Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

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

AL Notes: Rays, Red Sox, Raburn

The Rays are trying to maintain their focus despite the possibility of pitcher David Price being traded, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports. “It’s something I try not to think about, and I try not talk about it with my teammates,” says Price. “That’s the last thing I want them to be doing, is thinking about if we don’t win I could be gone.” More losing could encourage the Rays’ management to deal Price, Mooney suggests. The Rays had won nine of 11 games before losing their last two, but they’re in last place in the AL East, 10.5 games out of first. Here’s more from the American League.


AL Notes: Ricardo, Red Sox, Royals, Molina, Mariners

Cuban catcher Lednier Ricardo recently held a workout in the Dominican Republic, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted recently. MLBTR has learned additional details on the 25-year-old, who has been cleared to sign as a free agent and will not be subject to international spending limits. About a dozen teams were represented at the showcase, including the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Astros, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, Athletics, and Reds. Public information is scarce on Ricardo, who has seen limited time with the Cuban national team and has maintained an OPS in the .730 range in recent years in Serie Nacional action. The backstop will look to impress scouts enough to earn a significant bonus to come stateside.

Here’s the latest out of the American League:

  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provides a few notes on the Red Sox, via Twitter, that could impact the team’s trade deadline plans. The club prefers to keep Koji Uehara for the 2015 campaign, he says, though of course the closer is slated to hit the open market. Meanwhile, the team would prefer to keep Xander Bogaerts at third for the present, but could nevertheless be open to dealing Stephen Drew if he can show some kind of turnaround at the plate.
  • The Royals are “looking hard” at options to bolster their pen, Cafardo further reports (Twitter link). Though the Kansas City pen ranks third in the game in accumulated fWAR, much of that has come from top options Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera. And the relief corps rates just 19th in cumulative ERA (3.68). Among the Royals’ remaining active relievers, Aaron Crow and Francisley Bueno have outperformed their peripherals, Louis Coleman has struggled by any measure, and Scott Downs was knocked around yesterday after three quality outings to start his tenure with his second club of the season.
  • The Rays will listen on catcher Jose Molina, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. Olney wonders whether the Cardinals would consider looking into the older brother of the injured Yadier Molina. It is worth bearing in mind, of course, the elder Molina is under contract for next season at $2.75MM.
  • With few intriguing bats available, the Mariners should go all in by pursuing Rays ace David Price, argues Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Seattle should be able to fit Price’s salary this year and next, says Rosenthal, and the surely steep price in terms of prospects would be worth it to a club that could seize an opportunity to make a postseason run.

Marlon Byrd Reveals Four-Team No-Trade Clause

1:12pm: Byrd has revealed to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he has a small, four-team no-trade clause which includes the Mariners, Royals, Blue Jays and Rays.

While that news doesn’t do any favors for Seattle’s chances of acquiring Byrd should their interest escalate, it doesn’t rule the possibility out entirely. Byrd explains to Salisbury that he signed a two-year deal with the Phillies for a reason — to retire in Philadelphia — but he would consider waiving his no-trade protection if the team asked him to do so for the future good of the club: “There would have to be a conversation with me, my agent and Ruben (Amaro Jr., the Phillies’ GM) if it gets to that point,” said Byrd.

Byrd adds that he included Toronto and Tampa on his list because of the artificial turf and the risk that poses to him as an aging player (especially one with a vesting option based on plate appearances). As for Seattle and Kansas City, he told Salisbury: “Those really are things that were just put on at the time being.”

11:18am: In search of a much-needed right-handed bat for their lineup, the Mariners have been scouting Marlon Byrd recently, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).

The connection is logical for the Mariners in many ways. Firstly, their outfielders have hit a combined .246/.291/.354 this season — good for the second-worst wRC+ mark in all of baseball. Seattle outfielders have hit just 16 homers this season — a collective total that ranks lower than every team in baseball, aside from the Royals and Red Sox (who had 14 each). Beyond that, just four of the Mariners’ 13 hitters are right-handed, with struggling catcher Mike Zunino and struggling DH/outfielder Corey Hart representing the team’s only right-handed power threats. The other two, backup catcher Jesus Sucre and utilityman Willie Bloomquist, are light hitters that don’t see regular at-bats. As such, Seattle has been one of baseball’s worst clubs against left-handed pitching, hitting just .248/.295/.349 as a team.

Byrd is in the first season of a two-year, $16MM contract signed with the Phillies this past offseason. While the commitment raised some eyebrows, Byrd has followed up an unexpectedly excellent season with the Mets and Pirates with a solid campaign in his return to Philadelphia. He’s hitting .261/.313/.481 with 18 homers and passable defense in right field (Ultimate Zone Rating feels he’s slightly below average, while Defensive Runs Saved thinks he’s been slightly above). Perhaps more importantly to Seattle, he’s mashing lefties to the tune of a .313/.353/.613 batting line, which would give the team some much-needed thump against opposing southpaws.

The main deterrent for teams interested in Byrd may be his contract. He’s owed a perfectly reasonable $3.5MM through season’s end before being guaranteed $8MM in 2015. That may not scare off potential suitors, but his deal also contains an $8MM club option for 2016 — Byrd’s age-38 season — which will automatically vests with 600 PA in 2015 or a combined 1100 PA from 2014-15.  That’s a very attainable number, and other teams may be skeptical that Byrd can maintain solid production into his late 30s.



NL West Notes: Crawford, Dodgers, Zobrist, D’Backs

We took a look at the Rockies earlier today. Now, let’s check in on the rest of the NL West, which could be shaping up to be a busy division at the deadline:

  • The Dodgers plan to utilize outfielder Carl Crawford off of the bench when he is activated from the DL, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. For the time being, then, the club seems to have resolved its long-running logjam. “Carl happened to be the one who got hurt,” explained manager Don Mattingly, who said that Crawford is primarily a left-fielder, but that the position was now occupied by Matt Kemp. As Shaikin notes, Crawford still has $69MM remaining on his deal, including the rest of ths season and his annual payments through 2017, and could potentially be shopped in some kind of large contract swap.
  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers would be interested if the Red Sox make their relievers available, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He lists Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, and Craig Breslow as players who Boston could conceivably listen on, as the first three are set to become free agents while Breslow had a $4MM club option with a $100K buyout.
  • The Giants may have interest in Rays infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist, according to a report from Chris Haft and Ryan Hood of MLB.com. The Giants have sent special assignment scout to Pat Burrell to Tropicana Field recently, and the duo adds that the Rays are believed to have scouted San Francisco’s Double-A affiliate extensively.
  • The Diamondbacks entered this season with a $110MM payroll and are believed to be targeting the same number for next season, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The problem, however, is that the current roster projects to come in around that amount due to arbitration raises and escalating salaries on current long-term deals. As such, the team figures to make trades to shed payroll in the coming weeks. Martin Prado and Aaron Hill are listed by Piecoro as candidates to be dealt.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Rays Acquire Three International Bonus Slots From Marlins

TODAY: The Rays will still face the full penalty for exceeding their pool money, explains Ben Badler of Baseball America. While Rondon’s signing did not push Tampa past its newly expanded allocation by itself, other international signings did. The acquisition will limit the overage tax owed by the club by about $1MM, however.

YESTERDAY: The Marlins have acquired right-hander Matt Ramsey from the Rays in exchange for international bonus money, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets that the Rays will acquire Miami’s second, third and fourth bonus slots, which add up to a total of $1,000,800, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.

Subsequently, the Rays have officially announced the signing of top international prospect Adrian Rondon, with who the team reportedly agree to terms last week, for $2.95MM (Twitter link). The additional money acquired from the Marlins bumps Tampa’s international bonus pool to $2,998,900, meaning that the Rondon signing will not push them over their limit.

Ramsey, 24, is enjoying a dominant season at Double-A Montgomery, having pitched to a 1.07 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings. He’s had some control issues, walking 23 batters in that time. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets that Ramsey runs his fastball up to 95 mph with a power curveball.

This is the second trade of international bonus money today, as the A’s shipped a bonus slot to the Brewers earlier this afternoon in exchange for minor leaguer Rodolfo Fernandez. For a refresher on how international free agent signings work, check out MLBTR’s 2014-15 International Signing Period Primer.


AL East Notes: Price, Burnett, McCarthy, Breslow

With 10 wins in their last 12 games, the Rays have escaped the AL East basement and added another wrinkle to the David Price trade rumors.  As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times outlines, it still makes a lot of sense for the Rays to deal Price, given that the club needs to replenish its minor league stock and the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade only increases Price’s value as the best starter available.  On the other hand, the Rays have already invested a record payroll into this year’s team and they could still make a comeback in a weak AL East, then wait until the offseason to explore trading Price.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • “The Yankees don’t have a strong interest in” reacquiring A.J. Burnett, George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  Burnett is a logical trade candidate if the Phillies decide to sell, though the veteran has a partial no-trade clause in his contract.
  • Brandon McCarthy‘s tendency to allow home runs and grounders might be a problem given Yankee Stadium’s small dimensions and the Yankees‘ poor infield defense, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News still feels the Bombers made a good move in acquiring the righty from the Diamondbacks.  McCarthy’s peripherals indicate that he’s due to pitch better in the second half, and even if he’s only average, Martino still considers that an upgrade over the struggling Vidal Nuno.
  • Before dealing for Rich Hill, the Angels showed some interest in acquiring Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow but felt that Breslow’s stuff had declined since last year, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports.  Breslow posted a 1.81 ERA (though a 4.37 xFIP) over 59 2/3 relief innings for the Sox in 2013 but has struggled this season, managing only a 5.04 ERA and almost as many walks (20) as strikeouts (21) over 30 1/3 innings.  The southpaw is also averaging just 87.8 mph on his fastball, down significantly from his 89.9 mph average last year.
  • Also from Edes’ piece, he lists several Red Sox veterans who could be traded this summer now that Boston is on the brink of falling out of contention.
  • While it may not seem likely Jon Lester and the Red Sox will work out a new contract before Lester hits free agency, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reminds us that Cole Hamels and the Phillies were in a similar situation two years ago and agreed on a midseason extension.  Lester has been unwilling to negotiate during the year for fear of distractions, though it was recently reported that he would be open to hearing an offer if it led to a quick signing process.  (One would think he’d be very quick to agree if the Sox presented Lester with the six-year/$144MM deal the Phillies gave Hamels, though I strongly doubt Boston would offer that much.)
  • The Blue Jays have done a poor job of drafting and developing position players over the last decade-plus, Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun writes, a problem that has been underscored by the lack of depth available to fill in for several injured Jays regulars.

Rays Open To Trading David Price Within Division

The consensus around baseball this season has been that the Rays are extremely reluctant to trade ace David Price within the AL East.  That may still be true, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that they’re still at least open to the idea of moving Price within the division.

An intra-division deal might call for a premium price, but today’s report is still good news for the Blue Jays, who would no doubt love to bring Price north of the border.  The Blue Jays can’t bank on Mark Buehrle duplicating his strong first half and they’ve fallen out of first place.  If Toronto is willing to part with two of their top three prospects - Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, and Dalton Pompey – they could come away with the most alluring pitcher on the trade market.

In addition to the Blue Jays, Morosi cites the Mariners, Dodgers, and Cardinals as possible landing spots for Price.  It’s hard to see Seattle landing Price without parting with Taijuan Walker, but they might be aggressive enough to move the 21-year-old to get Price.  The Dodgers, of course, are always aggressive and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports surmised yesterday that they could be extra bullish on Price because of their TV situation.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Dodgers, Price, Hammel, Padres, Twins

In his latest video, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has an interesting theory as to why the Dodgers may be keen to acquire Rays starter David Price. Over 70% of the Dodgers market is currently blacked out due to a dispute between Time Warner and Direct TV. Adding another superstar pitcher to a rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke could put even more pressure on the two telecom giants to work out a deal.

  • Speaking of Price, A’s GM Billy Beane confirmed interest in the southpaw, but he preferred to add two pitchers in one fell swoop. He was also concerned about Price’s potential $20MM price tag next season, which would be hard to absorb into the club’s payroll or move via trade.
  • For their part, the Cubs were eager to deal Jason Hammel before the market became saturated with similar pitchers.
  • The Padres have interviewed four candidates for their open GM position and plan to interview another seven to eight prior to the end of the All-Star break. Then they will invite two or three candidates back. A new GM may be named by the end of the month, although they may not start until after the non-waiver trade deadline.
  • The Twins will hang onto their trade chips until after the All-Star game, which will be hosted at Target Field. As we heard earlier tonight, Josh Willingham, Kevin Correia, and Kurt Suzuki are the most likely to find new homes.

Reactions To A’s-Cubs Trade

For weeks now, the baseball world has been waiting for the Cubs to line up trades for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.  Last night, Theo Epstein & Co. killed two birds with one stone and packaged both together in a deal with the A’s.  In return for two of the most talked about pitchers on the trade block, the Cubs received top prospect Addison Russell, outfield prospect Billy McKinney, and pitcher Dan Straily.  Here’s a look at some of the reactions to the blockbuster deal.

  • MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes (on Twitter) says the Cubs are taking an interesting approach by stockpiling top position player prospects and putting off acquiring pitching.  Dierkes can see Straily providing Travis Wood-like value for the Cubs since teams pay big money for innings from a No. 4 type (link).  Meanwhile, the deal makes the rest of the trade season kind of anticlimactic for Cub fans after their two best trade chips were moved on the Fourth of July (link).
  • Before pulling the trigger on the deal with the Cubs, the A’s discussed a swap involving Russell with the Rays for David Price, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. However, nothing ever materialized on that front.
  • The Yankees exchanged proposals with the Cubs on both Samardzija and Hammel, but could not compete with Russell’s inclusion, tweets FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
  • In a separate tweet, Rosenthal reports the A’s don’t intend to flip Hammel because they will need him to win the AL West.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law writes in an Insider piece (subscription required) the A’s and Cubs both significantly impacted their franchise, albeit with different timelines in mind.
  • The early word is the Cubs are not looking to make any moves from their shortstop stockpile as the Mets have nothing brewing with Chicago and the Yankees have checked but to no avail, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links).
  • Moneyball isn’t about on-base percentage or any one statistic, it’s about exploiting what is over- or under-valued and prospects are over-valued at present, writes Sherman. However, he notes (link) Javier Baez and Russell are big guys who might not stay at shortstop, so Starlin Castro may still be the Cubs’ long-term guy.
  • The A’s may have made themselves the favorites for 2014, but the Cubs ultimately may have won the deal, writes CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.  “He’s Barry Larkin with power,” one rival baseball executive said of Russell.
  • The loss of Russell, in particular, could end up haunting the A’s, whose current shortstop Jed Lowrie is a free agent after this season, but GM Billy Beane has never been afraid to take an unconventional route, writes Rosenthal.
  • Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle echoes Rosenthal and adds the trade may point towards an extension for Lowrie and this wouldn’t be a bad time to do it.
  • The trade demonstrates Beane’s burning desire to win now and now could be his only window for winning a World Series, according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee.
  • Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com calls this trade fascinating because of the guts it took to swing such a deal between two men (Epstein and Beane) who defy convention for the way the game of baseball changes.
  • The Cubs signed Hammel to a one-year, $6MM deal in late January and in July he has netted them one of the five best prospects in baseball, notes Passan (via Twitter).
  • Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (via Twitter) is usually against trading great young talent, but likes the trade for the A’s since present wins have so much value to them right now.  Of course, he likes the swap from the Cubs‘ perspective, too.
  • Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes the trade is a win-win for both the A’s and Cubs, but the real winner could be the Rays, who just saw two of the top available starting pitchers dealt while only one contender benefited increasing the demand for Price.
  • Addison Russell (Twitter link) is excited to be joining forces with Kris Bryant.
  • Billy McKinney called the A’s an “amazing and classy organization” and is “excited to start and (sic) new chapter in the Cubs organization” (Twitter links).
  • Dan Straily also tweeted his appreciation of the A’s organization, but is looking forward to beginning the next chapter of his career with the Cubs (Twitter links).

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


White Sox Claim Angel Sanchez From Rays

The White Sox have claimed righty Angel Sanchez off waivers from the Rays, tweets Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. He will join the club’s Class-A affiliate.

The Rays claimed Sanchez off waivers from the Marlins last month, only to designate him to make room for the addition of Cory Burns. Sanchez, 24, was part of last year’s Ricky Nolasco deal. Over 61 1/3 Double-A frames on the year, Sanchez owns a 7.04 ERA with 5.3 K/9 versus 2.9 BB/9.