Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

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

Blue Jays Designate Todd Redmond

The Blue Jays have designated righty Todd Redmond for assignment, the team announced. His roster spot will go to fellow right-hander Scott Copeland, who was recalled.

Redmond, who turned 30 on Sunday, gave up 11 earned runs in his 8 1/3 innings of big league action this year. While he notched seven strikeouts, he issued an untenable six free passes.

He fared much better last year for Toronto, when he tossed 75 innings of 3.24 ERA ball. With 7.2 K/9 versus 3.2 BB/9, advanced metrics viewed him as a solid-enough middle reliever or back-of-the-rotation starter (the role he had always played in the minor).

While that has not been the case in his limited action in 2015, he is a solid bet to receive another opportunity at the game’s highest level before too long. Whether or not that occurs with the Jays or another club, however, remains to be seen.


Blue Jays Designate Jeff Francis For Assignment

The Blue Jays have designated veteran lefty Jeff Francis for assignment and selected the contract of righty Todd Redmond, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The 34-year-old Francis pitched 12 innings in relief for the Jays, striking out 15 batters and walking five but allowing ten runs, nine of them earned. He also gave up at least one run in three of his last four appearances. The 11-year veteran has now been designated for assignment by four teams since the start of the 2014 season.

The Jays designated and then outrighted Redmond last month after he struggled in two relief appearances, and since then he’s pitched 14 innings for Triple-A Buffalo, posting a 4.50 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9. He also hasn’t pitched since last Tuesday, so he should give the Jays’ bullpen a fresh arm.


AL Notes: Wolf, Marcum, Astros

Veteran starter Randy Wolf, who’s with the Blue Jays‘ Triple-A team in Buffalo, is grateful merely that the Jays gave him a chance, John Lott of the National Post writes. The 38-year-old Wolf offers an unusually candid look at the challenges a veteran can face near the end of his career. Wolf is a 15-year veteran and pitched for the Marlins just last season, but he says he had trouble even getting teams to take him seriously last offseason. “Teams would not even watch me throw,” says Wolf. “I had one team that agreed to watch me throw and they didn’t even show up.” Wolf has a 1.10 ERA in 41 innings with Buffalo so far, although with 5.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. He says he’s just enjoying pitching, and not worrying about whether the Jays decide to call him up to the Majors. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Shaun Marcum will start for the Indians on Wednesday in place of the recently-DFA’ed Bruce Chen, Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. That will require the Indians to give Marcum a spot on both their 40-man and 25-man rosters. The 33-year-old Marcum has posted a 1.36 ERA in 33 innings for Triple-A Columbus, although with a modest 6.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. He pitched five innings for the Indians earlier this season before they designated him for assignment in mid-April.
  • The Astros are “at least going to have a conversation” about each of the top players available on this summer’s trade market, but they don’t plan to make a big move quite yet, GM Jeff Luhnow tells MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden (audio link). Luhnow adds that he feels the Astros’ collection of prospects makes the team a viable trade partner for organizations looking to trade star veterans. In the meantime, though, the Astros want to spend more time evaluating their own players, and particularly their starting pitchers behind Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh.


AL Notes: McCullers, Norris, Indians

Newly promoted Astros pitcher Lance McCullers, Jr. throws in the upper 90s with an outstanding breaking ball, Vince Lara-Cinisomo writes in a scouting report for Baseball America. The biggest difference between this season and the previous three years of his pro career has been that his control has taken a leap forward, from 5.2 BB/9 in 2014 to 3.4 BB/9 in 29 innings this season. Lara-Cinosomo suggests that one possibility is that the Astros promoted McCullers in order to showcase him as a possible trade piece for a top starting pitcher like Cole Hamels. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Top Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris is now back in Buffalo after a stint in the big leagues in which he held his own but averaged less than five innings per start. GM Alex Anthopoulos says the team wants Norris to work on improving that number, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes. “[T]he issue here was the consistency of trying to go deep into games and making sure we were going to have that to not tax the bullpen,” says Anthopoulos. “When he shows the consistency down there – it’s only been two games and what that number is, three, four, five, I’m not sure – and when we have a need and feel he’s throwing the ball well down there, he’ll be back.
  • The Indians‘ season hasn’t gone well, but that doesn’t mean a fire sale is imminent, Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. Much of their core consists of young-ish players signed to long-term deals (like Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco), so the Indians probably wouldn’t trade them. And some of their other veterans (like Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher) simply haven’t played well and therefore don’t have much value right now.

Injury Notes: Pence, Tanaka, Blue Jays, Fister, Ryu

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is returning to active duty tomorrow, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports on Twitter. Pence has yet to see MLB action this year since suffering a fractured forearm in the spring. The 32-year-old figures to provide a nice boost to the club, which has produced middling results thus far.

Here are some more injury notes from around the game:

  • Another important player who received promising injury news is Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets, Tanaka threw 35 pitches in a BP session today and seems to be nearing the start of a rehab stint. Tanaka’s continued progress is obviously welcome, particularly given that swingman Chase Whitley may be headed for season-ending surgery.
  • The Blue Jays also have some notable situations to watch, with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca providing several updates. Outfielder Michael Saunders will miss four to six weeks to rest his knee. And catcher Dioner Navarro still does not have a timetable for a rehab assignment as he rests his hamstring. More positively, shortstop Jose Reyes is nearing his own build-up through the minors. While Saunders and Reyes are important for the team, the Navarro news is most notable from a transactional perspective. Though he has not done much offensively this year, Navarro could be a useful trade piece for a Toronto club that has other needs — if he can reestablish his health and show more promise at the plate.
  • The Nationals made the surprising announcement today that righty Doug Fister is heading to the DL with right forearm tightness (via Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com, on Twitter). Young starter A.J. Cole, one of the team’s top prospects, will return to take his spot on the active roster. While hidden somewhat due to the attention given to Stephen Strasburg, there is cause for concern with Fister, whose velocity (86.1 mph average two-seam fastball), K:BB ratio (4.1 K/9 vs. 2.3 BB/9), and groundball rate (40.9%) have suffered in comparison to his usual numbers. Of course, the Nationals are somewhat uniquely suited to weather any extended absence, should that prove necessary. But for the 31-year-old free agent-to-be, the first two months of the season have left him with plenty to prove the rest of the way.
  • Hyun-jin Ryu of the Dodgers is still not even scheduled to resume throwing, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports on Twitter. The health of the 28-year-old lefty remains a key sub-plot in the development of the summer trade market: L.A. already profiles as a strong buyer for starting pitching, and its needs would be enhanced greatly if Ryu isn’t able to develop an upward trajectory.

Blue Jays Acquire Ronald Torreyes, Outright Jonathan Diaz

2:00pm: The Blue Jays announced that they’ve outrighted infielder Jonathan Diaz to clear a spot for Torreyes on the 40-man roster. The 30-year-old Diaz is hitless in seven plate appearances with the Blue Jays this season and has batted just .183/.284/.225 in 84 Triple-A plate appearances.

1:37pm: The Astros announced today that infielder Ronald Torreyes has been traded to the Blue Jays in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations (Twitter link). Torreyes was designated for assignment last week.

The 22-year-old Torreyes was originally signed by the Reds out of Venezuela back in 2009. The versatile 5’10”, 150-pound infielder was eventually traded to the Cubs alongsideTravis Wood and Dave Sappelt in the trade that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The Cubs eventually flipped Torreyes to the Astros in exchange for a pair of international bonus slots, and Houston added him to the 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft this winter.

Torreyes has struggled at the plate in Triple-A this season after enjoying solid results at that same level in 2014. Scouting reports from Baseball America and MLB.com peg him as a potential utility infielder if everything clicks. With both Jose Reyes and Maicer Izturis on the disabled list, the Blue Jays have Ryan Goins and Steven Tolleson on their Major League roster, thinning out the team’s depth at the Triple-A level. Torreyes should be able to help in that regard and, if he can return to his 2014 form (.298/.345/.376 in 519 Triple-A plate appearances), he could conceivably play his way into consideration for his first big league call-up. Torreyes has significant experience at second base, shortstop and third base, and he’s dabbled in left field and center field as well.


AL East Notes: Kelly, Cueto, Whitley, Harvey

Red Sox righty Joe Kelly had the luxury of having Yadier Molina call his games with the Cardinals, yet Kelly is now having to manage his own games, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.  Kelly has gotten off to a rough start in Boston, and he admits “my stats don’t show, but I feel like I’m better at” reading situations and recognizing what pitches to throw at the right times.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Twenty scouts were in Cincinnati to watch Johnny Cueto‘s start tonight, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News reports.  The group included high-ranking evaluators from the Blue Jays and Padres.  Cueto delivered another impressive start (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 9 K) for his audience in a no-decision in the Reds‘ 4-3 victory over the Giants.
  • Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley left tonight’s game after just 1 2/3 innings due to an elbow injury.  Whitley will undergo an MRI tomorrow and he told reporters (including Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog) that he has been coping with the injury for a while but hadn’t told the club about it until tonight.
  • Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey will visit Dr. James Andrews next week in regards to his injured right elbow, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.  Harvey underwent an MRI yesterday and O’s executive VP Dan Duquette said the club believes the injury is a flexor mass strain in Harvey’s right forearm.  Duquette is hopeful the injury won’t require surgery and Harvey can return to action this season after a rest period, though these plans will likely change if Andrews disagrees with the initial diagnosis.  Harvey, the 22nd overall pick of the 2013 draft, drew high placements in preseason prospect rankings from ESPN’s Keith Law (16th), MLB.com (41st) and Baseball America (68th).
  • The Orioles have ten players scheduled for free agency this winter, and if MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko were to set an over/under of three players re-signed by the team, he would “take the under if pressed to wager today.”  The free agent trio represented by Scott Boras (Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters) may potentially be the likeliest to depart, and Kubatko says “you’ll find plenty of people in the industry, and at least a few in the Orioles organization, who are making that assumption.”  Kubatko does stress that it’s still far too early to guess with any certainty about who could be leaving or staying, however — in Wieters’ case, for instance, he has yet to even hit the field this season.

Minor Moves: Fox, Cooper, Jimenez, Swarzak

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Infielder Jake Fox has agreed to a deal with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization, Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net reports (via Twitter).  Fox was playing for the Blue Jays‘ Double-A affiliate after signing a minor league deal with Toronto during the offseason, and Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Jays released Fox to facilitate his move to KBO. Fox last played in the majors in 2011 and has since bounced around between the minors, independent leagues and Mexican leagues.
  • ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports (via Twitter) that the Mets have signed former Blue Jays and Indians first baseman David Cooper to a minor league deal. Cooper, a former first-round pick, was batting .273/.351/.394 in 18 games for the independent Lancaster BarnStormers when the Mets brought him on board. He’ll serve as a depth piece for the organization and has been assigned to Double-A Binghamton, according to Rubin.
  • Infielder Luis Jimenez has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A by the Red Sox, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Jimenez, 27, received just one plate appearance with Boston and has 17 on the year between the Sox and Brewers. He’s a career .217/.253/.268 batter in 168 trips to the plate but has authored an impressive .295/.327/.485 triple slash in 287 Triple-A games throughout his minor league career — all in the Angels’ system.
  • Right-hander Anthony Swarzak has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus after clearing waivers, the Indians announced (on Twitter). Cleveland designated Swarzak for assignment when they needed a 40-man roster spot for Bruce Chen. The DFA was somewhat of a surprise, given that Swarzak has produced excellent results this season after signing a minor league deal this winter. The long-time Twins swingman has tossed 13 1/3 innings, yielding five earned runs for a 3.38 ERA. Swarzak did surrender 18 hits, but those knocks come as a result of a .395 BABIP. The 29-year-old punched out 13 hitters against just three unintentional walks with the Indians and averaged 92.2 mph on his heater. Swarzak’s uptick in strikeouts may be the result of his conversion to a two-pitch pitcher, as he’s thrown nothing but four-seamers and sliders in 2015, jettisoning a two-seamer, his curve and a rarely used changeup.

Astros Notes: Correa, McCullers, Rasmus

The Astros sent Jon Singleton to Triple-A to begin the season in the wake of his lackluster 2014 numbers and a poor Spring Training, yet the former star prospect is doing his best to earn a return ticket to the bigs.  Singleton has 11 homers and an impressive .274/.386/.632 slash line over 140 plate appearances at Triple-A Fresno, highlighted by a two-homer, 10-RBI game last night.  While stats in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League have to taken with a grain of salt, Singleton’s production is certainly a positive sign.  Here’s some more from Houston…

  • The time is now for the Astros to promote Carlos Correa, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal opines.  While the Astros’ decision to give Correa more Triple-A seasoning is a reasonable one, Rosenthal argues that if Houston will just promote him in two weeks if he’s tearing up the PCL, the club should just get him to the bigs now.  Correa would instantly upgrade the Astros at shortstop and help the team maintain its surprising first-place status.
  • Righty Lance McCullers has also been promoted to Triple-A, and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart that McCullers could potentially be in the mix for a Major League call-up this season.  “The reality is if he’s pitching the way he’s been pitching, we could probably benefit from having him here.  There is a possibility he will be here,” Luhnow said.  McCullers was a top-100 ranked prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball America prior to the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but his stock dipped a bit following an unimpressive year at high-A ball last year.  The 21-year-old rebounded to post an 0.62 ERA, 13.3 K/9 and 3.91 K/BB rate over 29 innings at the Double-A level this year.
  • Colby Rasmus is enjoying his time in Houston, the outfielder tells Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi.  Rasmus is one of the more experienced players in the young Astros clubhouse, which seems to be a relief for him given how he wasn’t happy playing for the more veteran Blue Jays last season.  Rasmus said he felt judged “in the sense of how much (service) time you had, and the pecking order, just feeling comfortable in the clubhouse. I’m not going to go into any details, but I feel more comfortable in this clubhouse and in this environment.”

Blue Jays, Luke Scott Agree To Minor League Deal

The Blue Jays have signed first baseman/outfielder Luke Scott to a minor league contract, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). The Page Odle/PSI Sports Management client will report to Triple-A tomorrow, he adds.

Scott, 36, hasn’t appeared in the Majors since a 2013 stint with the Rays. He spent part of the 2014 season playing with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization, slashing an impressive .267/.392/.505 with six homers in 33 games. He opened the season in the Mexican League, enjoying similar success with a .292/.400/.519 batting line and seven bombs in 28 games.

At his best, Scott would offer plus left-handed power and a keen eye that resulted in healthy walk rates. He’s a career .258/.340/.481 hitter in 3193 big league plate appearances, with his most impressive work coming from 2006-10 with the Astros and Orioles, when he posted a 126 OPS+, indicating that he was 26 percent better than a league-average hitter after accounting for park factors.

Scott was never known for his defense, but both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved give him slightly positive marks for his career work in left field. Of course, it seems doubtful that he’d still be capable of playing an average or better corner outfield. Even in his 2013 stint with Tampa, he logged just 21 innings in the outfield, and he hasn’t seen any significant Major League time there since 2011 with Baltimore. Presumably, Scott will hope to slug his way to the big league roster and stick as a bench bat, or part-time DH/first baseman. It’s not difficult to envision a scenario where he hits well enough to challenge Justin Smoak for his spot on the roster.