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Shane Victorino Rumors
Earlier this evening, the Red Sox and the Angels reached agreement on a deal to send Shane Victorino and cash considerations out west in exchange for infielder Josh Rutledge. In a conference call with reporters, Red Sox Executive Vice President/GM Ben Cherington explained that the talks started only in the last few days.
“The deal kind of came together over the weekend,” Cherington said. “I talked to Shane this afternoon during batting practice about it…He’s been a part of a lot of great moments, not just for the Red Sox, but throughout his career.”
The deal was not an easy one for Cherington to make and it has brought about some mixed emotions for the Flyin’ Hawaiian. Victorino expressed to Cherington that he’s happy to have an opportunity to join up with a contender and play meaningful games down the stretch. On the other hand, the veteran feels that his time in Boston marked a very important part of his career and he is sad to leave his Red Sox teammates behind.
Baseball-wise, the deal opens up space on the Red Sox’s roster, allowing them to get a good look at international signee Rusney Castillo. While Cherington wouldn’t quantify how much that played a role in the Victorino trade, he said that it was “certainly” a consideration. However, there aren’t any immediate plans to make a similar move to accommodate Jackie Bradley Jr.
“Jackie is doing well. There’s merit and consideration in trying to get some opportunities for him too, but today it’s Castillo. We’ll see where it goes after that,” said the GM.
As for Rutledge, Cherington confessed that he has had interest in the infielder “going back to his Colorado days.” With Dustin Pedroia on the DL, the 26-year-old figures to see a good amount of playing time the rest of the way. If he does well, Cherington says he can envision him “being a part of the team going forward.”
Outside of today’s transaction, Cherington kept mum about other possible dealings this week. When asked about the level of interest he’s received in Mike Napoli, he effectively gave a no comment. When another reporter inquired on what’s next, Cherington tersely replied, “[There’s] nothing to announce and nothing is particularly close.”
5:20pm: Los Angeles will be responsible for $1.1MM of the $4.9MM or so left on the contract, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter.
5:00pm: The Angels have acquired veteran outfielder Shane Victorino from the Red Sox, Boston announced (as first reported by Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter). Infielder Josh Rutledge will head to the Red Sox in the deal, while Boston will also send an unidentified amount of cash to Los Angeles.
Victorino, 34, is a switch-hitting corner outfielder who has done much more damage from the right side of the plate in recent years. That makes him a reasonable platoon candidate to pair with Matt Joyce, the left-handed-hitting corner outfielder who has historically been quite good against right-handed pitching.
There had been indications that Los Angeles was looking into a more impactful addition at the corner outfield — perhaps one that would put an everyday player into the spot. The team seemingly preferred a left-handed bat, per reports. That could still come to pass, of course, if the Angels are willing to cut Joyce loose and use Victorino as a pure fourth outfielder. Indeed, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets that the club still has interest in another outfield addition.
There’s around $4.5MM left on Victorino’s contract, which expires after the present season. It’s unclear exactly how much will remain the responsibility of the Red Sox.
For Boston, the deal was all about saving some cash and clearing roster space for a lengthy audition of major recent international signee Rusney Castillo. The 28-year-old has been recalled to take Victorino’s place on the active roster.
Rutledge, after all, has not even seen time yet at the big league level this year after joining the Angels in a winter trade. His star has dimmed considerably since a nice rookie campaign with the Rockies back in 2012, though he continues to put up solid numbers at Triple-A (.286/.336/.432) and could certainly find his way back to the majors in Boston.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Pirates have considered acquiring Mike Napoli and/or Shane Victorino, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). Napoli hasn’t been successful at the plate lately but he has been decent defensively, Biertempfel notes.
The Bucs’ interest in Napoli might be a brand new development. Late last week, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Red Sox weren’t getting any interest in the struggling first baseman. Napoli has hit just .205/.301/.372 in 335 plate appearances this season, well off the .818 OPS mark he carried through his first two seasons in Boston. If he can rebound, though, he might help the Pirates against lefties while also easing their dependence on Pedro Alvarez, who has struggled defensively in his first season at first base.
Victorino has been injured for much of the past two seasons and has more than $5MM remaining on his 2015 salary. For his part, the 34-year-old says that he hopes to stay in Boston through the end of his contract. The right-handed Victorino would complement Gregory Polanco in right field, although Polanco has played better lately. Victorino could also potentially help the Pirates’ bench, although he hasn’t hit well in either of the last two seasons and has struggled since returning from a calf injury earlier this month. He’s making $13MM this season, after which he’ll be a free agent.
A second opinion for Clay Buchholz from Dr. James Andrews confirmed that the right-hander does not need surgery, but he’ll received a platelet-rich plasma injection and won’t throw for five to six weeks, writes Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. As Mastrodonato points out, the Red Sox have a $13MM club option on Buchholz, so avoiding a serious injury is key for the right-hander. Buchholz hopes the option will be exercised — “I’ve definitely been here my whole career,” he said. “I don’t really want to go anywhere.” — and barring a significant injury, that seems like a foregone conclusion, Mastrodonato writes. Buchholz’s injury is a flexor strain, and the right-hander pointed to Royals lefty Jason Vargas as a reason to exercise caution: “I think it’s the exact same thing that [Royals starter Jason Vargas] got hurt the other day. That’s what he went on the DL for was flexor. Seeing that, that’s definitely not what I want to do. I’m going to take the time I need to take off for it to be better.” Vargas, of course, did originally hit the DL with a flexor strain, and he returned quickly, only he end up re-injuring his arm and requiring Tommy John surgery.
More Red Sox notes…
- The team’s second-half woes have halted its pursuit of short-term starting pitching acquisitions, sources tell WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The Sox had entertained the thought of a run at Johnny Cueto to give themselves an increased chance to sign him and to make a push in 2015, but that thinking has been tabled. Boston wasn’t involved in talks for Scott Kazmir, Bradford hears, although they had previously had some interest in him.
- In a second piece, Bradford urges Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to send a message to a team that looks to have lost direction by committing to a big-name starting pitcher to front the rotation — even if it means a painful parting of ways with top prospects. The Red Sox in recent years have focused too much on what might be (prospect value) as opposed to what presently is, Bradford opines, and that philosophy has led the team to its current predicament.
- Cherington met with the Boston media recently, and ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes has a number of highlights from his conversation, including Cherington’s thoughts on the team’s lack of front-line pitching and the possibility of moving Hanley Ramirez out of left field and to a new position. Cherington feels that Ramirez’s defense on the road is beginning to stabilize, though he admits that Ramirez faces challenges playing left field in Boston with the Green Monster. As far as the team’s rotation goes, the quest to add front-line pitching doesn’t end July 31, Cherington says, and the team will explore multiple avenues to try to acquire such an arm. He notes that the front office believes some pitchers currently in the organization could achieve the desired lofty heights. (That quote, in particular, is one that prompted the above-linked column from Bradford.)
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines that despite all of the questions surrounding Rusney Castillo, Pablo Sandoval, Ramirez and the team’s pitching staff, the biggest question facing the Sox is whether or not Cherington is the right man to lead Boston to a sustainable run of success. Lauber praises Cherington for being accountable and placing the organization’s struggles on his own shoulders, but he also notes that such accountability is easier when owner John Henry recently gave his GM a large vote of confidence.
- Shane Victorino hopes to remain with the Red Sox through the end of his current contract, he tells Bradford. As Bradford notes, even if the Red Sox do sell pieces, Victorino could very well remain in Boston, as he’s been injured for much of the past two seasons and has more than $5MM remaining on his 2015 salary.
The sense among the industry is that the Athletics are now “open for business,” tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. The A’s, Olney notes, have pieces that figure to draw widespread interest, including free-agents-to-be Scott Kazmir and Ben Zobrist. I’d add that Tyler Clippard is another impending free agent, and right-hander Jesse Chavez is a relatively short-term asset that’s broken out over the past 18 months as well. (Chavez is controlled through 2016.) Josh Reddick has drawn inquiry from the division-rival Angels, although reports at the time indicated that Oakland had no interest in moving its right fielder.
We’re nine days from the trade deadline, so trade action should escalate rapidly in the coming week. Here’s more from around the league…
- FOX’s Ken Rosenthal wrote last night that the Rangers aren’t motivated to trade Mitch Moreland, and ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears the same thing (Twitter link). According to Stark, the only player that the Rangers are strongly marketing is right-hander Yovani Gallardo — another player who is eligible for free agency at season’s end. Gallardo is having a nice rebound season in his first year with Texas, and Moreland’s strong season has gone somewhat unheralded; the 29-year-old is batting .287/.333/.529 with 16 homers. He’s still struggling against lefties, though a bit less so than in previous years.
- Via MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon (Twitter link), Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has spoken with a number of clubs about trades but has yet to receive what the Cincinnati front office considers to be a compelling offer. Said the veteran GM: “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
- Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Blue Jays and Padres have had recent discussions about pitchers — both relievers and starters. San Diego starters Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, James Shields and Ian Kennedy have all seen their names surface on the rumor mill of late, though it would seem that Shields, at least, is too expensive for Toronto from a financial standpoint. Joaquin Benoit stands out, to me, as the most obvious trade candidate for the Padres in the bullpen.
- Though the Mets are in need of outfield help, a source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter link) that the Red Sox‘ Shane Victorino is of no interest to them. That’s not exactly shocking to hear, given Victorino’s $13MM salary and meager .247/.333/.306 batting line in 2015.
Phillies tickets sales are at their lowest since the opening of Citizen’s Bank Park, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brookover wonders if the fans will return when the team begins to turn the corner in a few years. Philadelphia has a history of punishing noncompetitive teams. Other franchises like the Nationals, Indians, and Braves have seen a much more tepid fan response to winning. For what it’s worth, I’m fairly confident that ticket sales will return to previous levels once the team reaches the postseason.
- The Phillies will remain patient with top prospect Maikel Franco, writes Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. With the major league club scuffling and Franco off to a quick start (.343/.389/.537 at Triple-A), there is some pressure to get a look at him in the majors. Service time considerations and the performance of Cody Asche will affect when Franco is activated. Unlike the Kris Bryant situation, Franco appeared to need further development during spring training. It doesn’t look like the Phillies will keep Franco in the minors purely for service time considerations.
- The early returns from the Red Sox rotation have been bad, writes Joel Sherman of the NY Post. Boston starters have a collective 5.46 ERA entering today (and Justin Masterson is off to a poor start). The shaky performances have strained a “dubious” bullpen. Given the deep farm system, the team remains poised to acquire a top trade target like Cole Hamels.
- Boston has placed outfielder Shane Victorino on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, writes Jeff Seidel for MLB.com. The club has recalled Matt Barnes in a corresponding move. For those wondering why Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo wasn’t called upon, he’s currently rehabbing a right shoulder injury. He’s expected to return to the Triple-A lineup next week.
Here’s the latest from the game’s eastern divisions to wrap up the day’s news:
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was notably on hand to watch Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon work early in his outing today against the Yankees, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. While Salisbury notes that it is impossible to know the reason for the visit, Toronto obviously has some questions at the back of its pen and has been mentioned as a plausible suitor for the veteran righty. Papelbon has looked strong this spring, as the report further notes, though his contract (and, in particular, its vesting clause for next year) remains the largest factor in his trade value.
- Though the Yankees have yet to say so officially, Adam Warren appears ticketed for the team’s fifth starter role, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. If he does indeed take that slot, the out-of-options Esmil Rogers will either need to lock up a pen slot or, perhaps, find another team.
- Shane Victorino‘s recent comments about the possibility of the Red Sox dealing for Cole Hamels led to a bit of a dust-up in Boston, due in part to a seemingly strained interpretation suggesting that Victorino was advocating for the departure of phenom Mookie Betts. As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports, Victorino vehemently denies that reading of his words. Regardless, of course, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal explains, Boston’s front office understandably has little interest in shipping away its most prized young talent for expensive veterans.
According to the current pre-season projected standings and playoff probabilities from Fangraphs, the National League may be expected to be rather top-heavy next season. But the American League appears wide open, with nine teams projected to have .500 records but none projected at more than 87 wins. (And that doesn’t include the Royals, Orioles, or White Sox, all of which rate as sub-.500 teams in the eyes of the model.)
Here are some notes from that tightly-bunched side of the game:
- As today’s spring opener showed, Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino is in store for a busy run as he tries to convince the team — and the team tries to convince others — of his health and productivity, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Victorino is back to hitting from both sides of the plate and is being presented as the club’s top option in right, but a trade certainly still appears to be a plausible option.
- The increasing signing of career minor leaguers to major league deals in free agency is an interesting recent trend, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explored last year. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register takes a look at one of this year’s examples, Jeremy McBryde of the Angels. “For me, he was one of the most intriguing bullpen guys in the minor leagues,” said GM Jerry Dipoto said. “… All the boxes you’d have for a prospect, he seems to check off those boxes.” As Dipoto further explained, McBryde’s lack of big league service and 40-man time also means that he comes with three option years remaining.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan says he is receptive to the idea of mentoring Torii Hunter in the ways of the front office, as MLB.com’s Spencer Fordin reports. “He’s thought about his career after his playing days, like most players should,” said Ryan. “He’s got a good baseball mind and I’m happy to hear he wants to be a GM. That’s good.”
The Rangers and Padres were among teams to at least “kick the tires” on Phillies starter Cliff Lee earlier this winter, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Of course, the Padres have since signed James Shields to a four-year, $75MM deal, which probably means that they won’t be making a play for Lee or teammate Cole Hamels. The Rangers have also added to their pitching depth this offseason.
Meanwhile, Heyman believes that Lee would be a solid fit for the Red Sox as their own talks on Hamels seem to have stalled. Boston won’t part with either catching prospect Blake Swihart or second baseman/outfielder Mookie Betts to pry Hamels away, but a Lee deal could get done with lesser assets.
A deal for Lee could even include former fan favorite Shane Victorino as Heyman hears the Phillies wouldn’t mind a reunion. The Red Sox can certainly part with the Flyin’ Hawaiian given their crowded outfield, even though they’re pushing the idea that he’ll start Opening Day if he’s healthy.
While there haven’t been any known talks between the two teams regarding Lee, the BoSox do have an affinity for him and they’ve seemingly had interest since he joined Philly as a free agent.
“He’s hard not to like,” one Red Sox person told Heyman.
However, another Boston official characterized the Lee possibility to Heyman as a “long shot” since he still has to prove his health. On the other hand, it’s well known that Lee wants to play for a winner and his track record of pitching in the American League could appeal to the Red Sox.
Outside of the Red Sox, Heyman posits that the Cardinals are a team that would seem to fit since they weren’t all that aggressive in adding pitching and they’d be almost local for the Little Rock, Ark. resident.
Lee is owed $25MM for the coming season and can be controlled for another year through a $27.5MM option that comes with a hefty $12.5MM buyout. Prior to his 2014 elbow trouble, Lee boasted a streak of six straight seasons with 200+ innings. Over that stretch, he carried a 2.89 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9. The 36-year-old (37 in August) has a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to twenty teams per year.