Scott Downs Rumors

White Sox Sign Scott Downs

JANUARY 2: The White Sox have officially announced the signing of Downs (Twitter link).

DECEMBER 19, 12:37pm: Downs' deal is worth $3.75MM with a $250K buyout on year two, making it $4MM guaranteed, tweets Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com.  The vesting option for 2015 is worth $4.25MM.

11:04am: The White Sox are set to sign lefty reliever Scott Downs, according to M. Blake Harrison (on Twitter). The two sides are in agreement on a one-year, $4MM contract that is pending a physical, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Downs' deal contains a vesting option that could bring the deal to two years and roughly $8MM, he adds. According to Rosenthal, the option will vest if Downs pitches a normal workload.

The 37-year-old Downs posted a 2.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 64.3 percent ground-ball rate in 43 1/3 innings between the Angels and Braves in 2013. This past season represented the final year of a three-year, $15MM pact between the Angels and Downs. The Halos traded him to Atlanta in July in exchange for right-hander Cory Rasmus.

Though Downs was typically strong against both right- and left-handed hitters into his mid-30s, he's developed a notable platoon split over the past two seasons. From 2012-13, right-handed batters have hit Downs at a .285/.371/.416 clip.

The White Sox have seen their bullpen depth depleted greatly over the past six months. The team traded Matt Thornton to the Red Sox in July and saw him sign with the Yankees as a free agent. Jesse Crain was traded to the Rays and is now a free agent, and they also traded closer Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks in exchange for top third base prospect Matt Davidson.

Rosenthal's colleague, Jon Paul Morosi, reported earlier this morning that the two sides were nearing a deal.


White Sox Nearing Deal With Scott Downs

The White Sox are nearing a deal with free agent lefty Scott Downs, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Downs is represented by agent Greg Landry of CAA Sports.

The 37-year-old Downs posted a 2.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 64.3 percent ground-ball rate in 43 1/3 innings between the Angels and Braves in 2013. This past season represented the final year of a three-year, $15MM pact between the Angels and Downs. The Halos traded him to Atlanta in July in exchange for right-hander Cory Rasmus.


Relief Rumors: Lefties, Axford, Papelbon, Benoit, Guerrier, Rays

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the top left-handed relievers on the market — J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Eric O'Flaherty and Scott Downs — should begin to start coming off the board in the next 24 to 48 hours. It's already been reported that O'Flaherty is in talks with the Braves about a return to Atlanta. Here's the latest on the market for relievers…

  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweets that there's a sense that the Nationals will land a left-handed reliever today.
  • The Orioles have had talks with John Axford, tweets Morosi. They're also said to be the current favorites for Grant Balfour.
  • A rival executive estimated that the Phillies would have to eat about 40 to 50 percent of Jonathan Papelbon's remaining salary to trade him, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Papelbon is owed $13MM in each of the next two seasons and has a vesting option for a fifth year.
  • The Rockies have had discussions with Joaquin Benoit but are a ways apart in terms of salary, Morosi reports. Talks between the two sides are fading, as Benoit appears likely to seek a more lucrative deal elsewhere (Twitter links).
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted yesterday that when the dust settles from the Winter Meetings, Matt Guerrier's name could be a of interest to the Indians.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that even after re-signing Juan Carlos Oviedo and acquiring Heath Bell, the Rays are still looking to improve their bullpen. One option could be injured lefty Jordan Norberto, who underwent Tommy John surgery last season.


Nationals Eyeing J.P. Howell, Scott Downs

J.P. Howell and Scott Downs have both been mentioned as possible targets for the Nationals within the last few days, and it appears that Washington may be narrowing its focus on the pair of southpaws. According to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (Twitter link), if the Nats sign a free agent left-handed reliever, it will likely be either Howell or Downs.

Washington had also been linked to Eric O'Flaherty, but other clubs are getting the sense that O'Flaherty will probably return to the Braves, says Stark. The lefty, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, had indicated earlier today that he'd be open to signing anywhere, including Washington.

Howell, 30, is coming off an excellent season in Los Angeles, where he posted a 2.03 ERA in 62 innings for the Dodgers. Downs, 37, was his usual effective self in 2013 as well, recording a 2.49 ERA in 68 total appearances for the Angels and Braves. It was the seventh straight season that Downs has posted an ERA of 3.15 or better.


NL West Rumors: D-Backs, Padres, Giants

It remains to be seen whether or not Masahiro Tanaka will be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles, but if he is and the Diamondbacks have yet to address their starting pitching needs, expect Arizona to place a bid on the Japanese right-hander, tweets Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Here's more on the D-Backs and a pair of their NL West rivals:

  • Kevin Towers and the D-Backs don't mind waiting on Eric Chavez, who is deciding where he wants to play and monitoring Arizona's moves, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link).
  • Asked about the possibility of trading Archie Bradley, Towers suggested today that it would be "very, very tough" for the D-Backs to do so, tweets Gilbert.
  • The Padres have interest in Scott Downs, among other southpaw relievers, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. San Diego's Josh Byrnes confirmed that the team is casting a wide net for bullpen help, indicating that he has touched base with "most" available left-handed relievers (Twitter link via Adam Berry of MLB.com).
  • According to Berry (Twitter links), Byrnes said the Padres have weighed "six or eight ideas" and have meetings set up to discuss free agents and trades. Byrnes also shot down the latest round of Chase Headley rumors, stating that the team views the third baseman as part of its 2014 plans.
  • Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area has some details on the Giants' search for an outfielder, tweeting that the Giants called three times on Norichika Aoki before the Brewers decided to send Aoki to the Royals. In a second tweet, Baggarly says the Giants are interested in Michael Morse and Corey Hart, but probably not at the years and dollars those players will command.
  • John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle provides a couple more Giants updates, reporting that no teams have inquired on San Francisco's five starters, but that the club's young pitching has drawn some interest. Shea adds that the team appears unlikely to bring back Chad Gaudin (Twitter links).

Relief Notes: Axford, Downs, O’Flaherty

The market for relievers continues to take shape, as the Tigers yesterday announced a two-year, $20MM contract with Joe Nathan, and the Red Sox and Edward Mujica struck a two-year agreement. Here's the latest on the free agent market for relievers…

  • Agent Dan Horwits received calls from 14 teams regarding client John Axford in the first 36 hours following his non-tender by the Cardinals, he told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. As Nicholson-Smith writes, any team to sign Axford would control him through the 2016 season, making him a potentially more appealing target.
  • One team who figures to be heavily in the mix for Axford is the Orioles, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The O's liked Mujica prior to his signing with the Red Sox, and the fact that he is off the board likely strengthens Baltimore's interest in Axford, Kubatko adds.
  • The Nationals are interested in Scott Downs and have inquired on him at least twice, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. It's not clear what kind of contract Downs is looking for at this time, writes Ladson, who also reports that the Nats are considering using Ross Detwiler out of the bullpen in 2014.
  • The Nationals are also interested in southpaw Eric O'Flaherty, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Though the Nationals have yet to make an offer, they've maintained a constant dialogue with his agent. Washington is one of six teams to have shown interest in O'Flaherty and is also eyeing J.P. Howell and Boone Logan, per Kilgore.

Trade Reactions: Jose Veras, Scott Downs

We've seen three relievers get shipped off to new teams already today, with the Tigers acquiring Jose Veras for Danry Vasquez and a PTBNL, the Braves landing Scott Downs for Cory Rasmus and the Rays making a play for the injured Jesse Crain. The Crain deal will remain an unknown as the two sides are still working out "future considerations" to be sent to the White Sox due to Crain's DL status, but the baseball world is already weighing in on the Veras and Downs deals. Let's take a look…

Jose Veras

  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs calls the trade a win-win move. He notes that over the past year, Veras has been statisically similar to Jonathan Papelbon but comes at a fraction of the price. The Astros, meanwhile, cashed in on an asset for which they had little need and received someone with notable upside in the process.
  • ESPN's Keith Law also likes the move for both sides (ESPN Insider required and recommended), noting that Vasquez's prospect status has slipped this season, but he's still a nice lottery ticket for the Astros, who have little need for a solid closer in a likely 100-loss season.
  • Houston GM Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he's been following Vasquez since he was an international free agent and is excited to add him to the team's Class-A affiliate: "And he's at the A ball level, and you plug him into Quad Cities with [Rio] Ruiz, [Carlos] Correa and the pitchers there, it's a pretty formidable group there and pretty exciting. He's young and has a tremendous upside. He has the potential to be hit in the middle of the lineup."
  • The move was bittersweet for Veras, who told McTaggart that he considers Houston his home but is excited to be going to a team with a chance to make the playoffs. He also has friends such as Omar Infante, Brayan Pena and Ramon Santiago in Detroit.

Scott Downs

  • Cameron offers his take on the Downs trade as well, noting that Downs shouldn't face righties anymore but can still provide a boost in the playoffs against tough lefties like Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez. The Angels didn't get much back in return, in Cameron's mind, as most organizations have plenty of relief prospects who can throw 93 mph and miss bats with questionable command. However, getting "something just north of nothing" was better than simply letting Downs leave at season's end.
  • Downs "[has] a place in any modern day bullpen," given his dominance over lefties, writes Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Eddy provides a scouting report on Rasmus, whose biggest weakness is his control. Eddy points out that Rasmus is capable of retiring both lefties and righties if he can reign in the walks.
  • One scout told Danny Knobler of CBS Sports that Downs has lost the "turbo-sink" that prompted Anaheim to sign him to a three-year, $15MM contract but wondered if joining a playoff contender will revitalize the 37-year-old lefty.
  • The Braves got Downs "for virtually nothing" writes Law (ESPN Insider required). Rasmus profiles as a generic right-handed reliever whose main value is that he's cost-controlled. Rasmus' high fly-ball rates will play better in Angel Stadium and with Anaheim's defense though, Law adds.

Braves Acquire Scott Downs

The Braves found their left-handed reliever, acquiring veteran Scott Downs from the Angels for righty reliever Cory Rasmus, according to Halos communications director Eric Kay.

USATSI_7311613

Downs, 37, has a 1.84 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.31 HR/9, and 63.1% groundball rate in 29 1/3 innings this year.  The 12-year veteran has split his time fairly evenly against righties and lefties, but has been quite good in facing left-handed hitters 55 times this year.  Prior to the 2011 season, Downs signed a three-year, $15MM free agent deal with the Angels.  The first-place Braves were known to be in the hunt for a lefty reliever after losing Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters for the season, with the Cubs' James Russell high on their wish list along with Downs.  Luis Avilan had been the team's lone southpaw reliever.  Downs has yet to pitch in the postseason in his career, notes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.

Cory Rasmus, younger brother to Colby, made his big league debut in May but has spent most of the season as a closer at Triple-A.  There, the 25-year-old posted a 1.72 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 5.4 BB/9, and 0.49 HR/9 in 36 2/3 innings.  Rasmus works around 93-94 miles per hour.  He was drafted 38th overall by the Braves in '06.  Rasmus can be a long-term piece for the Angels, who as MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez notes have lefty Sean Burnett signed for next year and Nick Maronde waiting.

Braves GM Frank Wren and Angels GM Jerry Dipoto last matched up on a trade in November, when Atlanta sent starter Tommy Hanson to Los Angeles for reliever Jordan Walden.

Another first-place team added a reliever earlier this morning, as the Tigers acquired Jose Veras from the Astros.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Bullpen Notes: Papelbon, Nathan, Tigers, Padres

Closer Jonathan Papelbon is dissatisfied with the Phillies' current direction, MLB.com's Todd Zalecki reports. In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, Philadelphia has fallen to seven games below .500, and that's not what Papelbon anticipated when he signed with the Phils. "I definitely didn't come here for this," he says. He also doesn't sound optimistic when asked about the Phillies' future. "Oh man," he says. "We could be here all day."

Papelbon is of the opinion that the Phillies need to undergo an overhaul, similar to that of his former team, the Red Sox (whose overhaul, ironically, included losing Papelbon to free agency). He says he does not want to be traded, but adds that he does not want to stay in Philadelphia if his team continues on the same path.


West Notes: Angels, Nathan, Diamondbacks, Wilson

The Angels are "open for business," Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. That means deals for Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and others could be on the table. It remains to be seen what the Angels might be able to do with less than three days before the deadline, but Kendrick would be a particularly attractive trade candidate — his consistently high batting averages and solid defense make him a dependably productive player, and he's under contract through 2015 at a reasonable cost, making a bit over $9MM both in 2014 and 2015. Aybar isn't having as good a year as Kendrick, but he might make an interesting buy-low candidate. If the Angels are open to selling other players, reliever Scott Downs, who becomes a free agent after this season, would also be an obvious possibility, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman suggested yesterday. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • With a 13-game deficit in the AL West and with Albert Pujols on the disabled list, however, the Angels have "nothing to sell," ESPN's Jim Bowden says (Insider-only). Several of their top players, like Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, aren't candidates to be dealt, and much of the rest of their roster has been disappointing, which is why they're 13 games back to begin with. That leaves a handful of relievers as the Angels' only viable trade pieces.
  • If the Rangers want to trade Joe Nathan, the Dodgers are the only suitor that makes much sense, Bowden writes (Twitter links). Boston or Detroit could be possible destinations, but Bowden guesses that the Rangers won't relish the possibility of dealing Nathan to the Red Sox or Tigers and then having to face him in the playoffs. Instead, they could send him to L.A., possibly in a deal involving Andre Ethier.
  • The Diamondbacks are looking for a second bullpen lefty, FOXSportsArizona.com's Jack Magruder tweets.
  • Five teams, four of them from the National League, are interested in former Giants closer Brian Wilson, who's returning from Tommy John surgery, tweets Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown.