Steve Trachsel Rumors
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times has a Cubs update for us this morning.
Let's start with Kerry Wood, who would garner plenty of interest on the open market. Despite rumors that Wood might look elsewhere for a chance to start, he's likely to stay with the Cubs as a starter.
The Cubs are on Curt Schilling's list, and they'll be in the mix for him if his price is reasonable. I take that to mean not much more than $12-13MM. A cheaper option might be Hiroki Kuroda, though that could take a three-year commitment. So, perhaps a larger cash outlay.
The Cubs will probably pass on Alex Rodriguez, though he would've been a nice fit at shortstop in my opinion.
Options: the Cubs exercised Daryle Ward's for $1.2MM. They passed on Steve Trachsel's $4.75MM option, which is a relief since there had been rumors of exercising it. Cliff Floyd is probably gone as well.
Ken Rosenthal has a new rumor column up. Feels like it's been a while.
- Rosenthal thinks it's a sign of desperation that the Angels would entertain signing Barry Bonds, who doesn't fit in with their club. His OBP would fit in anywhere, but he would tie up the DH spot at the expense of Juan Rivera and Vladimir Guerrero.
- The Cubs are expected to bring Daryle Ward back at $1.2MM (makes sense) and Steve Trachsel at $4.75MM (questionable). Cubs fans can only hope Trachsel would be considered a tradeable asset, as Rosenthal opines. Rosenthal also quashes the idea of trading Aramis Ramirez, both because of his full no-trade clause and the team's impending sale.
- David Eckstein is expected to leave the Cardinals, no big surprise. Rosenthal reiterates recent rumors connecting him to the White Sox, Tigers, and Mets.
- Rosenthal's idea for Bill Smith and the Twins: keep Johan Santana this winter, and instead trade the $6MM super-closer Joe Nathan. Teams would line up for him, and Pat Neshek wouldn't be a bad replacement.
- Do you think Michael Barrett could be a free agent bargain? Rosenthal talked to one exec who feels this way, and it is a good point if he can bounce back to .280/.350/.480 for five million bucks.
The prodigal son returns - Chicago radio stations are reporting that the Cubs have acquired starter Steve Trachsel for third baseman Scott Moore and reliever Rocky Cherry. Apparently the two minor leaguers were able to slip through waivers, or perhaps Baltimore won claims on them.
The obvious question - where does Trax fit into the Cubs' rotation? It's hard to picture him outpitching Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, or Sean Marshall. Zambrano, Lilly, and Marquis are locks given their contracts, and Hill has the best ERA on the staff.
Marshall doesn't seem to be ailing; his last three starts have been respectable. He tossed 147.3 innings last year and is on pace for about 157 this year. That's a reasonable increase, so limiting his innings doesn't seem a reasonable reason to yank him. Maybe we're looking at a six-man rotation?
For a minute I thought maybe this was a block waiver claim, but then I remembered Trachsel cleared waivers. The Cubs must consider him an upgrade over Marshall. Marshall did have two rough outings to start the month; maybe that swayed Jim Hendry's thinking. Or maybe he just wanted some insurance and someone to use in the upcoming doubleheader.
A couple of Ken Rosenthal new videos - Inside Pitch and Full Count - are up at FOXSports.com. Here's a summary of the rumor-related stuff.
- Rosenthal says Torii Hunter rejected a four-year, $56MM offer from the Twins. However, Hunter said today that he received no such offer. The Twins approached him about a contract extension, but he'll wait until the winter to negotiate. At any rate, Rosenthal believes Hunter will end up in the $18MM per year territory occupied by comparables Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells.
- Mike Piazza could be an option for the Tigers if Gary Sheffield's shoulder problems linger. Currently Sheff is looking to return in early September. Piazza has cleared waivers, so he can be traded to any team. He hasn't been hitting this month (.654 OPS).
- The Orioles have a couple of valuable trading chips in Kevin Millar and Steve Trachsel. Trax has cleared waivers; Millar is an unknown. Trachsel is back on the radar with a 2.53 August ERA (though he's whiffed only five in 32 innings).
- Rosenthal says the Marlins will almost certainly explore Dontrelle Willis trades this winter.
Ken Rosenthal has a new column up; here are some rumor-related points of interest.
- As you know, it doesn't make sense for the Yankees to keep both Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon around for 2008. It's just not an efficent way to spend $29MM. Rosenthal says Damon would be open to waiving his no-trade clause, if the Yankees struck a deal with a team that fell under his 12-team protection. Damon is apparently open to regular playing time on teams not located on the West Coast. The White Sox, Phillies, Braves, or Astros might make sense, in my opinion. The Yanks' ability to pull an exercise-and-trade with Abreu's 2008 option is hindered by his full no-trade protection.
- Rosenthal believes the Blue Jays might aggressively shop Troy Glaus this winter. Glaus surprisingly cleared waivers recently. Glaus is holding all the cards - he has a full no-trade clause and a player option for 2009.
- The Rockies will pass on David Wells, but the Dodgers are still interested. The Rox might still go for Steve Trachsel if they opt for experience over potential.
- Craig Monroe seems to be an option for second-tier clubs, especially if he becomes a free agent. The Giants will pass.
The Rockies are five games out in the NL West and two out in the Wild Card. Baseball Prospectus sets their playoff odds at a healthy 22-27%. Their main strength has been team OBP (second best in the league). The Rockies' offense has dominated at Coors Field. They've also had some fine relief work from Manny Corpas, Jeremy Affeldt, and even Jorge Julio.
But to have a legitimate shot, the Rockies need to sort out their starting rotation. According to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, injuries to Jason Hirsh, Rodrigo Lopez, and Aaron Cook have decimated the starting staff. The current five consists of Jeff Francis, Josh Fogg, Ubaldo Jimenez, Elmer Dessens, and maybe rookie Franklin Morales. Recently-acquired Ramon Ortiz will stay in the pen for now. There doesn't seem to be talk of using Taylor Buchholz in the rotation again.
While Jimenez was dominant yesterday against the Padres, control figures to remain a problem for him. Same deal with Morales. Cook should only miss three starts, and the Rockies desperately need him back. Lopez is out for the season and Hirsh's contribution will be minimal. Fogg and Dessens are mostly just filler.
Since it's August, the only real trade possibility is to acquire more filler. Renck specifically mentions Steve Trachsel and David Wells as pitchers on the radar. We've also seen the Rox linked to Josh Towers. Trachsel and Towers have already cleared waivers, and Wells probably will soon. As always, good starting pitching is hard to find.
Ken Rosenthal has a new post up; below are some points of interest for rumor-hounds like us.
- Josh Towers and Steve Trachsel have both cleared waivers. You'll find their contract info as well as a complete list of those who have cleared waivers here. Rosenthal says the Rockies are monitoring both pitchers; they were forced to start journeyman Tim Harikkala today. The Rox also called the A's about Chad Gaudin but found the price prohibitive. Another reason a Gaudin trade wouldn't make sense is that he wouldn't pass through waivers.
- Towers is attracting multiple suitors. I think he'll have moderate success in the NL as a #4 starter.
- Mark Loretta and Mike Lamb were both claimed on waivers and then pulled back, so they're not going anywhere.
- The Yankees have no reason to throw down a chunk of change on a free agent starter this winter. They're all set for 2008 with a formidable rotation of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, and Andy Pettitte. I think we've learned by now that there's really no such thing as a surplus of starting pitching, so I imagine the Yanks will only trade Kei Igawa in the right deal. Buster Olney said this morning that there was a 50% chance of Igawa going to the Padres soon. Additionally, it will be nice to have Ian Kennedy around as the sixth starter.
Pretty much the same old story with the Mets, though Joel Sherman and Mark Hale of the New York Post do have some new tidbits.
- The authors name Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, and Eric Gagne as relievers on the radar. However it seems the asking price is too high for Gagne and the Indians have become the frontrunner for Dotel (they may have passed the Dodgers). Shawn Chacon doesn't catch the Mets' eye, and they don't want Chad Bradford's three-year commitment. They had that option with Bradford this winter. I think that logic is silly - Bradford's pitched well this year, and acquiring him now would be akin to a two-year contract. Sometimes it seems GMs pass over certain players because they simply want to add a fresh name.
- You can add Al Reyes to the mix for the Mets, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
- The Mets think many of the available starting pitchers could be traded in August - Jose Contreras, Kyle Lohse, and Steve Trachsel for example. I don't agree on Lohse - he'll be traded today or tomorrow. But Contreras's contract would probably get through waivers without a claim.
- The Post reports no substantive talks to the Royals about Mark Grudzielanek. An inquiry has been made on Mark Loretta.
- Meanwhile, Newsday says the Twins are open to trading Luis Castillo but don't want any of the current Major League Mets. Dan Graziano of the Newark Star-Ledger seems to disagree, citing a Twins scout at Shea yesterday. Graziano does not believe Castillo would get through waivers unclaimed. He believes the Twins want Double A starter Kevin Mulvey and then some (perhaps Ruben Gotay).
- Graziano says a deal for Castillo could be expanded to include 28 year-old righty reliever Juan Rincon. Rincon had been consistently solid for three years (perhaps aided by steroids) but has seen his strikeout rate and overall performance plummet in 2007. Rincon is under control next year and will make at least $2MM again.
- Graziano notes that the Mets have talked to the A's about Joe Blanton, but Billy Beane wants Lastings Milledge. The Mets can't do that without damaging the current team. The Mets could actually add an outfielder in Jay Payton; the Cubs' interest has waned. The Sammy Sosa rumor also has some legs, as the Mets could bring him in to platoon with Shawn Green if they decide they can tolerate the sideshow.
Jayson Stark posted a new column for ESPN yesterday; let's take a glance at the trade rumors therein.
- Miguel Tejada's out until August, so that obviously means he won't be traded this season. Right? Wrong - Stark and an AL exec think $30MM or so due to Tejada for the remaining 2.3 seasons on his contract would allow him to pass through waivers. Miggy could be a hot topic for the August 31st trade deadline. You may recall that last August Andruw Jones was placed on waivers, claimed, and pulled back. Andruw called the affair "rude." Here is a refresher on the waiver trade rules, in case you want to get a head start.
- Steve Trachsel is the Oriole Stark expects to be traded at the July deadline. They should move fast, as Trachsel's stock is plummetting as expected.
- Stark says Kenny Williams was asking for a ton for Mark Buehrle before extension talks picked up: two of each team's best three prospects. Makes sense; ask for that, and then settle for one Grade A prospect if you can get it. Should Buehrle end up back on the trading block, the White Sox may have to break down and grant that 72 hour negotiating window for an extension. Stark's source makes a great point - if Buehrle signs with the Cardinals this offseason, the draft picks going to the team he departs will be the 38th pick and a second-rounder. Not that thrilling. But still, the smart money is on a contract extension with the White Sox for Buehrle.
- Matt Morris is officially on the market, as he should be. He's over his head with a 3.39 ERA, but remains a solid, veteran innings eater with over 70 innings of playoff experience. Morris will make another $5MM this year, $9.5MM in '08, and $2MM signing bonus due at the end of his contract. He's also got a $9MM club option for '09 with a $1MM buyout attached. Giants GM Brian Sabean has always been a buyer at the trade deadline, acquiring players like Jason Schmidt, Kenny Lofton, Sidney Ponson, and Randy Winn. Getting a decent prospect for Morris will be a new situation for Sabean.
Jeff Zrebiec's article for the Baltimore Sun this morning discusses the possibility that the Orioles start selling off veteran parts as we approach the trading deadline. He specifically names Scott Williamson, Corey Patterson, Jay Gibbons, and Steve Trachsel as trade candidates.
In a related note, Gotham Baseball's Mark Healey spoke to an industry source indicating that the Mets might be interested in trading for Williamson and Jay Payton.
Williamson makes $900K this year, with additional incentives based on his number of games. Patterson, a Scott Boras client, makes $4.3MM and is a free agent after the season. His terrible hitting this year will cost him what could've been a decent payday. The Gibbons contract is ugly: $5MM this year, $5.7MM in '08, and $6.2MM in '09. Trachsel earns $3.1MM this year plus a $4.75MM club option for '08. Finally, Payton makes $4.5MM this year and $5MM in '08.
The Orioles could really go nuts if they wanted to, dumping off contracts and veterans. Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora, Kevin Millar, Ramon Hernandez, Danys Baez, Aubrey Huff, Chad Bradford, and Jamie Walker could be sent packing. If they were to commit to a rebuilding year in '08, the Orioles have players to fill almost any team's needs. Of course, trading all those vets would amount to admitting how many mistake contracts the Orioles have on the books.