Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
Despite reports over the weekend that the Astros and first overall pick Mark Appel have already agreed to terms on a below-slot contract, GM Jeff Luhnow today told reporters (including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire) that nothing is official and he has yet to meet with Appel or advisor Scott Boras. "We're trying to move it as fast as we can," Luhnow said. "We wanted to give [Appel] the weekend to enjoy his commencement. We're optimistic we can move it pretty quickly." Luhnow said he hoped that Appel would be signed by as soon as this week.
Here's the latest from around the majors...
- Virtually all of the players recently extended by the Padres have struggled, so Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune said the team might look for future extension candidates to prove themselves more fully before signing them to multiyear deals. Center also discusses several other Padres topics as part of the online chat with fans.
- Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, favored to receive the largest bonus of the coming international signing period, is profiled by Baseball America's Ben Badler. Jimenez, a 16-year-old with a 6'4", 200-pound frame, was reported to be a major target for the Cubs by Badler last month, and Chicago is still in "heavy pursuit" of the prospect. Two of the several scouts and international directors who comment in Badler's piece cite Jermaine Dye as a comparable for Jimenez.
- With the 2013 amateur draft just barely in the books, ESPN.com's Christopher Crawford (Insider subscription required) looks ahead to the 2014 draft, which could be headlined by two NC State products.
- FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi looks at ten players who have helped their trade value in recent weeks. Three of those players (Jesse Crain, Yovani Gallardo and Bud Norris) have recently had their trade stock examined as part of MLBTR's Trade Candidate series.
- In the video link atop that previous post, Morosi cites the Blue Jays, Padres and Phillies as being "right on the fence" as to whether or not they'll be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. If the three teams do decide to sell, plenty of arms will be available -- Morosi lists Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Eric Stults, Jason Marquis, Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee as possible trade chips.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said he has no intention of releasing embattled reliever Carlos Marmol, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. Manager Dale Sveum said the same yesterday after Marmol allowed four ninth-inning runs in a 4-3 Cubs loss to the Mets. Marmol has a 6.08 ERA in 26 2/3 IP this season.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum says his team has no intention of releasing struggling reliever Carlos Marmol and eating the rest of his $9.8MM salary, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. "We've come to find out that he has trouble with the last three outs," says Sveum. "But somebody has to pitch the other innings, and he's done a pretty good job in that role." Marmol allowed four runs in the ninth as the Cubs lost to the Mets 4-3 on Sunday. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- The Cubs' bullpen has struggled this season, but in the aftermath of this summer's trading season, the team's rotation could end up being just as weak, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Last season, the Cubs performed poorly down the stretch after the departures of two productive starters in Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm. This year, Wittenmyer says, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman could be those pitchers' 2013 equivalents.
- Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone struggled Saturday, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that Carlos Zambrano won't be replacing Pettibone right away, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. "Not based on what I saw his last outing, not in my mind," says Amaro. "I’d like to see him pitch again [in the minors]. We’ll keep a close eye on his starts and how effective he is. But he’s not ready yet in my mind." Zambrano has an out clause July 1. He allowed two runs in five innings in his first outing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday, striking out five and walking four. His fastball did not exceed 88 MPH.
- Speaking of Amaro, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer argues that "the bad has outweighed the good" in Amaro's stint as GM, and that it's unclear whether Amaro is the right person for the job. Amaro's signing of Joe Blanton and trade for Hunter Pence rank among his worst moves, Brookover says.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says James McDonald's future with the team could be in jeopardy, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Karen Price writes in a pair of tweets. "As the clock ticks we’ll have to make a determination as to where James best fits in this group, on this club, or does he fit," says Huntington. "That’s a question to be answered ultimately by James McDonald." McDonald, once viewed as a potential franchise building block after promising seasons in 2010 and 2011 and a great first half in 2012, has fallen out of favor after collapsing down the stretch last year and posting a 5.76 ERA with 20 walks in six 2013 starts. He has also struggled in his rehab starts since landing on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort.
- If the Blue Jays had already acquired Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio from the Marlins, they wouldn't have signed Maicer Izturis, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star argues. Izturis signed a three-year, $10MM deal in November, and the Jays acquired Reyes and Bonifacio days later. Izturis has hit .222/.258/.308 this season.
Today's minor moves:
- The Twins have released right-handed reliever Anthony Slama to make 40-man room for recently-signed righty Cody Eppley, tweets Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Slama has not seen MLB action since 2011. He struggled to a 13.50 ERA in 13 1/3 innings with the Twins' Triple-A affiliate this season, including an unsightly 0.64 K/BB ratio.
- The Blue Jays outrighted Andy LaRoche to their Triple-A affiliate after he cleared waivers, according to a press release. Toronto designated LaRoche for assignment two days ago to clear a roster spot for Chien-Ming Wang. The 29-year-old appeared in just one game for the Jays this season and went 0-for-4.
- The Mariners announced that they have outrighted Brandon Bantz to Triple-A Tacoma. The catcher was DFA's earlier this week after playing in just one game for the varsity squad.
- The Diamondbacks have sold right-handed reliever Warner Madrigal to Japan's Chunichi Dragons for an undisclosed sum, the team announced in a press release. The 29-year-old had been solid this year at Triple-A Reno, where he sported a 2.75 ERA in 36 innings of work and maintained a 10.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9.
Here are Thursday's notable signings from Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft (all slot info courtesy of Baseball America) ...
- The Orioles have agreed to terms with Scottsdale Community College lefty Stephen Tarpley, the team's third-round choice, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (via Twitter). Tarpley, who reportedly touches 95 with his fastball, was signed for just $500 under the recommended $525,500 bonus for the 98th overall choice.
- Third-round draft choice Brandon Dixon has signed with the Dodgers for the slot recommendation of $566,500, tweets Callis. The University of Arizona third baseman could become a corner outfielder, according to Callis, and is noted for his power potential.
- The Dodgers have signed fourth-round choice Cody Bellinger, a high-school first baseman, for $700k, tweets Callis. Los Angeles pried Bellinger away from the University of Oregon with the largest over-slot signing to date (by percentage), nearly doubling the recommended $409k bonus. Bellinger is being advised by the Beverly Hills Sports Council.
- The Blue Jays have agreed to terms with their fourth round pick, left-handed high-schooler Evan Smith, according to Callis (on Twitter). Smith, who stands at 6'5", has reportedly touched 93 with his fastball. $96.1k
- Cody Dickson, a "projectable" left-hander out of Sam Houston State, will sign with the Pirates for $375k, Callis says on Twitter. The fourth-round pick's bonus falls $54,200 under the slot recommendation.
- The Reds have signed fourth-rounder Ben Lively for $350k, Callis tweets. The righty mixes four pitches, including a 90-93 MPH heater. His signing bonus comes in at a modest $17.9k under slot.
- The Rockies inked fifth-rounder Blake Shouse for $353,900, his exact slot allocation, according to a Callis tweet. Per Callis, the two-way player sits in the low-to-mid 90's with his fastball and also features a hard curve.
- Third round pick Patrick Murphy signed with the Blue Jays for $500K, Callis tweets. The Arizona high school right-hander missed the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In the past, he has displayed a 93 mph fastball and solid curveball. Murphy is advised by Jonathan Pridie of Sosnick Cobbe.
- The Yankees signed third-rounder Michael O'Neill for $501K, according to Callis (via Twitter). The Michigan outfielder is quick and could wind up in center field.
- Rangers fourth-round pick Isaiah Kiner-Falefa signed for $202K, per Callis (on Twitter). The Hawaiian high school shortstop is a solid defender with a contact-oriented approach. He signed for nearly $184K under slot.
- Catcher/right-hander Tanner Murphy, a fourth-round pick of the Braves, agreed to a $250K bonus to forego his commitment to Southern Illinois, Callis tweets. Murphy has power in his bat and a strong throwing arm behind the dish, and he's also been clocked at 92 mph on the mound. He signed for a healthy $125K below slot.
- The Angels have signed third-round pick Kenyan Middleton for a bonus of $450K, tweets Callis. Middleton is a two-sport athlete out of junior college in Oregon who touches 95 mph with his fastball and features a tight slider as well. He signed $91K under slot.
- The Rays have signed fifth-round selection Johnny Field for a bonus of $250K, Callis reports (on Twitter). Field, an outfielder out of the University of Arizona, will convert to second base and provides most of his value with his bat. He signed for nearly $45K under slot.
The Blue Jays announced that they have released catcher Henry Blanco. The 41-year-old was designated for assignment last week to make room for Andy LaRoche, who was DFA'd earlier today for Chien-Ming Wang's arrival.
Blanco appeared in 15 games for the Blue Jays this year and started as catcher in 13 of those contests. For his career, Blanco owns a .226/.291/.366 slash line across 16 years for the Dodgers, Rockies, Brewers, Braves, Twins, Cubs, Padres, Mets, D'Backs, and Blue Jays.
LaRoche, 29, appeared in just one game for the Jays this season and went 0-for-4. The infielder is a former top prospect who ranked on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list each year from 2005-08, placing as high as No. 19. However, in parts of six Major League seasons (1,336 plate appearances), he's hit just .226/.304/.336 with 22 home runs. LaRoche, who has spent time with the Dodgers, Pirates, A's and Blue Jays, was originally a 39th-round selection by the Dodgers in the 2003 draft. He is the younger brother of Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche.
We'll track today's minor moves here:
- Lefty Evan Crawford has cleared waivers, and the Blue Jays have outrighted him to Double-A New Hampshire, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet tweets. Crawford, 26, has appeared in 14 games at New Hampshire this year, posting a 6.10 ERA with 6.97 K/9 and 3.92 BB/9.
A few notes from Nick Cafardo's latest column in the Boston Globe:
- Free agent Derek Lowe seems to have retired, telling Cafardo that he asked agent Scott Boras not to look for opportunties for him. Lowe pitched in nine games for the Rangers this year before being released in late May.
- The Blue Jays' situation is "a nightmare," Cafardo says, noting that some in the organization don't know whether GM Alex Anthopoulos will stick with the team he has. Toronto is 27-35 after bringing in R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and others last offseason.
- Catcher David Ross says the Rays, Yankees and Rangers pursued him, and the Pirates would have been interested in him if they hadn't signed Russell Martin instead. Ross signed a two-year, $6.2MM contract with the Red Sox in the offseason.
- The Pirates, whose rotation depth has been damaged by injuries to Wandy Rodriguez, Jeanmar Gomez, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Kyle McPherson and Phil Irwin, "would now have to be interested in" Astros pitcher Bud Norris, Cafardo says. Cafardo also notes that talent evaluators wonder how Norris, a competitive player currently pitching for a last-place team, will do if placed on a competitive team.
- It's unclear what the Tigers would do if they lost Jhonny Peralta to a suspension. Peralta has been connected to the Biogenesis scandal, and his production at shortstop would be tough to replace internally or in the trade market, Cafardo notes.
- The Dodgers have already received calls about Andre Ethier's trade availability, Cafardo says.
Jose Reyes ran the bases yesterday and today practiced taking double-play relays. The big question posed to GM Alex Anthopoulos, when he met with reporters before the Blue Jays' three-game winning streak ended with a 6-4 loss to the Rangers, was the timing of Reyes' return. "Our medical staff had said about 10 days or so, maybe a little bit less, but he’s certainly getting close and it’s great to see," Anthopoulos said (as quoted by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca). "Then it will be a question of how many at-bats is he going to need and how do his legs feel playing seven innings, nine innings, and so on. We’re definitely going to be anxious to have him back." Based on that timeline, Davidi speculates Reyes, on the disabled list since April 13 with a left ankle sprain, could begin his rehab June 19 and rejoin the Jays for the start of a four-game series in Boston June 27. In other Blue Jay notes:
- The injury news isn't as encouraging for Brett Lawrie, who is now wearing a protective boot to speed the healing of his high left ankle sprain. "I don't really have a timeline [for his return], because it just takes time to heal," said Anthopoulos (as quoted by MLB.com's Evan Peaslee). "Again, he's going to have to get back to running and all those kind of things. It's not as severe as Reyes, but it seems like it's certainly healing very slowly right now."
- Anthopoulos is taking a game-by-game approach with right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, who was signed Friday to a $500K contract, reports Davidi. "We hope he makes a lot of starts for us, but we don’t want to go in and promise x-number amount of starts," the GM said. "Hopefully, he does well and we catch lightning in a bottle with him. But he understands, his agent understands, that if things don’t work out, we have the right to turn the page."
- Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star feels the offseason moves made by Anthopoulos will only be judged as a total failure if he starts a firesale at the Trade Deadline and continues in the off-season to quickly turn some of his off-season acquisitions into prospects because he would invariably receive less in return than what he surrendered.
- Asked in a readers' mailbag about the possibility of trading slumping catcher J.P. Arencibia, Griffin writes this is one question the organization has to really think about moving forward, but there are no internal, minor-league options after trading away Travis d'Arnaud. If Arencibia (owner of a .220/.240/.436 line with 72 strikeouts and five walks in 225 plate appearances this year) were to be dealt, Griffin thinks it would only happen during the off-season when a quality replacement could be acquired.
- Griffin still sees the Blue Jays as contenders in the AL East because, even though all five clubs could finish with winning records, it is unclear whether there is a 100-win team in the division and 90 wins could quite possibly be enough for the second Wild Card berth.
The Blue Jays have designated left-hander Evan Crawford for assignment, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. The move was made to create a 40-man roster spot for Dustin McGowan to return from the 60-day DL.
Crawford, a 26-year-old reliever, had not appeared with Toronto this season. His only big league action came in 2012, when he tossed eight innings and posted a 6.75 ERA. Crawford had struggled at High-A and Double-A this season, logging a 5.86 ERA in 27 2/3 innings and posting 4.2 BB/9 against 8.8 K/9.