Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

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

Rays Sign First-Rounder Garrett Whitley

The Rays announced that they have signed first-round draft pick Garrett Whitley (Twitter link). The high school outfielder from New York will receive the full slot value of $2,962,100 that comes with the 13th overall selection, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Scouting director R.J. Harrison made the following comment on the team’s top pick (via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times):

“Garrett has all the tools we look for in a young prospect, both physically and mentally. He has the tools to play center field and hit in the middle of a lineup, and has the potential to impact the game with his legs, bat and glove. On top of that, Garrett is an intelligent young man with a great mental foundation for playing our game. We are very excited to welcome him to the organization and get him started on his professional journey.”

Whitley ranked as the seventh-best prospect in this year’s draft class in the eyes of Baseball America. ESPN’s Keith Law, meanwhile, ranked him 11th. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs rated Whitley as the draft’s No. 15 prospect, and he placed 17th on the Top 20 of MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis.

Whitley’s draft stock took a step forward after he made adjustments based on input from pro scouts at last year’s Area Code Games, per BA’s report. As of right now, the only one of his tools that doesn’t project to be above average is his arm, but he takes “gazelle-like strides” in center thanks to plus speed and projects to hit for power. McDaniel calls Whitley a “linebacker-looking athlete” that can play center and has power, though he notes some questions about consistent contact. Law feels he has more upside than fellow first-rounders Kyle Tucker and Trenton Clark but less certainty due to concerns around his hit tool, and MLB.com feels that he has average-or-better tools across the board with an advanced approach at the plate. Whitley had been committed to Wake Forest.


Tigers To Acquire Alexi Casilla From Rays

The Tigers have acquired infielder Alexi Casilla from the Rays in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports (Twitter links). Per the report, Detroit made the move to bolster its organizational depth up the middle.

Casilla, 30, has not seen big league time this year and played in just one game last year for the Orioles. Before that, however, he was rather an active utility player, mostly from the Twins. All told, Casilla has taken 1,893 plate appearances and produced a .247/.302/.331 slash with 80 stolen bases. He has spent most of his time at second, but also has plenty of experience playing shortstop.

Though he’s yet to receive a call-up, Casilla has actually been quite productive this year at Triple-A. Over 142 plate appearances, he has slashed .315/.379/.449. Though a .363 BABIP has helped drive that productivity, Casilla is showing better patience and power numbers than he did last year in the upper minors.


Minor Moves: Mazzaro, Sizemore, Murata, Rogers

Here are today’s minor league transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post.  All moves were announced by the teams themselves unless otherwise cited.

  • Vin Mazzaro has elected to become a free agent, according to MLB.com’s official transactions page.  The veteran righty was designated for assignment by the Marlins earlier this week and then outrighted, giving him the option of accepting the assignment or choosing free agency.  Mazzaro has a 3.75 ERA, six strikeouts and six walks over 12 relief innings for Miami this season.
  • The Rays selected the contract of Grady Sizemore prior to today’s game, and the veteran outfielder delivered three hits in his Tampa debut.  Sizemore was released by the Phillies and signed to a minor league deal by the Rays earlier this month.  In corresponding roster moves, righty Matt Andriese was sent to Triple-A and outfielder Desmond Jennings was moved to the 60-day DL.
  • The Indians purchased the contract of right-hander Toru Murata, who is making his MLB debut in a start tonight against the Orioles.  Murata was signed as a free agent out of Japan in 2010 and he owns a 3.88 ERA, 3.01 K/BB rate and 6.8 K/9 over 489 2/3 minor league innings.  In a corresponding move, the Tribe released right-hander Scott Atchison.
  • The Yankees selected the contract of righty Esmil Rogers, who was just outrighted off the roster two weeks ago.  Rogers has a 6.27 ERA over 33 bullpen innings for New York this season, though he has been hamstrung by a .356 BABIP and a very low 56% strand rate.
  • The Pirates selected the contract of utilityman Gorkys Hernandez.  Once a top-100 prospect, Hernandez appeared in 70 MLB games with the Pirates and Marlins in 2012 and hasn’t since been back to the Show.  Hernandez has a .278/.342/.376 slash line, 33 homers and 213 steals (out of 285 chances) over 4055 career minor league plate appearances.
  • The Braves selected the contract of right-hander Ryan Kelly, who is getting his first taste of the majors after nine pro seasons.  Kelly was a 26th-round draft pick for the Pirates in 2006 and he’s compiled a 3.99 ERA, 3.10 K/BB rate and 8.2 K/9 over 462 2/3 innings (mostly as a reliever).


AL Notes: Young, Aro, Smyly, Jaso

The Royals had little obvious need for veteran righty Chris Young heading into the season, but GM Dayton Moore had the team sign him anyway, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. The Royals offered a big-league deal just as Young was strongly considering a minor-league offer from the Dodgers, even though the Royals didn’t have a clear spot for Young in either their rotation or their bullpen. “The analytical guys can’t understand me, either,” says Moore. Moore’s “impulse,” as McCullough puts it, has paid off so far — Young has performed better than anyone else in the Royals rotation, except perhaps Edinson Volquez. Young’s contract calls for a base salary of just $675K, but he’s already reached some roster benchmarks, and he looks likely to collect incentives that should get him close to a maximum $6MM. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Red Sox righty Jonathan Aro‘s path to the big leagues was an unlikely one, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes. As a teenager, Aro twice contracted Dengue fever. He was already contemplating his life after baseball before finally signing at 20, a late age for a Dominican player, and for just $10K. “First of all, I signed as a 20-year-old. Secondly, I signed as a $10,000 guy. Thirdly, all the guys who signed in my class were high-dollar guys. I thought I was at the low end of the priority list,” says Aro through a translator. “So, in short, no — I didn’t think this was attainable.” Aro gradually made his way through the minors, though, and excelled for Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this year, posting a combined 2.22 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 44 2/3 innings. He made his big-league debut Thursday.
  • Rays lefty Drew Smyly will pitch from a mound for the first time on Saturday since heading to the disabled list in May with a torn labrum, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. In early May, it looked like Smyly was headed for season-ending surgery, but he currently appears set to rejoin the Rays at some point late this season.
  • In other Rays injury news, DH John Jaso will start a rehab assignment Saturday with the Class A+ Charlotte Stone Crabs, Topkin tweets. Jaso has missed much of the season with a wrist injury. Jaso should provide the Rays with another reliable bat, although they’ve done well at DH this season, with Joey Butler and David DeJesus taking most the available plate appearances.

Draft Signings: Lambert, Eshelman, Ferrell, Denton

Let’s wrap up some notable recent draft signings to close out the day. Slot values, as always, are courtesy of Baseball America.

  • We already noted that Rockies second-rounder Peter Lambert had signed, and now Jim Callis of MLB.com tweets that he’ll earn $1,495,000 to forego his commitment to UCLA. That’s just shy of a full $100K above the slot value for the 44th choice. A projectable right-hander, Lambert was rated a top-fifty draft-eligible player by both Baseball America and MLB.com.
  • The Astros have agreed to terms with second-round choice and 46th overall pick Thomas Eshelman, Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston reports on Twitter. The Cal State-Fullerton righty says he’ll formally sign next week. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs had Eshelman as the 54th player on his pre-draft board, while others were somewhat less optimistic. Baseball America rated him 126th, explaining that Eshelman has exceptional command but lacks outstanding pure stuff.
  • The Astros have also announced the signing of TCU righty Riley Ferrell, as Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle first reported on Twitter. He’ll get a $1MM bonus from the club, per Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). MLB.com liked him as the 45th-best draft prospect, noting that the TCU closer has a big fastball-slider combination that could make him a big league contributor from the pen in short order.
  • The Cardinals are in agreement with second-round pick Bryce Denton, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Denton had been committed to Vanderbilt, but is just a physical away from becoming a professional. ESPN.com’s Keith Law rated Denton 68th coming into the draft, noting that he has enhanced his outlook with improved strength and conditioning. Law says that the Tennessee high schooler is likely to play in the corner outfield as a pro, and could ultimately possess both a high-contact and powerful bat if he develops.
  • Rays third-round second baseman Brandon Lowe has agreed to terms on an unspecified bonus, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports on Twitter. Lowe was taken 87th overall, which came with a $676,900 slot value. The University of Maryland product ranked as high as 92nd in pre-draft rankings, with that tab coming from Law, who profiles him as a very good hitter with below-average power and solid-but-not-spectacular overall defensive ability.
  • The Nationals have agreed to a $500K bonus with 13th-round pick Max Schrock, Callis tweets, That’s the highest bonus yet given to a post-tenth-round selection, Callis adds. As I noted recently, Washington had freed a significant amount of cash with its previously reported signings, and $400K of that will go to add the South Carolina second baseman, who Baseball America rated 282nd overall based on his strong bat.

Minor Moves: Noesi, Dykstra, Velez, De La Rosa

We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post:

  • White Sox righty Hector Noesi has accepted an outright assignment with the club, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports on Twitter. The 28-year-old was designated for assignment recently after posting a 6.89 ERA over 32 2/3 frames to start the year. Working both as a starter and from the pen, Noesi has struck out 6.1 and walked 4.7 batters per nine on the season. He has permitted 5.30 earned runs per nine in his 395 1/3 career MLB innings.
  • The Rays have released first baseman Allan Dykstra and utilityman Eugenio Velez, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Dykstra, 28, saw his first big league action this year, but has spent most of his time in recent seasons in the upper minors. Though he carries a strong .261/.411/.457 line in his 606 total plate appearances at Triple-A, with similar numbers over exactly twice as many career turns at bat at Double-A, Dykstra has scuffled to a .705 OPS this year at Durham. The 33-year-old Velez has not seen big league action since 2011. He has generally hit well at Triple-A in the years since, but slipped to a .272/.336/.371 slash in 236 plate appearances this season at that level.
  • Orioles righty Dane De La Rosa has retired, David Hall of the Virginia Pilot reports on Twitter. The big, 32-year-old reliever had worked to a 4.35 ERA in 10 1/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk, striking out 6.1 but walking 7.0 batters per nine innings. De La Rosa had seen big league time in each of the last four years, and was quite a productive pen option for the Angels in 2013, when he delivered 72 1/3 innings of 2.86 ERA ball. But he’s struggled badly with command since that time while dealing with shoulder, forearm, and knee issues.

Rays Acquire Marc Krauss From Angels

The Rays have acquired first baseman/outfielder Marc Krauss from the Angels in exchange for righty Kyle Winkler, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter links). Krauss will head straight to the active roster, with utilityman Nick Franklin being optioned to clear roster space.

The left-handed-hitting Krauss was designated and outrighted by the Angels earlier in the year. He was off to a rough .143/.211/.286 start over 38 plate appearances at that time. Krauss came to the Halos over the offseason in a waiver claim from the Astros.

Krauss has always hit well in the upper minors, and that has been no different this year. Over 195 trips to the plate, he owns a .289/.415/.453 slash with four long balls.

The former second-round pick has split his big league time between first and the corner outfield, but has mostly played on the grass in the minors. He has seen action in parts of three seasons in the majors, taking 392 plate appearances and posting a cumulative .603 OPS.

Winkler, 25, has not yet advanced out of the minors. He has mostly pitched in a relief capacity as a professional. This year, splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A, Winkler owns a 1.46 ERA over 12 1/3 frames with 10.9 K/9 against just 0.7 BB/9, though the bulk of the positive numbers came at the lower of those levels.


Quick Hits: Castellini, Aiken, Rays, Brewers

Unless someone blows the Reds away with an offer, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer could see them rolling the dice, effectively staying pat, and hoping for a second-half turnaround.  There are people in the organization willing to blow it all up, but Fay writes that owner Bob Castellini is an optimist.  Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Aroldis Chapman could yield great returns for the Reds, but their owner might not be ready to call it quits on 2015.  The Reds are 32-36 following today’s 5-2 win over the Marlins.

  • Since signing Brady Aiken, the Indians have kept the size of his bonus “on top-secret lockdown for some reason,” MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes (all Twitter links).  Callis predicts that Aiken will receive the “max of what [the] Indians can pay without crossing 105% pool threshold,” so roughly a bonus of $2.7 to $2.75MM, which would top his slot value as the 17th overall pick by over $300K.  Aiken’s bonus has been the source of speculation given how he was both the first player taken in 2014 and a recent Tommy John patient.  As Jason Lukehart of the Let’s Go Tribe blog recently noted, Cleveland has saved a lot of money in their draft pool to go significantly over slot to sign Aiken and 42nd overall pick Triston McKenzie.
  • The Rays have long been able to deliver winning teams on small payrolls, yet Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times observes that the 2015 season may be the club’s most impressive feat yet.  The Rays are in first place in the AL East despite paying almost $36MM of their $72MM Opening Day payroll to players who are either on the DL, in the minors or no longer with the organization.
  • It will be tough for the Brewers to receive good prospect value back on the trade market since so many of their high-priced veterans are struggling, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.  Dealing controllable pieces like Jonathan Lucroy, Wily Peralta or Jimmy Nelson wouldn’t make sense, so Haudricourt thinks Carlos Gomez or Jean Segura would have to be the ones to go in order for Milwaukee to get some quality minor league talent.
  • Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson have become big parts of the Yankees bullpen, though Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that the Bombers paid a surprisingly hefty price.  Ex-top prospect Manny Banuelos (dealt for Shreve and the released David Carpenter) is pitching well for the Braves’ Triple-A team while Francisco Cervelli (traded for Wilson) has emerged as a huge help behind the plate for the Pirates.
  • While the chances of the White Sox trading Chris Sale are remote, ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider-only piece) opines that the Sox should at least consider dealing Sale since the return would be so enormous for a 26-year-old ace who is controllable through 2019 on a team-friendly contract.  White Sox sources told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the club isn’t making Sale available, which is understandable, though Olney is right in noting that Sale would instantly become the biggest trade chip on the market.

Quick Hits: International Spending, Giants, Cubans

Remember when the Padres, Red Sox, and White Sox were the most improved teams in the majors? They, along with the Marlins, are below .500 despite their busy offseasons, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Alternatively, the Blue Jays have pushed into playoff contention with a recent winning streak. Toronto added Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin over the offseason, but the core of the team has remained largely intact. Kepner notes that these quick turnaround rebuilds are no guarantee for solid performance.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • A new international signing period will begin on July 2nd, but 2016 is the time for your favorite team to break the bank, per Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Angels, and Diamondbacks are already unable to spend more than $300K on a player for the next two seasons. The Dodgers, Cubs, Royals, Phillies, and Blue Jays may blow past their bonus limit in the 2015 signing period. That will remove many of the most active teams from the market in 2016. Badler gives a complete description of the international market conditions. It’s well worth a read.
  • The Giants will soon face a roster crunch in their rotation, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. Jake Peavy is medically ready to return, and Matt Cain is nearing readiness. The easiest move would be to option Chris Heston, but he’s tied for the club lead with seven wins and recently no-hit the Mets. Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Hudson have been merely serviceable. The same can be said of Tim Lincecum in recent weeks. With the exception of Heston, the other rotation arms could be lost if they’re designated for assignment. The club could opt to move Lincecum and Vogelsong into the bullpen, but that just pushes the roster crunch elsewhere.
  • An influx of Cuban players could soon flood the majors, writes Bill Shaiken of the Los Angeles Times. Cuban players, even those who fall under international spending restrictions, are currently able to negotiate with all 30 clubs. That increases their bargaining power. It’s a big reason why infielder Roberto Baldoquin cost about four times more than the Angels’ entire 2015 amateur draft class. Cubans are currently the third most represented foreign nation in the majors. Opening day rosters included 18 Cubans, 65 Venezuelans, and 83 Dominicans. Cuba has a comparable population to the Dominican Republic. As such, we could see a surge of Cuban players as diplomatic relations continue to thaw.

Heyman’s Latest: Phillies, C. Johnson, Sellers, Harang, Rays

In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by taking a look at a messy situation in Philadelphia. Heyman hears the same rumblings that were first reported by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury — that Andy MacPhail could very well be in line for an executive role with the Phillies. The hiring of MacPhail would bring into question the status of both GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg. While one exec notes that no one could have had much success with the hand Sandberg has been dealt, his calm demeanor hasn’t motivated the team much, and he may have lost the clubhouse at this point. Heyman notes that partial owner John Middleton, who is believed by some to be calling the shots in Philly, may have extra impetus to get a new decision-maker in the door so that a lame-duck GM (Amaro’s contract expires at season’s end) isn’t the primary decision-maker on what could be a franchise-altering Cole Hamels trade. Speaking of Hamels, Heyman notes that interested teams will want to see him pitch at least twice now that he had a start pushed back due to a hamstring strain, thinning the window of opportunity to trade him. As far as Jonathan Papelbon goes, the belief is that he’d approve any trade that sent him to a contending team, though the Cubs might be his preferred fit at this point if he had a say in the matter.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest (though there’s more in the column than we can cover here)…

  • The Braves have tried to trade Chris Johnson and even offered to substantially pay down the remaining money on his contract, but there’s been little interest. The Johnson deal was widely questioned from the start, and there’s still about $21MM owed to Johnson through the end of the 2017 season. Johnson’s a viable weapon against lefties, but he’s a sub-par hitter against right-handed pitchers and is not well-regarded from a defensive standpoint.
  • Rival teams are beginning to wonder if the Red Sox might sell some pieces this summer, with Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz and Koji Uehara among the possible names listed by Heyman. Napoli isn’t hitting for average but has shown good power and a nice walk rate. Buchholz has improved after a rocky start and Uehara again has strong numbers in the ‘pen.
  • The White Sox are beginning to think about selling, Heyman hears, but they’re not quite ready to move their bigger pieces. Emilio Bonifacio might be the first name they make available, but eventually, Jeff Samardzija‘s name could be out there. Heyman writes that while Samardzija isn’t pitching well in 2015, his big arm is so tantalizing to scouts that there will still be interest in him.
  • The Reds aren’t expected to sell until after the All-Star Game and would be very open to shedding Brandon Phillips‘ contract, per Heyman, though I have a difficult time envisioning too many teams lining up to take on the remainder of that deal. Phillips is owed about $34.1MM through the end of the 2017 season and has seen his power more or less vanish. Heyman speculates that Everth Cabrera could be a fit in Cincinnati with Zack Cozart out for the year, and there’s some logic to that scenario, though they may first prefer to see what they have in Eugenio Suarez. The Mets aren’t interested in Cabrera, he adds later.
  • The Marlins aren’t selling yet, according to GM-turned-manager Dan Jennings. “We’re in it, we’re not jumping off the ship. No doubt about that,” Jennings told Heyman. If their attitude changes, Heyman thinks they’ll find interest in Martin Prado and Mike Dunn.
  • The Astros like Aaron Harang but are said to be aiming higher when looking at potential trade targets to bolster their rotation.
  • The Dodgers are on the hunt for a top-tier starting pitcher and a late-inning arm to help bridge the gap to Kenley Jansen. In other Dodgers-related news, Heyman hears that No. 35 pick Kyle Funkhouser is strongly considering returning to Louisville. Funkhouser was once looked at as a potential Top 10 pick, but he fell to a slot with a $1.756MM value. He’d have less leverage in 2016 as a senior sign, of course, but he could certainly improve his draft stock and his bonus with a big senior year.
  • Yankees chief international officer/executive vice president Felix Lopez is no longer listed on the team’s web site and some indicate that he’s been gone from the organization for three months, Heyman writes. Lopez was said to have angered Yoan Moncada‘s camp after calling to express displeasure with their decision to sign in Boston over New York. The team hasn’t made a statement on his departure.
  • The Rays are looking for first base help with James Loney on the disabled list, but Loney’s said to be returning around the All-Star break. Heyman speculates on the possibility of Ryan Howard ending up in Tampa Bay if the Phillies eat some or all of the contract, but I’d think there’d be something of a logjam there once Loney is activated in that scenario.