Tom Wilhelmsen Rumors

AL Notes: Rays, Gutierrez, Mariners, Butler, Royals

The Rays have dramatically improved their farm system since last summer, but they’ve had to do it by trading top talent, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune writes. Steven Souza, who Baseball America deems the system’s best prospect, arrived in the Wil Myers trade, with No. 2 prospect Daniel Robertson joining the system via the Ben Zobrist deal and No. 3 prospect Willy Adames arriving in the David Price trade. The Rays have gotten little talent in the draft lately, so their best young players have come from elsewhere. Souza, Robertson and Adames aren’t the only key prospects in their system they’ve gotten in trades — there’s also Hak-Ju Lee (from the Matt Garza deal), Boog Powell (from the Zobrist trade), Andrew Velazquez and Justin Williams (from the Jeremy Hellickson trade) and Jake Bauers and Burch Smith (from the Myers deal). “It was no secret that our minor league system didn’t have the talent that it has had in past years,” says Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman. “A number of players have graduated from our system and are on our major league club or have been part of trades that we made, and that left somewhat of a void that we needed to fill during these transactions.” Here’s more from the American League.

  • The Mariners have already bolstered their outfield depth by adding Endy Chavez on a minor-league deal, and they also appear likely to add Franklin Gutierrez, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Gutierrez, who appeared in 41 games with Seattle in 2013, missed last season due to gastrointestinal issues. Mariners sources indicate that he would have to begin the year in Triple-A if he were to sign with the team.
  • Dutton also notes the Mariners appear likely to head to an arbitration hearing with reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. Wilhelmsen has proposed a 2015 salary of $2.2MM, while the Mariners have countered at $1.4MM, and Dutton writes that the Mariners do not want to keep negotiating. After posting a 2.27 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 79 1/3 strong innings in 2014, Wilhelmsen is eligible for the arbitration for the first time.
  • Billy Butler signed a three-year deal with the Athletics earlier this offseason, but he wouldn’t mind returning to the Royals later in his career, Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star writes. “It’s disappointing, but you understand that the game’s a business and I didn’t leave on bad terms,” Butler said. “I’d be more than happy to come back. That’s home for me. I’ll always be forever tied to the Royals organization and the community there.” For now, though, Butler is happy to be with the A’s, who he says told him he was their top priority this offseason.

Mariners Avoid Arb With Jackson, Morrison, Ackley, Furbush

4:10pm: Jackson will earn $7.7MM, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

2:02pm: The Mariners announced today that they’ve avoided arbitration with Austin Jackson, Logan Morrison, Dustin Ackley and Charlie Furbush. The team also confirmed its previously reported agreement with Justin Ruggiano, who also avoided arbitration.

Terms of Jackson’s signing are not yet known, though he projected to earn $8MM in arbitration, according to MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Meanwhile, Mike Perchick of WAPT has the salary figures for each of the others (All Twitter links). Morrison will earn $2.725MM with the ability to earn an extra $25K for reaching 500 and 600 plate appearances. Ackley settled at $2.6MM and will receive an additional $50K upon reaching 500 plate appearances. Furbush is penciled in for a $1.3MM salary that contains no incentives or bonuses.

Morrison, Ackley and Furbush were projected to receive respective salaries of $2.6MM, $2.8MM and $1MM. Meanwhile, the Mariners noted that Tom Wilhelmsen is still arb-eligible, suggesting that the two sides have exchanged or will exchange figures. A deal could still be agreed upon before a hearing, however.


AL West Notes: Wilhelmsen, Smoak, Green, Rangers

Earlier today, the Mariners released Jason Bay after the outfielder hit .204/.298/.393 in 68 games for the club. Meanwhile, the Rangers announced that Colby Lewis will undergo hip surgery that will end his 2013 season. Here's more out of the AL West…

  • The Mariners recently demoted struggling closer Tom Wilhelmsen to Triple-A Tacoma, and MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets that the team is going to experiment with him as a starter. Seattle isn't officially announcing that Wilhelmsen will convert to a starting role at this time, but he did start for Tacoma today with unsuccessful results. Wilhelmsen allowed three runs on three hits (two homers) with four strikeouts in two innings.
  • Justin Smoak's turnaround has transformed him from one of the Mariners' problems to part of the solution, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The Mariners still have plenty of decisions on their hands this offseason to produce a winning season, however, he adds.
  • The Angels have called up infielder Grant Green in place of Daniel Stange and inserted him into the lineup, tweets Angels director of communications Eric Kay. Green, a former first-round pick, was acquired from the Athletics for Alberto Callaspo last week in a rare intra-division trade.
  • In an appearance with Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio, Rangers GM Jon Daniels shot down previous reports that the team was willing to trade Matt Garza for a bat. He also said reports that the team wouldn't welcome Nelson Cruz back in 2014 after accepting his 50-game suspension were inaccurate (Twitter links).


Mariners In Active Discussions About Wilhelmsen, Perez, Morse

The Mariners are in active trade discussions involving closer Tom Wilhelmsen and reliever Oliver Perez, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  The Orioles are actively pursuing Perez and Mike Morse, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, and would like to acquire both.  The Rays are interested in Morse, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.


Heyman On Perez, Mariners, Morales, Yankees

Here's a look at the latest news from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com..

  • Mariners reliever Oliver Perez has drawn interest from the Orioles, Braves, and other clubs, according to Heyman.  Perez has reinvented himself as a bullpen arm in the last two years with the Mariners, posting a 2.00 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 across 63 innings in Seattle.  Competing execs note that Perez is more cost-efficient in terms of prospects and cash than a guy like Matt Thornton.  The veteran would cost another team the prorated portion of his $1.5MM for the rest of the year.
  • Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez could also bring a strong return to General Manager Jack Zduriencik & Co and the Rays are among the clubs that have inquired on their hitters.  However, parting with them would cause them to go into a free fall and also adversely affect the top prospects on the big league roster.  For his part, Jack Z isn't anxious to move anyone.  "We'll see how this week goes. I'm not going to be the aggressor,'' the GM told Heyman earlier this week. "I'm not shopping anyone.''
  • Seattle people have been wondering if the Yankees might call about Morales thanks to their rash of injuries.  The Rangers could also come calling.
  • A Mariners person said they've gotten calls on injured center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, but his injury history hurts his value.  Closer Tom Wilhelmsen has drawn interest and the Red Sox have had interest in the past, but Zduriencik is said to be hesitant to trade him since he's under control for a few more years. Brendan Ryan, who is no longer the starting shortstop, could also be of interest to someone as a defensive specialist in the infield.
  • Opinions are mixed, but one rival executive tells Heyman that Phil Hughes could fetch quite a bit in a trade.  Another rival exec quipped that the Bombers might trade Joba Chamberlain for a pine-tar rag.  We learned earlier today that the Yankees are aggressively pushing both pitchers.

Rosenthal On Buyers/Sellers, Arrieta, Ruggiano

Ken Rosenthal's latest column for FOX Sports begins with a look at the Phillies, Giants, Rockies, Padres, and Blue Jays, five teams currently on the bubble of buying and selling.  The Padres have been eager to buy, rival executives tell Rosenthal.  Other notes from the article:

  • Rosenthal provides insight into the July 2011 three-team deal that sent Erik Bedard to Boston.  As it turns out, the Dodgers are looking pretty good now with big leaguers Stephen Fife and Tim Federowicz.  At the time of the deal, they were questioned for including Trayvon Robinson.
  • "I thought it was an awesome trade by the Cubs," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis told Rosenthal of Chicago's acquisition of Jake Arrieta from Baltimore.
  • The Reds have "thinned out their talent base" in trades over the last several years, opines Rosenthal, which could make significant acquisitions this summer difficult.
  • The Rangers and Yankees are among the teams that have expressed interest in Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano.  Ruggiano, a 31-year-old right-handed hitter, is at .225/.290/.414 in 273 plate appearances this year. 
  • The Mariners have put a high price tag on Tom Wilhelmsen and it seems like they want to keep the closer in the fold.  Rosenthal notes that another team recently asked about Wilhelmsen and the M's wanted that club's top pitching prospect in return.

AL Notes: Mariners, White Sox, Astros, Blue Jays

Here are a few trade notes from around the American League:

  • As we approach the trade deadline with the Mariners looking more like sellers than buyers, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times took a look back at GM Jack Zduriencik's recent history at the deadline. Beginning with an ill-fated swap of a young Michael Morse for Ryan Langerhans and featuring the retrospectively painful Doug Fister deal, the net return to Seattle has not been terribly productive.
  • This year, the Mariners could be in a position to deal some relievers. Last night, we took a look at FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal's breakdown of potentially available NL relievers. Tonight, let's look at the AL crop. From the M's, Rosenthal says that veteran lefty Oliver Perez is the most likely to be dealt, with Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen also prime candidates. The latter two, however, will likely command a high price given that Furbush may just be reaching arbitration after this season as a Super Two, while Wilhelmsen will not reach arbitration until after the 2014 campaign.
  • Rosenthal also pegs the White Sox and Astros as sellers with attractive bullpen pieces. Chicago could swing a trade for stud reliever Jesse Crain if he can return in time to prove his health; otherwise, both Matt Thornton and Matt Lindstrom could hold some appeal. (Both of the latter two pitchers come with club options for 2014.) For Houston, meanwhile, the prime trade chip among its relief corps is unquestionably closer Jose Veras, who is cheap, strikes out a lot of hitters, and has been solid in late-inning work this year.
  • One other team that should look to the future, according to FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, is the Blue Jays. With the club again fading after its recent resurgence, Morosi says Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos faces a "virtually impossible" task to right the ship before the trade deadline. Rather than selling out for this season, says Morosi, the Jays should look to shore up the team's rotation to make a run in 2014 and 2015.
  • Sticking with the Jays, Morosi says that Josh Johnson — occasionally noted as a potential trade candidate earlier in the year — has been "perhaps the team's greatest disappointment this year." Johnson currently carries a 4.89 ERA in 53 1/3 innings; his walk rate is below his career average at 3.4 BB/9, though he is striking batters out at a strong 9.1 K/9 clip. At this point, Morosi suggests, Toronto may be best served by shipping Johnson back to the National League rather than looking to try and bring him back next year.

AL West Notes: Barton, Angels, Wilhelmsen

Happy birthday to Rangers manager Ron Washington, who turns 59 years old today.  Let's celebrate by taking a look at some items from Washington's division…

  • Daric Barton admits that he has been thinking about his multiyear contract negotiations with the Athletics, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  "It's always in the back of your mind," Barton said. "It's not something you like to think about, but realistically, it happens."  We heard about these negotiations last month, with MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noting that Barton's walk-heavy production could make him a bargain for the A's if they choose to go to arbitration with the first baseman.
  • The Angels are integrating young players into their lineup while still remaining competitive in the AL West, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Mike Trout is having a nice season at Double-A Arkansas, but ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill predicts Trout will only reach the majors in 2011 if the Angels want to give him a few token at-bats in September.  Churchill speculates that Trout might skip Triple-A altogether and potentially make the Angels out of Spring Training next year, or at least be in the majors by May 2012 (or after next year's Super Two cutoff date).
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports profiles Mariners right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, who made his improbable Major League debut this season after spending five years away from the sport.

Odds & Ends: Jeter, Marlins, Fielder, Aurilia, Boras

If you're in the Northeast, here are some links to check out while you take a break from shoveling…