Travis Ishikawa Rumors
Today's minor moves..
- The Rangers have agreed to a minor league deal with Kensuke Tanaka, according to a report from Sponichi (Japanese link) passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter). The Giants released the second baseman/left fielder back in September after designating him for assignment. The 32-year-old saw limited time with the Giants this season but excelled in 400 plate appearances at Triple-A Fresno, batting .329/.400/.397 with three homers and 22 steals.
- The Rangers have signed right-hander Justin Germano to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas News (via Twitter). Germano saw two innings of work for the Blue Jays last season but spent most of 2013 with their Triple-A affiliate, turning in a 4.47 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
- Greg Reynolds signed to pitch for the Seibu Lions of NPB in 2014, according to CAA Sports (via Twitter). Reynolds spent last season with the Reds' Triple-A affiliate, posting a 2.42 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 156 1/3 innings.
- The Mariners announced that they've outrighted outfielder Travis Witherspoon to Triple-A Tacoma. The 24-year-old Witherspoon was designated for assignment last week to clear a roster spot for Corey Hart.
- Rick van den Hurk is returning to the Samsung Lions of the KBO, where he helped them capture the the Korean Series title last year, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The deal is pending a physical exam. VandenHurk, 28, last appeared in the majors with the Pirates for a handful of games in 2012.
- The Pirates announced that they have signed seven minor league free agents, including Travis Ishikawa, Michael Martinez, Daniel Schlereth, Adam Wilk, and Kyle McPherson. All of those deals are minor league contracts with invites to big league spring training. Ishikawa had 20 combined plate appearances for the Yankees and Orioles last season, but spent the bulk of the year at the Triple-A level, where he hit .290/.389/.465 with nine homers. Martinez, 31, had 40 big league PAs for the Phillies and posted a .300/.352/.407 line for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Schlereth, a first-round pick in the 2008 draft, has 94 career big league relief appearances to his credit.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The White Sox agreed to sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa, MLBTR has learned. He'll join their Triple-A Charlotte club. Ishikawa recently elected free agency after being designated for assignment by the Yankees.
After signing a minor league deal with the Orioles in December, the 29-year-old Ishikawa hit .316/.413/.525 in 208 plate appearances. His contract was selected as his opt-out date approached, but the Orioles designated him soon after. A waiver claim by the Yankees led to even less playing time. Ishikawa, a former 21st round draft pick of the Giants, did fine work at Triple-A but has yet to find a consistent opportunity in the Majors this year. Lars Anderson and Andy Wilkins have played first base for the Charlotte Knights this year; both have struggled offensively. For the big league club, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko have combined for a .750 OPS at the position.
SATURDAY: Ishikawa cleared waivers and will elect free agency, MLBTR has learned.
THURSDAY: The Yankees designated first baseman Travis Ishikawa for assignment to open a roster spot for Derek Jeter, they announced today. Ishikawa, who received only two plate appearances with the Yankees, is expected to go on waivers today, MLBTR has learned. Jeter makes his season debut tonight following his long recovery from ankle surgery, batting second at designated hitter.
Ishikawa, 29, received most of his playing time with the Orioles' Triple-A club, hitting .316/.413/.525 in 208 plate appearances. He had signed a minor league deal with Baltimore and was added to the big league club upon reaching his opt-out date. He was designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the Yankees shortly thereafter given their lack of depth at first base after Mark Teixeira's season ended.
Let's take a look at the latest news and notes involving the American League East:
- The Red Sox are open to trade market upgrades in the bullpen and at third base, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- One name on Boston's list of bullpen trade targets is the White Sox's Matt Thornton, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (Twitter link). The Braves also have "limited" interest in the left-hander.
- Josh Johnson, set to become a free agent at the end of the season, has seen injury and poor performance affect his value to the point where it is difficult to see the Blue Jays pursue a multi-year deal with him, writes the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin. Johnson may be forced to accept a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, assuming he receives one, to rebuild his value for 2014, opines Griffin.
- The Phillies' Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz both could be on the Yankees' radar as they have a scout in Philadelphia today, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.
- The recently-released Miguel Olivo is not on the Yankees' radar, but first baseman Russ Canzler, who was designated for assignment yesterday, might pique their curiosity, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman (Twitter links).
- Earlier today, the Yankees added first base depth by claiming Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles. O's Executive Vice President Dan Duquette told reporters, including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, he acquired Eric Thames from the Mariners last week knowing he could lose Ishikawa to another team.
The Yankees have claimed Travis Ishikawa off of waivers from the Orioles, an industry source tells Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). The O's designated the first baseman for assignment towards the end of June.
Ishikawa signed a minor league deal with Baltimore and, as MLBTR first reported, had an opt out clause in his contract. The Orioles promoted him rather than let him go elsewhere, but he was DFA'd after just six games in uniform for the major league team. In 208 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk, the 29-year-old slashed .316/.413/.525 with seven homers.
To end the day, we'll take another look at baseball's eastern divisions, following today's earlier AL-focused version. First, I recommend a look at an interesting piece from Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, who passes along some fascinating (and unusually candid) quotes from Stephen Strasburg as his Nationals visit the Mets and fellow phenom Zack Wheeler. "They build you up just to bring you down," says Strasburg.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledged that the club had interest in Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig before he signed on with the Dodgers, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. "We saw him and we liked him," said Amaro, but "L.A. jumped up astronomically on him. ... It's a huge risk. It's paid off, so far." Likewise, the Phils kicked the tires on fellow Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, and even "had interesting conversations with their people," but ultimately felt uncomfortable with the risk.
- The Red Sox have yet to have "a single conversation" with the Phillies regarding third baseman Michael Young, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Nevertheless, Bradford notes, Young could well be a Boston trade target as the trade deadline approaches.
- Many other players could end up on Boston's radar, according to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. With the team potentially shopping for both starting and relief pitching as well as infield depth (particularly at third), Britton suggests that the Sox could be in on most of the major names that have been batted around.
- After designating Travis Ishikawa for assignment earlier today, the Orioles are hoping they can move the first baseman via trade, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Manager Buck Showalter seemed to be resigned to the fact that Ishikawa was likely headed to another organization: "Would love to have Travis back in Norfolk, but there's 10 days, the way I understand it, and a lot of things could happen." Indeed, if Ishikawa is not traded and clears waivers, Kubatko notes, he could elect free agency rather than accepting a minor league assignment by the O's.
Ishikawa, 29, saw just six games of action for the O's varsity squad this season. As MLBTR first reported, the first baseman had an opt out clause in his minor league deal earlier this month. When he triggered it, Baltimore managed to find room for him on the big league roster. Ishikawa forced the issue by posting an impressive .316/.413/.525 slash line with seven homers in 208 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk.
WEDNESDAY: Navarro has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk, tweets Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
MONDAY: Navarro is now on outright waivers, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned.
TUESDAY: The Orioles announced (via Twitter) that they have selected the contract of Travis Ishikawa and designated infielder Yamaico Navarro for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. A 25-man roster space has been opened by placing Miguel Gonzalez on the paternity list.
Navarro, 25, hit .286/.333/.357 in 31 plate appearances for the O's this year, though he's just a career .206/.258/.267 hitter. Despite his youth, he's seen Major League action with four different clubs -- the Red Sox, Pirates, Royals and O's. He's fared significantly better in 190 games at the Triple-A level, batting .268/.354/.440.
Ishikawa exercised the out clause in his minor league contract, giving the Orioles 48 hours to decide whether or not to add him to the roster. General manager Dan Duquette said earlier this morning they were leaning toward selecting the contract. Ishikawa, who was hitting .316/.413/.525 with seven homers in 208 plate appearances at Triple-A, will start at DH for the Orioles tonight and bat eighth.
TUESDAY: Orioles general manager Dan Duquette tells Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that the team is "leaning toward" adding Ishikawa to the roster, but nothing has been finalized yet. The team has until midnight to make a decision (Twitter link).
SUNDAY: Travis Ishikawa has filed a written request to exercise his opt-out clause and become a free agent, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). The Orioles have 48 hours to add Ishikawa to their 25-man Major League roster, or he will be granted his release from the organization. The Orioles could also trade Ishikawa during this 48-hour period, MLBTR has learned.
As reported by MLBTR last week, Ishikawa had the ability to opt-out of his contract on Saturday. While he has performed quite well at Triple-A Norfolk, the O's haven't been able to find room for him on the roster. The 29-year-old has a .316/.413/.525 slash line with seven homers in 208 Triple-A plate appearances.
The Mariners' promotion of Mike Zunino will give the club some 40-man roster issues down the line, writes Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner. While none of the players on the chopping block for future roster shuffling project to be superstars, "the reality is that if you toss a half dozen fringe prospects overboard, you’re going to end up regretting it," Cameron writes. Here's more from around baseball..
- The Tigers have been looking hard for a closer and will continue to do so, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Jose Valverde had a rough outing today versus the Royals as he surrendered a game-tying two run homer in the bottom of the ninth to Lorenzo Cain.
- Travis Ishikawa can opt out of his deal with the Orioles soon and Dan Duquette wouldn't be surprised if he lands a big league job, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Tim Dierkes first learned that the first baseman can opt out of his minor league deal on Saturday.
- Michael Foltynewicz is evolving into the Astros' best pitching prospect, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The No. 19 overall pick in the 2010 draft entered the season as the No. 5 prospect in the club’s farm system, according to Baseball America, and he has only added to his buzz since then.
- The Angels considered drafting former Florida football star Tim Tebow years ago but he had to be scrubbed from the draft board when he didn't send a completed information card to them, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- It's too early to determine who will and won't be available at the trade deadline this year, opines Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.