Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

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

Rays, Jim Miller Agree To Minor League Deal

The Rays and right-hander Jim Miller have agreed to a minor league contact with an invitation to Spring Training, MLBTR has learned (Twitter links). Miller’s deal is pending a physical.

The 32-year-old Miller, a former eighth-round pick of the Rockies (2004), has appeared in the Majors in each of the past four seasons. Most of that work came in a 48 2/3 inning stint with the 2012 A’s, when he worked to a 2.59 ERA with 44 strikeouts against 27 walks. In parts of five seasons at the big league level, Miller has a 3.48 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 and a 33.5 percent ground-ball rate. He’s averaged just under 93 mph on his fastball in his 67 1/3 Major League innings and has a solid 3.78 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 429 Triple-A innings. Miller is a client of agent Joshua Kusnick, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Agency Database.


AL East Notes: Miller, Craig, Victorino

David Ortiz told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he’s extremely excited to have Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in the Red Sox’s lineup alongside healthy versions of Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, and Mike Napoli. “It’s going to make a huge difference.” Ortiz said. “Last year we had the big struggle with injuries. Pedroia struggled with injuries. Nap struggled with injuries. Even myself toward the end, I had a wrist problem. When you have pretty much the center of the lineup going through all those injuries, it’s hard to recover from the struggles we had offensively last year. Hopefully that’s not the case now. Everyone is healthy now. And you’ve got more thunder coming into the lineup.”  Here’s more from the AL East..

  • Andrew Miller turned down a four-year, $40MM deal from the Astros to join the Yankees on a four-year, $36MM this offseason, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  While he believed that the Astros are headed in the right direction, he thought it would take them time to realize their goals.  Miller also told Cafardo that the rival Red Sox made an excellent offer, but the Yankees’ situation was just too good for him to pass up.  It’s believed that the Red Sox topped out at $32MM over four years.  Miller recently spoke with MLBTR’s Jeff Todd about his free agent journey.
  • The Angels will turn to Matt Joyce in the wake of Josh Hamilton‘s issues, but Cafardo wonders if they could call the Red Sox about Allen Craig or Shane Victorino.  He also posits that the Blue Jays could have interest in talking with Boston after Michael Saunders‘ injury.
  • The Rays made the right move in releasing thrice-suspended 2010 No. 1 draft pick OF Josh Sale before he anything else went wrong, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.  Sale has run into a litany of problems over the last few years, including two suspensions imposed by MLB and one from the Rays.  Of course, it also didn’t help that he had yet to play above Class A in five pro years.
  • No one is expecting Johan Santana to revert back to his prime form, but scouts see the Blue Jays signing him as a smart, low-risk move, Cafardo writes.  “He obviously isn’t the Santana of old, but I’m not sure there is a more competitive pitcher in the game, and he’s learned to pitch with less,” said one National League scout.

East Notes: Hart, Hardy, Belisario

John Hart had to be persuaded to take over the Braves GM job, but team president John Schuerholz is excited about the work Hart and likely successor John Coppolella have done so far, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “The combination of John Hart and John Coppolella has been dynamic, absolutely dynamic,” says Schuerholz. “The work those two have done, in tandem, has been sensational.” This offseason, Hart and Coppolella have traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis in an attempt to add young talent. The timing was right for the Braves to re-tool, Hart says. “The Nationals are in their perfect window right now. The Marlins are getting better. If you’re going to take, if you will, sort of a regroup year, this would be a good one.

  • When J.J. Hardy traded power to remain in the everyday lineup last season, he may have hurt his earning potential. Hardy is unsure if he would have re-signed with the Orioles had he not dealt with a painful back injury last season, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore inked Hardy to a three-year, $40MM extension during the playoffs last year. Hardy was aware of the trials suffered by Stephen Drew and former teammate Nelson Cruz in the previous offseason. Qualifying offers to both players left clubs wary about signing them. Hardy opted to forgo the experience entirely, although he also says he’s happy in Baltimore.
  • Rays non-roster invitee Ronald Belisario injured himself climbing out of a pool earlier in the winter, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The reliever fractured his non-throwing shoulder prior to signing with the Rays a month ago. He didn’t have the injury checked out until he reported to camp. Belisario is on a split contract that would pay $1.5MM if he makes the team. Since he won’t be on the field for at least two weeks, his chances of breaking camp with the team look small. This injury probably explains why his deal with the Blue Jays fell through.


AL East Notes: Moncada, Beckham, Duquette

The $31.5MM bonus the Red Sox will reportedly pay Yoan Moncada has generated a variety of reactions from players around the league, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. Moncada’s bonus is well beyond what most other 19-year-old prospects might be able to make, since he was able to negotiate with all 30 teams. “It’s not right that a Cuban 19-year-old gets paid [$31.5 million] and the best 19-year-old in the entire USA gets probably 1/6 of that,” wrote Rays pitcher Drew Smyly. “Everyone should have to go through the same process.” An international draft would help standardize the system by which amateurs sign with teams, and new commissioner Rob Manfred seems to favor discussing it in the next round of CBA negotiations. Abraham polls Red Sox players about an international draft, leading to a large range of answers. Here’s Jackie Bradley Jr.’s: “I would have loved to be a free agent in college and made the best deal I could. Maybe I should have moved out of the country. If everybody was a free agent, you’d get what your real value is.” Here are more notes from the AL East.

  • More than six years after being selected first overall in the 2008 draft, shortstop Tim Beckham is competing for a big-league job in Rays camp for the first time, Marc Topkin writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). With Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar now gone, the Rays now have more space in their middle infield. Asdrubal Cabrera will take one of the middle infield starting jobs, but Topkin suggests Beckham could be a reserve infielder or even a starter, particularly if the team decides it would be best if Cabrera played second base. Beckham, now 25, moved slowly through the minors and finally made his big-league debut in 2013 before missing most of last season due to a knee injury.
  • The Blue Jays‘ pursuit of executive Dan Duquette was serious, but Duquette is back to work with the Orioles, writes MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. Duquette confirms that he could not leave the Orioles for Toronto because the two teams could not agree on a compensation package for him. This offseason, the Orioles made few big moves of their own and lost Nelson Cruz, Andrew Miller and Nick Markakis, although Duquette points out that the O’s should benefit from full seasons from Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis.

Minor Moves: Hill, Gillies, Sale, Tigers, Dbacks, Dodgers

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league:

  • Veteran southpaw Rich Hill has agreed to a minor league deal with the Nationals, the club announced. Hill, who has appeared in parts of ten MLB seasons, will receive an invite to big league camp. Soon to turn 35, Hill has long been effective against lefties but rather susceptible to opposite-handed bats, with good strikeout numbers in recent years offset by a hefty accumulation of free passes.
  • Former top Phillies prospect Tyson Gillies has signed a minor league deal with the Padres, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Philadelphia released Gillies over the summer while he was in the midst of a tough .214/.270/.289 run at Triple-A. Now 26, the center fielder was a part of the 2009 deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners.
  • The Rays have released former first-round pick Josh Sale, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. The outfielder hit .238/.313/.344 in 361 plate appearances for Class A+ Charlotte in 2014 before being suspended in August for drug use. He also received a 50-game suspension for drug use in 2012 and was suspended by the Rays in 2013 following an incident at a strip club.
  • The Tigers have signed righties Ryan Perry and Ross Seaton and first baseman Bobby Borchering to minor-league deals, Eddy tweets. Detroit drafted Perry, 28, in the first round in 2008, and he pitched for three seasons in their bullpen from 2009-2011. He also appeared with the Nationals in 2012 before struggling in Washington’s minor-league system in 2013 and 2014. The 25-year-old Seaton was a third-round pick of the Astros in 2008. He got through the lower levels of Houston’s system fairly quickly despite low strikeout rates, but struggled to establish himself in the Astros’ Triple-A rotation. Borchering, 24, was the 16th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and he headed from the Diamondbacks to the Astros in 2012 in the trade that sent Chris Johnson to the desert. He struggled that year at the Double-A level and hasn’t yet made it back yet, hitting .238/.324/.333 in 71 plate appearances at Class A+ Lancaster last season.
  • The Diamondbacks have signed lefties Erick Threets and Trevor Reckling, Eddy tweets. Threets, 33, appeared in parts of three seasons with the Giants and White Sox from 2007 through 2010. He pitched in Mexico last season and last appeared in affiliated ball when he posted a 2.79 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in a 2012 season spent in Triple-A with the Athletics and Dodgers organizations. Reckling, a former Angels draftee, pitched in independent ball in 2013 and did not pitch in 2014.
  • The Dodgers have signed outfielder Travis Witherspoon, Eddy tweets. The athletic Witherspoon was once on the 40-man rosters of the Angels and Mariners. The 25-year-old hit .252/.338/.448 in the friendly hitting environment of Class A+ High Desert in 2014, mostly playing center field.

NL Notes: Nationals, Escobar, Holliday, Lopez

The Nationals haven’t managed to avoid the possibility of losing key members of their team due to free agency, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports. The Nats could be without Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister after the season because they haven’t managed to sign those players to long-term deals that delay free agency. That might not be entirely their fault, Svrluga suggests — they tried to sign all three players. In the meantime, though, they have another wave of core players (Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon) to whom they could turn their attention. Strasburg, Harper and Rendon are all represented by Scott Boras, who does not generally like long-term deals for pre-free-agency players. Some of his clients, such as Jered Weaver and Carlos Gonzalez, have signed them, however. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • Yunel Escobar wasn’t happy to have been traded away from the Rays to the Athletics and then from the Athletics to the Nationals, and he also wasn’t happy he’d have to move from shortstop to second base, the Post’s James Wagner writes. Escobar has changed his mind since then, however. “They’ve reached the playoffs two of the last three years,” says Escobar. “I want to help them win a World Series. If the missing piece is me playing second base, then I’m here for anything.” Escobar says certain aspects of playing second base, like turning double plays, are “confusing,” but says that he’ll improve that them with practice.
  • Baseball is full of incredibly disappointing free-agent contracts, but Matt Holliday‘s current seven-year, $120MM deal with the Cardinals isn’t one of them, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I really wanted it to work out great for both sides,” says Holliday. “A lot of times with a long-term contract, you hear ‘They hope to get a couple of good years out of it.’ My goal from the day I signed was to get to the end of the contract and have everybody feel really good about it.” Holliday’s defense has slipped since signing, but he’s maintained a high standard offensively, and with just two years (plus an option) left on the deal, it looks like the Cardinals are going to get more than their money’s worth.
  • When Cuban righty Yoan Lopez signed with the Diamondbacks, he joined the organization he rooted for as a child, Carlos Torres Bujanda writes for Baseball America. “Since I was a kid, I followed the D-backs when Randy Johnson was on the team,” says Lopez. “To see the games or check the stats I had friends who worked in hotels with Internet access. They download the games so I can watch later, or see the numbers.” Lopez adds that he’s happy the Diamondbacks also signed another Cuban player this offseason, Yasmany Tomas.

AL Notes: Frieri, Hamilton, Blanton

Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey is already helping new reliever Ernesto Frieri make adjustments, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune writes. “That’s why I’m here,” says Frieri. “He knows what he’s doing. He fixed a couple of guys before, and I hope I’m not the exception. I’m pretty sure he’s going to give me the right information and I’m going to take advantage.” The Rays have helped veteran relievers like Fernando Rodney, Kyle Farnsworth and Joaquin Benoit improve their stock, and Frieri hopes to be the next in line. The 29-year-old is coming off a terrible season with the Angels and Pirates in which he posted a 7.34 ERA and struggled mechanically. His 10.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and good velocity suggest he might have more gas in his tank, however, even if his fly-ball tendencies make him homer-prone, so he could be a bounce-back candidate if he can make the right adjustments. Here’s more from the American League.

  • MLB plans to be compassionate in the case of Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton after his relapse, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi report. The league is expected to suspend Hamilton for 25 games or more, but for less than a full season, although an official decision is not close. Hamilton’s relapse violated the terms of the treatment program the league required of him when he was reinstated in 2006 following a lengthy suspension.
  • The Royals will use Joe Blanton exclusively as a reliever, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. “The only way he is really going to help us is in the bullpen,” says Ned Yost. “We’re not going to stretch him out.” Blanton, 34, recently signed a minor-league deal with Kansas City after sitting out the 2014 season. He has spent almost his entire ten-year big-league career as a starter.

AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Ortiz

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says it’s easy to do business with A’s GM Billy Beane thanks to the rapport he has with him, MLB.com’s Mike Bauman writes.  “I have a pretty good relationship with Billy Beane,” Anthopoulos said. “We’ve done a bunch of small deals. The one thing about Billy, he’s always open-minded and you can never offend him; you can ask about anybody at any time to make a deal.”  The two execs got together in November for the deal that brought Josh Donaldson to Toronto.  Here’s more from the AL East..

  • When asked about David Ortiz‘s future beyond 2015, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that “David knows he’s going to be a Red Sox [player] as long as he wants to be a Red Sox [player],” according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.  Cherington went on to explain that the two sides haven’t discussed his future recently.  This upcoming season will be the last guaranteed year of his deal and he’ll earn $16MM, the most money he has ever been paid in a single season.  With 425 plate appearances, his deal will vest for 2016 and he can increase his salary even further if he surpasses higher PA thresholds.
  • Everth Cabrera is likely to ink his deal with the Orioles on Wednesday, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com writes. Cabrera agreed to a one-year, $2.4MM deal that could balloon to $3MM total if he hits certain incentives.
  • Rays star Evan Longoria says that he didn’t want manager Joe Maddon to leave the Rays but he believes that they will be better for it, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “I just think there comes a time when it’s just the right time for somebody new,” Longoria said.
  • Earlier tonight, we rounded up today’s news on the Red Sox.

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Rays, Boggs

Free agency is fun for those of us on the outside to follow, but that’s not necessarily the case for the players themselves.  Tim Britton of The Providence Journal kept tabs on now two former members of the Red Sox throughout their free agent process, David Ross and Burke Badenhop.  While Ross found a home with the Cubs before Christmas, Badenhop had to wait a little while longer for his deal with the Reds. More from the AL East..

  • The most likely scenario in the Cubs/Joe Maddon tampering case is that no evidence will be found to support the Rays‘ claims, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.
  • Juan Francisco‘s minor league deal with the Rays includes an April 5th opt-out and a salary of $2MM (plus incentives) if he makes the team, according to Topkin.  Francisco, 28 in June, spent 2014 with the Blue Jays, where he hit .220/.291/.456 with 16 home runs in 320 plate appearances.
  • Mitchell Boggs can opt out of his minor league deal with the Red Sox if he isn’€™t on the big league club by April 4th, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.  Bradford believes that the former Cardinals closer could wind up not only making the big league roster, but becoming a valuable piece in the pen.  Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox signed Boggs with every intention of having him on the varsity squad.  “€œThey communicated with me early in the offseason that it was a major league-type opportunity,”€ Boggs explained. “€œIt wasn’€™t depth for the entire year. It was a situation where they wanted me to come in and compete and try to make this team. That’€™s what I care about.”
  • Most of the Yankees‘ moves for young power arms, starting with the signing of free agent Andrew Miller, were made to build a deep bullpen.  But, the trade of win-now infielder Martin Prado for Nathan Eovaldi signaled a willingness to gamble on the starting rotation as well, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes.  If all goes according to plan, the Yankees could have one of the younger starting rotations in baseball with Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Eovaldi, and Ivan Nova.  The question marks about their injuries and inconsistency could have made guys like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, and James Shields to be solid fits, but the Yanks decided instead to play it smart for the long-term.
  • Red Sox pitcher Wade Miley thought for several days that he would be traded to the Marlins or Rangers before he wound up in Boston, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe tweets.  Miley first learned that he was headed to the Red Sox when he saw the news on TV.
  • With or without permission from St. Petersburg, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said he’ll seek a replacement stadium no later than 2022, Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times writes.

AL East Notes: Victorino, Pedroia, Pentecost, Blue Jays, ARod

Red Sox manager John Farrell says the club will start veteran Shane Victorino in right field if he’s healthy, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Farrell added that Victorino is “full go,” indicating that only a setback could change those plans. With Hanley Ramirez the obvious starter in left field, that could mean Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will compete for the center field job. Others like Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, Brock Holt, and Daniel Nava appear thoroughly blocked in the outfield. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • Dustin Pedroia is healthy and ready to go, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. My take: a healthy Pedroia means that Betts and Holt are also blocked in the infield. Should everybody remain healthy, some kind of trade looks all but inevitable. Several players like Betts, Castillo, and Holt still have options, so the club can stow some major league quality talent at Triple-A if necessary.
  • The Rays lost great talent this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Executive Andrew Friedman tops the list of 13 impactful losses. His departure is mitigated by the presence of Matt Silverman. Rounding out the top five poignant losses include Ben Zobrist, Joe Maddon, Joel Peralta, and bench coach Dave Martinez.
  • Blue Jays top draft pick Max Pentecost has undergone shoulder surgery, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca. Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure. Pentecost, a catcher, is expected to resume throwing in about three months.
  • The Blue Jays continue to be faced with three big questions, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. They include the identity of their closer, second baseman, and fifth starter. Brett Cecil and Aaron Sanchez are expected to compete for ninth inning duties, although Sanchez could factor in the rotation battle too. Other candidates to start include Marco Estrada and prospect Daniel Norris. Second base will probably go to Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins, or prospect Devon Travis.
  • The Yankees are right to allow beleaguered veteran Alex Rodriguez to attend camp, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It’s surprising to see other writers suggest the club swallow the $61MM remaining on Rodriguez’s contract without at least giving him a chance to provide some value. If he fails to remain healthy, the club can also recoup part of the money via insurance.