Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

Toronto Blue Jays trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Samardzija, Soria, Carrasco, Latos

Despite very public statements indicating that the team is all in on 2015, the Orioles are now giving “serious consideration” to selling, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes (Twitter links), Baltimore owner Peter Angelos has previously been disinclined to authorize such a move, but that could change (at least in theory) with several of the team’s better players set to reach free agency. Of course, executive vice president Dan Duquette said on Wednesday that his club will be a buyer. But a sweep at the hands of the division-leading Yankees has certainly impacted the team’s chances of making a run at the AL East.

Here’s more from the division:

  • The Blue Jays remain in “active discussions” with the White Sox about right-hander Jeff Samardzija, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The Jays have been said to have “strong” interest in adding Samardzija, a potential free agent at the end of the season. Upgrading the pitching staff is the Blue Jays’ top priority in the week leading up to the trade deadline, and Samardzija, whose eight-inning gem on Thursday dropped his ERA to 3.91, would certainly do that. Over his past eight outings, Samardzija has a 2.55 ERA, and he’s lasted at least seven innings in each of those contests. As Peter Gammons pointed out earlier today on Twitter, for a team with bullpen woes in addition to rotation troubles, adding a pitcher that is capable of effectively working deep into games should carry even greater appeal.
  • If the Tigers do end up selling, the Blue Jays will have interest in closer Joakim Soria, tweets Anthony Fenech of the Detroit News. Soria would be a pure rental, as he’s a free agent at the end of the year. He’s earning $7MM and has posted an even 3.00 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his 39 innings this season, though he’s also had an unusually difficult time with home runs, which could make pitching at the Rogers Centre a challenge.
  • The Blue Jays‘ pursuit of Scott Kazmir illustrates that it’s “becoming more clear” that the team is open to a rental acquisition, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Davidi notes that the Kazmir talks were never going to get off the ground based on the asking price — “think Jeff Hoffman or Daniel Norris,” says Davidi — especially considering Kazmir’s injury scares. Health concerns are another reason to wonder if the Blue Jays will seriously pursue Johnny Cueto or not, he adds. While the Blue Jays may be warming to the idea of a rental arm, they can’t afford to have their acquisition miss any time, and Cueto’s had a pair of minor elbow issues in 2015.
  • While the Blue Jays made a “big push” to land Carlos Carrasco from the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), the trade simply “didn’t get done.” Cleveland isn’t necessarily motivated to trade a starter, though they’re also not entirely ruling out the possibility.
  • The Yankees have shown at least some interest in Marlins righty Mat Latos, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports on Twitter. They join a growing list of clubs that have shown some inclination to take a chance on Latos’s resurgence and past success. New York has given public indication that it is not lining up any major moves, but it would be surprising if it does not at least make a few acquisitions at areas of need, and rotation depth could certainly make sense.

NL East Notes: Alvarez, Cishek, Haren, Mets, Venable, Nats

Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez experienced a setback in his rehab from right shoulder inflammation, and his season is now in jeopardy, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Manager Dan Jennings told Spencer and others prior to Thursday’s contest: “He had a recurrence of the shoulder. We’re trying to determine if it’s going to be best for a non-surgical, or surgical procedure regarding the shoulder.” Alvarez’s injury troubles in 2015 have contributed to the team’s disappointing season. If he’s to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season, Alvarez will have made just four starts in 2015, with the end result being an ERA over 6.00.

Here’s the latest from the NL East…

  • The Dodgers, Cardinals, Twins and Blue Jays are still in the mix for former Marlins closer Steve Cishek, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Cishek’s been throwing well since returning from a brief stint at Triple-A, allowing just one earned run with an 11-to-4 K/BB ratio in 11 2/3 innings. Frisaro also adds the Orioles to the list of teams with interest in right-hander Dan Haren, adding to recent reports that have linked the Blue Jays and Dodgers to Haren.
  • Mets general manager Sandy Alderson made a pair of definitive statements to reporters today, writes MLB.com’s Joe Trezza. First and foremost, Alderson said that none of the four young arms in his rotation — Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz — is available in trades. Alderson also insisted that ownership has provided him with the resources to take on a major contract, though he added that the media and fans alike would both take that news with a heavy grain of salt: “Now, none of you will believe me, OK? So I’m not sure why you asked the question and insisted on the answer.”
  • The Mets have interest in Padres outfielder Will Venable, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link), who echoes previous reports that Gerardo Parra is under Mets consideration as well. According to Morosi, the Cubs are intrigued by both Parra and Venable as well, however, so the Mets have some competition in regards to those two trade targets.
  • Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, tweets that the Mets don’t feel they need to acquire a third baseman while David Wright is on the shelf, because the team is better defensively with Daniel Murphy at third base while Wright is out. Adding an outfielder — preferably one controllable beyond 2015 — is the Mets’ priority.
  • Speaking about the trade deadline in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter links), Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said, “There’s no trade I could make that could be as the guys we’re getting back [from the DL]. We will certainly be looking, but I don’t know how active we’ll be.”

Reactions To The Scott Kazmir Trade

Earlier today, the Astros struck the first significant trade of July, landing left-hander Scott Kazmir from the division-rival Athletics in exchange for a pair of prospects — right-hander Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham. The addition of Kazmir gives the Astros a pitcher that could potentially slot into the first or second game of a playoff series — a previously stated goal of GM Jeff Luhnow.

Here are some reactions from around the industry to the first major move of this year’s trade season…

  • The addition of Kazmir won’t be the end of the Astros’ attempt to supplement the roster, GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters (via Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle). “We were having multiple conversations and those conversations haven’t necessarily stopped because of this,” said Luhnow. “…This was our top priority, was to get a staring pitcher, and we feel like we got one of the top guys on our list and one of the top guys that’s going to be available and we were able to do it in a timely fashion. We’re going to continue to look at ways to improve the club.”
  • Jane Lee of MLB.com tweets that Athletics GM Billy Beane said the Kazmir talks really took off once the Astros became willing to include Nottingham in the deal.
  • Astros players are happy to have Kazmir in the fold, writes the Houston Chronicle’s Stephanie Kuzydym. Jason Castro, Jake Marisnick, Preston Tucker and fellow pitcher Collin McHugh weighed in with their thoughts on not only being spared from facing Kazmir but benefiting from adding his talent to the Houston roster. Said Castro: “The mix of his stuff, his quality off-speed and his fastballs, the way he attacks hitters, I think he’s the kind of pitcher who forces guys to go after his stuff. That’s what makes him so good.”
  • The Astros “paid dearly” for 10 to 12 starts from Kazmir, opines ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required), who pegs Nottingham as a potential star if he can remain a catcher. Law notes that Nottingham has 70-grade raw power and could eventually develop into a 20 to 25 homer bat behind the plate, though his receiving is fringy. Law feels that Mengden has a chance to be a fourth or fifth starter but notes that he was expendable for Houston, as the club has a number of harder-throwing arms with more upside in its ranks. As for the Astros, they’ll swap out a replacement-level starter (probably Roberto Hernandez) for Kazmir, which Law feels will add an upgrade of at least one win.
  • Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel writes that the return will look light to many people due to the low ranking of Mengden and Nottingham on most preseason prospect lists, but Nottingham was a lock to land among Houston’s Top 10 on a re-worked Astros prospect list following a 2015 breakout. McDaniel feels Nottingham has above-average power and could hit .260 or better in the Majors, making him a candidate to be an everyday catcher, albeit an offensive-minded one. He feels that Mengden has three solid-average pitches and could be a fourth/fifth starter capable of soaking up 180 innings with average results, if everything clicks.
  • MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo weighed in on the trade (video link), noting that Mengden doesn’t “wow” scouts with pure stuff but features a solid four-pitch mix, with his curve and changeup trailing his fastball and slider. Mengden will jump into the Athletics’ Top 20. Nottingham was primed to make a big leap forward from his No. 22 ranking in the Astros’ system, Mayo notes, praising his ability to hit for power and average as well as his improved plate discipline. If Nottingham doesn’t stick behind the plate, Mayo feels he “might have the power profile to fit just fine at first base.”
  • Evaluators now believe there’s a better-than-average chance that Nottingham will stick behind the plate, writes Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America, who notes that Nottingham is moving from an organization that’s big on catch-and-throw receivers to one that hasn’t had a problem employing bat-first options (Stephen Vogt, Derek Norris). Lara-Cinisomo, too, feels that Mengden’s a back-end starter type whose stuff could play up in the bullpen. Kazmir’s ground-ball tendencies make him a fit for Minute Maid Park, he adds, but he short porch in left field won’t do him any favors.
  • ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Blue Jays tried to make a run at Kazmir but found the Athletics’ asking price — said to be one of the team’s top pitching prospects — to be too steep (All Twitter links). Olney also opines that the trade could be worth millions to Kazmir, as if he’d been hit with a qualifying offer, his injury history plus that draft pick compensation may have created a very difficult market for him in free agency.
  • Chris Perry of SB Nation’s Crawfish Boxes writes that while the price paid to acquire Kazmir was steep, the Astros have better positioned themselves to catch the Angels atop the AL West. Mengden’s loss is more tolerable, and while the loss of Nottingham stings, the Astros’ depth allows them the luxury of moving that type of talent to acquire one of the game’s better lefties. Interestingly, Perry wonders if there are already talks of an extension with Kazmir, a Houston native, which would of course could make the trade more palatable for Astros fans.


Indians Listening On Starters; Discussed Carrasco With Blue Jays

The Indians may be more willing to listen to trade scenarios regarding their controllable pitching than they have indicated publicly, according to a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). In particular, they’ve spoken with the Blue Jays regarding righty Carlos Carrasco.

There are other appealing arms under long-term control in Cleveland — Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer most notable among them. But the report indicates that the Indians are most willing to consider a deal involving Carrasco. The 28-year-old carries only a 3.94 ERA this season after last year’s breakout, but his peripherals (10.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 49.0% groundball rate) suggest he’s rather an elite performer. And ERA estimators all value his work this season at a sub-3.00 level.

Expanding Carrasco’s value is the fact that he’s only just started playing under a four-year, $22MM extension inked over the winter. That deal includes two option years (both of which include escalators) that could boost its total value to $48MM. Even at that price, though, it looks to be quite a bargain. And the flexibility at the back end limits the already-reasonable risk.

With the Tigers still debating whether to market David Price and the White Sox still waiting to decide on Jeff Samardzija, the AL Central suddenly seems to hold the key to the starting pitching market. It remains to be seen whether some or all of those players will seriously be marketed, though at least Samardzija seems a good bet to change hands.

Carrasco, though, would be a much more palatable target for Toronto since he comes with plenty of affordable future control. As Passan notes in his report, the Jays have a number of notable young talents that would certainly hold appeal to Cleveland — he mentions Jeff Hoffman, Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, and Anthony Alford — and it would be much easier to part with one or more for a non-rental.

On today’s MLBTR podcast, Steve Adams and I discussed the possibility of Cleveland moving an asset such as Carrasco — possibly as a means of offloading some of the big salaries owed to players like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. It’s unclear what kind of deal might conceivably be structured between the two clubs, but it’s notable (as Steve and I also covered) that Toronto has significantly more open payroll capacity in the future than they do at present. Taking on some later-in-time money could in theory offer a route to acquiring a controllable arm while limiting the damage to the club’s talent pipeline.


Deadline Rumors: Cespedes, Cishek, Price, Gallardo, Jays, Royals, Reds, Alvarez, Padres

In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.

There are a ton of important deadline developments to cover in the wake of the Scott Kazmir trade, so let’s get to them:

  • There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
  • Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
  • Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
  • The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
  • One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
  • Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.

Rotation Rumors: Royals, Teheran, Price, Padres

The starting pitching market appears to be in flux, with numerous buyers reportedly considering an array of options and a variety of potential sellers weighing whether to deal away impact arms. Here are the latest rumors on the rotation front:

  • The Royals are interested in both Johnny Cueto of the Reds and Yovani Gallardo of the Rangers, as well as other arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Both, obviously, would be pure rental pieces, and we’ve mostly heard of Kansas City connected to half-year contracts. The club’s level of need certainly went up with the loss of Jason Vargas, though it’s unclear whether that will prompt any effort to add more than one pitcher.
  • Some rival executives believe that the Braves are willing to deal Julio Teheran, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. But an Atlanta source indicates that the team sees too much upside in the young righty (and his reasonably-priced extension) to consider such a move. Teheran, 24, has not matched his excellent results over the prior two seasons, but it does seem hard to imagine the club selling low on him unless president of baseball operations John Hart is just not a believer in his future.
  • Rosenthal also addresses the possibility of the Tigers dealing David Price, noting that the team is unlikely to retain him beyond this year if it doesn’t. If and when Detroit puts him on the market, some of the most obviously starting pitching buyers — the Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Astros — would have interest, per the report.
  • The Padres are not only all ears on outfielder Justin Upton, but are “listening … intently” on soon-to-be free agent starter Ian Kennedy, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Meanwhile, rival executives say that San Diego would “love” to find a taker for righty James Shields. Given that we’ve also heard suggestions that the Padres are holding conversations regarding Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, it would appear that the club is considering a variety of possible scenarios involving its staff.

NL East Notes: Latos, Haren, Cishek

The Marlins continue to receive interest in both Mat Latos and Dan Haren, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Despite conflicting reports recently, Frisaro hears that the Blue Jays do indeed have some interest in Latos, as do the Cubs. The Blue Jays are also in Haren, per the report,  and so is his former team, the Dodgers (albeit to a lesser extent). Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) characterizes Toronto as having monitored Latos, noting that it remains to be seen whether the team actually pursues him.

A few more Marlins notes …

  • Frisaro feels that it’s more likely that the Marlins will trade Latos than Haren in the next week due to the fact that trading Latos sooner comes with financial savings, whereas Haren’s $10MM salary is entirely paid for by the Dodgers. Haren could still be an August trade candidate, though, in Frisaro’s eyes.
  • Though Haren and Latos are the most popular names among Marlins trade candidates at present, Steve Cishek is drawing interest as well — specifically from the Cardinals, per the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer (Twitter link). Cishek has allowed just one earned run in 11 2/3 innings since returning to the big league roster in mid-June, so it’s certainly plausible to think that Miami could save some money and get at least something back for him.
  • An even more interesting question, perhaps, is whether the Marlins or a hypothetical new team will consider tendering Cishek a contract through arbitration. While he may not earn a significant raise, the reliever has a steep $6.65MM starting point entering his second-to-last year of eligibility.
  • Former Marlins backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia discussed his tenure in Miami with Spencer, He expressed some disappointment with the way things ended and the fact that he did not get a chance to make good on his contract, but acknowledged that he fell short of expectations. On the whole, his comments seemed thoughtful and genuine, and are worth a full read.

Heyman On Pitching Market, Astros, Angels, Hamels, Jays

Though many consider this to be a sellers’ market, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his latest Trade Buzz column by writing that the starting pitching market could swing in favor of buyers. Only four teams are in desperate need of a rotation upgrade, he notes — the Blue Jays, Royals, Astros and Dodgers — and new names are being added to the pitching market as the deadline nears. Many executives, however, still wonder if the Tigers will really sell. Several throughout the game expect David Price to stay put with the Tigers, Heyman writes. Here are some highlights from his notes on the pitching market as well as the rest of the trade market…

  • It’s likely that the Rangers will end up trading Yovani Gallardo, and Heyman points out that an NL team would consider Gallardo a bonus, as he’s hit 13 homers in his career as at the plate. The Rangers could also end up trading Colby Lewis, who could step into the back of a rotation for a club in need of some stable innings.
  • The Astros are determined not to trade outfield prospect Brett Phillips, who one Astros-connected person referred to as “an absolute stud” when talking to Heyman. Houston is also interested in virtually every pitcher on the market, though one notable exception is Mike Leake, as the club’s evaluators aren’t particularly high on the Reds right-hander.
  • The Angels‘ recent offensive surge has calmed their search for a left fielder, but they still have some interest in both Jay Bruce and Ben Revere. There are concerns among decision-makers, however, that Bruce fits the same streaky profile that the departed Josh Hamilton embodied. Carlos Gonzalez isn’t on the Halos’ radar at this time.
  • Scouts that spoke to Heyman don’t seem overly concerned with a pair of poor outings for Cole Hamels. Instead, some believe that he may be feeling the rigors of being on the trade block for more than a year. One AL scout said of Hamels’ last start: “He looks fine. It was 100 degrees. He’s playing for a miserable team. And it may be hard to get motivated.” A pair of AL execs opined that the Phillies will be able to get back at least one “huge prospect.”
  • The Giants need to bolster their bench, but a reunion with Juan Uribe isn’t likely. Uribe wasn’t amenable to a bench spot the last time he was with San Francisco, and part of the reason he was dealt from Los Angeles to Atlanta was to get more playing time.
  • The Blue Jays‘ interest in Jonathan Papelbon is “fairly limited” at this point, as the club’s focus at this point is primarily on adding to the rotation.

Trade Notes: A’s, Gallardo, Reds, Jays, Padres, Victorino

The sense among the industry is that the Athletics are now “open for business,” tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. The A’s, Olney notes, have pieces that figure to draw widespread interest, including free-agents-to-be Scott Kazmir and Ben Zobrist. I’d add that Tyler Clippard is another impending free agent, and right-hander Jesse Chavez is a relatively short-term asset that’s broken out over the past 18 months as well. (Chavez is controlled through 2016.) Josh Reddick has drawn inquiry from the division-rival Angels, although reports at the time indicated that Oakland had no interest in moving its right fielder.

We’re nine days from the trade deadline, so trade action should escalate rapidly in the coming week. Here’s more from around the league…

  • FOX’s Ken Rosenthal wrote last night that the Rangers aren’t motivated to trade Mitch Moreland, and ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears the same thing (Twitter link). According to Stark, the only player that the Rangers are strongly marketing is right-hander Yovani Gallardo — another player who is eligible for free agency at season’s end. Gallardo is having a nice rebound season in his first year with Texas, and Moreland’s strong season has gone somewhat unheralded; the 29-year-old is batting .287/.333/.529 with 16 homers. He’s still struggling against lefties, though a bit less so than in previous years.
  • Via MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon (Twitter link), Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has spoken with a number of clubs about trades but has yet to receive what the Cincinnati front office considers to be a compelling offer. Said the veteran GM: “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
  • Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Blue Jays and Padres have had recent discussions about pitchers — both relievers and starters. San Diego starters Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, James Shields and Ian Kennedy have all seen their names surface on the rumor mill of late, though it would seem that Shields, at least, is too expensive for Toronto from a financial standpoint. Joaquin Benoit stands out, to me, as the most obvious trade candidate for the Padres in the bullpen.
  • Though the Mets are in need of outfield help, a source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter link) that the Red SoxShane Victorino is of no interest to them. That’s not exactly shocking to hear, given Victorino’s $13MM salary and meager .247/.333/.306 batting line in 2015.

Pirates Designate Jayson Aquino

The Pirates announced a series of roster moves that include the designation of lefty Jayson Aquino for assignment, as Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on Twitter. Infielder Pedro Florimon is headed to the active roster, while Wilfredo Boscan was optioned to Triple-A.

Pittsburgh added Aquino in a minor trade with the Blue Jays back in May. The 22-year-old has bounced around quite a bit in the last year after seeing his prospect stock fall. He’s thrown 78 2/3 innings at the High-A level with the Pittsburgh organization, working to a 3.78 ERA with 5.7 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9.

Obviously, the Pirates felt it was necessary to get another infielder onto the active roster after losing both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer to injuries. Though he’s never hit much, Florimon offers a quality glove up the middle.