Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

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

AL East Notes: Tanaka, Orioles, Reimold, Maddon

Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka told reporters (including the New York Post’s Dan Martin) that he expects his velocity to drop a bit this season, though this may have as much to do with pitch selection as it does with concerns about his slightly torn UCL.  “Because of the fact I’m throwing more two-seamers, that would obviously make the velocity go down a bit,” Tanaka said through an interpreter.  “As for my pitching style and my mechanics, I’m trying to relax a little bit more when I’m throwing, so that might have something to do with it.”  Tanaka averaged 91.2 mph on his fastball last season, as well as 88.9 mph on his cutter and 86.5 mph on his split-fingered fastball.

Here’s some more from the AL East…

  • The Orioles are hoping to make at least one trade before Opening Day to move some of their roster excess, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports.  Kubatko feels Steve Clevenger has the advantage over T.J. McFarland for the final spot on the Orioles’ roster, though the O’s could also deal Clevenger given their depth at catcher.  Nolan Reimold will probably be assigned to Baltimore’s minor league camp to avoid putting the out-of-options outfielder through waivers, as the O’s are worried Reimold would be claimed by another team.
  • Speaking of Reimold, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun shares the somewhat unique details of the opt-out clause in Reimold’s minor league deal with the Orioles.  If Reimold isn’t on the Orioles’ 25-man roster by July 11, the O’s must send an e-mail to all 29 other teams asking if they’re interested in Reimold.  If a team responds in the affirmative, the O’s must either “assign” him to that club in a cash transaction or put him on their 25-man roster themselves.  If no team shows interest, Reimold stays with the Orioles.
  • Major League Baseball’s investigation of the Rays‘ tampering charge against the Cubs will continue past Opening Day, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports.  The Rays accused the Cubs of tampering with Joe Maddon when he was still under contract as Tampa Bay’s manager, and the matter is still unresolved after over five months of investigating.

Minor Moves: Gillespie, Buschmann, Constanza, Coffey

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

  • Outfielder Cole Gillespie has accepted an assignment to Triple-A from the Marlins, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Gillespie, 30, had the opportunity to elect free agency but has chosen to remain within the organization. The former third-round pick (Brewers, 2006) split the 2014 season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, hitting a combined .243/.300/.311 in 81 plate appearances. He posted a .690 OPS in 33 PAs this spring.
  • The Rays have acquired Minor League right-hander Matt Buschmann from the Athletics, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). The 31-year-old, who is expected to serve as Minor League rotation depth, was a 15th-round pick of the Padres back in 2006 and has spent parts of six seasons at the Triple-A level. Last year, in his first and only season with Oakland, Buschmann worked to a 4.40 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 143 innings of Triple-A ball.
  • The Braves have released outfielder Jose Constanza and veteran right-handed reliever Todd Coffey, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The 31-year-old Constanza offers quite a bit of speed (298 Minor League steals) and posted perhaps surprisingly solid numbers with the bat in 2011, but he’s slumped to a .555 OPS in 121 PA since that debut. As for Coffey, the former setup man hasn’t pitched since 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, but he enjoyed a nice run from 2009-12 with the Brewers, Nats and Dodgers, pitching to a 3.76 ERA in 225 innings of relief. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets one more Braves release — veteran catcher Jesus Flores. The 30-year-old spent parts of five seasons as Washington’s backup catcher but hasn’t seen the Majors since 2012.

Mariners, Rays Swap Erasmo Ramirez For Mike Montgomery

The Mariners announced that they have traded right-hander Erasmo Ramirez to the Rays in exchange for left-hander Mike Montgomery.

Ramirez, 24, enjoyed an excellent rookie season with the Mariners in 2012 when he worked to a 3.36 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 40.4 percent ground-ball rate in 59 innings, making eight starts and eight relief appearances. While stats like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all pegged him for a slightly higher mark — in the 3.55 to 3.75 range — it was a promising debut for a player that had ranked as the organization’s No. 13 prospect (per Baseball America) in the previous offseason.

However, Ramirez has fallen on hard times since that impressive debut; over the past two seasons, he’s recorded just a 5.12 ERA that unfortunately lines up nearly exactly with his 5.11 FIP. Ramirez’s strikeout and ground-ball rates have remained similar, but he’s seen his control take a step back, averaging 3.7 walks per nine innings in that time while becoming increasingly homer-prone.

Ramirez was out of Minor League options, meaning he would have been required to clear waivers before the Mariners could send him outright to Triple-A. The Rays then appear likely to keep him on the 25-man roster and hope for better results from Ramirez at the back of an injury-plagued rotation. In addition to Matt Moore, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Rays will also open the season without Drew Smyly at full strength. Alex Cobb and Alex Colome have both been slowed by injuries this spring as well, which has led to a well-known search for rotation depth in Tampa.

Montgomery, who turns 26 in July, was once one of the crown jewels of a vaunted Royals farm system, but his career stalled upon reaching the Triple-A level. Montgomery posted ERAs of 5.32 and 6.07 in his first two years reaching that level, and he’s struggled at lower levels since. All told, he has a 4.98 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 in parts of four seasons at Triple-A.

The Rays acquired Montgomery from the Royals in the James Shields/Wil Myers blockbuster in hopes of revitalizing his career. However, while his numbers improved a bit — 4.29 ERA in 25 starts at Triple-A last year — he’s yet to show the promise that made him the No. 36 overall pick in the 2008 draft and one of the game’s top prospects from 2010-12. In their last scouting report on him, following the 2012 season, BA wrote that Montgomery began experimenting with a lower arm slot that caused his velocity to dip from the 92-93 mph range to the 88-90 mph range, adding that left-handed hitters were too comfortable against him. Montgomery is a reclamation project for the Mariners, but although he’s on the 40-man roster, he, unlike Ramirez, has an option remaining and can therefore hope to rediscover himself in the Minors in 2015.



Rays Release Alexi Casilla

The Rays have released infielder Alexi Casilla, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports on Twitter. Tampa will avoid having to pay the veteran a $100K bonus with the move.

The 30-year-old has previously spent time with the Twins and Orioles, averaging 269 trips to bat over the 2007-13 time frame while slashing .248/.302/.332 and swiping 80 bags in that stretch. Last year, however, Casilla only got one game in the bigs, spending most of the year at Triple-A with Baltimore.


Minor Moves: Scott Diamond, Sean Furney

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

  • Left-hander Scott Diamond has inked a Minor League contract with the Rays, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). Diamond was a Rule 5 pick of the Twins from the Braves organization back in 2010, and he surfaced with the team to post a strong season in 2012. That year, Diamond worked to a 3.54 ERA with 4.7 K/9, a league-best 1.6 BB/9 and 53.4 percent ground-ball rate. However, as we often see with low-strikeout pitchers, Diamond struggled in 2013 when his control regressed. His K/9 dipped to 3.6 while his BB/9 jumped to 2.5, and his ground-ball rate dropped to 46.9 percent. The result was a 5.43 ERA in 131 innings. Diamond will serve as depth for the Rays staff and hope to get a big league opportunity at some point this season.
  • The Braves have acquired righty Sean Furney from the D-Backs for cash considerations, according to the Braves’ transactions page. The 23-year-old joined the D-Backs organization as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and has pitched to a 3.74 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 182 2/3 innings. Furney worked mostly as a starter at Class-A in 2014, but he did reach Double-A briefly at season’s end, making one start at that level.

East Notes: Herrera, Lough, Rays

Here’s the latest from the East coast:


Minor Moves: Burton, Garner, Toles

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • Three days after releasing him, the Yankees have signed right-hander Jared Burton to a minor league deal, reports Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. Burton was an Article XX(B) free agent, so the release/re-signing allows the Yankees to avoid paying the reliever a $100K retention bonus to remain in the organization.
  • The Phillies have released their 2010 second-round pick right-hander Perci Garner, tweets CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. Garner never advanced beyond Double-A and compiled a mark of 4.50 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 during 87 appearances (73 starts) in his five seasons in the Philadelphia organization.
  • The Rays have released outfielder Andrew Toles, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Toles, the Rays’ 2013 minor league player of the year, posted a line of .261/.302/.337 in 218 plate appearances last year at Class A-Advanced Charlotte despite missing two months for personal reasons. The 22-year-old was a third-round selection of the Rays in the 2012 draft.

Cafardo On Porcello, Chacin, Kimbrel

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe checked in with Max Scherzer, who is missing former teammate Rick Porcello.  Scherzer, of course, left the Tigers in free agency to sign with the Nationals in January.  Porcello, meanwhile, was shipped from the Tigers to the Red Sox in December.  Scherzer still texts a lot with Porcello, and they have had conversations about free agency.

He understands the business of the game really well and what teams are trying to accomplish,” said Scherzer. “As most players, he’s motivated by winning as well. What works is going out there and having one motivation and that’s winning. And those things will take care of themselves.”

Cafardo has talked with a few baseball executives who believe Porcello will walk from the Red Sox and do exactly what Scherzer did – go to the highest bidder.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • The Rockies tried to trade Jhoulys Chacin but couldn’t find a buyer, so they released him last week.  The 27-year-old was a victim of Coors Field, where his ERA was 4.21 as opposed to a much more palatable 3.24 on the road.  Cafardo writes that the Red Sox, Dodgers, Rays, and Blue Jays have been looking for a veteran starter and may be considering him.
  • Braves people insist that they will not entertain a deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, but a few executives expect that Atlanta will be thinking differently if they are out of contention at the trade deadline.  The Braves are eyeing 2017 as their relaunch, so Cafardo doesn’t see the need for them to hang on to a top closer like Kimbrel in the interim.
  • Dan Uggla has an April 1st opt-out on his minor league deal with the Nationals and his play this spring is giving GM Mike Rizzo something to think about, but roster space is an issue.  If Uggla doesn’t make the cut in Washington, Cafardo suggests that the Angels, Braves, Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Padres, and Rays could all justify bringing him aboard.

AL Notes: Rangers, Diamond, Rays, Orioles

Despite their acquisition of lefty Sam Freeman today, the Rangers are still on the hunt for bullpen help, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. They are not currently in any discussions for position players or starting pitchers. Neftali Feliz, Tanner Scheppers and Freeman currently appear to be the only near-locks for the Rangers bullpen. They have, however, gotten some impressive Spring Training performances from inexperienced pitchers like Keone Kela, Roman Mendez and Jon Edwards. Here are more quick notes from the American League.

  • Former Twins starting pitcher and free agent Scott Diamond threw for the Rays yesterday, 1500ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets. The Rays have a number of injuries in their rotation and are known to be hunting for starting pitching depth to stash at Triple-A Durham. Diamond last appeared in the big leagues in 2013. He spent last season pitching at Triple-A Rochester and Louisville, where he posted a combined 6.57 ERA, 4.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 123 1/3 innings.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter says the team doesn’t seem likely to upgrade its backup catcher spot via the trade market, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. “We haven’t had any name come up that we like better than the people we have,” says Showalter. With Matt Wieters recovering from elbow surgery, Caleb Joseph is likely to serve as the Orioles’ starting catcher. Joseph himself isn’t much of an offensive threat, although he balanced some of his poor hitting last year with strong defense. Ryan Lavarnway appears to lead the competition to be Joseph’s backup.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Rays, Utley, D-Backs, Matusz

Here are the highlights from an enormous notes post by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

  • There’s the potential for lots of trade activity between now and Opening Day, with an unusual number of teams with logjams at particular positions. But there aren’t many good pitching options, and many teams are already close to their payroll limits.
  • The Rays are one of several teams looking for starting pitching, but they’re currently focusing their efforts on depth, figuring they only need to cover for injured starters Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly for a month or so.
  • If the Phillies struggle early in the year, trade whispers involving Chase Utley could grow louder, with the Padres, Angels and possibly Giants looming as potentially interested teams. Utley would, of course, have to waive his no-trade clause, but he has West Coast roots.
  • The Diamondbacks are currently unwilling to trade Mark Trumbo, but that could change if they become dissatisfied with their outfield defense.
  • The Orioles discussed trading lefty Brian Matusz to the Rangers before Texas acquired Sam Freeman, and have listened to other clubs interested in Matusz as well. But the Nationals might be more willing than the Orioles to trade a lefty reliever — some within the Orioles see Matusz as a better option than either T.J. McFarland or Wesley Wright.