Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

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

Notable September Call-Ups

Today’s flurry of transactions has been driven by September call-ups as teams look to expand their flexibility with expanded rosters. Only players who are on the 40-man roster can be activated, of course, meaning that several organizations have had to designate or outright players to clear roster space. On the activation side of the equation, we always see big name prospects reach the bigs in early September, though many of the game’s best big-league ready youngsters have already been elevated this year.

We already noted Hector Olivera‘s promotion earlier today, and you can see all of the day’s promotions at the MLB.com Transactions page. Here are some more of the notable call-ups (for various reasons)…

  • Zach DaviesBrewers — Acquired in the Gerardo Parra deal, Davies is heading into the Milwaukee rotation for his first big league action. The rebuilding Brewers figure to have multiple rotation spots open in the long-term, making Davies’ late audition one to keep an eye on. Be sure to check out the MLBTR Podcast episode featuring the young righty.
  • Miguel CastroRockies — Another recent trade acquisition, Castro was one of the two main pieces (along with fellow righty Jeff Hoffman) who went to Colorado in exchange for Troy Tulowitzki. It’s not clear what role the Rockies have in mind in the near-term, but they’ll get an early look to see whether he will be a part of their plans for 2016.
  • Dalton PompeyBlue Jays — Pompey opened the season with a chance to solidify himself as Toronto’s everyday center fielder, but offensive struggles saw him slide all the way to Double-A. Pompey nonetheless rates as one of baseball’s best prospects, and he’ll again have the opportunity to show the Blue Jays that he can be a long-term piece.
  • Javier BaezCubs — It’s been a difficult season for Baez, who has dealt with the tragic death of his younger sister and then a broken finger but hit well late in the year at Triple-A. Baez’s light-tower power and exceptional bat speed make him one of the game’s most intriguing power prospects, and a huge September could lead the Cubs to pencil him in as their second baseman in 2016.
  • Joey GalloRangers — Speaking of the game’s top power prospects, Gallo wowed the baseball world when he .260/.362/.580 with five homers through his first 14 big league games earlier this year. But, he went 6-for-37 with 22 strikeouts over his next 11 games and was optioned to Triple-A, where his struggles continued. Gallo posted a very three-true-outcomes batting line in 53 games there: .195/.289/.450 with a 39.5 percent strikeout rate in 228 plate appearances. He has as much power as anyone in baseball, but the strikeouts are a concern.
  • Marco Gonzales, Cardinals — The 19th overall pick back in 2013, Gonzales debuted with the Cardinals in 2014 and tossed 34 2/3 respectable, if unspectacular innings. He’s dealt with injuries in 2015 and hadn’t pitched in the Majors this season prior to September. The Cards threw him right into the fire tonight, and things didn’t go well (four runs in 2 2/3 innings). Gonzales could be in line for a rotation spot next season, although with Adam Wainwright returning and Jaime Garcia’s option likely to be picked up, he could begin 2016 in Triple-A again.
  • Rob Refsnyder, Yankees — Refsnyder had a nice season at Triple-A (albeit a bit light in the power department), and Yankee fans have been clamoring for him to inherit the everyday second base job for quite some time. A platoon with Stephen Drew may be more likely, but Refsnyder will get his first extended run on a big league roster this month and hope to impress the team as Drew heads into free agency.
  • Trevor Cahill — Cahill joins the Cubs on a mission to show some semblance of the form he displayed from 2010-13 with the A’s and D-Backs, when he very much looked the part of a mid-rotation starter. Since that four-year stretch (when he notched a 3.72 ERA in 751 innings), Cahill has an ERA just under 6.00 and has been released by the Braves and opted out of a deal with the Dodgers after floundering in Triple-A as well. He’s still only 27.
  • Matt MooreRays — Moore’s return from Tommy John was dreadful, but he flat out dominated Triple-A hitters following a demotion to get his control back in check. Moore had a 3.30 ERA in Triple-A but held hitters to a .207/.273/.333 batting line with a 43-to-8 K/BB ratio in 30 innings, including an Aug. 22 start in which 16 of the 18 outs he recorded came via strikeout.
  • Andrew Bailey, Yankees — The right-hander was a young, ace closer for the Athletics but saw his career fall apart due to injuries after being traded to the Red Sox. He’s thrown well at Triple-A this year after joining the Yankees on a minor league deal, and he’ll now get his first chance at the big league level since way back in 2013.
  • Allen CraigRed Sox — Craig has fallen off the radar after three outstanding seasons with the Cardinals from 2011-13. He’s probably not in Boston’s long-term plans, but a nice September could make it a bit easier for the Sox to generate a little trade interest. Craig batted .274/.368/.350 in Triple-A this season, and while the average/OBP are nice, he had just 18 extra-base hits (14 doubles, four homers) in 399 PAs there.
  • Rex Brothers, Wilin Rosario, Rockies — Formerly two key contributors for the Rockies, both have wilted recently, and both could be viewed as change-of-scenery candidates this offseason. Their September performances, for that reason, are worth keeping an eye on.

Rays Designate Hak-Ju Lee For Assignment

The Rays have designated minor league shortstop and former top prospect Hak-Ju Lee for assignment, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets that the move creates 40-man roster space for minor league catcher/first baseman Luke Maile.

The now-24-year-old Lee and Chris Archer highlighted the prospect package the Rays received from the Cubs in exchange for Matt Garza back in 2011. Lee was a consensus Top 100 prospect prior to that 2011 campaign and again heading into the 2012 and 2013 campaigns. Lee ranked as high as No. 44 in the game at one point (Baseball America, pre-2012), and he began his 2013 season at the Triple-A level on a torrid stretch, hitting .422/.536/.600 through his first 15 games. Unfortunately, the Korean-born shortstop tore multiple ligaments in his knee in a collision at second base, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. Since returning in 2014, he’s posted a sub-.600 OPS in 189 Triple-A contests.

Maile, 24, is a former eighth-round draft pick (2012) that reached Triple-A for the first time this year. In 337 plate appearances there, he’s slashed a mere .207/.298/.296 at the minors’ top level. However, Maile’s value lies more on the defensive side of the spectrum, as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs explained in examining Tampa Bay’s prospects prior to the season. Maile profiles as a “nice catch-and-throw backup that’s above average defensively with a bat that’s just OK,” per McDaniel.

Minor MLB Transactions: 9/1/15

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Mets have outrighted infielder Danny Muno, the club announced (via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, on Twitter). His 40-man spot was needed for the activation of outfielder Eric Young Jr., which is expected today. Muno, 26, managed just four base hits and four walks in his first 32 big league plate appearances this season. He has played exclusively at Triple-A otherwise over the past two seasons, slashing a cumulative .274/.374/.408 in 723 turns at bat.
  • Outfielder Jose Constanza, meanwhile, has signed a minor league deal with the Rays, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Constanza, who turns 32 today, had a nice (albeit brief) run with the 2011 Braves but saw his MLB opportunities dwindle in Atlanta over the next three years. He’s spent much of his career at the Triple-A level, registering an even .300 batting average, a sturdy .356 OBP, and rather light .350 slugging percentage in over 2,000 plate appearances. Constanza has also swiped 128 bags over that span.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Duquette, Craig, Rays

Though the chances of the Orioles making a trade today may be remote, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun cautions not to rule out GM Dan Duquette making a final transaction. As Connolly notes, Duquette has made at least one trade in each of the past three Augusts, and the GM also told Connolly over the weekend that he’s not yet giving up on the 2015 season. Baltimore currently sits a seemingly insurmountable 11 games back of the AL East lead, but they’re a more manageable 5.5 games back from the second Wild Card position. Any players acquired after tonight’s midnight deadline would be ineligible for the postseason, though, so if a trade happens, it’s likely to come today.

Here are a few more notes pertaining to the O’s and the AL East…

  • In his latest notes column, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal writes that Orioles owner Peter Angelos’ stubborn refusal to let Duquette go in order to take the Blue Jays’ president/CEO position last offseason “created an unhealthy environment” around the club’s front office. There’s some lingering resentment, Rosenthal hears, including some among executives who felt they were in line for a promotion upon Duquette’s departure.
  • Within that column, Rosenthal also writes that Allen Craig is likely to be re-added to the 40-man roster for a September callup that will allow him to be evaluated not only by new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, but also by rival teams. Craig, though, is owed $21MM through the end of the 2017 season and has batted a meager .271/.367/.348 since being outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket this year. Boston may be able to flip him for a bad contract, but I’d imagine that with only a month’s worth of games and presumably intermittent playing time, it’ll be difficult for him to fully convince other clubs that he can again be an asset.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times profiled and spoke to three veteran players that will be helping the Rays’ Wild Card push: J.P. Arencibia, Daniel Nava and Grady Sizemore. Topkin looks at how each came to join the Rays, with manager Kevin Cash admitting that the team initially expected Sizemore’s Tampa Bay tenure to last three or four days. Sizemore has instead been around for 37 games and delivered roughly league-average offensive production (park-adjusted), though his OBP and defensive skills are admittedly somewhat lacking.

AL East Notes: Yankees, Red Sox, De Aza

If the Yankees had to win one playoff game and could send out whomever they wanted to the mound, that pitcher might be Nathan Eovaldi, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  Eovaldi, who has posted a 2.93 ERA in his last 12 starts, has looked like a top starter for more than two months and a scout familiar with him from his NL days says he’s the best hurler the Yankees have right now.  The question is, is this all a fluke or is Eovaldi for real?  Sherman is betting on the latter.  Here’s more from the AL East..

  • Now that Alejandro De Aza has started two games in a row for the Red Sox, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (on Twitter) wonders aloud if the outfielder is being showcased for a trade.  Through 89 combined games for the Orioles and Red Sox this season, De Aza owns a .264/.320/.441 slash line.  The Dodgers and Giants both had interest in acquiring De Aza after he cleared waivers this month but both NL West teams felt that the asking price was too high.
  • New Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has a history of pulling off quality trades and he isn’t the type to beat around the bush when it comes to negotiating, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes.  “There wasn’t a lot of back and forth,” said former Phillies GM Ed Wade, reflecting on his 2005 acquisition of Ugueth Urbina. “I think it was two or three calls. Every conversation with trades, even prior to that, was pretty matter of fact and to the point. Dave always seemed to get to the crux of the matter pretty quickly.”  Among the great deals on DD’s resume are the acquisitions of Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer and also Mike Lowell when he was with the Marlins.
  • Rays prospect Blake Snell could be the franchise’s next great starter, Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune writes.

NL Notes: Brewers GM, Francoeur, Braves, Urias

There’s been a good deal of speculation surrounding the Brewers‘ GM opening, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick hears (Twitter link) two more names making their round of speculation: Braves assistant GM John Coppolella and Rays director of player personnel Matt Arnold. Coppolella has long been speculated to be Atlanta’s GM of the future, but John Hart is currently serving as the team’s president of baseball operations. Arnold has moved up from Rays pro scouting director to his current position over the past few seasons.

A few more late-night notes pertaining to the National League…

  • Jeff Francoeur is open to a return to the Phillies even in another rebuilding season, he tells MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki“I like where we’re going right now,” Francoeur explained. “Hell, we have the [fourth]-best record in the National League in the second half. At the same time, I’m not saying I’ve got to play every day, but I would want an opportunity to play if I’m playing well. I’m not saying every day, though.” A potential return for Francoeur, of course, will depend largely on the team’s impending front office decisions, which the outfielder acknowledged. Zolecki adds that he, too, hears that the Phillies pulled Francoeur back off waivers when he was claimed, adding that the Pirates were possibly the team.
  • Five young Braves prospects were injured in a bus accident in the Dominican Republic over the weekend, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Fortunately, most of the injuries were minor, though 18-year-old Luis Martin Severino Galvan is said to have suffered a broken leg.
  • Dodgers top prospect Julio Urias is not under consideration for a call-up in early September, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles“He probably would not be one of the guys we see right away,” said Mattingly. However, the team hasn’t entirely ruled out the possibility of Urias — a consensus Top 5 prospect — debuting later in the month and pitching in relief, Saxon writes. Urias only turned 19 years old earlier this month, but he’s already pitching at the Double-A level, where he has a 3.03 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings (12 starts).

AL Notes: Rays, Kaminsky, Washington, Park

Marc Topkin runs through the Rays roster to identify six players who have made the most of opportunities to provide surprising value this year in Tampa Bay. Logan Forsythe, added via trade before the 2014 campaign, has arguably been the best of them, putting up a .279/.360/.434 slash with 14 home runs and nine steals while playing multiple infield positions. Forsythe has lined himself up for a nice raise on his $1.1MM arb salary from this season. And a player added just before this season, righty Erasmo Ramirez, has somewhat quietly compiled 123 innings of 3.66 ERA pitching on the year. Ramirez won’t even reach arb eligibility until 2017, making him a nice asset for the future.

Here are a few more notes from around the American League:

  • When the Indians managed to pry young lefty Rob Kaminsky from the Cardinals in the Brandon Moss deal, reactions were overwhelmingly positive for Cleveland. Indians GM Chris Antonetti tells Jim Ingraham of Baseball America that he likes Kaminsky’s fastball life, groundball tendencies, command of the zone, and overall pitch mix. Cleveland is not concerned about Kaminsky’s light frame, and intends to give him every chance to reach the big leagues as a starter. The 20-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 2.24 ERA in 104 1/3 innings at the High-A level on the season.
  • The Athletics have named Ron Washington as the team’s third base coach to replace Mike Gallego, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It was somewhat curious to see the move made now, but the team has struggled with baserunning issues of late and Washington will now have a chance to coach in uniform during games. (He had been prohibited from doing so because of rules limiting the number of uniformed staff.) Nothing more should be read into the decision, writes Slusser, as manager Bob Melvin is still expected to be locked up to a new deal after the season.
  • The Twins have scouted Korean slugger Byung-ho Park “a lot” ever since he was a sixteen-year-old, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the increasingly interesting first baseman still seems likely to land elsewhere if he’s posted this winter, Wolfson adds.

This Date In Transactions History: 8/23/15

The non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone but there are still plenty of moves that go down in the month of August.  Historically, we’ve seen some significant transactions go down on the date of August 23rd.  Could we see some moves of note today on MLB Trade Rumors?  While we wait to find out, let’s take a look back at the last few years..

  • One year ago today, the Red Sox signed Cuban sensation Rusney Castillo.  The seven-year deal could be worth up to $72.5MM in total, assuming that the outfielder does not opt out before 2020.  The buzz around Castillo was building momentum all through the summer, but the size of the deal took many around baseball by surprise.  Owner John Henry has acknowledged that missing out on Jose Abreu may have played a role in Boston’s aggressive pursuit of Castillo, but Red Sox exec Allard Baird recently defended the signing and stressed that Boston did its homework on Castillo.  The 28-year-old hasn’t lived up to the expectations of the contract so far but he has looked strong since his latest recall from Triple-A.
  • On this date in 2013, the Nationals sent David DeJesus to the Rays for a player to be named later.  Of course, DeJesus’ stint in Washington amounted to little more than a layover.  The Nats acquired DeJesus in a waiver deal with the Cubs on August 19th and sent him packing just days later.  In total, DeJesus went 0-for-3 with a walk in his brief tenure with the Nationals.  DeJesus would enjoy a lengthier stint with the Rays before a late July deal this season sent him to the Angels.
  • On the same date as the DeJesus deal, the Nationals also shipped Kurt Suzuki to the A’s for minor leaguer Dakota Bacus.  Suzuki’s time in Washington was fairly short, though not as quick as DeJesus’ stint.  The catcher, who was sent to the Nationals in August of 2012, found himself back in Oakland just one year and 20 days later.  After helping the A’s reach the postseason, Suzuki had his $8.5MM option declined in the offseason.  The catcher would go on to sign a one-year deal with the Twins that winter and he later inked a multi-year extension in the midst of his first All-Star campaign.
  • On this date in 2009, the Red Sox signed Xander Bogaerts as an amateur free agent.  While he’s regarded as a possible up-and-coming star today, Bogaerts did not have a great deal of hype around him when he was signed as a 16-year-old.  The Red Sox inked the Aruban shortstop for a paltry $410K signing bonus.

Minor MLB Transactions: 8/22/15

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • The Rays have outrighted righty Jose Dominguez to Triple-A Durham, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The Rays designated Dominguez for assignment last week. He had a handful of successful appearances with the big club this year, but struggled at Durham, posting a 6.26 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 6.3 BB/9 in 23 innings. The Rays acquired him along with pitching prospect Greg Harris in November when they traded Joel Peralta and Adam Liberatore to the Dodgers.

Jake McGee To Undergo Knee Surgery

Rays left-hander Jake McGee will undergo knee surgery that will sideline up for six to eight weeks, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. While Topkin doesn’t specifically state this, it would seem that the surgery will bring what was already an injury-shortened season to an end for Tampa Bay’s standout lefty.

McGee, 29, began the season on the disabled list as he recovered from offseason elbow surgery and wasn’t activated until May 14. The 35 innings totaled by McGee in 2015 were characteristically excellent, as he notched a 2.57 ERA with a 48-to-7 K/BB ratio. Both left-handed and right-handed hitters posted OPS marks well below .600 against McGee. Those stellar numbers come on the heels of a 2014 campaign that saw McGee deliver 71 1/3 innings of a 1.89 ERA with 90 strikeouts against 16 walks.

McGee will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter, and though his season was shortened by injury, that dominant performance will still net him a raise on his $3.55MM salary. That raise won’t necessarily take him above and beyond the Rays’ price range, but for a team with a perennially modest payroll, it could potentially still be concerning. Tampa Bay already has $29.8MM committed to four players next season before considering arbitration raises to McGee, Alex Cobb (though his arb price should be identical to last season’s $4MM after not pitching in 2015), Desmond Jennings, Drew Smyly, Daniel Nava and Logan Forsythe, among others. The Rays entered the season with a $75MM payroll — their second straight season in that range.