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The Red Sox, Giants and Tigers were said to be the front-runners for Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo as of yesterday evening. The outfielder’s rumored asking price continues to crawl upward as his decision reportedly inches closer. We’ll keep track of today’s Castillo rumors in this post…
- ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears that the bidding for Castillo could cost $50-60MM over five years. Stark lists five of the six usual suspects as finalists, noting that the Red Sox, Tigers, Giants, Phillies and Yankees remain in the mix for Castillo.
- The Phillies will take a shot at Castillo but aren’t likely to land him, multiple sources have told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that at least four teams remain in the running for Castillo, with the Red Sox representing one of that group. The Tigers and Giants have a sense of urgency about their pursuit, as they plan to use Castillo to bolster their 2014 playoff hopes. In addition to those three clubs and previously mentioned teams such as the Phillies, Cubs and Yankees, Heyman lists the Mariners as a team with interest, though he cautions that it isn’t clear how involved they are at this stage of the talks.
- Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox are one of multiple teams that have made a “strong bid” for Castillo. Those wondering what sort of role the presence of countryman and former teammate Yoenis Cespedes would have on Castillo will be interested to hear Cespedes’ comments that he hasn’t spoken to his former teammate anytime recently. However, Cespedes did offer high praise for Castillo, telling Bradford, “If he’s not a five-tool player, he’s at least a four-tool player. He’s very comparable to [Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities.” BoSox GM Ben Cherington confirmed that they’ve spoken to Castillo but offered no further comment. Bradford, too, hears that Castillo is expected to make a decision by week’s end.
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.
There has been a lot of chatter regarding 27-year-old Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. (Read here for some reactions to his well-attended recent workout, which seems to have increased his standing quite a bit around the league.) We’ll keep tabs on the latest right here:
- The Tigers, Red Sox, and Giants are still in the mix for Castillo, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Meanwhile, the Cubs, Yankees, and Phillies are not expected to place high bids for him.
- Bidding is strong, and could well reach or even exceed the $55MM level, according to a tweet from Sahadev Sharma of Baseball Prospectus. The Cubs appear not to be interested at that level, he adds.
- The Braves are “not in the bidding right now” for Castillo, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Atlanta has been noted as a possible suitor in the past.
- Six clubs are seen as viable landing spots for Castillo at this time, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (echoing, in some cases, earlier reports): the Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cubs, Yankees, and Mariners. Castillo could sign a deal as soon as the end of the week, Heyman adds. We’ve heard conflicting reports on Philadelphia’s interest, in particular, and one executive tells Heyman that he believes the team could be attempting to downplay its interest while working to ink Castillo.
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.
Here’s the latest out of the National League:
- The agent for Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval says that the free agent-to-be is still open to discussing a new deal, though no talks have occurred “in months,” according to a tweet from Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Sandoval, who will hit the market before his age-28 season, has put up a solid walk year. In addition to a .283/.330/.438 line and 14 home runs through 463 plate appearances, Sandoval has impressed defensive metrics and scouts alike with his glovework on the hot corner. Even better, his primary competitor on the third base market, Chase Headley, has not impressed. Of course, many clubs will probably view Hanley Ramirez as a third base option at this point as well.
- Cubs starter Jake Arrieta says he is open to an extension with the club, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Though his agent, Scott Boras, typically advises his clients to go year-to-year until reaching free agency, Arrieta says he loves playing in Chicago and would be interested in a reasonable new contract. “I don’t think I’m a guy that’s going to ask for an astronomical amount of money,” he said. “But I think if there’s a fair deal to be reached, I’m in 100 percent.” Arrieta added that he felt Boras would not be any hindrance to a deal, but would instead arm him with the necessary advice and information to enable him to reach a decision. He did note that no talks had occurred to date: “I don’t think it’s out of the question. I don’t think there’s been anything formal in the works, but this is an organization that I’ve really seen a transformation take place … .” Arrieta will be arb-eligible for the first time next year, entering his age-29 season, and could not have set himself up much better. His current line: 2.77 ERA over 110 1/3 innings with 9.2 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9.
- The Diamondbacks will be in the market for starting pitching over the coming winter, and could look to the Japanese market to fill the need, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Having worked to increase the team’s presence in Japan, the D’backs have been among the many teams watching 26-year-old righty Kenta Maeda, says Piecoro.
- Braves righty Cody Martin drew plenty of interest as the club looked to bolster its bullpen and bench at the trade deadline, writes Bill Ballew of Baseball America. With a solid feel for multiple quality offerings, Martin has drawn comparisons to Kris Medlen and is viewed as a solid rotation or pen candidate despite his lack of a single plus pitch.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported over the weekend that the Braves explored a trade prior to the deadline that would’ve sent B.J. Upton and a starting pitcher elsewhere. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) has another detail on this scuttled trade, saying that the Braves would’ve taken on “a contract [the] other team [was] looking to shed.” It sounds like it would’ve essentially been a swap of one bad contract (the roughly $50MM owed to Upton through 2017) for another, though if Atlanta was willing to move a starter as well, the other contract was likely for a shorter term. It’ll be interesting to see if the identities of the mystery team and mystery player are revealed in the coming weeks or months but until then, let the guessing game begin!
Here’s some more from around the baseball world…
- Russell Martin‘s plan to take a short-term contract and rebuild his value for a richer, longer-term deal seems to have paid off, MLB.com’s Tom Singer and Stephen Pianovich write. Martin has a .743 OPS over his two seasons with the Pirates and is hitting .290/.417/.391 over 308 PA this year, which makes him easily the most attractive catcher available in this winter’s free agent market. Martin says he loves playing in Pittsburgh, though Singer/Pianovich note that the Bucs are unlikely to be able to afford his asking price and prospect Tony Sanchez is waiting in the wings.
- The 2015 Giants could be improved by moving Buster Posey to third base and Tim Lincecum to the bullpen, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News opines. Lincecum’s value as a starter is diminishing but (as the 2012 postseason indicated) he could be a dominant force as a reliever or closer. If Pablo Sandoval leaves in free agency, Kawakami argues that Posey could slide to third in order to help him stay healthy and perhaps lead to more production at the plate. Posey already plays a lot of first base and Kawakami doesn’t mention another possibility I think the Giants could consider, which is trading Brandon Belt.
- Speaking of next year’s Giants team, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly points out that at least $125MM is already committed to a roster that still has a big hole to address at second base and five key free agents (Sandoval, Michael Morse, Sergio Romo, Ryan Vogelsong, Jake Peavy) to re-sign or replace. With payroll stretched so thin both this season and next, Baggarly says the team simply doesn’t have the resources to explore replacing struggling players like Lincecum or Brandon Crawford.
- The Astros could return to respectability by adding a few veteran players in an attempt to follow the model of the 2003 Tigers, Grantland’s Jonah Keri opines. Those Tigers responded to an infamous 119-loss season by signing veteran free agents over the next few years, who mixed well with a young core and led the team to an AL pennant by 2006.
Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- Outfielder Tyler Colvin has accepted his outright assignment to the Giants‘ Triple-A affiliate, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Colvin had the option of becoming a free agent when San Francisco outrighted him earlier this week. The 28-year-old has a .223/.268/.381 slash line and two homers over 149 PA with the Giants this season.
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.
AUG. 9: The Yankees are ready to begin negotiating with Castillo, who worked out at their minor league complex Friday, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. The Yankees would want to use Castillo as a second baseman, with the outfield as a backup plan, King writes.
AUG. 6: While touring Wrigley Field on vacation, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith learned that the Cubs held a private workout for Castillo today (Twitter link).
AUG. 3: Castillo’s workout for the Mariners has been postponed and is expected to be rescheduled, tweets Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN.
JULY 29: Castillo, who worked out for the Phillies today, has set up a private workout with the Mariners on Sunday as well, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). His one-on-one workout with the Red Sox is still set for Friday.
JULY 28, 8:29pm: Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that the Yankees indeed have a private workout scheduled with Castillo.
7:33pm: General Manager Jeff Luhnow says the Astros may schedule a one-on-one workout with Castillo, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
7:24pm: A source tells Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (on Twitter) that only the Phillies (on Tuesday) and the Red Sox (Friday) have private workouts set up with Castillo. However, private workouts are in the works for the Yankees and other clubs.
Unsurprisingly, the Twins are not among the teams looking to line up a workout with Castillo, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Minnesota likes Castillo, but the expected asking price is too rich for their blood.
3:11pm: Reports indicated that 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams were represented at Rusney Castillo‘s showcase over the weekend, and Ben Badler of Baseball America has the latest on the 27-year-old Cuban free agent. Castillo will have private workouts with the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies this coming week, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are also arranging a private workout.
Badler lists the White Sox, Mariners, Giants, Blue Jays, Cubs and Braves as other potential suitors. Because multiple teams have interest in getting a deal worked out quickly, however, there aren’t likely to be any further private workouts before a deal gets done, Badler writes. Additionally, Badler has posted some video footage from Castillo’s weekend showcase.
Multiple sources indicated to Badler that the Red Sox had the largest contingent on-hand Saturday for Castillo’s showcase. He notes that Jackie Bradley has more upside at the plate, and Mookie Betts might factor in as a corner outfield option in the long-term due to the presence of Dustin Pedroia, but Boston could be intrigued by Castillo as a corner option as well. He did play right field in Cuba, Badler adds.
The Yankees, meanwhile, could weigh the possibility of trying Castillo at second base, though they could have a corner spot open alongside Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as well. Castillo played second base (and some third base) back in 2009-10, but scouts at the showcase weren’t overly impressed with his glovework as an infielder.
Center field is Castillo’s best position, Badler writes, so it stands to reason that the Phillies could view him as an upgrade over the light-hitting Ben Revere. Playing Castillo in center field allows him to maximize his best tool — 70-grade speed.
While the White Sox are very well-versed in the Cuban market — as evidenced by the presence of Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo on their roster — the presence of countrymen on their roster won’t influence Castillo, Badler hears. His decision will come down to financial terms.
Badler adds that the Giants also had a very strong presence at Castillo’s showcase, and he makes sense for them as their system has thinned following a trade for Jake Peavy and their continued interest in Ben Zobrist. The Cubs also had “a team” of evaluators on-hand to witness Castillo, who would bolster an already enviable crop of hitting prospects.