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- Giants Sign Dan Uggla
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- Sabathia To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery, Miss Rest Of Seasoni
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- Marlon Byrd Reveals Four-Team No-Trade Clause
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- Yadier Molina Out 8-12 Weeks For Thumb Surgery
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SUNDAY: The Mariners have had serious discussions with the Phillies about Byrd, who is said to be willing to waive his no-trade clause, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.
SATURDAY: The Mariners appear likely to try to acquire a righty-hitting outfielder, and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman has the latest on trade possibilities they might pursue. Heyman notes that the Mariners have scouted Marlon Byrd, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported yesterday (on Twitter). Byrd has a four-team no-trade clause that includes the Mariners, although he told CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury that the no-trade to the Mariners and Royals “really are things that were just put on at the time being.” The 36-year-old Byrd is hitting .263/.315/.484 for Philadelphia this season, with 18 homers in 381 plate appearances.
Byrd is signed through 2015 with a team/vesting option for 2016, and Heyman notes that if the Mariners prefer a contract that could expire after the season, they could instead pursue Josh Willingham of the Twins or Alex Rios of the Rangers (who has a $13.5MM option and a $1MM buyout for 2015). Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox or Junior Lake of the Cubs could also be possibilities.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
David Price is trying to just focus on pitching amidst the many trade rumors surrounding him, and the Rays ace admitted to being a bit nervous when he was recently summoned from a pre-start hot tub soak to Joe Maddon’s office. Price told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he was wondering if the long-rumored deal had finally come, but upon arriving at Maddon’s office, the skipper merely wanted to congratulate Price on making the All-Star team. Topkin’s piece quotes Price and several other Rays on how everyone is handling all the trade buzz surrounding the star left-hander.
Here’s some more news from around the AL East…
- The Giants are considered to be the team most interested in Ben Zobrist, Marc Topkin reports, with the Reds and Mariners among other teams also intrigued by the 33-year-old. Zobrist would help the Giants and Reds at second base while the versatile 33-year-old would fit in Seattle as a shortstop or right fielder since Robinson Cano has the keystone locked up for the M’s.
- The Red Sox have over $72MM coming off the books this offseason and will have lots of payroll flexibility to get the team back in contention, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. While the Sox seem adverse to signing veteran free agents to major contracts, there’s still plenty of payroll space for moves like re-signing Jon Lester. The Sox are still committed to their young prospect base, though Cafardo notes that the club could trade from this minor depth to acquire a more expensive proven Major Leaguer.
- John Lackey worries that the negotiations between Lester and the Red Sox have resembled his own extension talks with the Angels, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. Lackey and the Halos tabled talks during Spring Training of Lackey’s final contract year in 2009 and then the Angels were outbid on the open market by the Sox. Now, Boston could be the ones who lose their ace due to another aggressive bidder if Lester ends up testing free agency. “(The Red Sox) messed up in spring training for sure. The price of gas is going up every time (Lester) goes out there,” Lackey said.
- Lackey also didn’t say whether he will approach the Red Sox about an extension, given that he’s under contract for a league minimum salary in 2015. “I haven’t even thought that far ahead. I’m just worried about pitching right now, and we’ll see what happens at the end of the year,” the righty said.
- Derek Jeter‘s retirement marks the end of the “Core Four” era for the Yankees, and ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand notes just how unlikely and special it was for the franchise to reach the postseason from every year, save one, from 1995-2012.
Cuban catcher Lednier Ricardo recently held a workout in the Dominican Republic, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted recently. MLBTR has learned additional details on the 25-year-old, who has been cleared to sign as a free agent and will not be subject to international spending limits. About a dozen teams were represented at the showcase, including the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Astros, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, Athletics, and Reds. Public information is scarce on Ricardo, who has seen limited time with the Cuban national team and has maintained an OPS in the .730 range in recent years in Serie Nacional action. The backstop will look to impress scouts enough to earn a significant bonus to come stateside.
Here’s the latest out of the American League:
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provides a few notes on the Red Sox, via Twitter, that could impact the team’s trade deadline plans. The club prefers to keep Koji Uehara for the 2015 campaign, he says, though of course the closer is slated to hit the open market. Meanwhile, the team would prefer to keep Xander Bogaerts at third for the present, but could nevertheless be open to dealing Stephen Drew if he can show some kind of turnaround at the plate.
- The Royals are “looking hard” at options to bolster their pen, Cafardo further reports (Twitter link). Though the Kansas City pen ranks third in the game in accumulated fWAR, much of that has come from top options Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera. And the relief corps rates just 19th in cumulative ERA (3.68). Among the Royals’ remaining active relievers, Aaron Crow and Francisley Bueno have outperformed their peripherals, Louis Coleman has struggled by any measure, and Scott Downs was knocked around yesterday after three quality outings to start his tenure with his second club of the season.
- The Rays will listen on catcher Jose Molina, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. Olney wonders whether the Cardinals would consider looking into the older brother of the injured Yadier Molina. It is worth bearing in mind, of course, the elder Molina is under contract for next season at $2.75MM.
- With few intriguing bats available, the Mariners should go all in by pursuing Rays ace David Price, argues Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Seattle should be able to fit Price’s salary this year and next, says Rosenthal, and the surely steep price in terms of prospects would be worth it to a club that could seize an opportunity to make a postseason run.
1:12pm: Byrd has revealed to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he has a small, four-team no-trade clause which includes the Mariners, Royals, Blue Jays and Rays.
While that news doesn’t do any favors for Seattle’s chances of acquiring Byrd should their interest escalate, it doesn’t rule the possibility out entirely. Byrd explains to Salisbury that he signed a two-year deal with the Phillies for a reason — to retire in Philadelphia — but he would consider waiving his no-trade protection if the team asked him to do so for the future good of the club: “There would have to be a conversation with me, my agent and Ruben (Amaro Jr., the Phillies’ GM) if it gets to that point,” said Byrd.
Byrd adds that he included Toronto and Tampa on his list because of the artificial turf and the risk that poses to him as an aging player (especially one with a vesting option based on plate appearances). As for Seattle and Kansas City, he told Salisbury: “Those really are things that were just put on at the time being.”
The connection is logical for the Mariners in many ways. Firstly, their outfielders have hit a combined .246/.291/.354 this season — good for the second-worst wRC+ mark in all of baseball. Seattle outfielders have hit just 16 homers this season — a collective total that ranks lower than every team in baseball, aside from the Royals and Red Sox (who had 14 each). Beyond that, just four of the Mariners’ 13 hitters are right-handed, with struggling catcher Mike Zunino and struggling DH/outfielder Corey Hart representing the team’s only right-handed power threats. The other two, backup catcher Jesus Sucre and utilityman Willie Bloomquist, are light hitters that don’t see regular at-bats. As such, Seattle has been one of baseball’s worst clubs against left-handed pitching, hitting just .248/.295/.349 as a team.
Byrd is in the first season of a two-year, $16MM contract signed with the Phillies this past offseason. While the commitment raised some eyebrows, Byrd has followed up an unexpectedly excellent season with the Mets and Pirates with a solid campaign in his return to Philadelphia. He’s hitting .261/.313/.481 with 18 homers and passable defense in right field (Ultimate Zone Rating feels he’s slightly below average, while Defensive Runs Saved thinks he’s been slightly above). Perhaps more importantly to Seattle, he’s mashing lefties to the tune of a .313/.353/.613 batting line, which would give the team some much-needed thump against opposing southpaws.
The main deterrent for teams interested in Byrd may be his contract. He’s owed a perfectly reasonable $3.5MM through season’s end before being guaranteed $8MM in 2015. That may not scare off potential suitors, but his deal also contains an $8MM club option for 2016 — Byrd’s age-38 season — which will automatically vests with 600 PA in 2015 or a combined 1100 PA from 2014-15. That’s a very attainable number, and other teams may be skeptical that Byrd can maintain solid production into his late 30s.
Recently-released Astros hurler Jerome Williams has already drawn inquiries from eight clubs, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. That does not include the Twins, he notes. Williams’ agent tells MLBTR’s Zach Links (Twitter link) that he believes the veteran righty will get a chance to start on a major league club.
Here’s more from the AL West:
- The Astros are interested in upgrading the club’s bullpen in both the short and long-term, reports MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Owner Jim Crane said that the team’s relief corps has cost the club ballgames, indicating that he hopes to find some solutions during the current season. Nevertheless, any moves would keep an eye firmly on the future: “We’re always looking more long term,” he said, “but we want to try to establish a nucleus this year and win a lot more ballgames than we did last year.”
- Of course, the Angels‘ bullpen needs are on a much shorter fuse. Even after making several recent acquisitions, club GM Jerry Dipoto says that the team is still browsing the market, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). Dipoto hopes to form a late-inning nucleus that can record the “last nine outs” of a game. “We will continue to look for a guy who can join that group,” he said.
- Multiple teams have expressed interest in Mariners righty Erasmo Ramirez, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports on Twitter. The 24-year-old has not had sustained success at the major league level, but does offer plenty of youth and team control. Ramirez would seem to make a useful trade chip in a lower-level deal for Seattle, or as a part of a package in a larger swap.
The Mariners have designated veteran catcher John Buck for assignment, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). He notes in a followup tweet that it seems likely the Mariners will recall Jesus Sucre from Triple-A Tacoma.
Buck, who turned 34 years old Monday, inked a one-year, $1MM contract with the Mariners to serve as the backup to young catcher Mike Zunino. He’s struggled to get on base and hit for average in recent years, but he’d shown good pop until this season with Seattle. In 27 games (92 plate appearances), Buck was hitting just .226/.293/.286 with one home run.
Divish notes that the move likely won’t go over well in the Mariners’ locker room, as Buck was popular among his teammates. He adds, however, that there had been growing concern from the Mariners’ decision-makers over Buck’s receiving and blocking skills with the staff — particularly the team’s harder-throwing pitchers. Indeed, Buck grades out poorly in terms of pitch-framing metrics (per StatCorner.com’s Matthew Carruth and per Baseball Prospectus), although that’s hardly a new trend. Buck had one passed ball on the season and had been behind the dish for 11 wild pitches in just 164 innings, so the Mariners likely felt that some of those could have been blocked.
A veteran of 11 Major League seasons between the Royals, Blue Jays, Marlins, Mets, Pirates and Mariners, Buck is a lifetime .234/.301/.398 hitter.
In a video interview with ESPN’s Jim Bowden, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto discussed the recent trades his team has made. Regarding the team’s swap of Ernesto Frieri for Jason Grilli, Dipoto tells Bowden that he received a text message from Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, and the discussions took “about seven minutes” from start to agreement. The Halos’ interest in Grilli dates all the way back to his most recent run as a free agent, says Dipoto, who adds that the team discussed similar deals to this trade before making the move.
More from Dipoto’s chat with Bowden and the rest of the AL West below…
- Regarding his acquisition of lefty Joe Thatcher, Dipoto notes “that’s one we’d been looking at for quite a long time.” Dipoto adds that Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers had made his interest in Zach Borenstein, who went to Arizona in the deal, known in the past. Perhaps most interestingly, Dipoto implies that the negotiations on the trade took place with Towers. Previous reports have indicated that some organizations weren’t sure about Arizona’s front office hierarchy now that Tony La Russa is in the mix.
- Asked by Bowden if the Angels were done shopping, Dipoto replied, “We’ll continue to try to find ways to make the team better. Particularly, I’ve talked about the idea that if we can find one more piece for that bullpen.” Dipoto makes sure to qualify that he’s very pleased with the current mix of relievers but remains open to possible improvements at the back of the ‘pen.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who said he’s hopeful the team can reach an agreement with top pick Brady Aiken, but he won’t handicap it either way (Twitter link). Earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that a ligament issue in Aiken’s elbow has held up negotiations and caused the Astros to drop their bonus offer from $6.5MM to $5MM. Drellich talked to Aiken’s trainer, who claims that the lefty is healthy.
- With the Twins in Seattle, Kendrys Morales spoke through an interpreter to the Seattle media (including Bob Candotta of the Seattle Times) about his offseason discussions with his former club. Morales said there was a bit of discussion with the Mariners, but as his interpreter says: “…in his heart he just didn’t really want to come back here and be in the same spot. He was taking his chances to see maybe something would get better.”
Alfonso Soriano will consider retirement after being designated for assignment by the Yankees, Marly Rivera of ESPN Deportes tweets. Soriano will take a week to talk with his family and think about what to do next. “This was to be expected. I talked to my lawyer about what I was going through, how I was being used, and I didn’t feel comfortable,” says Soriano. If this is it for the 38-year-old Soriano, he’ll finish his career with a .270/.319/.500 line and 412 home runs. Here are more notes from the American League.
- One team that might make sense for Soriano is the Mariners, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The Mariners have struggled against lefties, and Soriano has still hit for power against them, with a split of .247/.269/.416, even as he has struggled this season.
- The Blue Jays plan to give new outfielder Nolan Reimold plenty of playing time, SportsNet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes. The Jays claimed Reimold from the Orioles earlier this weekend. “His big thing is staying healthy, he’s had trouble doing that over his career. This is his opportunity, there wasn’t a spot for him over in Baltimore,” says manager John Gibbons. “He’ll come here and help us out.” Adding Reimold could help the Jays use Jose Bautista more frequently in the infield.
The consensus around baseball this season has been that the Rays are extremely reluctant to trade ace David Price within the AL East. That may still be true, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that they’re still at least open to the idea of moving Price within the division.
An intra-division deal might call for a premium price, but today’s report is still good news for the Blue Jays, who would no doubt love to bring Price north of the border. The Blue Jays can’t bank on Mark Buehrle duplicating his strong first half and they’ve fallen out of first place. If Toronto is willing to part with two of their top three prospects - Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, and Dalton Pompey – they could come away with the most alluring pitcher on the trade market.
In addition to the Blue Jays, Morosi cites the Mariners, Dodgers, and Cardinals as possible landing spots for Price. It’s hard to see Seattle landing Price without parting with Taijuan Walker, but they might be aggressive enough to move the 21-year-old to get Price. The Dodgers, of course, are always aggressive and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports surmised yesterday that they could be extra bullish on Price because of their TV situation.
Here are Saturday’s minor moves from around MLB:
- The Diamondbacks announced the signing of right-hander Kameron Loe to a minor league deal, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Loe, who will report to Triple-A Reno, was released by the Braves last Monday and will now be joining his fourth organization this year after stints with the Giants and Royals. The 32-year-old has posted a 6.99 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, and 11.8 H/9 in 28 1/3 innings (19 games) for the Triple-A affiliates of the Royals and Braves.
- Mariners right-hander Chance Ruffin has voluntarily retired and returned home to be with his wife and newborn baby, writes Tacoma Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto for the Olympian. Ruffin, the 48th overall selection in the 2010 draft, was acquired from the Tigers in the 2010 Doug Fister trade and made 22 relief appearances for the Mariners to the tune of a 5.70 ERA, 11.4 K/9, and 5.3 BB/9 in 23 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old, who was not on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, pitched to a 5.31 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9 in 61 innings (22 games including seven starts) for Triple-A Tacoma this year.
- Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, there are seven players in DFA limbo: Kenny Wilson (Blue Jays), Nick Buss (A’s), Jeff Francis (A’s), Nolan Reimold (Orioles), Justin Maxwell (Royals), Pedro Ciriaco (Royals), and Jerome Williams (Astros).