Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

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

Cubs Notes: Prospects, Price, Arrieta, Barney

The Cubs scored a league-best eight players within MLB.com’s midseason list of the top 100 prospects in baseball, and also topped the league in terms of the “prospect points” ranking system.  Kris Bryant (fourth), Javier Baez (sixth) and Addison Russell (seventh) were the highest-rated young Cubs on the list.

Here’s some more news out of Wrigleyville…

  • Rumors linking the Cubs to David Price don’t make much sense, ESPN’s Buster Olney opines (Twitter links).  While the Cubs have the prospect depth the Rays are looking for in a Price deal, Olney wonders why Chicago would give away top minor league talent when they could just sign a top free agent arm like Jon Lester this winter if they wanted to add an ace.
  • Olney figures the Cubs would only make a move for him if the Rays’ asking price severely dropped and if Chicago was allowed to negotiate an extension before making the trade, as the Cubs aren’t going to be contenders before Price’s contract expires at the end of the 2015 season.
  • We called Theo [Epstein] and asked about Jake Arrieta and we were told they will NOT move him. Period,” an NL scout tells David Kaplan of CSN Chicago (Twitter link).  There were rumors last month that the Cubs were gauging the market for Arrieta, yet it’s no surprise he could be untouchable given his excellent performance this year.  The right-hander has a 2.18 ERA and 9.8 K/9 over 91 innings and is controlled through the 2017 season.
  • The Cubs have received trade interest in second baseman Darwin Barney and expect to move him before Thursday’s DFA deadline, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets.  Barney was designated for assignment by Chicago on July 22.
  • Neither the Cubs or the Diamondbacks will trade from their surplus of young infielders this summer, as both teams prefer to use that depth to look for pitching in the offseason, Metsblog.com’s Matthew Cerrone reports.

Sherman On Papelbon, Duda, Mariners

Here’s the latest hot stove news from four pieces by Joel Sherman of the New York Post…

  • Jonathan Papelbon has told the Phillies that he won’t waive his no-trade clause to go to a team that will use him as anything less than a full-time closer.  Between the lack of teams looking for closing help and Papelbon’s large remaining salary, this is yet another obstacle that would hamper the Phils’ ability to trade their stopper, though they’re reportedly willing to eat at least some of Papelbon’s salary in a trade.
  • The Rays were one of several teams who tried to obtain Lucas Duda from the Mets over the years, yet the Mets held onto the young slugger and are reaping the benefits of Duda’s breakout season.  Playing largely against right-handed pitching, Duda has 18 homers and a .259/.356/.500 slash line over 365 PA.
  • The Mets and Yankees both sorely need to add some power, Sherman opines.
  • The Rays had talent evaluators specifically watching Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker‘s start against the Mets last week.
  • The Mariners have been linked to David Price, though one scout doesn’t know why Seattle is looking to add pitching and not hitting.  “Their rotation can do damage in the playoffs, but I don’t know if that offense can get to the playoffs,” the scout told Sherman.  “If you are going to trade a prospect as good as Walker, don’t you have to get the bat you so desperately need?”  Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, however, says it’s all about the caliber of talent available to be added to a team.  “If you consider David Price a [grade] A and the only thing available to you as a hitter is a C-plus hitter, you are better off with the A pitcher.  It really all depends what opportunity presents itself. What are you giving up to what are you getting back?“, Zduriencik says.
  • Speaking of Price, the Rays‘ recent hot streak has convinced one rival executive that the club will hold onto its star left-hander though the deadline.  Tampa can always re-open trade talks about Price in the offseason and in the meantime keep their ace and keep gunning for the top of the weakened AL East, the executive tells Sherman.

David Price Rumors: Monday

Here’s the latest on Rays ace David Price

  • The Brewers are one of the teams who have asked about Price, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports.  A source tells Rosenthal that the Crew just put their “foot in the water” of the Price sweepstakes, so it remains to be seen if Milwaukee was making a due diligence move or if they have a deeper interest.  As Rosenthal notes, the Brewers would be “a long shot” to end up with Price given the relative lack of depth in their farm system (especially compared to the Cardinals and other teams connected to Price) and their ability to afford Price’s possible $20MM salary through arbitration in 2015.
  • Rosenthal noted that some in the industry expect the Cubs to make an attempt to land Price.  A Cubs executive tells USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link), however, that Chicago has “zero interest” in acquiring Price now since the team prefers to hang onto its highly-regarded prospects.
  • In an appearance on FOX Sports Live (video link), Jon Morosi still feels that Price will be traded before Thursday’s deadline and the southpaw won’t make his scheduled start on Wednesday afternoon.  This said, Morosi noted that it is still very unclear whether Tampa will decide to trade their ace.


NL West Notes: Zobrist, Giants, Ziegler, Tulo

Jason Lane‘s improbable comeback story will add another chapter today when the outfielder-turned-pitcher will receive his first Major League start, getting a spot appearance in place of Padres ace Ian Kennedy (who’s battling a sore oblique).  Lane began making regular mound appearances in 2012 in the minors in an attempt to revive his career, and the decision paid off earlier this season when he was called up by San Diego and threw 4 1/3 scoreless relief innings.  That cup of coffee marked Lane’s first big league action since playing as an outfielder with the Astros and Padres from 2002-07.  At age 37, Lane will be the oldest first-time starter since 38-year-old Troy Percival started a game for St. Louis in 2007.

Here’s some hot stove buzz from around the NL West…

  • Despite already trading two of their better prospects in the Jake Peavy deal, the Giants have maintained an interest in Ben Zobrist and had two scouts watching the Rays this weekend, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports (Twitter links).  San Francisco is one of “multiple teams” who are “ready to act” if Tampa indeed makes Zobrist available, sources tell Morosi and Ken Rosenthal.
  • Multiple teams have shown interest in Diamondbacks right-hander Brad Ziegler, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports, though the Snakes aren’t likely to move him.  Earlier this month, we heard the Tigers were known to be one of the clubs who asked about Ziegler.  Gilbert’s piece also summarizes some of the trade rumors circulating about what Arizona may do at the deadline.
  • Troy Tulowitzki would welcome a trade to the Red Sox, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe hears from a source (Twitter link).  Given Tulowitzki’s controversial appearance in the stands at Sunday’s Blue Jays/Yankees game, expect more trade buzz than ever about the Rockies‘ star shortstop both over the next several weeks and through the offseason.
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said over the weekend that his club “may not do anything” at the trade deadline, and Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles thinks this might not necessarily be a concern given how the current roster performed in sweeping the Giants.

Rays Designate Juan Carlos Oviedo For Assignment

The Rays have designated reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo for assignment, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The move clears space on the Rays’ active roster for Jeremy Hellickson, who has been recalled from the minors.

Oviedo finally made it back to the big leagues after spending 2012 and 2013 dealing with injury issues and posted a 3.69 ERA in 31 2/3 innings for the Rays in 2014, albeit with underwhelming underlying numbers (7.4 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 33% ground ball rate). The 32-year-old (who formerly played as Leo Nunez) has 92 career saves, all but one of them coming in 2009 through 2011 with the Marlins.


Latest On Rusney Castillo

5:33pm: The Reds, too, will join the party, according to a tweet from C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Likewise, the Padres will be on hand, tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com. The brings the current tally of teams reportedly planning to have a look at Castillo to 17.

4:30pm: John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group tweets that the A’s will also be in attendance at tomorrow’s showcase.

12:46pm: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo‘s showcase for Major League teams is tomorrow, but MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds an interesting twist to the audition: the speedster will work out at both center field and at shortstop (Twitter link).

Previous reports have indicated that the Twins, Cubs, White Sox, Braves, Giants, Mariners, and Orioles would attend the showcase. Additionally, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the Rays will be in attendance, while Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel notes that the Marlins will be in attendance, and George A. King III of the New York Post adds the Yankees to the mix. Beyond that, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds lists a few other clubs that will attend: the Mets, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros.

Castillo is said by many to have plus-plus speed, and several scouting reports have comped him to Brett Gardner with a bit more power. The right-handed hitting 27-year-old has drawn praise for his line-drive stroke, and he’s thought of as a potential starting-caliber outfielder for a Major League club. Sanchez has tweeted a new scouting video of Castillo (including footage of him pushing a car — seriously), while a scouting report can also be seen over at Baseball America, courtesy of international guru Ben Badler. Castillo is represented by Roc Nation Sports.


Stark’s Latest: Howard, Peavy, Reds, Red Sox, Rollins, Murphy

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spent an hour chatting with readers about the trade deadline. Here are some highlights from his session…

  • The Phillies have offered Ryan Howard to any American League club they think could theoretically use him and received no takers. GM Ruben Amaro has even offered to pay the vast majority of Howard’s deal while asking for little in return, but to no avail.
  • The possibility of Jake Peavy heading to the Cardinals is still very much alive, Stark hears. The Red Sox just sent their top scouts to watch St. Louis’  short-season Class A club, which would fit with previous reports that Boston likes outfield prospect Rowan Wick (though he has since moved up to the Midwest League).
  • Despite a six-game losing streak, the Reds are still buying, and their preference is to add a bat that they can control beyond this season. As such, Marlon Byrd and Ben Zobrist both are targets, though it’s far from a guarantee that the Rays will sell.
  • Stark says he’s “barely heard [Stephen] Drew‘s name” on the trade market due to how poorly the shortstop has played since signing. If the Red Sox sell, he notes, the team will trade some combination of Peavy, Andrew Miller, Jonny Gomes and Junichi Tazawa. The addition of Tazawa’s name is a new wrinkle in the trade market. The 28-year-old has been dominant for the Sox and is controlled through 2016 via arbitration. One would think he could fetch a very nice return, given his 2.52 ERA (2.66 FIP), 9.4 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9.
  • The Giants “really want a starter,” but Stark can’t see them seriously pursuing David Price. He does note that GM Brian Sabean usually ends up getting what he’s looking for at this time of the year. San Francisco has also shown some interest in Jimmy Rollins, but the chances are very low due to the former MVP’s 10-and-5 rights, his contract and the fact that Brandon Crawford would have to slide over to second base. (Alternatively, Rollins could simply play second, given Crawford’s defensive prowess.)
  • While most reports out of New York indicate that the Mets don’t want to trade Daniel Murphy, Stark hears that they’d “definitely” move him if they received enough quality in return. I’d imagine the asking price on Murphy to be very high, given Alderson’s reluctance to sell off assets that are under control beyond the current season.

Stark’s Latest: Price, Phillies, O’s, Royals, Pirates

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has a new Rumblings & Grumblings column posted in which he runs down a plethora of trade-related topics. You’ll need to read the full post to get all the information and analysis, but here are some of the highlights …

  • The Rays are waiting until next week to make any decisions on whether or not to trade ace David Price. However, as Stark points out, it could still be a difficult judgment call as to whether or not the Rays are close enough to go for it or far enough back to sell. Tampa is currently seven games back of the division lead and four and a half games back from a Wild Card berth.
  • One executive tells Stark that he’s convinced the team will move Price if they get a big enough offer. Said the exec, “They’ve really built their team by making these kinds of deals. But if the return they can get now is something they think they can get this winter, they’ll hold him.” Another exec tells Stark that waiting until the winter could reduce the return in a trade by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Stark runs down the possible landing spots for Price, calling the Dodgers the favorite, but noting that L.A. has said it will not part with both Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, even in a Price trade. The Mariners are the second choice, he notes, with the Cardinals listed third followed by the Giants and Blue Jays (both of whom are painted as long shots by Stark).
  • If the Rays do sell Price, they’ll be open for business and listen on a number of other players, including Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar. Their preference is to deal Price and Zobrist in separate trades, if that comes to pass.
  • The Phillies are the next team that everyone is watching, with nine players that could be moved but contractual problems surrounding many of them. Most execs feel the Phillies will eat money to facilitate deals and aren’t looking to just dump players on other clubs. Specifically, the team is in need of position-player prospects, one exec who has spoken with Philadelphia tells Stark.
  • Marlon Byrd is the most likely to be dealt, with the Mariners, Royals and Reds scouting him. The Reds, however, may not be able to take on Byrd’s remaining $3MM in 2014, and the Mariners and Royals are on his no-trade list.
  • Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee aren’t likely to be dealt, executives tell Stark. In Lee’s case, they feel he’s a lock to clear waivers. One exec tells Stark that he’d be more inclined to take a chance on Lee were he a free agent, but his contract is too risky at this point.
  • Cole Hamels isn’t likely to be dealt either. It’s not that the Phillies aren’t willing to move him, it’s just that the prices they’ve specified consist of packages “that no one would possibly give up.”
  • A.J. Burnett‘s preference is indeed to return to the Pirates, but Pittsburgh would need assurances that he’s not going to exercise his player option for 2015. The Orioles‘ interest is said to be lukewarm, while the Phillies asked the Yankees and were told, “No thanks.”
  • At least half a dozen teams are in on Antonio Bastardo, whom Stark concretely says will be traded in the next week.
  • The Orioles aren’t looking for a closer upgrade over Zach Britton, but they’re looking for a rotation upgrade and a lefty reliever that’s more than just a left-on-left specialist. They’ve shown no interest in dealing Hunter Harvey or Dylan Bundy.
  • The Royals have called on virtually every right-handed hitter on the market, but they’re look specifically at right fielders, including Byrd, Alex Rios, Chris Denorfia and Dayan Viciedo. The first two of those options still look most likely.
  • Stark would be surprised if the Pirates didn’t add at least one pitcher, if not two in the next week, but it’d have to be at least a No. 3 option in terms of starters. On the relief front, they’re looking at seventh-inning arms, as they’re content with Tony Watson in the eighth and Mark Melancon in the ninth.

AL East Notes: Lester, Sox, Lackey, Soria, Yanks, Rays

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said on WEEI radio’s Dennis and Callahan show today that extension talks with ace Jon Lester have been tabled until the offseason. Lucchino reminded that Lester’s preference is to avoid negotiating during the season. Lester told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, that he wasn’t surprised to hear Lucchino’s comments (Twitter link). However, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com does hear from a source that Lester would be open to signing a midseason deal if the Sox were to offer market value for his services right now. The other possibility for Lester could be a trade, if the Sox fall further back in the East — a concept which Lester admits he has considered (via the Globe’s Nick Cafardo). Lester said if it came to that, he wouldn’t harbor any ill feelings toward the organization.

Here’s more on the BoSox and the AL East…

  • Lucchino also said on WEEI that he expects the Red Sox to be active at the trade deadline, though he noted that nearing the deadline with a sub-.500 record is new territory for the Sox. Asked about buying or selling, Lucchino referred to the trade deadline as a “binary process” and implied that the Sox could do some of both.
  • Also of note from Lucchino is that the Red Sox plan to engage John Lackey in extension talks after the season. Lackey’s Tommy John surgery in 2012 triggered a $500K option for the 2015 season due to an injury clause in his contract. Lucchino is quoted: “I think that there will be some contract negotiations with him probably at the end of the year as well and we’€™ll see what his frame of mind is with respect to longer-term contracts.”
  • The Blue Jays were in the mix for Joakim Soria before the Rangers traded him to the Tigers, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Talks never became too serious or progressed to the stage where offers were exchanged, however.
  • Morosi also notes that the Yankees are still looking to add a starter to their ranks (Twitter link). Earlier today, he noted that the Yanks scouted Ian Kennedy‘s last start, though reports from earlier today indicated that the Padres would need to be “overwhelmed” to move him.
  • Rays president Matt Silverman tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that there are some “obvious flaws” with the Competitive Balance Lottery, in which the Rays were not awarded a pick yesterday. As Topkin notes, seemingly less-needing teams such as the Cardinals, Orioles and Rockies all received picks. Silverman went on to say, however, that even if the lottery were better constructed, it would “only scratch the surface of the competitive balance issues plaguing baseball.”

AL East Notes: O’s Catching, Uehara, Rays, Tanaka, Pineda

Here’s the latest out of an AL East division that will be quite intriguing to watch over the coming days:

  • While noting that it is difficult to “transition” the club’s catchers more than one time in a season, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that the addition of another backstop is “something [the club is] taking a look at.” While he is happy with the way that Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley have handled the staff, Duquette acknowledged that their offensive production was lacking. Nevertheless, upgrading at the catching position is still third on the team’s priority list after a late-inning pen arm and starter, according to Kubatko.
  • The Red Sox have not engaged closer Koji Uehara in extension talks, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford“So far, there have been no talks,” Uehara said through his translator. “I’ll leave it all up to my agent, but right now I haven’t heard anything.” Recent reports have indicated that Boston is disinclined to deal Uehara even if it does go into sell mode, in large part because the team hopes to bring back the 39-year-old pending free agent. But it remains unclear how it will pursue that outcome; as Bradford notes, Uehara could be extended a qualifying offer (with the expectation that he would probably accept). Or, in a more likely scenario, the club could offer him a deal at some point that includes a guaranteed second year or vesting option.
  • Rays GM Andrew Friedman has not yet ruled out the possibility of adding players at the deadline, he told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link via Bowden). Then again, Bowden notes, neither would Friedman say that ace David Price would not be dealt. It seems that the Tampa strategy will be to wait until the last point possible to make some key decisions. If the club decides to keep the band together and even add to it, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com says the word is that the Rays could be interested in adding a reliever. The club just lost Joel Peralta to the DL and has obviously received disappointing results from closer Grant Balfour.
  • Two key Yankees arms remain in limbo, and the latest news was mixed. Michael Pineda has progressed to the point that he is set to toss 30 pitches over two simulated innings tomorrow, tweets MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka is still feeling pain in his elbow, which is “not good … at this stage,” GM Brian Cashman told Michael Kay of ESPN New York 98.7 (quotes via Brendan Kuty of NJ.com). Though the New York GM said that the plan remains to watch Tanaka closely and “adjust accordingly,” his statements seem to shed some doubt on the hurler’s efforts to return this year (if not also to avoid Tommy John surgery).
  • Cashman explained yesterday that part of the motivation for acquiring Chase Headley was his improvement in some underlying metrics such as hit velocity (the speed of the ball off of the bat), as John Harper of the New York Daily News reports. Similar analysis led the club to add Brandon McCarthy and encourage him to go back to using his cutter more frequently.