Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

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

Trade Deadline Links: Price Trade, Red Sox, Phillies

It’s been a quiet night for transactions and rumors, so let’s take a look at some audio looking back at the deadline:

  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski joined ESPN.com’s Buster Olney on his podcast (audio link) to discuss the David Price trade. Dombrowski’s account is essential listening, but here are some highlights: Though Dombrowski was thinking initially about adding to the pen, internal recommendations led him to reach out to his Rays counterpart, Andrew Friedman, before the All-Star game. The sides chatted, but did not discuss a deal intensively until the evening before the deadline. Tampa had previously raised the name of young shortstop Willy Adames, was interested in some of the Mariners players, and liked Drew Smyly, but the precise package was only put together with the deadline closing in. In Dombrowski’s mind, the deal went from a “slight chance” overnight to happening quickly early in the afternoon. (Interestingly, the Detroit Free-Press tweeted that Dombrowski was notably absent from his usual seat just before the game; as it turns out, Dombrowski tells Olney that the key phone conversations were in fact taking place at that time.)
  • Dombrowski had high praise for Friedman, who he described as direct and thorough. As for the idea that the haul was light for Price, Dombrowski explained that he had faced similar reactions after the Doug Fister deal, and feels that often such reactions come from a lack of information. In particular, he expressed that other clubs may not have a full read on Adames, who he calls a potential future All-Star.
  • In his podcast today (audio link), Jonah Keri of Grantland spoke with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports about the trade deadline and what it means the rest of the way. Rosenthal wonders whether the Red Sox have created a sort of new model for sellers by pursuing big league pieces instead of unproven youngsters. Of course, Boston also created a much-discussed “model” for free-agent spending before the club’s 2013 World Series run, when it added a series of mid-tier veterans who seemed to gel together in Fenway. Keri also chats with Dan Okrent, discussing his excellent (and highly-recommended) book, Nine Innings, which delivers an incredible portrait of the workings of a ballclub from the front office to the field.
  • Former MLB GM Jim Duquette shared his own thoughts on the deadline — in particular, regarding the Phillies – on The Jayson Stark Show of 97.5 The Fanatic (audio link). Duquette said he thought the club “missed an opportunity” by standing pat. He also said it was surprising to hear GM Ruben Amaro Jr. say that his peers were not sufficiently aggressive in pursuing Philadelphia’s players, with Stark adding that other general managers have indicated to him that they were less than pleased with the commentary.

Minor Moves: Gwynn, Abreu, Noonan, Joseph, Tekotte

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Rays have released Erik Bedard and Juan Carlos Oviedo, according to MiLB.com. The Rays had designated both pitchers for assignment earlier in the week.
  • The Phillies have announced that they’ve re-signed OF Tony Gwynn Jr. to a minor league deal. He will report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Gwynn hit .163/.281/.204 in 119 plate appearances for the Phillies this season. They released him last week.
  • Instead of electing free agency, infielder Tony Abreu has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A by Giants, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Abreu was designated for assignment Tuesday after appearing in only four games. The 29-year-old owns a .280/.329/.428 slash line in 259 plate appearances this season for Triple-A Fresno.
  • The Giants announced infielder Nick Noonan has cleared waivers and will be outrighted to Triple-A Fresno. The 25-year-old was designated for assignment July 25. Noonan, the 32nd overall selection in the 2007 draft, made his MLB debut last season slashing .219/.261/.238 in 111 plate appearances, but has struggled this year with a .239/.281/.302 line in 340 plate appearances between Triple-A Fresno and Class-A Advanced San Jose. 
  • The Marlins tweeted left-hander Donnie Joseph has been outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans. The 26-year-old was designated for assignment Thursday after the Marlins acquired Jarred Cosart from the Astros. Joseph was picked up from the Royals for cash considerations June 30 and has spent his entire time in the Marlin organization at Triple-A posting an 11.05 ERA, 6.1 K/9, and 9.8 BB/9 in six relief outings covering 7 1/3 innings.
  • The Diamondbacks have acquired outfielder Blake Tekotte from the White Sox for cash, per the MLB.com transactions page. Tekotte, who made 36 plate appearances for the White Sox in 2013 good for a slash of .226/.306/.355, will report to Triple-A Reno. The 27-year-old posted a .251/.324/.438 line in 318 plate appearances for the White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate.
  • The Padres have released right-hander Billy Buckner from their Triple-A affiliate, according to the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page. The 30-year-old made one spot start for the Padres on May 24 allowing three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. In 15 appearances (14 starts) for Triple-A El Paso, Buckner has posted a 5.80 ERA, 6.2 K/9, and 4.7 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings.
  • Also from the PCL transactions page, the Angels have released catcher Luis Martinez from their Triple-A affiliate. The 29-year-old, whose last MLB action was with the Rangers in 2012, hit .262/.329/.403 in 212 plate appearances for Salt Lake this season.
  • Martinez didn’t stay unemployed very long as he was signed by the A’s and assigned to Triple-A Sacramento. The roster causality is catcher Luis Exposito, despite producing at a .303/.410/.394 clip since Oakland signed him June 26 after being released by the Tigers.
  • Ten players find themselves in DFA limbo, as tracked by MLBTR’s DFA Tracker: Dan Uggla and Tyler Colvin (Giants), Jeff Francis and Brian Roberts (Yankees), Josh Wall and Dean Anna (Pirates), Ryan Feierabend (Rangers), David Carpenter (Angels), Nick Christiani (Reds), and Pedro Hernandez (Rockies).

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Price, Prado, Smyly, Johnson

Joe Kelly first found out that John Lackey was traded to the Cardinals on Twitter and, 15 minutes later, learned he was part of the package heading to the Red Sox in return, writes Rob Harms of the Boston Globe.  “Hectic,” Kelly said of the deadline’s personal impact on him. “It’s something that happens in baseball, and, like I said, it could happen to anyone. When I got the news I was definitely shocked and surprised, but I found out it was Boston, and I figured it was one great baseball town to another. So definitely looking forward to it.”  More out of the AL East..

  • Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman says that if he waited until the winter to deal David Price, the return would have been somewhere between “a good bit less to dramatically less,” writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  While some see their haul for the ace pitcher as light, Topkin says that in reality, they were pleased to get as much as they did.
  • There’s no reason for Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to stop wheeling and dealing now, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox already have shipped out 11 of the 25 players who were on their World Series roster only nine months ago, but Lauber is dreaming big and thinking of names like Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Sale.
  • Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal breaks down the questions the Red Sox still need to answer in the aftermath of their recent roster maneuvers.
  • The Yankees are helping Martin Prado through his “strange” transition to a new team and new position, writes Brendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger.  Prado hadn’t taken a single practice fly ball in right field this season even though that’s his new spot. The veteran mostly played third base and left field while with the Braves and Diamondbacks.
  • While he knows that he has “very big” shoes to fill, Drew Smyly is excited to be a member of the Rays, Topkin writes.
  • Jim Johnson is now free to sign with any club after his release by the A’s Friday. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes the Orioles maintain a high level of interest in signing their former closer to a minor league deal, but are not the only team pursuing the right-hander.
  • Johnson will throw a side session for the Orioles tomorrow in Sarasota in front of rehab pitching coordinator Scott McGregor, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.



AL East Notes: Shields, Cespedes, Johnson, Price

In his latest Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Buster Olney reports that he’s spoken to executives around the league who assume that the Red Sox will target James Shields in free agency this offseason.  Shields would be a good fit for a Boston team that is suddenly light on veteran pitching after Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy were all traded within the last week.  I wonder how high the Sox would be willing to bid on Shields, however, since the team’s concerns about paying big money to a pitcher throughout his 30′s kept them from working out an extension with Lester.  While Shields would come at a lower price and probably a shorter-term deal, Shields will also be 33 on Opening Day.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • A clause in Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract will allow him to become a free agent after the 2015 season, and according to Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (Twitter link), it means the Red Sox would have to non-tender their newly-acquired outfielder.  This would make Cespedes ineligible to receive a qualifying offer, and thus Boston wouldn’t get any draft pick compensation if Cespedes signed elsewhere.
  • The Athletics released Jim Johnson today, and there has been speculation that the Orioles will offer their former closer a minor league contract, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes.  Manager Buck Showalter spoke highly of Johnson to reporters today, though he was careful with his words due to uncertainty about whether Johnson was free of any ties to Oakland.
  • The Rays plan to contend in 2015, which is why Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan (writing for FOXSports.com) feels the team felt comfortable trading David Price for a package highlighted by players — Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin — with Major League experience.  It’s unclear if any of the blue-chip prospects often cited in trade rumors were actually available for Price and such prospects might not pan out anyway, whereas Smyly and Franklin have already shown they can contribute at the big-league level.
  • Had the Rays waited until the offseason to trade Price, they might’ve had trouble finding a better return.  As one executive noted to ESPN’s Jayson Stark (Twitter link), Tampa would’ve been shopping Price in a crowded marketplace for ace pitchers given that Lester, Shields and Max Scherzer are all slated to be available in free agency.

Rosenthal On Cardinals, Miller, Price, Beane

Here are some notes from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal as he looks back on an incredibly busy Deadline Day…

  • Several Cardinals players were unhappy that Allen Craig and Joe Kelly were traded away, which didn’t necessarily surprise St. Louis GM John Mozeliak.  “We’ve had a tight clubhouse for many years, a lot of homegrown players who have been together a long time….When you have a young team, sometimes you don’t see these types of trades happening while you’re competing,” Mozeliak told Rosenthal.  “It caught some people off-guard. But time will heal all wounds.”  Rosenthal wonders if this trade and the recent signing of “notorious irritant” A.J. Pierzynski could’ve been made in order to shake up a clubhouse that had “perhaps grown too comfortable.”
  • The Brewers and Tigers were the other finalists for Andrew Miller‘s services before the Red Sox decided to trade the southpaw to the Orioles.  Boston received inquiries from between 10-12 teams about Miller’s services. Jon Morosi, Rosenthal’s FOX Sports colleague, reported yesterday that Detroit was close to a deal for Miller about 2.5 hours before the trade with Baltimore was finalized.
  • Some pundits have argued that the Rays should’ve gotten more from the Tigers and Mariners in the David Price trade, but Rosenthal is withholding judgement given how difficult the circumstances were for Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman.  The return could’ve been even less had Friedman waited until the offseason to move his ace.
  • In a tweet, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics decided against pursuing a Price trade in part because GM Billy Beane was worried that it would be tough to deal the southpaw this winter.  Price could earn up to $20MM on his 2015 contract in his last year of arbitration eligibility, so as good as the left-hander is, the salary and only the one year of control would limit Price’s trade value.

Rays Release Jayson Nix

The Rays have released Jayson Nix, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports (via Twitter).  Eddy notes that Nix was granted his release from the minor league deal that the veteran infielder originally signed with Tampa in May.  The newly-acquired Nick Franklin was assigned to the Triple-A roster in a corresponding move.

This was the second of two minor league contracts Nix signed with the Rays in 2014, and in between he was acquired by the Phillies and appeared in 18 games, posting a .445 OPS in 43 PA.  Nix, who turns 32 later this month, was originally drafted 44th overall by the Rockies in 2001 and he’s suited up for six different franchises over his seven years in the majors.


July Trade Recap: AL East

We’ll take a look at every division in baseball, but it’s hard not to start here. The division is always fun to watch, and it was full of intrigue in 2014. Here’s what took place over the last month or so, culminating in a whirlwind today:

Blue Jays

Orioles

Rays

Red Sox

Yankees

Synopsis

The Yankees were somewhat quiet buyers, the Red Sox were incredibly loud sellers, and there were multiple inter-division deals. It was decidedly not business as usual in the AL East, but plenty of business was done … except, that is, in Toronto.

Despite long being rumored to be looking for additions to the rotation, bullpen, and/or infield, the Blue Jays (as they did in free agency) largely stayed quiet. Several players actually expressed frustration with the inactivity, but GM Alex Anthopoulos said that clubs were asking for big league players in return and that nothing ended up making baseball sense. He indicated that the August market could hold some possibilities, but at this point, it seems likely that the Jays will sink or swim with their current alignment.

The Orioles, likewise, were known to have a rather similar list of possible needs, and were expected mostly to pursue new arms. Baltimore ultimately did just that, steering clear of a starting pitching market filled with big swaps but ultimately landing the most sought-after reliever who remained available. It cost the club one of its better prospects — Rodriguez, probably the best pre-MLB player to change hands today — but will give the team a high-leverage weapon as it tries to hold onto precious wins. But as with Toronto, if the team comes up just short in a year in which the division seems so tantalizingly open, it will be fair to ask whether one more piece would have made the difference.

The Yankees took something of a different approach, adding a bevy of potentially useful veterans who struggled in the season’s first half and were playing on fairly sizable contracts. Among them, only the most recent addition — Prado — comes with team control beyond the present season. Buried by by other,  larger deals, the Prado swap not only completes an infield makeover for this year but also gives the team plenty of flexibility moving forward.

Reaching the bottom of the division, one finds some fairly atypical selling clubs. The Rays, of course, have been roaring back on the field, even if the playoff picture largely remains the same. Perhaps the failure to climb the ladder drove the club’s decision to move this year’s biggest trade chip in Price. While the return does not feature the kinds of prospects that one might have expected, it delivered plenty of long-term value back to Tampa. And it left the club, notably, with plenty of talent still in the fold for 2014. A nice run from Smyly, and perhaps even a late-season boost from Franklin, could play a role in continuing the Rays’ rise in the standings. None of the teams ahead of them appears poised to run away with things, but it will be interesting to see how the clubhouse responds to the trade.

In a series of moves that were every bit as bold as Tampa’s big stroke, the Red Sox parted with the club’s two best pitchers, two other members of the World Series-defending, Opening Day rotation, a dominant set-up man, and a just-signed veteran shortstop (and what a journey it’s been for Drew). But this was no traditional roster blow-up; instead, Boston returned mostly big league pieces that changed the team’s makeup dramatically but gave notice that it intends to contend next year. Adding power bats to the corner outfield and young arms to the current and near-future rotation — the team now has an impressive array of young arms and other prospects — the Red Sox look primed to add yet more more pieces in free agency and aim for another title run. GM Ben Cherington said that the team will be a player for veteran pitching in free agency, and reports even indicated that the team could have its sights set on a reunion with Lester. It remains to be seen whether Boston would have been better served by pushing its clock further back and perhaps bringing in more upside, but if Cespedes and Craig can return to their 2012 levels of production, Boston will be right back in the thick of things in 2015.


Tigers Acquire David Price In 3-Team Deal With Rays, Mariners

The Tigers have officially agreed to acquire David Price from the Rays, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is a three-way trade between the Tigers, Rays, and Mariners.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Tampa Bay Rays

Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson will go to the Mariners, with Nick Franklin (from Seattle) and Drew Smyly (from Detroit) heading to Tampa in the blockbuster. Minor league shortstop Willy Adames is also going to Tampa from Detroit in the deal, per a tweet from Rosenthal.

The move brings and end to near-ceaseless speculation regarding the now-former Rays lefty, who has been one of the game’s best pitchers in recent seasons. Still only 28, Price is under control for one more season through arbitration, though he will certainly not come cheap.

Playing this year on a $14MM salary, Price will be in line for a big raise next year. Of course, one key element of his value lies in the fact that his new club will have an opportunity to explore an extension. The reason that Price figures to draw a big salary next year is obvious: he has continued to be outstanding. At present, he owns a 3.11 ERA with a remarkable 10.0 K/9 against just 1.2 BB/9 over 170 2/3 innings.

The return for the Rays is not particularly splashy, but delivers obvious value. Smyly, 25, was outstanding last year as a reliever and has since converted into a solid starting option. He carries a 3.77 ERA through 100 1/3 innings, with 7.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.9% groundball rate. While his strikeout numbers are down since moving to the rotation, he can be controlled through 2018.

The 23-year-old Franklin, meanwhile, seemed without a future in Seattle after the club added Robinson Cano. Though he has spent time at both short and second, many observers believe he is better suited for the keystone going forward. He had a solid 2013 at the MLB level (.225/.303/.382 in 412 plate appearances), and though his numbers were off this year in limited action, Franklin has continued to swing a big stick against Triple-A pitchers.

Then, there is Adames, who could be something of a wild card in the deal. Just 18, he has a promising .269/.346/.428 slash line through 400 plate appearances at the low-A level this year. He entered the year as Baseball America’s 30th-ranked Tigers prospect, but appears to be raising eyebrows around the game.

That brings us to Seattle, which quietly managed to address its center field need without giving up an indispensable piece of the future. In fact, the 27-year-old Jackson will be at least a mid-term piece for Seattle. He is playing on a $6MM salary this year before hitting arbitration for the final time. He currently sports a .270/.330/.397 line that is approximately league average (as it was last year). With solid contributions in the field and on the bases, he is certainly an above-average big league regular.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that Jackson and Smyly were part of the deal (via Twitter). Mike Salk of 710 ESPN tweeted that Jackson would head to Seattle. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune first reported Franklin’s inclusion (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rays May Be Engineering Three-Team David Price Trade

2:42pm: A three-team deal involving Price could well be in the works, with Price being the only piece moving from Tampa, tweets Topkin.

2:36pm: Lefty Enny Romero is under consideration in Tampa’s discussions, tweets Rosenthal, though precisely in what manner still unclear.

2:31pm: A three-team mix could be in the offing, according to reports. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that there were discussions of such a deal involving Price and the Tigers and Mariners. And Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that a three-team arrangement is under discussion now.

2:14pm: The Tigers appear to be the front-runner on Price at the moment, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

2:13pm: The Yankees are unlikely to get Price, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

2:04pm: The Yankees are also involved in discussions, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).

1:33pm: The Cardinals may also still be involved on Price, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). His source indicates that the Cards, along with the Tigers and Mariners, are the final possible suitors.

1:28pm: The Rays are nearing a deal involving Price, tweets ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. Where, however, remains unclear.

1:14pm: Drew Smyly would likely need to be part of a package to land Price, tweets Morosi.

1:11pm: The Dodgers are “not back in” on Price, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com.

1:02pm: The Pirates have also been discussing Price, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. In discussions with the Dodgers, prospect Joc Pederson is in play, adds Rosenthal.

12:52pm: The Tigers have discussed Price with the Rays today, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links).

12:47pm: The Dodgers and Mariners are the leading contenders to acquire Price, if he is dealt, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.

12:45pm: The Rays are “definitely moving” ace David Price, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

While Price has long been a subject of trade speculation, it seemed less and less likely he would be moved as Tampa reeled off an extensive winning streak. But in spite of the club’s solid play, it remains largely on the fringes of contention at this point.


Chances Of David Price Trade Increasing

David Price didn’t have his best start for the Rays yesterday, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and a pair of walks with six strikeouts in seven innings, but that won’t curb any trade interest in the Cy Young candidate. Price may have thought that he dodged a bullet yesterday, as he admitted to reporters that he thought the trade deadline was Wednesday afternoon. As we well know around these parts, that’s not the case, and the Tampa Bay ace could find himself on the move before 3pm CT today. Indications have been that the Rays will hang onto Price, but we’ll keep track of the final developments right here…

  • The Rays are actively seeking to make a deal on Price, though that does not mean that the team is lowering its asking price, reports Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Conversations remain open with multiple teams, Stark adds.
  • Talks on Price have picked up some steam since Jon Lester was dealt, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. A deal now appears more likely than it did last night.
  • The Rays entered deadline day expecting to hold, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But the team will continue listening on Price, waiting to see if a big offer comes through the door at the last minute.
  • A source familiar with conversations says it is “doubtful” that the Dodgers will land Price, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has long been said to be one of the possible landing spots for the outstanding lefty, though GM Ned Colletti said last night that he has no interest in dealing away his team’s three blue chip prospects (to say nothing of more than one of them) in any trade.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.