Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

Tampa Bay Rays trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Rays Acquire Xavier Cedeno From Dodgers

12:31pm: The Rays have moved John Jaso to the 60-day disabled list in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Cedeno, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Because Cedeno won’t join the team for a couple of days, there will be no 25-man move to accommodate him just yet, Topkin adds.

12:26pm: The Dodgers announced today that they have traded recently designated left-hander Xavier Cedeno to the Rays in exchange for cash considerations (Twitter link).

Cedeno, who was designated for assignment by the Nationals and quickly acquired by the Dodgers, found himself again DFA’ed in Los Angeles after the team selected the contract of Sergio Santos. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman had stated after acquiring Cedeno that he expected the southpaw to be added to the active roster, but Cedeno never appeared in a game with the Dodgers.

For the Rays, Cedeno will give them a desperately needed left-handed relief option. Tampa has lost Jeff Beliveau for the season after the southpaw tore the labrum in his left shoulder, necessitating surgery. Fellow left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser recently hit the disabled list as well, leaving the Rays even more thin in terms of lefty relief.

The 28-year-old Cedeno has a relatively limited Major League track record, but he did post a 3.77 ERA with 10.5 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9 in 31 innings for the 2012 Astros. Since then, he’s been limited to just 22 1/3 big league innings, tallying a 5.64 ERA along the way. Cedeno comes with an outstanding Triple-A track record, having totaled a 2.83 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 127 1/3 innings at that level.


Minor Moves: Snyder, Dykstra, Redmond, Roberts

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Orioles will sign corner intfielder Brandon Snyder to a minor-league deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Snyder, 28, had agreed to a deal with the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in March. He hit .206/.284/.444 in 141 plate appearances with the Red Sox’ Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate in 2014. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Red Sox in 2013 and had previously had cups of coffee with the Orioles and Rangers. The Orioles made him the 13th overall pick in the draft ten years ago.
  • The Rays have outrighted Allan Dykstra, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. Dykstra playing first base for much of April, but he became superfluous when James Loney returned from the disabled list. The 27-year-old Dykstra hit .280/.426/.504 for the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season, drawing 84 walks in 439 plate appearances.
  • The Blue Jays outrighted right-hander Todd Redmond to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Redmond, who was designated for assignment April 16, struggled to start 2015 allowing eight runs (all earned) in a pair of relief appearanes (covering 4 1/13 innings) with five walks and four strikeouts.
  • The A’s have signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal and have assigned him to Triple-A Nashville, tweets the Sounds’ play-by-play announcer Jeff Hem. Roberts, who was in camp with the Royals before being released in March, made a cameo appearance with Boston in 2014 and batted just .105/.227/.105 in 22 trips to the plate during eight games. Over his nine-year career, the 34-year-old has slashed a much more acceptable .243/.320/.388 for the Red Sox, Rays, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Blue Jays.
  • The Marlins have outrighted left-hander Grant Dayton to Triple-A, per the club’s transactions page. The 27-year-old was designated for assignment Friday to create room on the 40-man roster for catcher Jhonatan Solano, whose contract was purchased when the Marlins placed Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the paternity list.
  • The Mets signed free agent second baseman Brooks Conrad to a minor league contract, according to the International League transactions page.  Conrad signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January of last year after spending some time in Japan and joined their major league team later in 2014.  He spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, slashing .278/.349/.529 with 18 homers in 337 plate appearances. In a limited sample size of 34 major league appearances in 2014, however, he couldn’t produce the same results, and he was released in August.
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, Eric Surkamp (White Sox), Grant Balfour (Rays), Eury De La Rosa (A’s), Steve Tolleson (Blue Jays), Xavier Cedeno (Dodgers), and Logan Verrett (Rangers) are still in DFA limbo.

AL East Notes: Yankees, Uehara, Rays

The entire AL East has had troubles with starting pitching so far this season, Peter Gammons writes. Heading into play today, the division had only produced 34 quality starts in 90 games. Gammons feels the Yankees‘ strong bullpen and ability to upgrade their roster via the trade market this summer could make them the favorite in the division — they have plenty of Double-A talent they could trade, and they have the ability to afford an additional expensive starting pitcher. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • Koji Uehara‘s struggles Saturday night raise questions about whether the Red Sox made the right move in re-signing Uehara and letting Andrew Miller leave for the Yankees last offseason, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. The Red Sox gave Uehara two years and $18MM, a commitment that Cafardo notes surprised some observers, given Uehara’s injury issues and his play down the stretch last year (and, presumably, given the fact that he’s 40). Miller, meanwhile, got twice that amount from the Yankees and has pitched well so far. It is perhaps worth noting, though, that Uehara has six strikeouts and no walks in 4 1/3 innings thus far this season. Worries about him might be somewhat premature.
  • The Rays have been successful so far this season despite serious troubles with injuries, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain writes. Last offseason and the start of this season have been a test for president of baseball operations Matt Silverman, who has now had to deal with losing his manager and with having 12 players (including Drew Smyly and James Loney, who have since returned) on the disabled list at once.


Rays Designate Allan Dykstra For Assignment

The Rays have designated first baseman Allan Dykstra for assignment, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The move clears space for pitcher Everett Teaford, whose contract the Rays selected from Triple-A Durham.

Dykstra collected the first 38 plate appearances of his big-league career with the Rays this season, hitting .129/.289/.226 before being optioned to Durham when James Loney returned from injury. The 27-year-old Dykstra is now in his eighth season in the minors and could be on his way out of his third organization despite a first-round draft pedigree and consistently impressive-looking minor-league stats. He hit .280/.426/.504 in 439 plate appearances with the Mets’ (admittedly hitter-friendly) Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season.


Heyman’s Latest: Bryant, Upton, Rays, Leake, Soriano, Polanco

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark is said to be “ready to reach out to [Kris] Bryant soon to determine his mindset” on whether or not a grievance should be filed against the Cubs for holding him in Triple-A to start the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his latest Inside Baseball column. Heyman notes that the union could file a grievance on Bryant’s behalf even without his consent, though that’s unlikely. The issue at hand, of course, would be whether or not Bryant was clearly one of Chicago’s 25 best players and the demotion was made purely for service time implications. (Chicago bought an extra year of control over Bryant by stashing him in the Minors for all of eight games/11 days). Heyman points out that it would be difficult to an arbitrator to rule in Bryant’s favor, as there’s no precedent for this type of grievance. Players in similar situations have historically been hesitant to file a grievance, he adds, because it would be a contentious way to begin a relationship with a team to which a player will be tied for the next six-plus years. A “Cubs connected person” called the notion of a grievance “laughable” when asked by Heyman. However, the points that Bryant was recalled on the first day the team could add him while still delaying free agency and slotted directly into the cleanup spot could make a case that the club had an understanding of his value, Heyman writes. From the union’s perspective, it’s understandable that they’d have interest in preventing this type of situation in the future, even if it’s a long shot.

More highlights from a lengthy Heyman column…

  • The Padres don’t yet view Melvin Upton Jr. as a throwaway piece and will use him as an occasional outfielder and pinch-runner, Heyman writes. He also looks back on Upton’s original five-year, $75.2MM pact and notes that it’s one of the worst contracts in recent history, particularly given the fact that the next-highest offer was believed to come from the Phillies at somewhere in the $40MMs.
  • The league’s investigation into the Rays‘ allegations of the Cubs‘ tampering in the Joe Maddon saga could come to a close as soon as next week, per Heyman. MLB was still interviewing people as recently as last week, but to this point there “is believed to have been no smoking guns found.”
  • The Reds never approached right-hander Mike Leake about a contract extension this offseason, and the free-agent-to-be is said to be a bit hurt not to have been contacted. Leake’s not a front-line starter, but he’ll hit the open market heading into his age-28 season and currently sports a 3.56 ERA in 427 1/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2013. A third straight season of 190+ innings and an ERA in the mid-3.00s should position him for a nice contract, especially considering the fact that half of his starts have come in the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
  • Multiple teams have worked out Rafael Soriano, and while he’s on the Tigers‘ radar, there’s also been some contact with the Mariners. Heyman adds the Pirates, Indians and Dodgers as “logical suitors,” though I’d imagine the Pirates and Indians in particular would have some payroll constraints, depending on the asking price of agent Scott Boras.
  • Heyman echoes ESPN’s Buster Olney in speculating that the Dodgers could make a run at extending Howie Kendrick, noting that the Dodgers love Kendrick both on the field and in the clubhouse. He also notes that the Dodgers are impressed with Alex Guerrero‘s bat and may coming around on him as a passable option at third base or in left field, though the team is already well-stocked at each position.
  • The Pirates and Gregory Polanco may have come as close as about $1MM on agreeing to a seven-year contract, Heyman hears. The biggest holdup was over the three club options on the deal, which ranged from $11-13MM, and when the team would have been required to exercise them.
  • Though recent reports have indicated that John Lackey hopes the Cardinals will approach him about an extension, Heyman writes that it’s not a likely scenario. St. Louis likes its pitching depth and the young starters in line beyond those in the 2015 rotation.
  • The Orioles asked the Blue Jays for both of the team’s first round picks from the 2014 draft — right-hander Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost — in exchange for the ability to hire EVP/general manager Dan Duquette as their new president, according to Heyman.

AL East Notes: Rays, Red Sox, Tanaka

Here’s the latest from the American League East:

  • The Rays are going to have to drop a player from their 40-man roster to account for the club’s bullpen injuries, Cork Gaines of Rays Index explains. With C.J. Riefenhauser joining Jeff Beliveau on the major league DL, and fellow southpaws Enny Romero and Grayson Garvin both on the DL in the minors, the club is low on options.
  • While the Red Sox rotation additions have struggled badly to start the year, the club did not have many appealing alternatives available to it, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. MacPherson ticks through the possibilities, explaining that, by and large, Boston was probably wise not to beat other teams’ offers for several top arms.
  • Masahiro Tanaka has trended up in his last two outings for the Yankees, as Brendan Kuty of NJ.com explains. His ability to pitch through a partial UCL tear remains critical to the club not just this year, but looking into the future.

Jeff Beliveau To Undergo Surgery For Torn Labrum

Rays reliever Jeff Beliveau will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a torn left shoulder labrum, the club announced. Beliveau has already been transferred to the 60-day DL, and will obviously miss significant time.

As Jay Jaffe wrote for Baseball Prospectus back in 2012, surgical repairs of torn labrums have had their share of success stories. But recovery is far from a sure thing, and the details — for example, whether there is also rotator cuff damage — matter quite a bit.

Beliveau, 28, had seemed poised to play an important role in the Tampa bullpen this season after a surprising 2014 campaign in which he posted a 2.63 ERA over 24 frames, backed by 10.5 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 and a 2.47 FIP. He was off to a rough start this year, however, having allowed seven baserunners and four earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Though he has never been a hard thrower, Beliveau was down two ticks on his fastball.

The loss of Beliveau leaves the club somewhat lacking in terms of experienced left-handed relievers. C.J. Riefenhauser is the only southpaw on the active roster at present, though players like Everett Teaford, Jordan Norberto, Enny Romero, and Grayson Garvin all represent depth options in the upper minors.


AL East Notes: Francis, Balfour, Betts, Schoop

The Blue Jays announced today that they’ve selected the contract of veteran left-hander Jeff Francis and optioned fellow lefty Colt Hynes to Triple-A Buffalo. The 34-year-old Francis, a native of Vancouver, will add another Canadian player to Toronto’s roster, joining Russell Martin, Michael Saunders and Dalton Pompey. Francis will hope for better results than he’s seen over the past three seasons, during which he’s posted a combined 5.84 ERA in 203 1/3 innings with the Rockies, Reds, A’s and Yankees. Toronto already had an open 40-man roster spot after designating Todd Redmond for assignment last week.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • Recently designated right-hander Grant Balfour spoke with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times about how he wished his second run with the Rays had yielded better results. Balfour admitted to shying away from his fastball after the realization that the pitch lacked its typical life. The Australian righty wouldn’t state for certain whether or not he’d pursue another opportunity immediately: “Maybe a little bit of rest will be good for me. … I’m not thinking too far ahead. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
  • After speaking to multiple scouts about the futures of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes that Betts has leap-frogged Bogaerts in the eyes of the baseball industry. “I don’t think you could find anyone in baseball who would pick Bogaerts over Betts right now,” one scout told Silverman. Another said Betts “clearly” has the better bat of the two, while a third scout said that in 20 years, Betts “makes quicker adjustments to his game than anybody I’ve seen.” All of the scouts to whom Silverman spoke are quick to clarify that Bogaerts still has star potential, but the glowing reviews add to the meteoric rise of Betts over the past 12 months.
  • Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop is likely to miss longer than the minimum amount of time on the 15-day disabled list, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The 23-year-old Schoop suffered a Grade 1 partial PCL tear and an MCL sprain, and while surgery is unlikely, an exact timetable is unknown. Encina looks at Anthony Rendon as a possible comparable, noting that Rendon has just resumed baseball activities six weeks after spraining his left MCL.

Rays Designate Grant Balfour For Assignment

The Rays have designated reliever Grant Balfour, the team announced. The decision comes on the heels of an outing in which he allowed three runs on three walks and a home run over two-thirds of an inning. The club owes him $7MM this season. Tampa has selected the contract of Brandon Gomes in his place.

Balfour, 37, has a career 3.44 ERA with 9.53 K/9, 4.16 BB/9, and 84 saves. This season, his velocity has declined to a career low 89 mph. In his heyday, he regularly pumped 93-94 mph heat. After today, he’s walked four batters in four and one-third innings without a strikeout. It’s possible that he was underprepared for the season. Balfour’s father passed early during spring training, so it’s certainly understandable if he had trouble focusing on baseball.

The Aussie reliever is joined in DFA limbo by Xavier Cedeno, Todd Redmond, and Ryan Dennick.


AL East Notes: Reyes, Castro, Arencibia, Ramirez

In a radio appearance on FAN 590, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that Jose Reyes had an MRI the revealed a small crack/fracture in his rib — an injury that could require a trip to the disabled list (Twitter links via Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). The Blue Jays expect to have a better sense of whether or not Reyes will end up on the disabled list later today, though the injury certainly doesn’t seem to bode well for the shortstop, who exited last night’s game in the first inning. A DL trip for Reyes would seemingly mean that Ryan Goins would see time at short in his absence.

More from the AL East…

  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet has posted an excellent look at the way in which Miguel Castro came to sign with the Blue Jays. Castro first worked out for both the Mets and Phillies, but failed to finalize a deal with either club for different reasons. Blue Jays director of Latin American operations was occupying that role with the Mets when the team pursued Castro, and Cruz recalls that he and Mets GM Sandy Alderson liked Castro and were comfortable signing him for $200K. However, some of the Mets pitching coaches and Cruz’s direct supervisor were concerned by Castro’s body type — he’s been likened, physically, to NBA superstar Kevin Durant due to his lanky frame — and the Mets ultimately passed. Castro then agreed to a $180K bonus with the Phillies, pending a physical, but Philadelphia didn’t like the look of his elbow and voided the deal. Cruz was transitioning to the Jays at that time and made his first order of business to ask GM Alex Anthopoulos for the money to sign Castro. A physical did reveal that Castro’s elbow looked to have had a past injury that no longer looked to be a major concern, but it was enough for Toronto to drop its initial offer to $43K. Castro accepted, and he impressed enough in his first big league camp to break camp with the team. Castro, of course, has already been moved to Toronto’s closer role.
  • J.P. Arencibia, who signed a Minor League pact with the Rays yesterday, will head to Triple-A and work mostly as a first baseman/DH, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Arencibia will get some occasional time at catcher, but manager Kevin Cash seemingly indicated that the 29-year-old’s bat, not the desire for additional depth behind the plate, was the reason for the signing. “He’s got some pop… we like what he does offensively,” Cash told Topkin. “Any added insurance he can provide, we’ll kind of see how it goes, but we’re excited.”
  • Righty Erasmo Ramirez has been shelled in two outings with the Rays, but Topkin writes that it appears the 25-year-old will stick with the club and try to work out his control issues out of the bullpen. The Rays don’t need a fifth starter until April 25, Topkin points out, and while either Alex Colome or Drew Smyly could theoretically be ready by that point, Tampa is not yet ready to give up on Ramirez.