Tony Graffanino Rumors

Odds & Ends: Strasburg, Kikuchi, Rangers

Here's some links to check out while you hope the weather doesn't interfere with Game Two of the ALCS tonight…

  • Byron Kerr of MASNSports.com has the details on Stephen Strasburg's Arizona Fall League debut last night. ESPN's Keith Law also filled us in on some of the more impressive prospects playing out in the desert this year.
  • According to Kyodo News, Yusei Kikuchi "said on Saturday all 12 Japanese baseball clubs would be appealing, if he decides to play in Japan." Never a bad thing to keep your options open.
  • USA Today's Bob Nightengale says the Rangers will ask for one final bid next month, and "are expected to be sold for about $525 to $550 million."
  • Courtesy of Baseball America's latest minor league transactions, you can add about two-dozen players to the free agent pool. Among the notables: Billy Traber, Tony Graffanino, Adam Eaton, and Wilfredo Ledezma.

Graffanino Designated For Assignment

According to an MLB.com press release, the Indians have designated infielder Tony Graffanino for assignment.

The move essentially cleared roster space for highly touted outfield prospect Matt LaPorta, who was acquried from the Brewers in last year's CC Sabathia trade.  Graffanino, 37 in June, was 3-for-23 in seven games with the Indians this season.  He could get a shot elsewhere as a utility infielder.


Indians Sign Graffanino To Minor League Deal

Mlb.com’s Anthony Castrovince reports the Indians have signed 36-year old Tony Graffanino to a minor league contract. If he makes the team, this will be Tony’s seventh in the Majors. Castrovince writes,

"Last year, coming off the knee rehabilitation, Graffanino signed a Minor League deal with the Tribe and played in 25 games at Triple-A Buffalo. He hit .315 with seven doubles, a triple and six RBIs, playing all four infield spots. Graffanino is the 20th non-roster player invited to camp."



Indians Sign Rincon, Graffanino

According to Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com, the Indians have signed reliever Juan Rincon and infielder Tony Graffanino to minor league deals.

Rincon, 29, lost effectiveness in August of ’06 and pretty much never recovered.  It’s easy to try to tie his decline to his May ’05 performance enhancing drug suspension, but he was solid for the rest of that season.

Graffanino, 35, is trying to work his way back from knee and ACL surgeries.


Royals Trade Dessens, Graffanino

Busy day for Dayton Moore, as he acquired all sorts of pitchers for his veterans.

Let’s start with his first trade: Elmer Dessens to the Dodgers for Blake Johnson, Julio Pimentel, Odalis Perez, and cash.  If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of Johnson or Pimentel, so let’s start there.


Pimentel and Johnson were ranked 16th and 17th among Dodgers prospects entering the 2006 season by Baseball America.  Pimentel is a 20 year-old converted outfielder currently struggling in High Class A.  Pimentel’s teammate Blake Johnson is a 21 year-old righty who was drafted in the second round in ’04.  Just a couple of live arms to help the Royals’ system; collect enough and someone’s bound to pan out.

Odalis Perez is an intriguing pickup for a team like the Royals.  He immediately becomes their most talented pitcher despite his awful 2006.  Looking at his peripherals, his strikeout rate dropped this season and his hits allowed skyrocketed.  Perez’s control remains excellent.  The southpaw had mixed results in the World Baseball Classic this March.  He claimed to be in the best shape of his life in February following an ’05 season marred by an oblique strain, shoulder inflammation, and biceps tendinitis.

Financials: Perez is due around $2.75MM for the rest of this season, $7.75MM next season, and a $1.5MM buyout for ’08 if the Royals don’t want him for $9MM.  Of that $12MM, the Dodgers are paying $8MM.  That leaves KC with just a $4MM obligation to Perez for the rest of this year and his age 29 season.  He’s projected to be worth that much in ’07 alone, and the Royals don’t have much to lose. 

As for Dessens, he’s your run-of-the-mill 34 year-old reliever.  He’ll earn roughly $640,000 for the rest of ’06 and $1.7MM next year.

The Royals also shipped Tony Graffanino to the Brewers for Jorge De La Rosa.  De La Rosa, a 25 year-old southpaw, has fared poorly in the Majors with a 5.12 ERA in 65 innings.  He was traded to the Diamondbacks in the Curt Schilling deal in ’03 and then bounced to the Brewers in the Richie Sexson trade a few days later.  De La Rosa has dealt with elbow and control issues (they go hand in hand), but he’s still got a bit of promise.



Royal Rumblings

Today’s KC Star reports this morning that the Royals, with the first waiver wire claim, will probably snag Tony Graffanino to plug into a utility role once again.  They have a spare $4-5MM with which to do so.  Take that, Mets! 

Furthermore, a new Royals source of mine (yes, they do exist) mentions that lefties Jimmy Gobble and Jeremy Affeldt are currently on the trading block.  Mike Wood may also be available.  According to the source, a deal might happen before the end of the week.


Affeldt is probably the most intriguing of the bunch.  The 26 year-old has a 4.53 career ERA and 6.9 K/9 in 329 innings.  He’s currently slotted in as the Royals’ fourth starter after relieving exclusively in 2005.  According to RotoWire, the return of Mark Redman and Zach Greinke may push him back out of the rotation. 

Back in November, Affeldt’s name was tossed around in Kevin Mench rumors.  The Rangers could still use a starter, especially one with Affeldt’s extreme groundball tendencies.  Although they already have a host of injury-prone starters in the current rotation.  The Royals seem fairly committed to Emil Brown and his atrocious left field defense, but you have to figure they’d want Mench if at all possible.  He could hit twice as many homers as Brown.  Mench’s $2.8MM salary could probably be squeezed into the payroll for 2006.

Gobble?  Well he’s fairly young and he won nine games once.  He looked kind of promising when he was called up in 2003.  Wood?  It was nothing short of a miracle that he managed a 4.46 ERA with a 1.57 WHIP.  Maybe he can keep it under 5 this year but I doubt it. 


Graffanino to Mets?

Did you know that Baseball America scouts and ranks 12 year-olds?  That’s kind of weird.  I learned this after reading that Austin Jackson, a Yankees outfield prospect, ranked at the top of his age group when he was 12.  They should’ve been scouting my age 11 season.  I was the leadoff hitter for the Foxes and posted an OBP over .500.  I could lay a mean drag bunt despite well below-average speed to first base.  The third baseman knew it was coming but still couldn’t throw me out.  But even then, my makeup was in question with all the rampant womanizing.  My vices got the best of me and I was out of baseball by age 15.

On to the trade rumor.  A source has given me some more info on the Mets’ second base situation.

The Alfonso Soriano rumors have died down now that he’s decided to give left field a try.  Good for him.  The Mets see Jeff Keppinger as more of a utility man, and they are a little wary of throwing Anderson Hernandez to the wolves without a little more seasoning in the minors.  Kaz Matsui‘s injury might keep him out more than a few weeks, perhaps as long as two months.  Enter Tony Graffanino, a Minaya favorite.


If Boston’s demands drop a bit, the teams might be able to strike a deal.  The Mets might be willing to part with one of the following three pitchers.  The following info is from Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook.  Thought you might like a little background.

Matt Lindstrom is a 26 year-old right-handed reliever with "the most explosive arm in the system."  His heater is the best among Mets’ minor leaguers, occasionally touching 100mph.  How come this dude is still in Double A then?  He’s two years behind because of a Mormon mission.  The problems:  his fastball is straight, he doesn’t have a secondary pitch, and he has some mechanical issues.  He didn’t have a great 2005 season and is now ranked as the 26th best Mets prospect after a #10 ranking the year before.

Henry Owens is ranked 29th in the system and was a Triple A Rule 5 pick.  The former catcher has good heat but questionable breaking stuff…he’s a reliever entering Double A and will turn 27 soon.  He and Lindstrom are the two best relievers in the Mets’ system according to BA.

Jason Scobie led the Mets’ minor leagues with 15 wins in 2005.  He’s entering his age 28 season, and seems to have a handle on Triple A despite a strikeout rate barely above 5 K.9.  He’s 8th among starters on the Mets’ minor league depth chart, so he’s not exactly a hot commodity.