Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

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

AL East Links: Rays Stadium, Duquette, O’s, Marrero, Sox

The Rays are nearing an agreement with St. Peterburg mayor Rick Kriseman that will grant the team permission to explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County, report Stephen Nohlgren and Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times. Kriseman would like to finalize an agreement within the next month and “definitely before Christmas” so he can present the plan to City Council. If the Rays do leave for a new Hillsborough stadium, the city of St. Petersburg would be entitled to monetary compensation, as the Rays’ current lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette was named Major League Baseball Executive of the Year by The Sporting News, and he spoke with MLB.com’s Paul Hagen about the honor. Duquette, who narrowly edged out Dayton Moore of the Royals, said his focus from day one has been improving the club’s pitching staff. He also addressed the success he’s had in finding value from unheralded minor league signings, and how that success makes them an attractive destination: “…when players sign with us, whether it’s Triple-A or the big leagues, they know they’re going to get an opportunity.”
  • Duquette tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he has enough financial flexibility to sign both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz (Twitter links). He plans to meet with Cruz’s new agent, Diego Bentz of Relativity Sports, at the GM Meetings, and the book is not closed on Markakis returning even though he’s meeting with other clubs.
  • The Red Sox are receiving a lot of interest in minor league shortstop Deven Marrero, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (Twitter link). The 24-year-old was the club’s first-round pick back in 2012 and has an excellent defensive reputation, though he batted just .258/.327/.372 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014. The Mets, of course, are one team known to be looking high and low for a shortstop.
  • Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal spoke with Sox GM Ben Cherington about interest in Marrero, and while he noted that there has indeed been interest, Cherington said it hasn’t been any greater than the interest he’s received in the past. Marrero has drawn steady interest over the years, according to Cherington. As MacPherson notes, however, Marrero is posting particularly strong numbers in the Arizona Fall League this year.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe discussed the possibility of the Red Sox acquiring Cole Hamels with Hamels’ agent, John Boggs, and came away with the belief that the team has a shot, even though the Sox are on Hamels’ no-trade list. Hamels doesn’t have any issue with Boston, writes Cafardo, though he’d likely use the no-trade clause as leverage to get his 2019 option picked up in advance, as Ken Rosenthal noted yesterday. The Phillies have scouted Boston’s system extensively and like many of their players.
  • Cafardo also notes that the Sox are receiving quite a bit of interest in Yoenis Cespedes. Boston is “desperately” trying to keep an outfield spot open for Mookie Betts, making a trade of Cespedes possible.
  • The Boston Herald’s John Tomase spoke with Cherington, who stopped short of labeling any of his prospects untouchable, but he made it clear that those who contributed in 2014 (e.g. Betts) are extremely unlikely to be moved, Tomase adds (Twitter link).

NL Central Links: Hamels, Cards, Cueto, Reds

The Cubs weren’t included on Cole Hamels‘ updated 20-team no-trade list, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link).  The Cubs are known to be looking for top-of-the-rotation arms this winter, and the remaining four years/$96MM on Hamels’ contract would cost Chicago less than what it would take to sign a top free agent starter like Max Scherzer or Jon Lester.  On the other hand, the Cubs would have to give up multiple top prospects to obtain Hamels from the Phillies, so they could prefer to just keep their young talent and spend extra to sign a free agent ace.  The Red Sox are thus far the only team known to be on Hamels’ no-trade list.

Here’s more from around the NL Central…

  • Right field has sadly become an offseason concern for the Cardinals due to Oscar Taveras‘ untimely death, GM John Mozeliak told MLB.com’s Jen Langsoch.  “I think it certainly leaves that position in question,” Mozeliak said. “Clearly internally, we have [Randal] Grichuk and potentially [Stephen] Piscotty to fill that spot. I would also say that it does now force us to explore other options, whether it’s the free-agent market or the trade market….I’m not saying it’s a must, but I also think we need to be prudent and make sure that we understand what that landscape looks like.”  The Cards will explore both short-term and long-term options in RF, Mozeliak said.  Out of respect for Taveras, Mozeliak waited a week after the outfielder’s passing to begin making calls to agents and general managers, Langosch writes.
  • The Reds “are listening” to offers for their starting pitchers but ace Johnny Cueto seems the least likely to be moved, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  Cincinnati would probably have to be “absolutely overwhelmed” to deal Cueto, Heyman writes, as the team plans to contend in 2015.
  • Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan also hears that Cueto is unlikely to be traded, though rival executives tell Passan (Twitter link) that the Reds are willing to discuss trading Mat Latos and Mike Leake.
  • The Reds are “at [a] fascinating crossroads,” FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes in a series of tweets.  If the Reds deal Cueto, they might as well deal Aroldis Chapman too as part of a rebuild, Rosenthal opines.  Attendance and the fact that they’re hosting the All-Star Game could make 2015 a bit of a “buffer” year for the Reds, though Rosenthal points out that the team might not want to rebuild in a season when they’re hosting the Midsummer Classic.  Back in September, I explored Cincinnati’s trade options with their rotation members in a Trade Candidates piece.
  • Major League Baseball has opened an investigation into whether or not the Cubs tampered with Joe Maddon when he was still under contract with the Rays, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.  The Rays asked MLB to investigate last week.  “There was no tampering whatsoever,” Cubs president Theo Epstein told reporters (including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers).  “I’d rather they investigate so we can clear our name and move on from this quickly. We’re giving our full cooperation and we welcome it.”

NL West Notes: Sandoval, Dodgers, Hellickson

Could a clause regarding Pablo Sandoval‘s conditioning be written into his next contract?  ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick addressed the question, noting that a Sandoval contract could include bonuses rewarding him for staying at or under a certain weight.  Similar clauses have existed in other players’ contracts in the past, though the CBA doesn’t allow a team to reduce salary (or halt it altogether) if a player is over a set weight limit.

Here’s some more from around the National League West…

  • The Dodgers haven’t been having any internal discussion about bringing back Hanley Ramirez on a new multiyear deal, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports.  President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team is looking at shortstops in free agency and the trade market, and the Dodgers aren’t necessarily looking at short-term players to fill the position until prospect Corey Seager is ready.  “The limited supply at the position makes it hard to put a lot of rules on it,” Friedman said. “We’re going to try to acquire the best player we can and, if we wind up having depth there, that’s a good problem to have.”  As Saxon notes, Seager could eventually end up as a third baseman.
  • The Diamondbacks probably aren’t the ones “moving closer” to acquiring Jeremy Hellickson if the Rays are indeed approaching a trade with an NL team, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets.
  • Both Carlos Quentin and the Padres seem to “recognize what would be in their mutual interest” in regards to a trade, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes.  A deal to an AL team would allow Quentin to rest his knees in a DH role, while the Padres can get at least a bit of Quentin’s $8MM salary for 2015 off their books.  While Quentin is probably open to waiving his no-trade clause, the greater question will be if a trade partner can be found given Quentin’s injury history.  Padres GM A.J. Preller recently said that the club wasn’t looking to move offensive players until some new bats were acquired, so releasing Quentin isn’t yet an option.


Minor Moves: Jurrjens, Wang, Delcarmen, Burriss

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

  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has published his latest round of Minor League Transactions, and within the piece he notes that the Rockies have re-signed Jair Jurrjens to a minor league deal. Additionally, the Royals have re-signed Cuban lefty Noel Arguelles, Jordan Norberto re-signed with the Rays and Russ Canzler is back with the Phillies. Each of these is a minor league deal.
  • The Braves have signed right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (on Twitter). The Braves are known to be seeking rotation depth, and Wang should provide just that. The former Yankee totaled 172 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level in 2014, posting a 4.12 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 57 walks.
  • The Nationals have re-signed right-hander Manny Delcarmen and infielder Emmanuel Burriss to minor league deals with invites to Spring Training, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson (Twitter links). Burriss, 30 in January, hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2012 but batted .300/.377/.412 in 510 Triple-A plate appearances for the Nats this past season. The 32-year-old Delcarmen hasn’t seen big league action since 2010, but he, too, had a strong season at Triple-A Syracuse for the Nats in 2014. Delcarmen posted a 3.13 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 60 1/3 innings of relief.

Rays Interviewing Managerial Candidates

NOV. 10: The Rays added a pair of managerial candidates to the mix today in the form of Barry Larkin and Doug Glanville, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

NOV. 9: The Rays conducted phone interviews with Wakamatsu, Counsell, and Ibanez on Friday and are expected to speak with Montoyo, Wotus, and Cash during this week’s GM Meetings in Phoenix, reports the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin.

NOV. 8: The Rays interviewed Martinez and Acta today, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets.

NOV. 6: The Rays have announced their list of preliminary managerial candidates (Twitter links). With Joe Maddon’s surprising departure, a key order of business for new president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman is finding a replacement to lead the dugout. In a statement, Silverman called the list “preliminary” and said it was expected to “grow as [the Rays] continue through [the hiring] process.”

Tampa Bay’s initial slate of options includes several familiar names, some of whom have been tied to other recent managerial openings. It includes:

  • internal options Dave Martinez (bench coach) and Charlie Montoyo (Triple-A manager)
  • former big league skippers Manny Acta and Don Wakamatsu (the latter of whom served as Royals bench coach last year)
  • recent big league players Craig Counsell and Raul Ibanez (the former of whom is a special assistant to the Brewers and the latter of whom just finished a stint with the ALCS-champion Royals)
  • Giants bench coach Ron Wotus and Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash

As one might have expected, that group brings a diverse group of possibilities to the Rays. Whoever ultimately takes the job will have big shoes to fill, as Maddon had emerged as one of the game’s most respected managers during his time in Tampa.


Sherman On Marlins, Kang, Joyce, DeJesus, Braves

The latest out of the GM Meetings from the New York Post’s Joel Sherman

  • Regarding negotiations with Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins GM Dan Jennings tells Sherman, “There’s only one hope — we want to sign him.” Negotiations between the two sides are ongoing, Sherman writes, and the Marlins are aware with and comfortable with the fact that Stanton could require a $28-30MM annual value on a long-term deal. The relationship between the two sides seems to be in a good place, he adds.
  • In addition to a Stanton extension, Jennings told Sherman that the team would like to add a veteran starter either via free agency or trade to help stabilize the rotation while Jose Fernandez rehabs. They’d also like to add a middle-of-the-order bat to either hit behind Stanton or bat in front of him. This is my own speculation, but I listed Miami as a potential landing spot for Adam LaRoche in my free agent profile and picked him to land there in MLBTR’s Free Agent Prediction Contest as well.
  • Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang is being represented by agent Alan Nero of Octagon, who joked to Sherman and other reporters that if Kang were coming from Cuba, he’d earn $100MM+ after hitting .354 with 39 homers. However, KBO is known to be a fairly low level of competition and an offense-friendly environment, and as Sherman notes, many scouts have expressed skepticism that his power will translate to Major League Baseball. Still, Kang is just 27, and Nero says his client feels comfortable playing shortstop, third base, second base and even center field.
  • The Rays are said to be working toward a trade of Jeremy Hellickson to an NL team, but he’s not the only candidate to be moved by Tampa. Sherman reports that they’d like to move Matt Joyce or David DeJesus as well.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive for the Braves to be aggressively shopping Evan Gattis when their team needs offense, but Sherman hears the team wants to diversify its offense after becoming too reliant on an all-or-nothing approach from right-handed hitters. The Braves also feel they have a big need in the rotation, as they’re looking to replace 400 innings from Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang.

AL Notes: Abreu: White Sox, Red Sox, Rays

Jared S. Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune (subscription required) chronicles the travails Jose Abreu underwent in leaving his native Cuba for America. Full details of Abreu’s journey remain a secret (Abreu and his agents have declined to discuss his defection and an interview with Abreu’s mother, to which to she had agreed, was cancelled by one of the slugger’s associates), but Hopkins was able to piece together how Abreu and his brother-in-law took a boat from Cuba to Haiti in August 2013 leaving behind his young son and family, reaching out to the Orioles’ Henry Urrutia for help after leaving Cuba, and living in the Dominican Republic for three months before landing his $68MM contract with the White Sox. The article also delves into the role smugglers and their networks play in ferreting players out of Cuba for promises upward of 30% of the players’ first contract. Abreu is expected to be named the AL Rookie of the Year tomorrow.

In other news about Abreu’s White Sox and the American League:

  • Earlier today, we learned the White Sox will meet this week with Pablo Sandoval‘s representatives during the GM Meetings in Phoenix. However, if the right third base upgrade cannot be found, the White Sox are comfortable with a platoon of Conor Gillaspie and Marcus Semien, reports CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes. The White Sox also have Matt Davidson on their 40-man roster, but Hayes notes the 23-year-old struggled in a homer-friendly park at Triple-A Charlotte (.199/.283/.362 in 539 plate appearances).
  • The free agent expenditures by the Red Sox this offseason could be shaped by who will be available in free agency next winter, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. With a solid free agent class of starting pitchers and a dearth of third baseman next offseason, MacPherson opines the Red Sox may stretch the budget this year for Sandoval, Chase Headley, or Hanley Ramirez.
  • Rays players are rallying around Dave Martinez to replace Joe Maddon as manager, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin.
  • Within the same article, Topkin speculates the trade of left-hander Cesar Ramos was the first of what could be several moves by the Rays to create roster spots by dealing players who may be too expensive or no longer fit and receive something in return. Sean Rodriguez (projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz to earn $2MM through arbitration) could be one of those moves, according to Topkin.

Minor Moves: Sands, Belnome, De Los Santos

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • Outfielder Jerry Sands has elected free agency rather than accept his outright assignment to Triple-A by the Rays, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The 27-year-old played just 12 games for the Rays last season (.190/.227/.333 in 22 plate appearances) before being sidelined by wrist surgery in July.
  • Within the same tweet, Topkin reports the Rays have outrighted infielder Vince Belnome to Triple-A. The 26-year-old was designated for assignment, along with Sands, last Monday. Belnome, who made his MLB debut with the Rays in 2014 with 14 plate appearances in four games, has spent the past three seasons in Triple-A, but posted his worst slash at that level this year (.245/.358/.383 in 492 plate appearances).
  • The Brewers have released left-hander Miguel De Los Santos, according to the team’s transactions page. The Brewers claimed the 26-year-old off waivers from the Rangers two years ago, but he never threw a pitch for the organization because of shoulder surgery and visa issues. Baseball America ranked De Los Santos 29th among Texas prospects before the 2012 season with the best changeup in the Rangers’ system.
  • Eric Stults (Padres), Donn Roach (Padres), Rob Scahill (Rockies), and Roger Kieschnick (Angels) are the players remaining in DFA limbo, per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.

Minor Moves: Patton, Monell, Sands, Elmore

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Free agent lefty Troy Patton has received an 80-game suspension for a positive amphetamine test, the league announced today. The 29-year-old lefty only threw 14 MLB innings this year after two full seasons with the Orioles, but had been solid in eight appearances with the Padres after a mid-season trade and surely would have found at least a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.
  • Backstop Johnny Monell is headed to the Mets, he announced on Twitter. He’ll get a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp in the spring, per a tweet from Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 28-year-old has only nine big league plate appearances, but has a combined .261/.343/.450 slash line over 724 Triple-A plate appearances.
  • Previously designated for assignment, outfielder Jerry Sands has been outrighted by the Rays, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The 27-year-old has seen only a smattering of MLB time since a partial-season stint with the Dodgers back in 2011. At Triple-A this year, he slashed .268/.352/.474 with nine long balls over 219 plate appearances.
  • The Reds have re-signed infielder Jake Elmore, with the news also coming via MLB.com. He had been outrighted after being acquired by Cincinnati in the middle of the 2014 season.

Angels Acquire Cesar Ramos

The Angels have acquired lefty Cesar Ramos from the Rays in exchange for righty Mark Sappington, Los Angeles announced. This mark’s the day’s second swap for the Halos.

Ramos, 30, has spent most of his time in the pen but did make seven starts in 2014 for Tampa. He ultimately threw 82 2/3 frames of 3.70 ERA ball, with 7.2 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9. Ramos has generally been better against lefties, but does not have huge platoon splits over his career. He was, however, much more effective working out of the pen.

MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects that Ramos will take home $1.3MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility, making him a cheap and controllable add for an Angels club that has rather a bare cupboard in terms of left-handed relievers. That he can provide swingman capability as well is a nice bonus.

Sappington, meanwhile, is a 23-year-old right-hander who came into the 2014 season rated as the Halos’ fifth-best prospect by Baseball America. He took a big step back, however, and struggled mightily in a starting role. A demotion and mid-season move to the bullpen revitalized Sappington, however, as Mike DiGiovanna wrote recently for Baseball America. A long-term move to the pen had always seemed a distinct possibility, and Sappington’s big fastball and biting slider make him a potentially valuable power arm. (Over 32 relief frames last year at High-A, Sappington struck out 49 and walked ten.)