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The Dodgers‘ search for pitching may only intensify with the news that Carlos Frias has been placed on the 15-day DL with lower back tightness. Los Angeles already dipped into its starter depth by installing Frias and Mike Bolsinger into the rotation in place of Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, so all eyes will be on the Dodgers this month to see if they can land another big arm before the trade deadline. Here’s the latest from the NL West…
- The Giants are looking for outfielders and Gerardo Parra and Cameron Maybin are two of the names who have been discussed, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter). In another tweet, Olney notes that the Braves aren’t open to dealing Maybin right now. Outfield had been cited as a possible target spot for San Francisco, though GM Bobby Evans didn’t seem set on obtaining an everyday outfielder since Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki will be expected to resume their regular spots in the lineup when they’re both healthy. In my opinion, I’d think that a left-handed hitting outfielder like Parra could be of particular use in a center field platoon with Angel Pagan, who has struggled badly against right-handed pitching this season (though Pagan has generally fared better against righty arms over his career).
- The Giants have liked Parra “forever,” according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter). Parra had spent his entire career prior to August 2014 with the Diamondbacks, however, and Arizona didn’t want to deal the outfielder to a division rival.
- In Olney’s latest Insider-only post, he observes that Zack Greinke‘s big season is putting him in position for a massive free agent payday this winter. “It seems like a foregone conclusion” Greinke will opt out of his Dodgers contract in search of a more lucrative deal, and while he turns 32 in October, Olney believes he’s the type of pitcher with the athleticism, mechanics and pitching know-how to still be very effective as he ages. Andrew Friedman has generally eschewed giving big contracts to older players in his career as an executive, though this could well change now that he runs a high-payroll team.
- The Rockies are again in need of pitching reinforcements, and Nick Groke of the Denver Post wonders if the team could promote top prospect Jon Gray. Troy Tulowitzki and Walt Weiss seem in favor of Gray coming to the bigs soon, though GM Jeff Bridich was more cautious. “Jon Gray is doing a great job right now of learning lessons and evolving at the Triple-A level. So there are things that he needs to do and will continue to do. And we’ll continue to exercise patience with him,” Bridich said. Gray has a 4.88 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and a 2.45 K/BB rate in 90 1/3 Triple-A innings this season — respectable numbers in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
The Pirates have claimed Travis Ishikawa from the Giants, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The Bucs, in announcing the move, say that they will make a corresponding move to add Ishikawa to their 25-man roster once he joins the team.
The Giants designated Ishikawa for assignment on Friday. They initially acquired him in April 2014, signing him to a minor league deal after he briefly played for the Pirates in a separate stint. The Bucs designated him for assignment last season when they acquired Ike Davis, a fellow lefty first baseman.
This time around, it’s tough to guess what Ishikawa’s role with the Bucs might be, since they already have lefty hitters at first base and right field (Pedro Alvarez and Gregory Polanco, respectively) and a good everyday player in left (Starling Marte, although Marte left Sunday’s game with an apparent injury). It’s possible Ishikawa could simply provide the Bucs with a lefty pinch-hitting option, however.
After his heroics in the postseason last year, the 31-year-old Ishikawa has spent most of 2015 with Triple-A Sacramento, where he’s batted .271/.342/.421. He collected six plate appearances with the Giants this season.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- Righty Ben Rowen has opted out of his contract with the Orioles and is now a free agent, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski reports (via Twitter). Rowen’s contract gave him the option of opting out if he wasn’t on the team’s MLB roster by July 1. Rowen has a 2.41 ERA, 24 strikeouts and six walks over 37 1/3 Triple-A relief innings this season, and he appeared eight big league games with Texas in 2014.
- Earlier this week, the Twins signed veteran righty Scott Atchison to a minor league contract, according to MLB.com’s official transactions page. Atchison his the open market last week when he was released by the Indians. Atchison posted a 6.86 ERA, 5.5 K/9 and a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 19 2/3 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen this season, though with strong numbers in 2011-14, it’s a no-risk signing by the Twins to see if Atchison can regain his form.
- Reliever Ronald Belisario, who was recently outrighted by the Rays, has cleared waivers and elected to become a free agent, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The Rays recently designated Belisario for assignment after he allowed seven runs in eight innings in a brief stint with the team covering two weeks in late June.
- The Mariners have outrighted outfielder Julio Morban, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. The move clears a spot on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, which now stands at 39. Morban, 23, had a pair of strong seasons in 2012 at Class A+ High Desert and in 2013 at Double-A Jackson. He has struggled with injury throughout his career, however, and his performance has tailed off significantly in the past two seasons. He only recently returned from a two-month stay on the restricted list due to personal reasons.
- The Mariners have released righty Justin Germano and lefty Rafael Perez, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Both of them had out clauses. Germano confirms (via Twitter) that he will head to Korea to pitch with the KT Wiz. The 32-year-old was in the midst of a good season for Triple-A Tacoma, with a 2.83 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 89 innings. The 33-year-old Perez had been on loan to Quintana Roo in the Mexican League and had not actually pitched in the Mariners system.
- The Rangers have traded outfielder Jake Skole to the Yankees for cash, FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro tweets. Skole, the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft, was hitting .218/.313/.335 for Double-A Frisco, consistent with his walk-heavy but generally unimpressive offensive performances throughout the minor league career.
- Andy Oliver has opted out of his minor league deal with the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The 27-year-old Oliver has good stuff, particularly for a lefty, but has struggled with control problems throughout his career. He had a 3.86 ERA and 10.3 K/9 but with 7.7 BB/9 in 28 innings for Triple-A Durham. The Phillies took him in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, but he elected free agency after they outrighted him in April.
- The Giants have signed outfielder Xavier Avery to a minor league deal, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News tweets. The 25-year-old Avery opted out of his deal with the Tigers this week after hitting .305/.371/.393 for Triple-A Toledo. The Giants have assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento.
- The Orioles have signed Cuban first baseman Yaisel Mederos, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets. The 25-year-old Mederos hit .268/.343/.402 in parts of four seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He only hit 12 home runs in 531 plate appearances, although Kubatko notes that Mederos has power potential.
The Braves have continued to look for a trade partner for third baseman Chris Johnson, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in a series of tweets. In addition to deals for Johnson himself, Atlanta has also made proposals that would include Johnson along with another (more desirable) player, akin to how the Braves managed to get Melvin Upton Jr.‘s contract off their books by dealing him to the Padres with Craig Kimbrel in April. The Braves tried a similar “packaging” tactic with Johnson himself in offseason trade talks.
Johnson is hitting .229/.272/.313 with one homer over 103 plate appearances this season, and he also missed about a month of action recovering from a hand fracture. If struggling at the plate in 2014 and 2015 wasn’t enough to lower his trade value, Johnson is owed roughly $3MM more in salary this season and $17.5MM through the 2017 campaign.
The Giants were one of the clubs who at least discussed Johnson with the Braves last winter but Rosenthal reports that San Francisco doesn’t have any interest now. Rookie Matt Duffy has quite capably stepped in at third base in the wake of Casey McGehee‘s struggles, and since both Duffy and Johnson are right-handed bats, there would be little avenue for Johnson to find playing time in the Bay Area even if he was being acquired largely as a throw-in.
Rosenthal speculates that a deal of Johnson and Cameron Maybin for Jake Peavy and Angel Pagan would balance out the salaries, though that exact package was never discussed between the two teams. It’s also hard to imagine Peavy waiving his no-trade clause to go to a rebuilding team, though the Braves are just a few games back of the Giants in the standings.
Though Atlanta is still in the wild card hunt, the team has made such a push to acquire young talent under president of baseball operations John Hart that it’s hard to see the Braves being notable buyers at the trade deadline. The Braves could perhaps tie Johnson to one of those newly-acquired prospects in order to get him off the roster — the “buy a prospect” strategy that Hart himself used to recently acquire Touki Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo‘s expiring contract from Arizona. Maybin or closer Jason Grilli stand out as veterans who could be shopped and possibly linked along with Johnson in a trade.
The Giants have designated righty Brett Bochy for assignment, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. Bochy, the son of manager Bruce Bochy, lost his 40-man spot as part of a series of transactions.
Bochy saw his first big league action last year, throwing 3 1/3 innings and allowing two earned runs to go with three strikeouts and two walks. He’s back in Triple-A this year for his third run at the level, working to a 4.30 ERA over 29 1/3 innings. Bochy’s strikeout numbers continue to fall, as he’s retired just 5.5 per nine by way of strikeout while issuing 3.7 BB/9.
12:42pm: The Giants will announce today that they have designated first baseman/outfielder Travis Ishikawa for assignment and selected the contract of outfielder Ryan Lollis, a source tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (Twitter link).
The 31-year-old Ishikawa was only recently brought up from Triple-A. He’s 0-for-5 with a walk in six plate appearances this season but has played a much more prominent role with the Giants in previous years. Last year, he batted .274/.333/.397 in 81 plate appearances with the Giants down the stretch and hit quite well for the team in the NLCS.
Originally a 21st-round pick of the Giants in 2002, Ishikawa bounced around the league a bit after parting ways with the team in 2010, only to return to the organization last season. The Giants elected to keep him around via the arbitration process, signing him to a one-year, $1.1MM contract, although he’s spent much of the season at Triple-A Sacramento. In parts of six seasons with the Giants, Ishikawa is a .264/.327/.396 hitter in 752 plate appearances.
The 28-year-old Lollis will be making his big league debut when he comes to the Giants. A 37th-round pick of the team back in 2009, he’s batting a hefty .358/.431/.500 across three minor league levels this season.
10:10am: When the deal is official, it will be for $6MM, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter.
8:34am: The Giants have agreed to sign shortstop Lucius Fox to an approximately $6.5MM bonus, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Fox, who’ll officially sign out of the Bahamas, entered the July 2 period as a consensus top-five prospect.
Fox had been said to be a Dodgers target, but news emerged yesterday that he was likely heading to their NL West rivals. He was a consensus top-five available player, with Sanchez and Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel placing him third and Ben Badler of Baseball America slotting Fox in the fourth spot.
This signings demonstrates some of the interesting interplay between the draft and international market. Fox is a native of the Bahamas, but had been playing high school ball in Florida. But he was successfully able to sign as an international free agent after returning to the Bahamas and winning a petition with Major League Baseball. That gave the MVP Sports Group client a chance to cash in on a much bigger bonus than he likely would have achieved through the draft.
Fox is said to be an excellent athlete, and he offers a high-contact bat — though he lacks power. He could be a quality up-the-middle defender, per Badler (subscription link), who says there’s a possibility that Fox will end up in center. McDaniel notes that Fox could also play second, but may also have a chance at sticking at his natural shortstop and will likely begin his professional career there.
San Francisco had just $2,130,900 in available pool capacity coming into the day, per Baseball America, meaning that it will owe a significant penalty fee on top of the dollars owed to Fox. And the Giants will be among those teams that is heavily restricted from major spending (bonuses of $300K or more) over the next two signing periods.
Today marks the opening of the 2015-16 international signing period, during which so-called “July 2″ prospects can begin inking deals with MLB clubs. Every MLB team has been allocated a series of bonus slots, all of which may be traded, with certain restrictions. Baseball America provides a tally of each team’s total available pool this year. Clubs that spend over their allotment face escalating penalties, ranging from 100% taxes on overages to a two-year ban on $300K+ international bonuses (for going over 15% above the total allocation). This year, the team with the top overall pool allocation — the Diamondbacks ($5,393,900) — is ineligible to spend more than that amount on any single player, and is expected to deal away some of its capacity since it cannot put it to full use. Likewise, the Angels, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees face that limitation due to budget-busting deals in the 2014-15 July 2 period. And numerous additional clubs are expected to incur future signing limitations in the coming signing period. While most of the players subject to the signing rules are a long ways away from the big leagues, there are undoubtedly impact players among them — some of whom could come up in trade talks long before they’re close to the majors.
Here’s the latest on the market, which will gear up quickly, as well as some key resources to get acquainted with:
- As has been widely expected — and as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs reported several months back — the Dodgers are set to sign Cuban righty Yadier Alvarez to a $16MM bonus, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter links). Passan does caution that it’s best to wait until Alvarez formally signs to declare his market closed. Los Angeles has just over $2MM in spending capacity, meaning that it would start off with a $14MM overage tax on its bill and take on a two-year signing ban for adding Alvarez alone.
- MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez just provided one major market shift, reporting that the Giants appear to be in the lead for shortstop Lucius Fox, who landed third overall on Sanchez’s list of the thirty best international prospects available on the market.
- Baseball America’s Ben Badler provides his final top-thirty prospect list, with detailed scouting reports on all those players ranked as well as notes on the teams favored to sign them. He also breaks down each MLB team’s expected overall approach heading into July 2.
- Likewise, McDaniel has produced his final pre-signing board, which also includes his own assessments of many of the most highly-regarded names and projections of their landing spots. While Badler rates Vladimir Guerrero Jr. first overall, McDaniel places him fourth, giving the top spot to the aforementioned Alvarez.
Though the industry expectation has long been that the Dodgers would reel in highly coveted international shortstop Lucius Fox, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez now reports (via Twitter) that the division-rival Giants have leapfrogged the Dodgers as the favorites to land Fox when tomorrow’s signing period kicks off. In fact, according to Sanchez, the Dodgers are no longer even in the race to sign Fox.
Fox, a native of the Bahamas, moved to the United States and attended American Heritage High School in Florida. However, the 18-year-old recently moved back to the Bahamas and petitioned with Major League Baseball to be an international free agent as opposed being subject to the draft. The league approved his request and declared Fox a free agent, making the MVP Sports Group client eligible to sign as an international free agent, beginning tomorrow.
Sanchez ranks Fox third among this year’s class of international prospects — a ranking with which Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel agrees. Ben Badler of Baseball America recently ranked Fox as the No. 4 prospect in this year’s international class. Fox is projected by McDaniel to land a $6MM signing bonus, although it’s certainly possible that the change in likeliest landing spot has come as a result of an increase in the Giants’ willingness to spend.
In Sanchez’s free scouting report, he notes that Fox is considered by some to be a five-tool player and the best athlete in the class. A switch-hitter, Fox has a line-drive stroke and has a knack for putting the ball in play, per Sanchez. Badler notes in his own scouting report (subscription required and highly recommended) that some scouts feel he’ll move to center field. He adds that Fox has little power, but calls him a plus-plus runner with a chance to hit at the top of a big league lineup. McDaniel feels that second base is a possibility as well, but says he should start his career at shortstop and has a real chance to be a regular contributor at any of the three up-the-middle position
The Giants announced this morning that Casey McGehee has been designated for assignment in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for infielder Ehire Adrianza, whose contract has been purchased from Triple-A.
There was some confusion surrounding McGehee’s first removal from the roster this year. The Giants announced that he’d been designated for assignment, but McGehee had merely been designated off the 25-man roster in order to be optioned to Triple-A. As a player with five-plus years of big league service, he had the right to refuse the option, but he accepted and remained on the 40-man roster.
Today, the Giants explicitly stated in the announcement that McGehee has been removed from the 40-man roster, making this a standard DFA in which the team will now have 10 days to trade McGehee, release or attempt to outright McGehee. (He could refuse an outright assignment without forfeiting his 2015 salary due to service time.)
McGehee was acquired from the Marlins this offseason in a trade that sent Luis Castillo and Kendry Flores to Miami. San Francisco had hoped that McGehee would produce something similar to the .285/.355/.357 batting line he posted in his return to the Majors last season, helping in part to offset the loss of former franchise cornerstone Pablo Sandoval.
That hasn’t been the case, however, as McGehee has struggled to a .213/.275/.299 batting line in 138 plate appearances this season. He did hit well in his initial demotion to Triple-A, slashing .357/.391/.571 with two homers in 46 plate appearances, though, and he’s batted 5-for-17 with a pair of doubles and three walks since rejoining the big league club.
McGehee, though, didn’t receive a crack at regular playing time upon being brought back from Triple-A due to the strong play of Matt Duffy at the hot corner. Duffy has slashed .303/.349/.491 this season, usurping McGehee as the everyday third baseman and leaving him without a clear path to playing time as a member of the Giants.
This offseason, McGehee avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $4.8MM contract. He’s still owed $2.54MM of that salary, so it seems unlikely that a team would claim him off waivers and take on the remainder of that deal. However, the Giants will have the ability to eat some cash in a potential trade of McGehee, and teams with interest could also simply wait to see if McGehee ends up a free agent, at which point he could be signed for the pro-rated version of the league minimum. (That portion of his salary would then come off the Giants’ books, though they’d still be responsible for the lion’s share of his remaining contract.)