Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Alderson, O’Neill, Wang, Miller, Wolf

Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Orioles have released pitcher Tim Alderson, David Hall of the Virginian Pilot tweets. The Giants traded Alderson, a 2007 first-round pick and former top prospect, to the Pirates for Freddy Sanchez in 2009, and the Bucs traded him to the Orioles for Russ Canzler last year. In 50 innings for Triple-A Norfolk this season, Alderson had a 6.12 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
  • The Cardinals have outrighted outfielder Mike O’Neill after designating him for assignment Friday, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. O’Neill, 26, has hit .258/.343/.341 in 320 plate appearances this season for Double-A Springfield.
  • Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has opted out of his deal with the Reds, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay tweets. Wang pitched 119 1/3 innings for Triple-A Louisville, posting a 3.70 ERA with 3.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. He last appeared in the big leagues last season with the Blue Jays.
  • The Yankees have announced they have outrighted right-hander Jim Miller to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Miller was designated for assignment Friday. 
  • Randy Wolf has cleared out his locker and has left the Orioles‘ Triple-A team, tweets David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweeted Wolf opted out of his contract. The 37-year-old appeared in six games for Norfolk, including one start, and posted a 4.20 ERA with a 12-to-5 K-BB ratio in 15 innings.
  • Blue Jays right-hander Bobby Korecky has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Buffalo, the club announced (hat tip to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith).  Korecky was designated for assignment on Friday.  The righty posted an 8.10 ERA over 3 1/3 relief innings for Toronto this season in his first taste of Major League action since a one-game cup of coffee in 2012.
  • The White Sox have released right-hander Henry Rodriguez, the team announced.  Rodriguez just recently signed a minor league deal with the Sox but posted a 21.60 ERA, three strikeouts and a whopping eight walks over 1 2/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte.  That lack of control has been the story of Rodriguez’s career, as the righty has recorded a 6.4 BB/9 over 150 1/3 Major League innings with the Marlins, Cubs, Nationals and A’s over six seasons in the Show, though his high-90′s fastball has helped him record 151 strikeouts.  This is the second time Rodriguez has been released this season, as the Marlins already cut ties with him in June.

Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


Rangers’ Relievers Drawing Interest

9:13pm: Texas wants a “substantial package” to move Soria, report T.R. Sullivan and Grace Raynor of MLB.com. The asking price is believed to be two or three prospects.

1:51pm: The Rangers are receiving trade interest in a number of their bullpen arms, according to multiple reports. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the team is listening on right-hander Jason Frasor and lefty Neal Cotts, and both have generated some interest. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report that the Angels, Blue Jays and Tigers have been in contact with the Rangers about closer Joakim Soria (Twitter link).

As Sullivan points out, both Frasor and Cotts are free agents at season’s end. While Frasor has scuffled of late, yielding five runs over his past 3 1/3 innings, he still boasts a solid 3.38 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate. The 36-year-old is earning a highly affordable $1.75MM this season, meaning that he’s owed about $765K through season’s end.

Cotts, 34, reemerged in the Majors last season after an absence of four years and put his injury woes behind him with an electric 1.11 ERA in 57 innings for Texas. He’s taken a step back in 2014 but has a solid 3.55 ERA with 45 strikeouts against 15 walks in 38 innings. However, after dominating opposing lefties in 2013, he’s surrendered a .281/.328/.456 batting line against same-handed hitters in 2014. It shouldn’t come as a total shock, as Cotts does have a reverse-platoon split for his career, but certainly not one this pronounced. Cotts is earning $2.2MM this season, meaning he has roughly $962K remaining on his deal.

As for Soria, the Tigers and Angels come as no surprise, as both have dealt with significant bullpen issues in 2014. However, the Blue Jays are a bit of a surprise club to see listed here. In another series of tweets, Rosenthal adds that while the club does like Soria, the team is also toying with the idea of promoting top prospect Aaron Sanchez to work out of the bullpen this season. Fellow top prospect Daniel Norris could even join him eventually, Rosenthal adds, making for a situation that would resemble the dynamic pairing of Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez with the Cardinals last year.

Soria is in the midst of one of perhaps his finest season. In his second year back from Tommy John, the 30-year-old has a 2.76 ERA with a whopping 12.3 K/9 and a minuscule 1.2 BB/9 in 29 1/3 innings. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (0.80), xFIP (1.93) and SIERA (1.58) all feel that he’s doing the best work of his career. Though he has a higher salary at $5.5MM, Soria unquestionably will come with the highest asking price in a trade. He has an affordable $7MM club option on his contract for 2015, and the Rangers do have eyes on contending next season, when they hope to have better luck on the injury front.


Adam Lind Could Return In Three Weeks

FRIDAY: The Blue Jays have announced that after a meeting with Dr. Robert Anderson, Lind’s timetable to return isn’t as discouraging as initially thought (Twitter links from Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi). Lind could be back in games within two or three weeks, according to the new diagnosis. He will wear a walking boot for the next five to seven days.

WEDNESDAY: Blue Jays first baseman/DH Adam Lind will miss the next six to eight weeks due to a non-displaced fracture in his right foot, writes MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. The injury was originally sustained when Lind fouled a ball off his foot on June 14. X-rays and a CT scan led to the diagnosis of a bone bruise, but Lind, who has been in considerable pain since that time, underwent an MRI at the behest of his mother. The MRI revealed the fracture.

It’s another tough blow for the Blue Jays, who recently lost Edwin Encarnacion to the disabled list as well (Encarnacion’s strained quad isn’t expected to sideline him long). For the time being, as Chisholm notes, that leaves Toronto without a natural first baseman on the roster. Jose Bautista has been playing the position recently.

Lind is hitting .320/.389/.489 this season, with nearly all of his plate appearances coming against right-handed pitching. That’s a considerable amount of production to lose in a tightening AL East race. The Blue Jays, who have spent a considerable chunk of time in first place this season, have fallen to two and a half games back, trailing the Orioles.

While both Lind and Encarnacion are expected to return, it’ll be interesting to see if general manager Alex Anthopoulos will look to add a corner infield option on the trade market. One alternative, Chisholm notes, would be to purchase the contract of veteran first baseman Dan Johnson, who is hitting .251/.405/.479 for the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate. The 34-year-old is a career .236/.337/.411 hitter in the Majors.



Marlon Byrd Reveals Four-Team No-Trade Clause

1:12pm: Byrd has revealed to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he has a small, four-team no-trade clause which includes the Mariners, Royals, Blue Jays and Rays.

While that news doesn’t do any favors for Seattle’s chances of acquiring Byrd should their interest escalate, it doesn’t rule the possibility out entirely. Byrd explains to Salisbury that he signed a two-year deal with the Phillies for a reason — to retire in Philadelphia — but he would consider waiving his no-trade protection if the team asked him to do so for the future good of the club: “There would have to be a conversation with me, my agent and Ruben (Amaro Jr., the Phillies’ GM) if it gets to that point,” said Byrd.

Byrd adds that he included Toronto and Tampa on his list because of the artificial turf and the risk that poses to him as an aging player (especially one with a vesting option based on plate appearances). As for Seattle and Kansas City, he told Salisbury: “Those really are things that were just put on at the time being.”

11:18am: In search of a much-needed right-handed bat for their lineup, the Mariners have been scouting Marlon Byrd recently, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).

The connection is logical for the Mariners in many ways. Firstly, their outfielders have hit a combined .246/.291/.354 this season — good for the second-worst wRC+ mark in all of baseball. Seattle outfielders have hit just 16 homers this season — a collective total that ranks lower than every team in baseball, aside from the Royals and Red Sox (who had 14 each). Beyond that, just four of the Mariners’ 13 hitters are right-handed, with struggling catcher Mike Zunino and struggling DH/outfielder Corey Hart representing the team’s only right-handed power threats. The other two, backup catcher Jesus Sucre and utilityman Willie Bloomquist, are light hitters that don’t see regular at-bats. As such, Seattle has been one of baseball’s worst clubs against left-handed pitching, hitting just .248/.295/.349 as a team.

Byrd is in the first season of a two-year, $16MM contract signed with the Phillies this past offseason. While the commitment raised some eyebrows, Byrd has followed up an unexpectedly excellent season with the Mets and Pirates with a solid campaign in his return to Philadelphia. He’s hitting .261/.313/.481 with 18 homers and passable defense in right field (Ultimate Zone Rating feels he’s slightly below average, while Defensive Runs Saved thinks he’s been slightly above). Perhaps more importantly to Seattle, he’s mashing lefties to the tune of a .313/.353/.613 batting line, which would give the team some much-needed thump against opposing southpaws.

The main deterrent for teams interested in Byrd may be his contract. He’s owed a perfectly reasonable $3.5MM through season’s end before being guaranteed $8MM in 2015. That may not scare off potential suitors, but his deal also contains an $8MM club option for 2016 — Byrd’s age-38 season — which will automatically vests with 600 PA in 2015 or a combined 1100 PA from 2014-15.  That’s a very attainable number, and other teams may be skeptical that Byrd can maintain solid production into his late 30s.


Blue Jays Designate Bobby Korecky For Assignment

The Blue Jays announced that they have designated right-hander Bobby Korecky for assignment. The move clears roster space for first baseman Dan Johnson, whose contract will be purchased from Triple-A in the wake of Adam Lind‘s injury.

The 34-year-old Korecky yielded three runs in 3 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays this season, striking out two and walking one. A seasoned veteran of the minor leagues, Korecky has seen brief time in the Majors with the Twins, D’Backs and Jays, pitching to a 7.39 ERA in 28 innings. He’s been excellent throughout his career at Triple-A, however, notching a 3.04 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 444 innings.

Johnson, also 34, is a lifetime .236/.337/.411 hitter in 1556 big league plate appearances, but he was enjoying a solid season at Triple-A Buffalo. The former seventh-round pick was hitting .248/.402/.471 with 17 homers in 403 trips to the plate. Johnson is perhaps best known for a pair of dramatic home runs with the Rays in 2008 and in 2011 — the first a game-tying shot in a game that ultimately gave Tampa the division lead, and the second a two-out, two-strike game-tying shot in the ninth inning of the season’s final game (Tampa would go on to beat the Yankees in extra innings and advance to the postseason).


AL East Notes: Abreu, Tanaka, Lester, Sox, Jays, Headley, Yanks, O’s

The Red Sox were within $5MM of the final bidding (six years, $68MM) for now-White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Interestingly, Boston felt that Abreu could be used across the diamond at third base. Chicago GM Rick Hahn said that, in learning more about the bidding after landing Abreu, “it turns out there were several teams, not just us and Boston, that were awfully aggressive and pretty close to where we were at the end.” As things stand, it looks like Hahn made the right choice to outbid that dense market.

Here’s more from Boston and the rest of the AL East:

  • Prized Yankees hurler Masahiro Tanaka is set to undergo an MRI on his right arm, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Made available by his Japanese club in December, the righty inked a seven-year, $155MM contract (with an opt-out after four seasons). He has been outstanding, compiling a 2.51 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9 in 129 1/3 frames, but has recently worked through two rough starts. After his most recent outing, he reported “a little discomfort,” according to a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • For now, the situation warrants close attention, though it would be unwise to jump to conclusions. Obviously, a layoff of any significant duration would have critical implications for a New York club that has relied heavily on the 25-year-old, who has notched a league-leading 12 wins. The club has called up outfielder Zoilo Almonte but has yet to announce a corresponding roster move, leading Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News to suggest (via Twitter) that the Yankees could be waiting to learn more about Tanaka’s status before acting.

Earlier Updates

  • The Red Sox are having ongoing “conversations” that may result in a new, increased offer to lefty Jon Lester, reports ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes. Boston should — and probably will — reach an extension with Lester, opines Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. At various points, the on-again/off-again talks have variously made a deal seem close and free agency appear inevitable. Abraham ticks through the reasons that keeping Lester in Boston makes good sense for both sides.
  • Meanwhile, the club may be close to making some kind of change behind the plate, according to a tweet from Abraham. Veteran A.J. Pierzynski has scuffled to a .254/.286/.348 line in 274 plate appearances after joining the Red Sox on a one-year, $8.25MM deal. While he might appeal to some contenders, that contract means that Boston would likely need to eat some cash to get any kind of return. Well-regarded prospect Christian Vazquez is waiting in the wings at Triple-A, and could be given a taste of MLB action.
  • Mired in last place in the division, Boston is highly likely to sell, but there are many permutations that could take. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes a look at the possible chips and names their likeliest suitors. While rumors reached crescendo without a deal yesterday, MacPherson still sees the Cardinals as a good fit for Jake Peavy. He goes on to name several players with potential matches: outfielder Jonny Gomes (Mariners), Pierzynski (Pirates), Koji Uehara (OriolesTigersAngelsPirates), and shortstop Stephen Drew (TigersBrewers) as other possibilities to be flipped.
  • In yet another reminder of how quickly things can change, the Blue Jays now seem to have a greater need in their lineup than the rotation, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. A right-handed hitting second or third baseman, right-handed outfield bat, and potentially a catching upgrade all rate as areas to explore, according to Nicholson-Smith. The team could stand to add a starter if an impact arm could be had for a reasonable price, he adds, and may also look to pick up a righty for the pen.
  • One possibility for the Blue Jays could be Chase Headley of the Padres, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting on Twitter that the two clubs have had discussions on the third baseman. Headley is a switch-hitter, which would open up some flexibility for the Jays. On the other hand, he has generally been more successful against righties, reducing the utility of playing him in some form of a platoon with the righty-mashing Juan Francisco.
  • The Yankees are going to go for it, but should not gut the farm to do so, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman says that the Brandon McCarthy acquisition was a good model, because it did not require the sacrifice of a player with a significant part in the club’s future plans, and that the organization can always utilize its unmatched financial capacity to add talented players on big contracts. But with a roster that looks to have a less-than-even chance to take the division, says Sherman, the organization’s best minor league pieces should not be sacrificed for pure rentals.
  • Implicit in the above notes, I would suggest, is that the Orioles may have an unmatched window to make a run at the division. The Rays and Red Sox probably have too much ground to gain, the Yankees don’t look to have the youth or across-the-board talent, and the Blue Jays have faded quickly of late. While the loss of Matt Wieters certainly hurts, the Orioles look like they could be the odds-on favorite. Should the club move to bolster its chances with a mid-season addition or two, it could easily achieve bottom-line impact because it has two positions ripe for upgrade in second base and catcher. Of course, a rotation acquisition may also make sense. While Baltimore will surely be loath to do so, it does have a relative abundance of high-end young pitching to deal from.

Minor Moves: Jerome Williams, Jo-Jo Reyes, Ramon Ramirez, Brad Glenn

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Righty Jerome Williams has been released by the Astros, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The 32-year-old swingman owns a 6.04 ERA through 47 2/3 innings (all as a reliever) on the year for Houston, with 7.2 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9. Across nine MLB seasons, he has allowed 4.45 earned runs per nine while working mostly as a starter.
  • The Phillies have agreed to a minor league deal with Jo-Jo Reyes, reports MLBTR’s Zach Links (via Twitter). The 29-year-old lefty has seen time in parts of five MLB seasons, the last of which came in 2011. He owns a 6.05 career ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 through 334 2/3 innings, mostly as a starter. Reyes has been playing in Korea since the start of the 2013 season.
  • The Orioles have outrighted righty Ramon Ramirez to Triple-A, the club announced. Ramirez got just one inning during his time with Baltimore, though he has seen action in parts of nine MLB seasons.
  • After being designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on Sunday, outfielder Brad Glenn has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, reports Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star (via Twitter). The 27-year-old notched his first MLB hit during a brief call-up.
  • The DFA rolls are growing, with the following players are currently in limbo (per MLBTR’s DFA tracker): Justin Maxwell (Royals), Jeff Francis (Athletics), Rich Hill (Angels), Raul Fernandez (Rockies), Alfonso Soriano (Yankees), Brad Mills (Athletics), Donnie Murphy (Rangers), George Kottaras (Indians), John Buck (Mariners), and Mark Lowe (Indians).

Chicago Links: Beckham, Quintana, Russell, Wright, Garcia, Samardzija

The White Sox are willing to move second baseman Gordon Beckham, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but Jose Quintana isn’t available (Twitter link). The 27-year-old Beckham opened the season on the disabled list and had a strong month of May after being activated, but he’s cooled since that time and is hitting .248/.302/.395. He’s under team control through 2015 and is earning $4.18MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the second time this season. It’s not entirely surprising that the team wouldn’t move Quintana, as he just inked a five-year, $21MM contract extension in Spring Training. He’s in the midst of his finest season in the Majors to this point, having posted a 3.20 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate.

Here are a few more items pertaining to the Sox and their north-side counterparts…

  • Left-handers James Russell and Wesley Wright are both drawing trade interest, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Each southpaw is under team control through the 2015 season, and each has a 2.22 ERA through 24 1/3 innings this season. Wright, who is earning $1.43MM is slightly more affordable than Russell and his $1.78MM salary.

Earlier Links

  • White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters today that injured outfielder Avisail Garcia has been cleared to resume baseball activities (via CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes). While he has a long way to go and it’s a long shot, Hahn wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Garcia could play in the Majors again this season.
  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Cubs talked with the Blue Jays regarding Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel before trading the pair to the A’s on Independence Day. The Cubs were asking for Marcus Stroman and Drew Hutchison in addition to “at least” one of Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez and Dalton Pompey. That’s a steep price to pay, to be sure, though none of those prospects are as highly regarded as the centerpiece Chicago did acquire in the deal — shortstop Addison Russell.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports heard the same five names, though he hears that they were discussed in various combinations, and the Blue Jays didn’t discuss packages to acquire both pitchers (Twitter links). One scout tells Rosenthal that Norris and Stroman could both be No. 1 or No. 2 types of starters, and the Jays would be “crazy” to deal them.
  • Speaking to WFAN’s Mike Francesca on Monday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he had extensive negotiations with the Cubs to acquire both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but he doesn’t think the Cubs could have landed a better package than they one they wound up taking from Oakland, regardless of who they were dealing with. CBS New York has highlights and audio from the conversation.

A’s Claim Kenny Wilson, Outright Nick Buss

The A’s announced that they have claimed center fielder Kenny Wilson off waivers from the Blue Jays and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento (Twitter link). The team also announced that the recently designated Nick Buss has been outrighted Sacramento.

Wilson is used to seeing his name in headlines at this point, as this is the third time he has been claimed off waivers this season. The 24-year-old began the season as the No. 22 ranked prospect in the Blue Jays organization (per Baseball America) but found himself designated for assignment and claimed by the Twins. Minnesota then designated Wilson in late May, and he returned to the Jays on a waiver claim. Now, the standout defender will join his third organization of the year.

Wilson’s glove has drawn high praise in multiple scouting reports, but he’s never hit much despite some promising tools. He’s batted just .234/.312/.333 between Double-A and Triple-A this season and is a career .230/.326/.315 hitter in his minor league career.

Buss, a 27-year-old outfielder, was claimed off waivers by the A’s after the Dodgers designated him for assignment earlier this year. He’s performed well in his time with Sacramento and will return to the River Cats after being removed from the 40-man roster. In 250 PA with Oakland’s top minor league affiliate, Buss has batted .274/.331/.354 with three homers and seven steals.


AL East Notes: Price, Burnett, McCarthy, Breslow

With 10 wins in their last 12 games, the Rays have escaped the AL East basement and added another wrinkle to the David Price trade rumors.  As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times outlines, it still makes a lot of sense for the Rays to deal Price, given that the club needs to replenish its minor league stock and the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade only increases Price’s value as the best starter available.  On the other hand, the Rays have already invested a record payroll into this year’s team and they could still make a comeback in a weak AL East, then wait until the offseason to explore trading Price.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • “The Yankees don’t have a strong interest in” reacquiring A.J. Burnett, George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  Burnett is a logical trade candidate if the Phillies decide to sell, though the veteran has a partial no-trade clause in his contract.
  • Brandon McCarthy‘s tendency to allow home runs and grounders might be a problem given Yankee Stadium’s small dimensions and the Yankees‘ poor infield defense, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News still feels the Bombers made a good move in acquiring the righty from the Diamondbacks.  McCarthy’s peripherals indicate that he’s due to pitch better in the second half, and even if he’s only average, Martino still considers that an upgrade over the struggling Vidal Nuno.
  • Before dealing for Rich Hill, the Angels showed some interest in acquiring Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow but felt that Breslow’s stuff had declined since last year, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports.  Breslow posted a 1.81 ERA (though a 4.37 xFIP) over 59 2/3 relief innings for the Sox in 2013 but has struggled this season, managing only a 5.04 ERA and almost as many walks (20) as strikeouts (21) over 30 1/3 innings.  The southpaw is also averaging just 87.8 mph on his fastball, down significantly from his 89.9 mph average last year.
  • Also from Edes’ piece, he lists several Red Sox veterans who could be traded this summer now that Boston is on the brink of falling out of contention.
  • While it may not seem likely Jon Lester and the Red Sox will work out a new contract before Lester hits free agency, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reminds us that Cole Hamels and the Phillies were in a similar situation two years ago and agreed on a midseason extension.  Lester has been unwilling to negotiate during the year for fear of distractions, though it was recently reported that he would be open to hearing an offer if it led to a quick signing process.  (One would think he’d be very quick to agree if the Sox presented Lester with the six-year/$144MM deal the Phillies gave Hamels, though I strongly doubt Boston would offer that much.)
  • The Blue Jays have done a poor job of drafting and developing position players over the last decade-plus, Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun writes, a problem that has been underscored by the lack of depth available to fill in for several injured Jays regulars.