Transactions Rumors

MLB transactions of all kinds, delivered to you before the player even finds out.

Giants Acquire Mike Leake

The Giants and Reds have announced a trade that will send right-hander Mike Leake to San Francisco in exchange for 21-year-old Class-A Advanced right-hander Keury Mella and corner infielder Adam Duvall.

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Leake, 27, is in the midst of his third straight season of solid run prevention in one of baseball’s most hitter-friendly atmospheres. The free-agent-to-be currently sports a 3.56 ERA with 5.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 51.5 percent ground-ball rate in 136 2/3 innings. Dating back to 2013, Leake has cemented himself as a durable source of quality innings. He made 64 starts from 2013-14, totaling 406 2/3 innings in that time, and he’s made 21 starts this year, averaging 6.5 innings per appearance.

The Giants have cycled through eight different starting pitchers this season and received an ERA south of 4.00 from only two of them, creating a good deal of uncertainty in the rotation, particularly in light of injury struggles for Matt Cain, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson. The emergence of Chris Heston has been a boon to the San Francisco pitching staff, but the club has reportedly been on the hunt for arms to shore up the staff, and Leake will certainly help.

In Leake, the Giants have picked up an asset whose limitations — specifically a below-average strikeout/swinging-strike rate in Leake’s case — are minimized by their home park and provided the team some much-needed stability in the rotation. While Leake isn’t on the same level of other rumored Giants target such as David Price and Cole Hamels, he’s an upgrade to the team and, perhaps most importantly, could factor into a potential postseason rotation for the reigning champs. Leake will also improve the Giants’ chances of keeping up with the Dodgers in the division and thereby avoiding a one-game playoff. A half-game currently separates the two clubs.

The move to San Francisco will be advantageous for Leake in multiple ways. First and foremost, Leake will move into a much better pitching environment for the final push toward his first bout with free agency, which should lead to improvements in his overall run prevention numbers. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is that the trade makes him ineligible to receive a qualifying offer. As a 27-year-old free agent, Leake would’ve been a lock to receive a QO despite his status as more of a mid-rotation arm than a front-of-the-rotation piece. Now, however, he’ll hit the open market as one of the youngest players available and without the burden of draft pick compensation, which figures to work quite nicely in his favor.

The move to the rotation for Leake means that one of Hudson, Peavy or Cain will be demoted from their spot, and Giants GM Bobby Evans tells reporters, including Andrew Baggarly, that it will be Hudson who will be departing from the starting five (Twitter link). While Hudson has a 4.80 ERA in 101 innings this season and has not pitched near the level he did in a brilliant debut campaign with the Giants in 2014, it’s nevertheless unusual to see hum heading for a bullpen. Hudson has appeared in 475 games over the course of his Major League career, and 474 of those contests have been starts. The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea tweets that (per Evans) Hudson “ultimately wants to see this club excel, have success and win and told me he’d do whatever it takes for that to happen.”

Turning to the Reds’ side of the deal, Mella ranks first on MLB.com’s midseason list of Giants top prospects and second on Baseball America’s version of the same list. ESPN’s Keith Law tweets that he considered Mella the best arm in San Francisco’s system as well. MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo write that Mella has the best combo of stuff and pitchability of any arm in San Francisco’s system, making him a candidate to rise quickly through the minors. He’s 93-95 mph with his fastball regularly, touching 97 when needed, per their report, and has the potential for three average-or-better pitches. BA notes that a scout has likened his sinking fastball to a bowling ball, and that movement helps him limit homers. Still, some see the bullpen in Mella’s future, BA adds.

The 26-year-old Duvall doesn’t rate as highly on San Francisco prospect lists, but MLB.com still pegged him 25th. Duvall made his big league debut with the Giants in 2014 and has already blasted 26 homers at the Triple-A level in 2015, albeit in the extremely hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Callis and Mayo feel that power is Duvall’s lone tool, making him best suited for a utility role or first base duty. Given his strong Triple-A numbers and the fact that he’s already appeared in the bigs, I’d think Duvall could emerge as a bench option for Cincinnati in short order. (For those that enjoy a good anecdote, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer points out that Duvall homered in his first career game … a solo shot off of Leake.)

The rebuilding Reds have now moved two of their most desirable assets — Leake and Johnny Cueto — and netted a quartet of promising arms in addition to a potential big league bench piece. Mella and Duvall are joined by lefties Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed in an improving Reds farm system.

FOX’s Jon Morosi first reported that the two sides were in discussions. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that Leake would go to the Reds, adding that Cincinnati would net two minor leaguers. Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area reported Mella’s inclusion (on Twitter), and Morosi reported that Duvall was in the deal, too (on Twitter).


Rangers To Acquire Cole Hamels In Eight-Player Deal

9:44pm: There won’t be an official announcement tonight, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest.

JULY 30, 9:35pm: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the league has officially approved the trade, meaning an official announcement shouldn’t be too far off.

JULY 29: After months of rumors, Phillies ace Cole Hamels has reportedly been traded to the Rangers in an eight-player deal.  The Rangers acquired Hamels, reliever Jake Diekman, and $9.5MM in cash for veteran lefty Matt Harrison, pitching prospects Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff, catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, and outfield prospect Nick Williams.

Jul 10, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) throws to the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s win left the Rangers four games out in the AL Wild Card, but the Hamels deal was likely completed with future seasons in mind as well.  Hamels is signed through the 2018 season and is guaranteed $82.1MM through the end of his contract, plus a 2019 club/vesting option.  Hamels finished his illustrious Phillies career with a flourish, pitching a no-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday.  The Phillies had drafted Hamels out of high school in the first round in 2002, and he won 114 games for them with a 3.30 ERA, three All-Star Game appearances, and four top-eight Cy Young finishes.  The 31-year-old also sports a 3.09 ERA across 13 postseason starts and was NLCS and World Series MVP when his Phillies won it all in 2008.

Hamels will pair with Yu Darvish, who is presently recovering from Tommy John surgery, atop the Rangers’ rotation, thereby giving Texas a formidable one-two punch to compete in the AL West next year. Joining that pair will be some combination of Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez.

The Giants, Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Yankees had also been linked to Hamels in recent days.  According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the lefty wielded his no-trade clause to reject a deal to the Astros.  The Phillies did not need Hamels’ consent to trade him to Texas.  With the Royals adding Johnny Cueto on Sunday, teams still seeking an ace in advance of Friday’s trade deadline may turn to the Tigers’ David Price.

Thompson and Alfaro, each top 50 prospects in the game depending on who you ask, are the best pieces coming back to the rebuilding Phillies.  Originally a second-round pick by the Tigers in 2012, Detroit traded Thompson to the Rangers a year ago in the Joakim Soria deal.  Thompson, currently pitching in Double-A, was labeled a “potential No. 2 or 3 starter” by Baseball America prior to the season.  Alfaro, also last seen at Double-A, was labeled “one of the minors’ best catching prospects” recently by ESPN’s Keith Law despite a significant ankle injury suffered in June.  Williams is known for an “explosive tool set,” per BA, and he’s currently hitting .300/.357/.480 at Double-A.  The Rangers got quantity in this deal too, as MLB.com says Eickhoff could become a No. 3 starter and BA says Asher profiles as a potential No. 4 starter.

Harrison’s inclusion has a financial element, since the 29-year-old southpaw is owed more than $32MM through 2017.  The Phillies will be on the hook for all of that, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Phillies taking him back may have improved their prospect return, as Harrison has made only nine starts since 2013 due to injuries.  Most recently, he had spinal fusion surgery in his lower back in June of last year and returned to a big league mound this month.

Diekman, a 28-year-old southpaw, has struggled out of the Phillies’ bullpen this year with a 5.15 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.  He has posted strong strikeout rates throughout his career, but this year his walks ballooned and his batting average on balls in play jumped to .381.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first noted that the Rangers and Phillies were moving closer to a Hamels agreement, and MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan said the two sides were getting close.  Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Grant, and Sullivan added further details.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the amount of money going to the Rangers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Astros Acquire Carlos Gomez, Mike Fiers For Four Prospects

The Astros and Brewers are announced a blockbuster trade on Thursday that will send center fielder Carlos Gomez, right-hander Mike Fiers and an international bonus slot (valued at $287,500) to Houston in exchange for outfield prospects Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana, right-hander Adrian Houser and lefty Josh Hader. The Astros did not have to make a 40-man move to add either player, as they had an open spot, and Santana was already on the 40-man.

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Gomez, of course, was believed to be headed back to the Mets last night in a swap that would’ve sent Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to the Brewers, but the trade fell through after names were agreed upon due to a combination of medical concerns pertaining to his hip and perhaps financial elements as well.

Adding Gomez to the outfield mix should result in a significant improvement for the Astros over the remainder of the season. Despite hamstring issues that cost him three weeks earlier in the year, Gomez’s defense remains above average, and if he’s 100 percent healthy, he has a track record as one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.

Plus defense has long been part of Gomez’s game due to his excellent range, but Gomez over the past three-plus seasons has turned himself into a genuine offensive weapon at the plate as well. Dating back to Opening Day 2012, Gomez is a .275/.335/.474 hitter that has averaged 24 homers and 38 stolen bases per 162 games played. Wins above replacement pegs Gomez at an average of five to five-and-a-half wins per year in that time, depending on your preferred version of the metric. Houston center fielders have been sound from a defensive standpoint this season, but they’ve combined to bat just .226/.285/.370, making Gomez an upgrade on both sides of the ball.

In addition to his strong all-around game, though, Gomez made for an appealing trade candidate due to his contractual situation. He’s the rare Scott Boras client that took an extension as opposed to waiting for free agency, and while he should still secure a $100MM+ contract with ease following the 2016 season, he’s currently in the midst of a three-year, $24MM pact that has worked out beautifully for the Brewers. Gomez is earning $8MM in 2015 — of which about $3.02MM remains — and he’ll earn $9MM in 2016. Provided he remains healthy, the Astros will pay about $12MM for as many as 221 games of Gomez’s career.

And of course, Gomez isn’t the only piece the Astros are receiving in this deal. By persuading the Brewers to include Fiers in the contract, they’ve landed a rotation piece that can potentially be controlled through the 2019 season. In fact, he won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season, meaning that Houston can control him for roughly the league minimum.

Fiers, 30, is a soft-tossing righty and a pronounced fly-ball pitcher, but he’s performed well overall despite an average of just 88.8 mph on his fastball. He’s somewhat of a late bloomer but has a 3.89 ERA in 118 innings this season and a lifetime 3.66 mark in 341 2/3 innings as a Major Leaguer. Fiers has averaged 9.2 K/9 despite his pedestrian heater, and he’s paired that ability to rack up K’s with solid control (2.8 BB/9). He should step directly into the Houston rotation behind ace Dallas Keuchel, rental acquisition Scott Kazmir and right-handers Collin McHugh and Scott Feldman. Fiers drew quite a bit of interest from the Blue Jays earlier this month, though Toronto has obviously gone a different route and made a splash of their own with the acquisition of David Price.

From the Brewers’ perspective, Phillips is the clear prize of the deal. A sixth-round pick by the Astros out of high school in 2012, the 21-year-old has risen to the Double-A level and shown no signs of being overmatched by the pitching he’s faced. Phillips is hitting .320/.377/.548 with 16 homers and 16 stolen bases this season while appearing primarily in center field. He entered the season as one of the Astros’ top prospects, but his excellent first half propelled him to rank 21st on Baseball America’s midseason Top 50, 35th on the midseason Top 50 of ESPN’s Keith Law and 39th on the midseason edition of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects. Law calls him a “true five-tool” player with the potential to remain in center field, and MLB.com gives him above-average tools across the board, with his speed and arm rating as the top tools in his profile. He should immediately become the club’s No. 2 prospect behind shortstop Orlando Arcia.

The 22-year-old Santana, originally acquired by the Astros in the 2011 Hunter Pence trade with the Phillies, went hitless in a 17-at-bat big league debut in 2014 but has fared better in another limited sample in 2015, hitting .256/.310/.462 with a couple of homers in 42 plate appearances. A corner outfielder by trade, he could potentially step right onto the Brewers’ big league roster. He’s slashed .305/.400/.515 in 195 Triple-A games — part of the reason for his No. 7 ranking on MLB.com’s midseason Top 30 for the Astros and No. 87 on their overall Top 100. Santana has everyday upside but there are plenty that worry about his penchant for strikeouts; he’s whiffed at a 29.9 percent rate throughout his minor league career.

Hader came to Houston alongside L.J. Hoes from the Orioles in the 2013 trade that sent Bud Norris to Baltimore. He ranked eighth among Astros farmhands at the time of the swap, per BA, and 14th on MLB.com’s list. BA notes that Hader’s delivery at times draws comparisons to Chris Sale, and MLB.com writes that his velocity gets up to 96 mph but is paired with inconsistent secondary pitches. Hader has a 3.17 ERA with 69 strikeouts and 24 walks in 65 1/3 innings at Double-A as a 21-year-old this season.

Houser has a 5.10 ERA split across two levels (Class-A Advanced and Double-A) this season, and he’s worked as both a starter and a reliever. He’s averaged 8.5 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 this year, and MLB.com rated him 21st among Houston prospects prior to the trade. Their scouting report praises his mid-90s fastball and ability to generate grounders but notes that the 22-year-old’s control has plenty of room for improvement.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported (via Twitter) that Gomez and Fiers were going to Houston. The Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reported that there would be four to five prospects in the return (Twitter link). Lookout Landing’s Nathan Bishop nailed the return (on Twitter), and Heyman added that all of the medicals had been approved.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Dodgers Designate Morse, Beachy, Heisey, Tsao For Assignment

The Dodgers announced that they’ve designated four players — Mike Morse, Brandon Beachy, Chris Heisey and Chin-hui Tsao — for assignment in order to clear 40-man roster spot for Alex Wood, Mat Latos, Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson and Jose Peraza. A fifth 40-man roster spot was freed up by placing Chris Hatcher on the 60-day DL. Peraza was optioned to Triple-A, and Bronson Arroyo, also acquired in today’s 13-player trade, was placed on the 60-day DL.

It’s rare — if not unprecedented — to see this large a roster departure in one fell swoop. But most of the pieces figure to have little problem clearing waivers. Morse’s sizable contract makes that an easy expectation, though Los Angeles could look to park him in the American League while saving some cash through a trade. Beachy, too, is owed enough ($2.75MM annual salary) that he’s likely to clear, though it’s unclear what Los Angeles will look to do with him. And the 34-year-old Tsao has struggled badly in his first action in the big leagues since 2007.

Heisey, though, could draw some interest. If nothing else, a team like the Brewers or Reds — both of whom could end up parting with multiple big league outfielders — might like the idea of plugging him into their outfield mix the rest of the way (and, possibly, for 2016). He is owed a fairly reasonable $2.16MM this year and can be controlled through arbitration next season — where he likely won’t command much of a raise after seeing scant time in the majors. The 30-year-old Heisey is capable of playing center and has a lifetime .246/.300/417 slash with a solid defensive reputation, making him a reasonably useful player.


Pirates Acquire Joakim Soria

The Pirates announced on Thursday that they have acquired Tigers closer Joakim Soria in exchange for shortstop JaCoby Jones.

Joakim Soria

The Pirates have been known to be interested in bullpen help since last week and swung a minor deal to add Joe Blanton to the mix last night, but Soria would represent a much higher-profile addition to the Pittsburgh ‘pen. A free agent at season’s end, the 31-year-old Soria is earning $7MM this season. He began the year as the Tigers’ primary setup option, but Joe Nathan blew out his arm in the early stages of the season, and Soria has seamlessly returned to a ninth-inning role with which he is quite familiar.

Soria has worked to a strong 2.85 ERA in 41 innings this season, although he’s also been uncharacteristically homer-prone, yielding what is already a career-high eight long balls on the season (1.76 HR/9). Home run rate can have quite a bit of randomness to it, so perhaps the Pirates are unconcerned (they’ve done well with other previously homer-prone arms such as A.J. Burnett and Mark Melancon). Both Soria’s walk rate (2.4 BB/9) and strikeout rate (7.9 K/9) are also down from an excellent 2014 season, but his bottom-line results remain strong.

It seems unlikely that Soria would supplant Melancon as the team’s closer, so the more likely scenario is that Soria will share setup duties with left-hander Tony Watson, who is enjoying a strong season in his own right. The Pirates have received strong production from their relief corps as a whole, although it’s been somewhat of a top-heavy unit, and a rental of Soria would deepen the group and help take some pressure off the rotation in the season’s final months.

Jones, a third-round pick from the 2013 draft, ranked as Pittsburgh’s No. 12 prospect on MLB.com’s midseason Top 30. Baseball America placed Jones 10th on their midseason Top 10 list for the Pirates.

Both Baseball America and MLB.com praise Jones’ combination of power and speed but note that he’s raw and a bit inexperienced at shortstop after playing mostly second base and center field at LSU. BA notes that he has a propensity to swing and miss, while MLB.com praises his aggressive style on the basepaths and pure athleticism.

Jones recently reached Double-A but has just three games at that level. He’s batting a combined .260/.319/.398 across two levels in the minors this season and is a .277/.336/.445 career hitter overall in his pro career.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first connected the two sides (via Twitter), and MLive.com’s James Schmehl said a deal was getting close (also via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the deal was done (Twitter link), and Biertempfel tweeted that Jones was headed to Detroit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers, Braves, Marlins Complete 13-Player Trade

The Dodgers, Marlins and Braves have swung one of the most complex three-team trades in recent history. The “basic” structure of the deal (though there’s nothing basic about this move) is as follows: the Dodgers will receive right-hander Mat Latos and first baseman Michael Morse from the Marlins. They’ll also add top prospect Jose Peraza and pitchers Alex Wood, Bronson ArroyoJim Johnson and Luis Avilan from the Braves. Atlanta, in turn, will receive infielder Hector Olivera, lefty Paco Rodriguez and minor leaguer Zachary Bird from the Dodgers. The Braves are also picking up Miami’s Competitive Balance Round A pick in next year’s draft (No. 35 overall). The Marlins will come out of this deal with three minor league pitchers — Kevin Guzman, Jeff Brigham and Victor Araujo — plus the financial relief of shedding the remaining $14.3MM that is owed to Latos and Morse. Each team has announced the trade’s completion.

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Mat Latos is headed to the Dodgers.

In making this trade, the Dodgers bolster their rotation not only for the remainder of the 2015 season but also potentially through the 2019 campaign. Latos, who is earning $9.4MM in 2015 and has $3.6MM of that sum remaining on his contract, is a free agent at season’s end, but Wood can be controlled for four years beyond the current campaign.

While he’s battled injuries and struggled early in the season, Latos has increased his velocity and upped his results since returning from a DL stint (as noted by MLBTR’s Steve Adams when examining his trade candidacy). All told, the 27-year-old Latos owns a 4.48 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 88 1/3 innings on the year. But ERA estimators view him more as a mid-3.00 ERA contributor, and that has shown up in his last seven starts, over which he’s allowed 15 earned runs in 45 2/3 frames with a 43:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Wood is perhaps the more intriguing name here for the Dodgers, though. The 2012 second-round pick was never vaunted as a Top 100 prospect, but he’s emerged as a reliable cog in the Braves’ rotation over the past few seasons. Though many have expressed long-term health concerns with Wood and his numbers are down in 2015, his overall body of work is nonetheless impressive. Wood has a lifetime 3.10 ERA in 368 2/3 big league innings with very strong averages of 8.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 to go along with a 46.5 percent ground-ball rate. Both Latos and Wood will join co-aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Dodgers’ rotation, solidifying the starting five down the stretch. Those additions, however, demonstrate a different approach than many pundits expected, as L.A. was heavily rumored to be involved with the top names on the trade market.

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Alex Wood could be a long-term rotation piece for L.A.

In landing Johnson, the Dodgers are picking up a reliever that was serving as Atlanta’s closer and doing so quite well. Johnson led the AL in saves from 2012-13 before a down season in 2014. Atlanta snatched him up on a one-year, $1.6MM contract with enough incentives to carry the deal to $2.5MM if he maxes it out. He’s been an outstanding buy-low piece for the Braves and will carry a 2.25 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 60.8 percent ground-ball rate into the Dodger bullpen, where he’ll help set up for Kenley Jansen.

The 26-year-old Avilan gives the Dodgers another left-handed relief option to pair with J.P. Howell and Ian Thomas, though it’s debatable whether he’s a long-term improvement over Rodriguez, who heads to Atlanta in the deal. Avilan has a 3.58 ERA on the season with a 31-to-10 K/BB ratio (though two of the walks were intentional) in 37 2/3 innings. He’s upped his velocity this season and his strikeout rate as well, but Avilan’s previous good fortune in terms of homer-to-flyball ratio has dried up this season, and he’s near the league average (above it, in fact) in that regard for the first time in his career. Avilan hasn’t missed a ton of bats throughout his career but does have strong overall totals against left-handed hitters.

Morse doesn’t really fit on the Dodgers’ roster and was likely included as a means of offsetting some salary, so it’s possible his stay with the Dodgers will be brief, at best. Los Angeles designated Eric Stults for assignment immediately upon acquiring him from the Braves earlier this year and did so with Ryan Webb as well, so there’s certainly precedent for them to flex their financial muscle as a procedural necessity and simply cut ties with the unwanted or superfluous players in a deal.

Arroyo serves as a second example of the Dodgers flexing their financial muscle. The veteran right-hander signed a two-year deal with the D-Backs prior to the 2014 season but underwent Tommy John surgery last summer and hasn’t pitched this season. Arizona unloaded his contract in a prior trade with the Braves, and that money will now go to the Dodgers, bringing the total amount of cash they’re eating in this deal to roughly $43.5MM. It’s possible, at least, that Arroyo could pitch at the back of the L.A. rotation down the stretch.

Dealing Peraza away was probably a tough pill to swallow for the Braves, who have long lauded him as one of their top prospects. The 21-year-old entered the season as a consensus Top 50 prospect in the game, and though his offensive numbers are down somewhat, that’s not necessarily a red flag for someone playing at the minors’ top level at the age of 21. That’s not to say, of course, that Peraza’s numbers are poor; he’s hitting .295/.319/.380 this season. Peraza ranks as the game’s No. 26 prospect on the midseason Top 50 from Baseball America and No. 30 on MLB.com’s midseason update to their own Top 100 prospect list. Peraza began his career as a shortstop and eventually moved to second base, but it’s not certain where the Dodgers project him in the future. He has little power but draws rave reviews for his speed and glove, and he’s swiped 149 bases over his past 310 minor league contests. I feel it should be noted that Peraza, too, could be a piece that the Dodgers will consider dealing, as they’re reportedly reluctant to part with their own top prospects: Corey Seager and Julio Urias.

As for the Braves, they’ll finally land a player they pursued extensively this offseason in the form of Olivera. Atlanta simply couldn’t match the Dodgers’ enormous $62.5MM offer to the 30-year-old infielder, but $28MM of that came in the form of a signing bonus that is to be paid in three installments. The Dodgers will pay the final two installments of Olivera’s signing bonus, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That means the Braves are essentially taking on Olivera on a six-year, $32.5MM contract that began this season. He’s earning $2MM in 2015, of which about $754K remains, so their total financial commitment to him will be about $31.25MM over the course of five and a half years. That’s a much more palatable obligation for the Braves (who have notably shed significant payroll from their books by moving Melvin Upton Jr. and Craig Kimbrel since Olivera signed.)

Olivera, a right-handed hitting third baseman/second baseman, was said at the time he signed to be a safe bet to post strong average and OBP marks due to his pure hitting abilities and a keen eye at the plate. The question was how much power he’d show in the Majors, but some felt that he could be a 20-homer bat on a yearly basis. He’s looked sharp to this point in the minors, hitting .348/.392/.493 across three levels and reaching Triple-A. The Braves undoubtedly consider him to be a major component of their long-term future in the infield, though the specific position he’ll play is yet an unknown.

In Rodriguez, they’ll pick up a left-handed reliever who could be out for the season but has pitched well when healthy. Rodriguez had surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow in late June — a procedure that will sideline him for eight to 10 weeks. However, the former second-round pick has been excellent while on the mound. He was the first player from the 2012 draft to reach the Majors, debuting the same year he was drafted, and he sports a lifetime 2.53 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9.

The 21-year-old Bird has largely unimpressive numbers in the minors — a 4.74 ERA in 351 minor league innings — but MLB.com rated him 15th among L.A. farmhands. Per their scouting report, he made big strides with his velocity late in 2014 and has gone from a low-90s heater to a mid-90s offering that “threatens triple digits” at times. He still needs to get a better feel for his offspeed pitches and has a long ways to go as a slider, they add.

With all that said, we’re at last to the Marlins’ portion of the trade, which looks meager. Of the three names in question, only Brigham ranks among L.A.’s top 30 prospects, per MLB.com, who rank him 28th. Brigham had Tommy John surgery in college in 2012 and missed all of 2013 before pitching himself into the fourth round, their scouting report notes. He’s 90-94 mph with his fastball and has shown shaky control, though some of that can be attributed to the surgery. He’s punched out 75 hitters in 75 innings this year but has also walked 38 and has a 5.52 ERA.

Guzman is a 20-year-old starter pitching at the Class A level who has notched a 3.90 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 in 83 innings this year. The 22-year-old Araujo is in his second stint with Class-A Advanced and hasn’t found very favorable results. He’s missed plenty of bats (55 strikeouts in 50 innings) with solid control (14 walks) but has been hittable and ultimately surrendered a 5.40 ERA this season.

The Marlins had a number of ways they could go in terms of dealing Latos, but it seems they either prioritized shedding the Morse contract or simply didn’t find that teams were willing to offer much in return given his rental status, health concerns and early struggles. In the end, while this trade started off being termed the “Mat Latos trade,” it will be more remembered as a deal that netted the Braves their second baseman or third baseman of the future in exchange for a promising young arm and one of their top prospects.

Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported (on Twitter) that Latos and Morse were headed to the Dodgers. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) and MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (Twitter link) reported the financial components for Miami/L.A. and the inclusion of the Marlins’ draft pick. Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM tweeted that a third team was potentially being brought in. Frisaro reported the prospects going to Miami. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the Braves’ inclusion (via Twitter). Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the Braves would get a young starter (Twitter links), and Rosenthal tweeted that Wood was the pitcher in question. Bowden tweeted Johnson’s inclusion. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman first suggested Peraza’s name (on Twitter) and Sherman confirmed his inclusion (via Twitter). Bowman also tweeted that Olivera was in the deal, and Bowden tweeted that Avilan was as well. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweeted that Bird was headed to Atlanta. Bowman added that Rodriguez was going to the Braves. Passan added the final wrinkle: Arroyo’s inclusion (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Yankees Acquire Dustin Ackley

The Mariners announced today that they have traded outfielder Dustin Ackley to the Yankees in exchange for outfield prospect Ramon Flores and right-hander Jose Ramirez.

Dustin Ackley

Former No. 2 overall pick Dustin Ackley didn’t pan out in Seattle. He’ll hope for better days with the Yankees.

Ackley, now 27 years old, came to the Mariners with a great deal of fanfare after being selected with the second overall pick in the 2009 draft. Selected one spot after Stephen Strasburg, Ackley was hailed as the best college bat in the draft on the strength of his play at UNC. Baseball America rated him as the No. 11 prospect prior to the 2010 season and No. 12 prior to the 2011 season, but Ackley’s excellent minor league play — .303/.401/.472 in 143 Triple-A games — never carried over to the Majors with any sort of consistency.

Ackley showed promise in his rookie season, hitting .273/.348/.417 in 90 games as a 23-year-old rookie in 2011, but since that time, he’s posted just a .236/.297/.356 line in 1844 big league plate appearances. He’s bounced around defensively but has settled in as mostly an outfielder in recent years. He does have quite a big of Major League experience at second base, with 2450 innings under his belt, but he has just 449 innings there since Opening Day 2013.

In exchange for Ackley, the Mariners will receive an outfielder that ranks 27th among New York prospects (Flores) and a right-handed reliever that has already cracked the Major Leagues (Ramirez). An earlier report indicated that the Yankees had initially offered Flores and minor league outfielder Ben Gamel, but the Mariners wanted more, so it stands to reason that Seattle considers Ramirez an upgrade over Gamel.

The 23-year-old Flores got a cup of coffee earlier this season but picked up just 33 plate appearances — far too small a sample from which to glean anything useful. He’s a career .268/.360/.429 hitter a the Triple-A level in parts of two seasons. MLB.com’s scouting report praises his hit tool and ability to spray line drives but also notes that he lacks the power to profile as a regular in the outfield. He has an average arm and can man all three outfield spots, giving him the ceiling of a fourth outfielder, per MLB.com.

Ramirez, 25, has thrown 13 innings with the Yankees over the past two seasons, striking out 10 but also issuing six walks. His average fastball hovers around 95 mph. Ramirez has shown the ability to miss bats in the minors — 100 strikeouts in 93 1/3 Triple-A innings — but he’s also issued 52 unintentional walks and hit seven batters in that time, so control is clearly an issue for him.

The YES Network’s Jack Curry reported that Ackley had been acquired by New York in exchange for Flores and Ramirez (All Twitter links). Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News had previously connected the Yankees to Ackley.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Red Sox Designate Daniel Nava

The Red Sox have designated outfielder/first baseman Daniel Nava for assignment, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. He lost as spot as the club moved to add bullpen depth to its active roster.

Nava, 32, put up strong results in fairly extensive playing time over each of the last three seasons, racking up 1,261 plate appearances with a .278/.364/.403 slash. But injuries and performance issues have kept him grounded in 2015. He’s put up a meager .152/.260/.182 line in only 78 turns at bat.

Despite the recent struggles, it wouldn’t be surprised to hear of another team with interest at giving Nava a bench spot. But his $1.85MM salary is a major obstacle, so it will take some effort for Boston to find him a new home. (Otherwise, he’ll likely clear waivers and remain under team control.)


Pirates Designate Vance Worley

The Pirates have designated righty Vance Worley for assignment, the club announced. His roster spot was needed after the club acquired Joe Blanton late yesterday.

Phillies teammates for three years, Worley and Blanton won’t have a chance to pitch together for a second Pennsylvania club. Both have experienced modest career resurgences, and now it’s Worley’s turn to see if he can find a new opportunity.

The 27-year-old Worley had a great year for Pittsburgh last year, with a 2.85 ERA over 110 2/3 innings earning him a $2.45MM arbitration payday. He’s been solid again in 2015 — he carries a 3.78 ERA over 69 innings, with 6.1 /9 against 2.5 BB/9 — but lost his rotation spot along the way. He could draw some interest from teams looking to add innings, though his salary may complicate things.


Cardinals Designate Dan Johnson

The Cardinals have designated veteran first baseman Dan Johnson for assignment, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old lost his roster spot to make way for the just-acquired Brandon Moss.

Johnson has seen only scattered big league action for most of his career, and has not taken more than 100 MLB plate appearances since 2010. All told, he’s slashed .234/.335/.405 over 1,625 plate appearances in his career. While waiting for his next chance at the big leagues, Johnson has swatted 250 total minor league home runs.