the 2016 season, they might be able to simply wait to trade him, perhaps for established players rather than prospects.
- Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner will make his first start since June 18 on Saturday in Arizona, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. On his way back from a shoulder injury, Cashner pitched five innings in a rehab start for Triple-A El Paso Monday. Cashner has emerged as one of the top starters in the National League in the past two seasons, and he had a 2.76 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 76 1/3 innings this year before he got hurt.
The Padres have designated lefty Bobby LaFromboise for assignment, the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. They also reinstated Cameron Maybin from the restricted list and optioned infielder Jace Peterson to Triple-A El Paso. Maybin has finished a 25-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamines.
LaFromboise made ten appearances with the Mariners in 2013, but he’s only pitched for El Paso so far in 2014, posting a 4.75 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 53 innings of relief. The Padres claimed him from the Mariners in April.
Earlier today, we learned that the Dodgers are interested in adding a reliever, as well as a bench bat. The club has already added two right-handed starters this month, acquiring Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia. Now, comes word Zack Greinke has skipped his between-starts side session with what manager Don Mattingly called “some soreness and things like that,” reports ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon. The Dodgers, who have lost starters Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu to the disabled list, are hopeful Greinke will make his next start Thursday. Here’s more out of the NL West..
- Giants GM Brian Sabean said he is skeptical making of any roster additions in August, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Heading into tonight’s slate of games, the Giants trail the Dodgers by 3.5 games in the NL West and hold a thin lead on the second Wild Card spot.
- New Padres GM A.J. Preller has successfully pried veteran executive Don Welke away from the Rangers, two sources tell Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. The Padres have confirmed the hiring announcing Welke will serve as their vice president of scouting operations. The Rangers had the right to refuse but chose not to get in Welke’s way of taking a job with San Diego. Welke, a long-time scout under Pat Gillick in Toronto, was in his eighth season with the Rangers after coming over from the Dodgers.
- Earlier today, the Padres optioned right-hander Jesse Hahn to Double-A San Antonio as a way to taper his workload, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The 25-year-old has tossed 110 1/3 innings this season between San Diego and San Antonio and is expected to rejoin the parent club when rosters expand in September.
- The Dodgers are having bullpen problems, but acquiring a quality reliever at this point of the season is downright impossible, writes MLB.com’s Sarah D. Morris. The Dodgers’ bullpen has been performing below expectations all season long, but losing both Paul Maholm and Chris Perez weakened it even further.
- Carlos Gonzalez underwent left knee surgery today (his third different operation this year) and says “everything went perfect,” reports Nick Groke of the Denver Post. The rehab, however, is expected to extend into Spring Training as the Rockies outfielder will be in a walking brace for three months and a determination on his status won’t be made for another two months after that.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB, updates first:
- The Rangers have released veteran first baseman Carlos Pena from their Triple-A roster, per the PCL transactions page. Pena struggled at the major league level for Texas with a .136/.190/.237 line in 63 plate appearances. He performed better during his month at Triple-A with a .297/.350/.500 line in 80 plate appearances. No word on why the club cut ties with Pena.
- The Mariners have released right-handed pitcher Matt Palmer from the Triple-A Rainiers, according to the PCL transactions page. The 35-year-old pitched to a 5.42 ERA for the Rainiers over 73 innings. He last appeared in the majors with the Padres in 2012. Angels fans may remember him from his 2009 season, when he won 11 games and posted a 3.93 ERA over 121 innings.
- Resolving an earlier bit of news, the Tigers have outrighted the contract of right-handed pitcher Kevin Whelan to Triple-A. The 30-year-old appeared once for the big league club and allowed two runs over one and one-third innings. Prior to his call up, he served as the closer for the Mud Hens, where he posted a 2.45 ERA, 10.93 K/9, and 4.02 BB/9. Presumably, he will return to that role. The team announced the move on Twitter.
- Padres minor league outfielder Corey Adamson has retired to pursue a career in Australian rules football, reports Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego. The 22-year-old, six-year pro was hitting .257/.340/.399 in 348 plate appearances at the High-A level.
- The Brewers have signed right-hander Billy Buckner to a minor league contract, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 30-year-old was released two weeks ago by the Padres. Buckner made one spot start for San Diego this season allowing three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings and, in 15 appearances (14 starts) for Triple-A El Paso, has posted a 5.80 ERA, 6.2 K/9, and 4.7 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings.
- Cotillo also tweets the Diamondbacks have released outfielder Aaron Cunningham from their Triple-A affiliate. The 27-year-old, who signed a minor league deal with Arizona in March, slashed .255/.342/.346 in 281 plate appearances for Reno. Cunningham hasn’t appeared in a MLB game since 2012 when he hit .175/.245/.247 for the Indians in 109 plate appearances.
- Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, there are four players in DFA limbo: Corey Brown (Red Sox), Charlie Leesman (White Sox), Matt Hague (Pirates), and Wirfin Obispo (Pirates).
Brad Johnson contributed to this post.