Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Beck, Constanza, Pineiro, Nelson

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • The White Sox have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Chris Beck to be the 26th man for the second game of their doubleheader today. Beck, 24, has made his way through the minors with few strikeouts but strong control, posting 5.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 since the White Sox drafted him in the second round in 2012. This season, he had a 4.78 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 26 1/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte.
  • The Reds have signed outfielder Jose Constanza to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. The 31-year-old Constanza collected 240 plate appearances with the Braves from 2011 through 2014, batting .273/.316/.323. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves released him last month.
  • The Blue Jays have signed veteran starter Joel Pineiro to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Double-A New Hampshire, Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner tweets. Pineiro, 36, last pitched in the big leagues with the Angels in 2011. He pitched briefly in the Cubs and Angels systems in a comeback bid last season, then pitched winter ball in Puerto Rico.
  • The Brewers will sign infielder Chris Nelson to a minor-league deal, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). The Phillies recently released Nelson from their minor-league deal with him. The five-year veteran played briefly with the Padres in 2014. The former first-round pick has a career line of .265/.311/.388, with many of his at-bats coming in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
  • The Padres have outrighted catcher Wil Nieves to Triple-A El Paso, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Padres designated Nieves for assignment earlier this week to make room for top prospect Austin Hedges. It’s unclear whether Nieves will accept his outright assignment or opt for free agency. Nieves appeared in just six games for the Padres this year.
  • The Cubs have outrighted righty Anthony Varvaro, also according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Cubs recently claimed Varvaro from the Red Sox and then designated him for assignment on Wednesday. He did not appear in a game for them. He pitched in nine games for Boston earlier this season.
  • The Athletics have released outfielder Alex Hassan, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. That news might actually come as a relief to Hassan, who had been claimed five times in the past seven months. The A’s designated Hassan for assignment yesterday.
  • The Angels have released corner infielder Ryan Wheeler, via the Pacific Coast League transactions page. They had claimed the 26-year-old from the Rockies last August. Wheeler, who played briefly in the big leagues in 2012, 2013 and 2014, was hitting .291/.304/.418 for Triple-A Salt Lake, although he has a track record of hitting for better power at the Triple-A level.
  • The Rays have announced that they’ve placed Alex Cobb, who’s having Tommy John surgery, on the 60-day DL and selected the contract of 23-year-old righty Andrew Bellatti. Bellatti had struck out 20 batters in 21 1/3 innings at Triple-A Durham this season, posting a 2.11 ERA, pitching as a starter even though he had spent most of the previous three seasons working in relief. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times explains, it’s been a strange path to the Majors for Bellatti, a 2009 draft pick who spent a few months in jail for vehicular manslaughter following a 2010 car accident.

Blue Jays Notes: Buehrle, Tolleson, Colabello

Reports from earlier this season suggested that Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle is contemplating retirement following the season, but the highly durable workhorse tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link) that such talk is “kind of ridiculous,” adding that he has yet to make any kind of decision on his future. The 36-year-old Buehrle has struggled in the early stages of the 2015 season as he aims to complete his 15th consecutive 200-inning season.

A few more notes on Major League Baseball’s lone Canadian team…

  • As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet writes, the Blue Jays and infielder Steven Tolleson have circumvented the rule that requires outrighted players to remain in the Minors for 10 days before returning to the big league club. While initial reports stated that Tolleson accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A, Davidi reports that he instead opted for free agency (as all players that have been previously outrighted are allowed to do) and re-signed on a Minor League deal. Because of that, he will be eligible to rejoin the club whenever the Blue Jays decide they need an additional infielder, which could even be this weekend, according to Davidi.
  • Outfielder/first baseman Chris Colabello is healthy this season after quietly suffering through nerve damage in his right thumb following his hot start last season with Minnesota, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. However, Colabello was battling for playing time after having clawed his way to the Majors from independent ball and didn’t feel a stint on the DL was something he could afford. Medical tests after the season revealed that there was no tear, and a hand specialist told Colabello that some rest would allow the issue to heal, which the 31-year-old said is indeed the case. Colabello has six hits in eight at-bats and has a window for some playing time as both Michael Saunders and Jose Bautista are less than 100 percent, Chisholm notes.
  • Colabello spoke with the Toronto Star’s Mark Zwolinski about his unorthodox path to Major League Baseball and the decision to turn down a $1MM offer to play in Korea because he was unwilling to let his dream of making it to the Majors die. He tells Zwolinski that his time with the Twins has taught him that he can’t worry about the future, because doing so ultimately hurt him. Now, says Colabello, he’s simply living in the moment and soaking up another opportunity to be in the Majors: “Every day on a baseball field is the best day for me.”

Minor Moves: Parker, Cabrera, Walters, Hernandez, Stock

Some minor transactions from around the league and the independent circuit…

  • The Cubs have released right-hander Blake Parker, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Parker, designated for assignment yesterday, had not appeared in the big leagues this year. In his 3 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level, Parker permitted one earned run to score while striking out one and walking three batters. He does own a 3.68 career ERA in the majors, with a healthy 10.4 K/9 against just 2.9 BB/9.
  • Righty Daniel Cabrera has been released by the Reds, the club’s Triple-A affiliate tweets. The 33-year-old has not appeared in the big leagues since 2009, and spent each of the last two seasons playing in Japan. He made just one appearance at Louisville this season, going three innings and allowing one earned run but issuing four free passes and striking out only one opposing batter.
  • The Dodgers have signed right-hander P.J. Walters, who had been pitching with the independent Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers, reports Mike Ashmore of the Trentonian (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Walters should join L.A.’s Minor League ranks following the move. Though Walters has posted just a 6.28 ERA in parts of five Major League seasons with the Cardinals, Twins and Blue Jays, he does have a lifetime 4.70 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in Triple-A.
  • Former Twins left-hander Pedro Hernandez has signed a contract with the independent St. Paul Saints, the team announced. Hernandez was acquired along with Eduardo Escobar in the 2012 trade that sent Francisco Liriano to the White Sox. The now-26-year-old Hernandez struggled to a 7.33 ERA with 33 strikeouts against 26 walks in 66 1/3 Major League innings with the Sox, Twins and Rockies from 2012-14. He posted solid, if unspectacular numbers throughout much of his Minor League career until reaching the Triple-A level.
  • Right-hander Robert Stock‘s contract has been purchased by the Pirates, according to a tweet from the Normal CornBelters of the independent Frontier League. The 25-year-old hit the indy circuit after posting a 4.12 ERA with 43 strikeouts against 46 walks in 63 1/3 innings between the Cardinals’ Class-A and Class-A Advanced affiliates in 2014.


Minor Moves: Baker, Ortiz, Tolleson, Bello, Sands

The day’s minor moves will be tracked right here:

  • The Dodgers have outrighted Scott Baker to Triple-A Oklahoma City following his DFA, tweets J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group. The 33-year-old Baker was designated on Sunday following a pair of starts in which he allowed seven runs in 11 innings of work with an 8-to-3 K/BB ratio. The former Twin has yet to establish himself as a credible mid-rotation starter, as he was in Minnesota from 2007-11, after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
  • Left-hander Joseph Ortiz has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Iowa after being designated for assignment by the Cubs over the weekend, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). The 24-year-old Ortiz enjoyed a solid season with the Rangers in 2013 at just 22 years of age, working to a 4.23 ERA with 27 strikeouts against eight unintentional walks in 44 2/3 innings. Ortiz was involved in a freak accident prior to the 2014 season when was struck by a motorcyclist while walking down the street in his native Venezuela. The resulting fractures in his left foot cost him much of the 2014 season. Ortiz was claimed off waivers by the Cubs this winter and has a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 Triple-A innings, though he’s struck out just one hitter despite a career K/9 of 8.6 in the Minors.
  • Steven Tolleson has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A by the Blue Jays, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The infielder could find himself back on the active roster in short order, per Davidi, as the club is currently lacking a reserve middle infielder after today’s roster moves.
  • The Padres have purchased the rights to catcher Yenier Bello from the independent league’s Joplin Blasters, according to Mark Schremmer of the Joplin Globe (via Twitter). Bello, 30, was released by the Braves just one year after signing out of Cuba. It seems rather likely that he will be looked upon as an organizational depth piece by the San Diego organization.
  • The Indians announced that outfielder Jerry Sands has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A. Sands could have declined the assignment and shopped his early-season .348/.400/.435 batting line on the open market, but apparently felt his best opportunity remained with the Cleveland organization.

AL East Notes: Pirela, Travis, Paredes, Red Sox

The Yankees are set to bring up second base prospect Jose Pirela, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen how the playing time will be sorted in the middle infield, but the club has received scant production to date at both second base (Stephen Drew and Gregorio Petit) and shortstop (Didi Gregorius). With the Yankees otherwise looking good atop the AL East, it is fair to wonder whether Pirela and/or Rob Refsnyder will get extended early looks to help inform the club’s decisionmaking over the summer.

Here’s more from the competitive AL East:

  • Meanwhile, things are headed in quite a different direction at the keystone for the Blue Jays, who have received stunning production from offseason acquisition Devon Travis. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca explains, while Travis’s incredible start is obviously not sustainable, he has exhibited a series of skills — hitting the ball long and hard, and showing quality strike zone control — that bode well for his future. While Toronto obviously hoped he could become a long-term answer when it dealt for him, the club now has good reason to believe that he will be installed at second for years to come.
  • Another infielder off to a surprisingly hot start is Jimmy Paredes of the Orioles. As Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes, the 26-year-old has traveled a long road through five organizations to get to this point. Still a work in progress in the field, Paredes has shown real promise at the plate this year. With Jonathan Schoop still working back from injury and Manny Machado having missed significant time in each of the last two seasons, Paredes could be an important piece for Baltimore if the team hopes to stay in the playoff hunt.
  • Things have gotten bad in a hurry for the Red Sox, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford opines that losing Hanley Ramirez for any significant stretch would be a huge blow for Boston; while his injury does not appear to be as serious as it looked, any loss of production could be problematic in a tough division. Of course, the club has plenty of options in the outfield, and the bigger concern remains a rotation that has struggled badly. Though it is reasonable to hope that the results will begin to better match the underlying peripherals, Bradford says that the team does not have any obviously promising internal candidates to add quality innings in the near term.

Blue Jays Designate Jayson Aquino

The Blue Jays have designated lefty Jayson Aquino for assignment, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. His 40-man spot will go to Chris Colabello, with Jonathan Diaz being optioned to open a place on the active roster.

Aquino, 22, was acquired from the Rockies this winter in exchange for fellow southpaw Tyler Ybarra. Previously rated as one of Colorado’s ten best prospects, the youngster had something of a rough 2014.

Sent to repeat the High-A level with Toronto, Aquino was off to a solid start. Over 25 2/3 innings, he owns a 2.81 ERA with 5.6 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9.


AL Notes: Rosario, Cobb, Blue Jays, White Sox

Yesterday, the Twins promoted outfielder Eddie Rosario from Triple-A Rochester, with Oswaldo Arcia headed to the disabled list due to a right hip flexor strain. (TwinsDaily.com’s Seth Stohs first tweeted word of Rosario’s promotion.) In Rosario, the Twins are recalling a former fourth-round pick that ranked in the organization’s Top 10 prospects per Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and ESPN’s Keith Law. Rosario, in fact, was considered a Top 100 prospect by B-Pro heading into the 2014 season, but he served a suspension for a drug of abuse and didn’t hit much in his return to Double-A. After a promising stint in the Arizona Fall League this past season, Rosario is off to a slow start in Triple-A, but he still, interestingly, gets the call over Aaron Hicks. The 25-year-old Hicks has spent parts of the past two seasons with the Twins in an attempt to establish himself as their everyday center fielder, but the former first-round pick and top 30 prospect has looked overmatched in the Majors. However, he’s hitting quite well to open the year in Triple-A, making it somewhat surprising to seem him passed over. It may only be a short-term look, though I’d think that given Jordan Schafer‘s struggles, there’s at least a chance for Rosario to impress enough to stick on the roster once Arcia is healthy.

Here are some more notes from the American League…

  • The Rays are increasingly concerned with righty Alex Cobb after he suffered a setback this weekend, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Cobb, 27, had started to throw again after suffering a forearm strain this spring. Now, per Topkin, Cobb will be shut down for several days and could eventually be a candidate for platelet-rich plasma treatment or even surgery. Cobb has contributed 309 2/3 innings of 2.82 ERA pitching over the last two seasons, making his fate critical to the team’s hopes this year.
  • Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos says he does not expect any significant trade activity until after the draft, as Ben Nicholson-Smith reports on Twitter. That is obviously the usual course of events, in spite of some discussion that this year could see earlier activity. Toronto is looking up in a tightly-packed AL East after a rough start to the year from its pitching staff. While an early move holds some facial appeal, however, a significant addition would likely require a premium return.
  • It is indeed early, but not too early for the White Sox to begin planning for a summer sale, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs opines. Chicago rode into the year on a wave of optimism, even if projection systems never bought the team as an obvious playoff club, but is off to a dreadful start. With multiple holes on the big league roster, says Cameron, GM Rick Hahn should be ready to be nimble in cashing in assets. In particular, Cameron suggests that marketing free agent-to-be Jeff Samardzija before other appealing arms join the market could be the best way to maximize his value.

Dodgers Acquire Matt West From Blue Jays

The Dodgers have acquired right-hander Matt West from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations, reports Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register (on Twitter). Toronto had recently designated West for assignment.

West, 26, was the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2007 and was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays in January. The Texas native made his big league debut with the Rangers last season, allowing three runs in four innings of work. West was originally drafted as an infielder but converted to the mound full-time in 2011 and has been impressive at the Double-A level this season. In 12 1/3 innings, he’s allowed just one unearned run on nine hits and four walks with 17 strikeouts.


Dodgers Acquire Andy Wilkins

The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve traded first baseman Andy Wilkins to the Dodgers for cash considerations. The Jays designated Wilkins for assignment this weekend. The Dodgers also formally announced that they have designated Scott Baker for assignment.

Wilkins, 26, collected 45 plate appearances with the White Sox in 2014, but he’s done most of his damage at the Triple-A level in recent years, hitting .283/.333/.499 in 848 career plate appearances there and hitting 30 home runs in Triple-A Charlotte last year. With Adrian Gonzalez playing first at the big league level, though, it looks likely Wilkins won’t get an extended chance to show what he can do in the Majors unless there’s an injury.


Blue Jays Designate Matt West, Andy Wilkins

The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve designated righty Matt West and first baseman Andy Wilkins for assignment. The moves clear space on the 40-man roster for righty Scott Copeland and outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, who the Jays are promoting from Triple-A Buffalo. They also optioned lefty Andrew Albers and outfielder Dalton Pompey to Buffalo.

West, 26, pitched four innings for the Rangers last season. He had pitched 12 1/3 innings or relief at Double-A New Hampshire this season, striking out 17 batters and walking four while allowing just one unearned run. A strong performance at Double-A should perhaps be expected from an older pitcher with experience at higher levels, although West has only four years of pro experience as a pitcher, having initially come through the Rangers’ system as an infielder.

Wilkins, also 26, appeared briefly in the bigs for the White Sox in 2014 before the Jays claimed him in March. He was off to a .264/.353/.319 start in 85 plate appearances for Buffalo, although he hit .293/.338/.558 with 30 home runs for Triple-A Charlotte last year.

The 22-year-old Pompey rates as one of the Jays’ top young talents, but he has struggled in the bigs so far this season, batting .193/.264/.337. Carrera, a minor-league signee in December who had a .407 on-base percentage at Buffalo, will take his place on the active roster for now.