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While news of Cuban ballplayer Rusney Castillo continues to dominate the news cycle, the human trafficking side of Cuban imports also made headlines. Eliezer Lazo entered a guilty plea in connection to the smuggling of over 1,000 Cubans, including Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin, reports Curt Anderson of the Associated Press. The article covers some of the sordid details involved in this human trafficking case.
- In related news, a lawsuit brought against Martin by a Mexican baseball academy associated with Lazo will likely be dropped as a result of the criminal case. The Estrellas baseball academy alleged that Martin agreed to pay them up to 35% of his major league contract, but Martin only paid $1.2MM of his $15.5MM deal.
- The Braves and Cubs discussed a proposal that would have sent Edwin Jackson to Atlanta in return for B.J. Upton, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. The deal would have served as a straight swap of albatross contracts. The sides apparently weren’t close to finalizing a trade but could re-open talks over the offseason. It appears this was probably the rumored trade first reported on August 9.
- In what is likely to become an ongoing “will they, won’t they” story, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer speculates about moving on from Ryan Howard. The club currently has Darin Ruf taking the occasional start in left field while Howard blocks his playing time at first base. Philadelphia seemingly needs to decide which of three players possess the higher upside – Howard, Ruf, or left fielder Domonic Brown. Given Howard’s age, 34, and rapidly diminishing numbers – he had a .678 OPS before today’s home run – it’s fair to wonder if Howard should be the odd man out. Corner infield prospect Maikel Franco could also figure in the mix before long.
- We at MLBTR seek to find answers for the pressing questions such as “Does Rusney Castillo know Jay-Z?” Castillo, who is represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports and Brodie Van Wagonen of CAA, does indeed know the mogul, according to the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber.
The Indians have acquired catcher Chris Gimenez from the Rangers in return for future considerations, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest.
The teams have confirmed the deal via press release. Gimenez, who was formerly with the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, will head straight to the Indians roster to fill in for the injured Yan Gomes.
Prior to the trade, Gimenez split time between the Rangers major league roster and Triple-A Round Rock. This season at the major league level, he hit .262/.331/.355 in 118 plate appearances. He might be best used in a platoon. He’s hit .282/.366/.366 in 162 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching. Defensive reports indicate that Gimenez is average or better. The Catcher Report at StatCorner.com rates Gimenez as three runs above average in his limited work this season.
Cleveland will be the 31-year-old catcher’s third organization of the year and fourth since the end of the 2013 season. He finished last year with the Rays, who lost him to the Athletics on waivers in December. The Athletics re-signed Gimenez in March to a one-year, $510,000 contract. They lost him on waivers to the Rangers later that month. To add a little extra spice to his recent transaction history, Texas outrighted Gimenez at the start of the season. Gimenez initially refused the assignment but ultimately signed a minor league deal to remain with the Rangers.
It has come full circle for Gimenez, who started his career with the Indians. He spent parts of two seasons with Cleveland before joining the Mariners as a minor league free agent in 2011. He moved on to Tampa Bay in 2012. Despite never accruing more than 130 plate appearances in a single season, Gimenez has appeared in the majors in six straight seasons.
For the Indians, Gimenez represents essential insurance. Gomes is out indefinitely with what is described as a “mild concussion.” The club has former catcher Carlos Santana available, but he hasn’t started behind the plate since late May. He’s dealt with his own concussion problems this season, so it’s likely he remain the club’s primary first baseman. Cleveland also has Roberto Perez on the active roster. The 25-year-old may receive the majority of the playing time due to solid minor league numbers, including a .305/.405/.517 line with eight home runs in 209 plate appearances.
Thad Levine of the Rangers recently did a Reddit AMA in which he discussed a number of aspects of his job as an assistant GM. Here are a few highlights.
- Levine says the Rangers’ acquisition of Prince Fielder was driven primarily by the departures of other power hitters, including Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Nelson Cruz.
- In addition to the Mark Teixeira trade (a clear win for the Rangers that brought back Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Neftali Feliz), Levine names the trades of Edinson Volquez for Hamilton, Frank Francisco for Napoli, and Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and two others for Nelson Cruz and Carlos Lee as his favorite trades for the Rangers.
- There are pluses and minuses to today’s fast-paced media culture, Levine says. On one hand, he says, tweets often inspire real-life trade talks. On the other, it can be hard to keep news of a trade from breaking before informing the players involved. News of the Rangers’ trade of Ian Kinsler, for example, broke before the team could inform him.
- Levine says he thinks the next CBA will focus on a worldwide draft, as well as raising the lowest team payrolls and limiting the highest ones.
- One unusual clause one player requested in his contract was $250K for his wife’s “equestrian expenses.” Players from Asia will often include clauses in their contracts to pay for interpreters and massage therapists.
Rangers left-hander Neal Cotts will not be traded, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). Cotts was recently claimed by an unknown club, giving the Rangers and this mystery team a 48.5-hour window to work out a trade. Since no deal was worked out and Texas isn’t letting the claiming team take Cotts for nothing, it would appear that the veteran reliever will spend the rest of the season in Arlington.
Cotts, 34, has a 3.48 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.90 K/BB rate over 54 1/3 IP out of the Rangers’ bullpen this season. It marks his second straight quality season with Texas (he had a 1.11 ERA over 57 IP in 2013), and Cotts’ performance is all the more impressive considering that he didn’t pitch at all in the majors from 2010-12 due to injury. The southpaw will be a free agent this winter.
The Nationals were rumored to have interest in Cotts after the July 31st trade deadline had passed, though there’s no indication they were the team who claimed him. It’s pretty unlikely that Cotts even reached the Nats given that every other team in baseball would’ve had to pass on the lefty before NL-leading Washington could’ve claimed him.
Rangers left-hander Neal Cotts has been claimed on revocable waivers by an unnamed club, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Cotts’ waiver period expired yesterday, according to the initial report which revealed that he was on waivers. Because teams have 48.5 hours to work out a trade from the point of a claim, it can be inferred that the Rangers will have until tomorrow afternoon to work out a trade to send Cotts to the claiming team.
The 34-year-old Cotts has been excellent once again this season, continuing a surprising resurgence after what was a three-year absence from the Major Leagues (from 2010-12). After posting a 1.11 ERA in 57 innings for Texas last season, Cotts has turned in a strong 3.48 mark with 9.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 this season. Already at 54 1/3 innings pitched, Cotts is on pace to top last season’s 57 innings handily. He’s set to hit free agency at season’s end, so it makes sense for the Rangers to explore a potential trade to receive some future value before he hits the open market.
A number of contending clubs have been on the lookout for bullpen help of late, including the Dodgers, Tigers, Royals and Pirates (it seems unlikely that Cotts would’ve made it to the NL, however). Cotts is earning $2.2MM in 2014, making him a highly affordable option for the final few weeks of the season. He’s owed roughly $493K through season’s end.
A group of high-profile Rangers players has cleared revocable waivers, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Ace Yu Darvish, star third baseman Adrian Beltre, young shortstop Elvis Andrus, and recent free agent-signee Shin-Soo Choo have all cleared. (Outfielder Alex Rios has already cleared waivers.) Meanwhile, lefty Neal Cotts is still on waivers, with his period set to expire tomorrow.
Of course, just because that set of big names has cleared names does not necessarily mean that other teams do not want them, let alone that they are likely to be dealt. As Heyman notes, even if a team was interested in adding Darvish or Beltre, placing a claim would start a clock that could well be too short to complete such a significant deal. In the case of Choo, his down year and massive contract made it quite unlikely that another team would want to take his contract.
Andrus, on the other hand, is a more interesting case. His eight-year, $120MM extension (which includes both opt-out and vesting option provisions) does not kick in until next year. The 25-year-old has struggled to take the next step at the plate, and owns a .271/.326/.337 batting line over the 2013-14 time frame. Though he is a productive fielder and baserunner, that batting line has limited his cumulative value over that period to 4.4 fWAR and 4.9 rWAR. While his name has been mentioned as a trade possibility, the contract would certainly be a major complication, and it is perhaps somewhat telling that he was left unclaimed.
Ultimately, Cotts seems the most likely to actually change hands. Executives tell Heyman that the setup man will likely be claimed, in which case Texas will have the option of working out a trade, allowing his contract to be assumed by the claiming team, or pulling him back. The 34-year-old is earning just $2.2MM this year and will be a free agent at season’s end, making some sort of transaction seem rather likely. Though he has taken a step back from a stellar 2013 (1.11 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9), Cotts has still been fairly productive this year. He owns a 3.54 ERA and 9.6 K/9 versus 3.4 BB/9 over 53 1/3 frames, with peripherals that suggest he has pitched slightly better. The veteran has actually been somewhat more effective against righties (.673 OPS) than lefties (.731 OPS) on the season.
As a reminder, you can check here for MLBTR’s updated list of players who have cleared revocable waivers.
Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB, updates first:
- The Rangers have released veteran first baseman Carlos Pena from their Triple-A roster, per the PCL transactions page. Pena struggled at the major league level for Texas with a .136/.190/.237 line in 63 plate appearances. He performed better during his month at Triple-A with a .297/.350/.500 line in 80 plate appearances. No word on why the club cut ties with Pena.
- The Mariners have released right-handed pitcher Matt Palmer from the Triple-A Rainiers, according to the PCL transactions page. The 35-year-old pitched to a 5.42 ERA for the Rainiers over 73 innings. He last appeared in the majors with the Padres in 2012. Angels fans may remember him from his 2009 season, when he won 11 games and posted a 3.93 ERA over 121 innings.
- Resolving an earlier bit of news, the Tigers have outrighted the contract of right-handed pitcher Kevin Whelan to Triple-A. The 30-year-old appeared once for the big league club and allowed two runs over one and one-third innings. Prior to his call up, he served as the closer for the Mud Hens, where he posted a 2.45 ERA, 10.93 K/9, and 4.02 BB/9. Presumably, he will return to that role. The team announced the move on Twitter.
- Padres minor league outfielder Corey Adamson has retired to pursue a career in Australian rules football, reports Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego. The 22-year-old, six-year pro was hitting .257/.340/.399 in 348 plate appearances at the High-A level.
- The Brewers have signed right-hander Billy Buckner to a minor league contract, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 30-year-old was released two weeks ago by the Padres. Buckner made one spot start for San Diego this season allowing three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings and, in 15 appearances (14 starts) for Triple-A El Paso, has posted a 5.80 ERA, 6.2 K/9, and 4.7 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings.
- Cotillo also tweets the Diamondbacks have released outfielder Aaron Cunningham from their Triple-A affiliate. The 27-year-old, who signed a minor league deal with Arizona in March, slashed .255/.342/.346 in 281 plate appearances for Reno. Cunningham hasn’t appeared in a MLB game since 2012 when he hit .175/.245/.247 for the Indians in 109 plate appearances.
- Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, there are four players in DFA limbo: Corey Brown (Red Sox), Charlie Leesman (White Sox), Matt Hague (Pirates), and Wirfin Obispo (Pirates).
Brad Johnson contributed to this post.
The Dodgers have acquired right-hander Justin Germano from the Rangers for future considerations, Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake announces (on Twitter). Germano has been added to the Triple-A Albuquerque roster to begin his tenure with the organization.
Germano, 32, has seen only minimal action at the MLB level over the past two seasons but has spent time in the majors in parts of nine years. Overall, he owns a 5.40 ERA with 5.7 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 over 330 innings, including 48 starts. At Triple-A this year, working as a starter, Germano has pitched to a 4.51 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 over 131 2/3 frames.
Having only made two appearances for an injury-plagued Texas rotation, Germano will function as organizational depth for Los Angeles. The Dodgers have once again seen a solid pool of arms require some supplementation over the course of the year, with Josh Beckett, Chris Perez, and Paco Rodriguez all on the 15-day DL and Chad Billingsley, Paul Maholm, Chris Withrow, Onelki Garcia, Stephen Fife, and Ross Stripling among those who are down for the season.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced to reporters today that Tyler Skaggs underwent successful Tommy John surgery this afternoon. News of Skaggs’ injury first broke on Sunday afternoon. While the Halos have yet to make a move to address the void in their rotation, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make some kind of waiver transaction in the next two to three weeks. Skaggs is expected to be out until 2016, Scioscia said on Sunday.
Here’s more on some injury notes from around the league…
- The Rangers announced tonight that ace Yu Darvish has been placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Sunday) due to inflammation in his right elbow. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that Darvish will undergo further testing in the next day or two. Darvish apparently felt tightness when playing catch on Monday, and the discomfort failed to dissipate prior to a scheduled bullpen session on Tuesday. GM Jon Daniels tells reporters, including Grant (Twitter link), that doctors do not believe there is any ligament damage in the elbow. Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets that team doctor Keith Meister feels that Darvish may be suffering from pronator flexor tendinitis. Darvish will undergo an MRI tomorrow, and in the meantime, the Rangers have selected the contract of right-hander Alex Claudio to take his roster spot. Daniels says the team is hopeful that Darvish will only miss two starts.
- Injured Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka threw fastballs from flat ground today — a step forward from playing catch — tweets MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Tanaka feels that he still has a chance to pitch in a Major League game again this season. Skipper Joe Girardi told reporters, including Brendan Prunty of the Star-Ledger, that the team also has hope that Tanaka is not lost for the year.
- Yet another pitcher has fallen prey to the Tommy John scourge, as Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times tweets that Dodgers righty Stephen Fife will undergo the procedure. Fife, who started 10 games for the Dodgers last year and one this season, has a 3.66 ERA in 91 Major League innings over the past three seasons. It seems likely that the 27-year-old would miss most, if not all of the 2015 campaign.
In a guest piece on the blog of ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link), Athletics closer Sean Doolittle offers a look inside some of the less conventional advanced metrics employed by Oakland’s front office. In particular, a unique twist on BABIP (batting average relative to Bip Roberts) seems to have played an important role in the organization’s oft-noted ability to outperform its payroll. (Obviously, the piece is in jest, but it’s a fun read from a player who has had quite an interesting career path.)
Here’s more from the game’s western divisions:
- The Rockies will soon learn more about the injury situations of their two stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, as Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports, as both men are set to visit specialists today. Tulowitzki, battling a strained left hip flexor, may have a hip labrum his issue. If that is the case, there are non-surgical options that might allow him to return to action this year. Meanwhile, Gonzalez is struggling with chronic tendinitis in his left knee. He, too, could conceivably play again in 2014, though some treatments would keep him out until the spring. Needless to say, the lingering (and, potentially, expanding) injury concerns with both players not only create yet more questions about Colorado’s ability to put together a contending roster next year, but could further dampen the possibility of either player being dealt over the offseason.
- When the Padres hired A.J. Preller to take over as GM, they agreed with the Rangers not to hire away any Texas front office staffers over the next two year, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report tweets. Presumably, the Rangers were able to extract this promise in exchange for allowing San Diego to interview and hire away Preller himself before his own contract was up.
- More on Preller: Miller applauds the Friars for taking a chance on a bold candidate. And on his blog, Jamey Newberg provides some interesting thoughts on Preller, who he calls a “scout’s scout who prefers doing his work behind the scenes.”
- Though Alex Rios of the Rangers appears to have avoided a significant injury, his continued absence from the lineup means that he is increasingly unlikely to be dealt, writes ESPNDallas.com’s Calvin Watkins. Not only do the Royals now appear to be an unlikely suitor, says Watkins, but other possible landing spots could disappear as the month goes on and playoff races clarify.