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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.
The latest from MLB.com’s Corey Brock is an outstanding background on A.J. Preller’s rise from a college intern with the Phillies and an unpaid Arizona Fall League worker to the general manager of the Padres. Brock spoke not only with Preller, but with some of his biggest influences, including Rangers GM Jon Daniels, former big league manager Jim Tracy, Rangers senior special assistant Jim Welke and Rangers director of pro scouting Josh Boyd. The article goes in depth on Preller’s love of international scouting and the great lengths to which he went to build the Rangers’ scouting presence in Latin America. Padres fans looking to learn more about their new GM should consider the piece a must-read, but it’s well worth the time of any baseball fan. Tracy, who worked with Preller back in 2001, tells Brock: “The Padres have hired themselves an absolute jewel. No one will outwork him. It’s impossible to do. I find it hard to believe that he will be outsmarted.”
Here’s more from the NL West…
- On a more somber note for Padres fans, the team announced today that top prospect Max Fried will require Tommy John surgery that will sideline him for most, if not all of the 2015 campaign. Fried, who was drafted seventh overall in 2012, has had a lost season, as he opened the year on the shelf with a flexor strain and only returned to the mound in January. The 20-year-old totaled just 10 2/3 innings of work this season before being shut down. Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus all ranked him inside of the game’s Top 55 prospects heading into the season.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News looks at the poor timing of Troy Tulowitzki‘s season-ending hip surgery. Martino recalls that just a few weeks ago, one source told him that if the Rockies were ever going to trade their star shortstop, “this is the winter.” Major League sources told Martino that they saw the Mets, Yankees, Cardinals and Red Sox as possible fits for Tulowitzki, but health concerns — which already existed due to his lengthy injury history — will now be magnified and might make it tough to get a strong enough return. Tulo is guaranteed $118MM from 2015-20.
- With Tim Lincecum again struggling on the mound — he has an 8.39 ERA since the All-Star break — Grant Brisbee of SB Nation’s McCovey Chronicles asks if Lincecum is still a better rotation option than teammate Yusmeiro Petit. Brisbee notes that from a peripheral standpoint, Petit is similar to Lincecum but with markedly better command, making him a potentially safer bet through season’s end. While he notes that the Giants would never bounce Lincecum from the rotation in favor of Petit, doing so might give them a better chance at making a push for the playoffs.
Here are the minor moves of the day …
- The Padres tweet that Jeff Francoeur has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A El Paso. Frenchy was designated for assignment earlier this week after struggling with the big league club, but the former NL Rookie of the Year candidate has performed quite well at the Triple-A level this season.
- Former Padres farmhand Tim Sexton has inked a minor league deal with the Athletics, according to Midland RockHounds assistant GM of media relations Greg Bergman (h/t: Melissa Lockard of OaklandClubhouse.com). Sexton, a 27-year-old right-hander, has a 5.90 ERA in 58 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season, and he has a lifetime 6.68 ERA at the Triple-A level. He’s been much better at Double-A, however, with a 4.40 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 188 1/3 innings at that level.
- The Dodgers have requested unconditional released waivers on utilityman Chone Figgins, the club announced. The veteran was designated for assignment last Wednesday. He has reached base at an impressive .373 clip on the year, but has slugged only .267 over his 76 plate appearances.
- The Giants have released outfielder Brett Krill, according to the PCL transactions page. Krill, 25, struggled at all levels this year, including his first attempt at Triple-A. His aggregate triple-slash on the season is .191/.260/.253 over 197 plate appearances. Krill has seen his offensive production decline steadily as he has moved up in the system over the last four years.
In a guest piece on the blog of ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link), Athletics closer Sean Doolittle offers a look inside some of the less conventional advanced metrics employed by Oakland’s front office. In particular, a unique twist on BABIP (batting average relative to Bip Roberts) seems to have played an important role in the organization’s oft-noted ability to outperform its payroll. (Obviously, the piece is in jest, but it’s a fun read from a player who has had quite an interesting career path.)
Here’s more from the game’s western divisions:
- The Rockies will soon learn more about the injury situations of their two stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, as Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports, as both men are set to visit specialists today. Tulowitzki, battling a strained left hip flexor, may have a hip labrum his issue. If that is the case, there are non-surgical options that might allow him to return to action this year. Meanwhile, Gonzalez is struggling with chronic tendinitis in his left knee. He, too, could conceivably play again in 2014, though some treatments would keep him out until the spring. Needless to say, the lingering (and, potentially, expanding) injury concerns with both players not only create yet more questions about Colorado’s ability to put together a contending roster next year, but could further dampen the possibility of either player being dealt over the offseason.
- When the Padres hired A.J. Preller to take over as GM, they agreed with the Rangers not to hire away any Texas front office staffers over the next two year, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report tweets. Presumably, the Rangers were able to extract this promise in exchange for allowing San Diego to interview and hire away Preller himself before his own contract was up.
- More on Preller: Miller applauds the Friars for taking a chance on a bold candidate. And on his blog, Jamey Newberg provides some interesting thoughts on Preller, who he calls a “scout’s scout who prefers doing his work behind the scenes.”
- Though Alex Rios of the Rangers appears to have avoided a significant injury, his continued absence from the lineup means that he is increasingly unlikely to be dealt, writes ESPNDallas.com’s Calvin Watkins. Not only do the Royals now appear to be an unlikely suitor, says Watkins, but other possible landing spots could disappear as the month goes on and playoff races clarify.
The 30-year-old Francoeur recently joined the Friars’ big league club after spending much of the season with Triple-A El Paso, but he collected just a pair of hits and three walks in 28 trips to the plate. Frenchy hasn’t produced in the Majors since a surprising 20-20 campaign for the Royals back in 2011 — an effort that was impressive enough to net him a two-year. $13.5MM deal to remain in Kansas City.
That contract proved to be a misstep for Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, however, as Francoeur has batted just .226/.269/.346 since that time and was designated for assignment midway through the contract’s second season. The former top prospect and Rookie of the Year candidate did enjoy a nice season with El Paso this year, as he batted a healthy .294/.325/.465 with 15 homers in 416 plate appearances.
Liriano, 23, is batting a robust .291/.362/.473 with 14 homers and 20 steals between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He ranked sixth on MLB.com’s midseason list of the Top 20 Padres prospects. MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo noted that Liriano has plenty of raw power and above-average speed, but he’ll need to refine his approach at the plate because of his propensity to swing and miss. His bat profiles well at any outfield position, according to the MLB.com duo.
The Tigers have “kicked around” the idea of trading for a hitter to bolster the back end of their lineup, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest Full Count video. Finding a quality bat will be more difficult in the August waiver period, of course, and there also isn’t any position that Detroit would clearly be looking to upgrade. Rosenthal says the team is “pretty much set in the outfield,” though I’d argue that adding another outfielder to complement or even replace J.D. Martinez or Rajai Davis (both of whom were originally acquired to be part-timers) would help the Tigers down the stretch.
Here’s some more from Rosenthal’s video and a separate piece that examines which managers and general managers could be on the hot seat…
- Some of Jon Lester‘s former teammates believe the southpaw will sign with the Cubs this offseason. Lester, of course, has ties to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs’ recent waiver claim of Cole Hamels indicates that the team is prepared to spend big money on a top-tier starting pitcher.
- Had the Padres hired Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, the return of Kevin Towers to the San Diego organization “would’ve been almost automatic.” (The two worked together in New York.) Between Tony La Russa’s hiring in Arizona and the firing of Josh Byrnes in San Diego, rumors have swirled for weeks that Towers would find himself back with the Friars given his friendship with Padres president/CEO Mike Dee. As Rosenthal notes, Towers could still return under new GM A.J. Preller, though rival executives are split as to whether Towers’ presence would be a positive or a negative for Preller as a first-time general manager.
- Bud Black “would be out of work for about five minutes” if Preller decided to make a managerial change. Mike Dee recently told Rosenthal that Preller would decide on Black’s future with the Padres, though the fact that Black’s removal was “never seriously considered” by upper management would seem to bode well for the long-time skipper.
- While Reds GM Walt Jocketty is in the final year of his contract, “there is no indication that Jocketty wants to leave, or that owner Bob Castellini wants him out.” Rosenthal speculates that a reunion between Jocketty and La Russa in Arizona could be a possibility, though Jocketty might prefer to stay with the contending Reds rather than face a rebuilding job with the D’Backs.
- Ruben Amaro’s future as the Phillies‘ GM has been in question given the team’s struggles, which could also mean that manager Ryne Sandberg’s continued employment could also be up in the air. The Hall-of-Famer has “at times looks overmatched, struggling in his communications with veterans and with his in-game management,” Rosenthal writes, though he points out that Sandberg hasn’t been given much to work with on the roster. Sandberg is under contract through the end of the 2016 season.
- Could Jeff Luhnow’s job actually be in jeopardy? Rosenthal isn’t sure, though he notes that “internal tension seems unavoidable” in Houston. The Astros have seen little improvement on the field this season and Luhnow’s front office was widely criticized for its handling of the Brady Aiken negotiations.
- Mike Maddux’s Rangers contract is up at the end of the season, and while extension talks probably won’t take place until then, both Maddux and the team seem eager to see the long-time pitching coach remain in Texas.
The Padres will promote top outfield prospect Rymer Liriano on Monday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Liriano hasn’t made many lists of top prospects throughout the game, but Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 named him the Padres’ sixth-best prospect heading into the season, praising his five-tool potential, even after he missed the 2013 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. Since then, the 23-year-old has attracted attention with a solid performance at Double-A San Antonio and a ridiculous outburst in a small sample with Triple-A El Paso, in which he’s hit .467/.536/.683 in his first 69 plate appearances. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- The Rangers will not promote top prospect Joey Gallo this season, ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets. The 20-year-old is hitting .255/.347/.568 for Double-A Frisco after putting up even more ridiculous numbers earlier this season at Class A+ Myrtle Beach, and he wowed fans at this year’s Futures Game. But it sounds like we’ll have to wait until 2015 before we see him hit home runs in Arlington. He’s struck out more than three times for every walk so far at Double-A, and he has no Triple-A experience, so there could be merit to allowing him to spend at least a couple more months in the minors.
- The Rockies should make seven moves to vault themselves into contention in 2015, ESPN Insider’s Jim Bowden writes. FanGraphs’ Paul Swydan recently wrote an article with a similar theme, but very different suggestions, and it’s interesting to compare the two pieces. Some of Bowden’s suggestions (like trading Kyle Parker and DJ LeMahieu to Minnesota for Brian Dozier, or dealing Brett Anderson and prospect Raimel Tapia to the Red Sox for Mookie Betts) seem a bit far-fetched, but they’re good springboards for discussion, and figuring out how to fix a 45-71 team in short order isn’t an easy exercise.
The Padres have dominated recent news with their hiring of new GM A.J. Preller. One of the main tasks set before Preller is to turn the current roster into a contender. The Padres have never won the World Series, and it will be Preller’s job to guide them through October. His first assignment – evaluate the club’s current assets and identify potential August trades.
A few players stand out as potential trade assets. They are unlikely to contribute to the next great Padres roster. As such, it might be best to get something back for them while it’s possible. As the club learned with Chase Headley, baseball assets can spoil unexpectedly.
Two players stand out as particularly valuable, although both are controllable through 2015. Ian Kennedy has recovered his career in San Diego, with a 3.51 ERA, 9.53 K/9, and 3.08 BB/9 through 146 and one-third innings. He has one more year of arbitration, and he’s likely to earn around $10MM. As such, he represents a substantial but potentially valuable financial investment. His struggles in Arizona and New York may give contenders pause before they buy his 2014 numbers.
The other top asset is closer Joaquin Benoit. He was a much rumored July trade candidate along with former closer Huston Street. Most clubs preferred him as a setup man despite closer quality numbers. His contract might explain why. Benoit is owed $8MM next season with a $8MM option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed with 55 games finished in 2015. The details of his contract could help him to pass through revocable waivers.
Even if both players are claimed, the Padres may have the opportunity to swing a trade with the claiming team. Other Padres like Will Venable could hit the market too, although they’re unlikely to return anything noteworthy.
For a more complete explanation of how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR’s August Trades primer. You can also check out MLBTR’s list of players that have cleared revocable waivers to see who is eligible to be traded to any team.
Newly hired Padres GM A.J. Preller spoke about a variety of topics during his Wednesday introductory press conference. Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego provides the abridged version including why Preller was interested in the job, the challenge of wooing hitters to Petco Park, and his top priorities (answer: getting to know his employees).
- Also from Lin’s piece, Preller commented on working with a small budget. The Rangers may be a big budget team now, but that’s a recent development. Preller was a part of the Rangers front office when they reached the World Series on a $55MM payroll in 2010, so he’s familiar with building on the cheap. Interestingly for Padres fans, Preller expressed an expectation that ownership would expand the budget when the team was a major player or two away from getting “over the top.”
- With his impending free agency, Pablo Sandoval presents the Giants with a dilemma, writes Drew Fairservice of Fangraphs. On the surface, it’s easy to dismiss the nearly 28-year-old Kung Fu Panda as an inconsistent free-swinger. However, he consistently ranks among the top defensive third basemen and has settled in as a steady 120 wRC+ hitter (20 percent above league average). The Giants have a track record of loyalty to their free agents, so it will be interesting to see if they allow Sandoval to test the waters.
We read many reports about who was being considered and moved forward in the Padres‘ search for a new general manager, but MLB.com’s Corey Brock provides some more details on what was happening behind the scenes. Give his piece a read to see what led San Diego to choose A.J. Preller to take the helms of the club’s baseball decisionmaking. In other executive chatter, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic profiles Diamondbacks scouting director Ray Montgomery, who was one of the candidates for the game’s latest GM opening.
Here’s more from the National League:
- Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd has apparently been pulled back from revocable waivers after being claimed by an as-yet-unidentified team, as he played tonight for Philadelphia. Reports suggested Byrd was claimed on or before Wednesday, and the 48.5 hour window to complete a transaction (or withdraw the claimed player) would have expired by now.
- The Cubs, meanwhile, were unable to work out a deal for Phillies starter Cole Hamels, who was also withdrawn from waivers by Philadelphia. But, as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes, the move to claim Hamels showed a new willingness to spend that could tell in the coming months. And missing on the veteran lefty did not stop the club from adding an arm, with Jacob Turner coming in from Miami in exchange for a pair of relievers who have yet to advance past High-A and are both his elder. President Theo Epstein’s comments indicated what many expected he was thinking: “We’ve had some success with talented pitchers who were going through tough periods. Getting them here, let them re-set a little. … We’re hopeful that will happen with Jacob. … Between now and next spring training there are things we can work on.”
- Dodgers starter Josh Beckett could be out for the year, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, though manager Don Mattingly expressed optimism that the righty would make his way back. Either way, his uncertain contribution going forward would appear to support GM Ned Colletti’s statement from earlier today that the team was still looking to add an arm.
- The Rockies are awaiting word on the severity of a back injury to oft-DL’ed starter Brett Anderson, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Colorado is worried that Anderson will be out the rest of the year. Though he’s been out with a variety of other issues in the past, the back problem is a new one. The 26-year-old lefty has been effective when healthy, but his 2.91 ERA this year has come over just 43 1/3 innings. The Rockies face a tough call on whether to exercise a $12MM option for Anderson for 2015.