Wandy Rodriguez Rumors

Phillies Notes: Outfield, Pitching

The big story of the day is the trade of Marlon Byrd. We learned earlier this evening about reactions and the Reds side of the story. Here’s more on how the Phillies will adapt to life post-Byrd:

Phillies Sign Wandy Rodriguez To Minor League Deal

The Phillies have signed left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez to a minor league deal, reports CSNPhilly.com. Dominican sport commentator Santana Martinez was the first to report the signing (via Twitter). The move is pending a physical. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman confirms (Twitter link) that the deal is not yet finalized. Presumably, Rodriguez will be invited to spring training to compete for a rotation spot, although that detail is not specifically mentioned in the report.

Rodriguez, 36 in January, has struggled with injuries in recent seasons. He lost much of 2013 to a forearm strain. The Pirates designated him for assignment last May after he was sidelined with knee inflammation. Over the past two seasons, he managed just 18 starts including 6.75 ERA over six starts in 2014.

His career numbers are substantially better. In 1,471 career innings, the southpaw has a 4.06 ERA, 7.40 K/9, and 3.05 BB/9. He’s also re-established his health while pitching in the Dominican Winter League. His best seasons came with the Astros, although his injury shortened 2013 campaign included a 3.59 ERA in 12 starts.

Once the signing is finalized, Rodriguez will likely compete for one of three open rotation jobs with the Phillies. Presently, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels front the rotation, although Lee is recovering from an elbow injury and Hamels is frequently linked to trade rumors. After the top duo, Jerome Williams, David Buchanan, Kevin Slowey, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Sean O’Sullivan, and Jonathan Pettibone are part of a wide open field for the remaining jobs. Presumably, Williams and Buchanan are penciled in to the third and fourth spots.


Quick Hits: Halsey, Kuroda, Wandy, Everth, Asche

MLBTR would like to send its deepest condolences to the friends and family of former Major League left-hander Brad Halsey, who died tragically in a climbing accident near his Texas home, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes. Halsey, just 33, spent three seasons in the Majors with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and A’s from 2004-06. He was one of three players traded from the Yankees to Arizona to acquire the legendary Randy Johnson.

As we keep the family and loved ones of Brad in our thoughts, here are a few notes from around the game…

  • Hiroki Kuroda has yet to decide whether he wants to return for the 2015 season, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. At this point, Kuroda is weighing one more season in the Majors, one more season in Nippon Professional Baseball or retirement.
  • Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has recovered from knee surgery and will pitch in a winter league this year as he gears up for a comeback, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rodriguez, who turns 36 in January, pitched just 26 2/3 innings for the Pirates this season before being released. He underwent knee surgery roughly a month later and said at the time that he had received some interest from other clubs. However, he preferred to correct a lingering issue in his knee that had been hindering him, in an effort to be as best-prepared as possible for the 2015 season.
  • The Associated Press reports that Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera was charged with resisting arrest after police stopped him for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. While DUI charges are not planned, according to the report, Cabrera was cited for possession of marijuana in the car and could face up to a year in jail if convicted of a misdemeanor.
  • The Phillies have no plans to move Cody Asche off of third base at this time, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. While the idea of trying Asche in the outfield has been kicked around within the organization, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team decided at last week’s organizational meetings that Asche will remain at the hot corner. The plan next season is to platoon Asche and Maikel Franco if the team cannot move Ryan Howard this offseason. It seems that at some point, Asche or Franco will have to move off the position, but Amaro told Zolecki the team views both as third basemen right now. “Maikel Franco is a third baseman who plays some first base,” said Amaro.

Wandy Rodriguez Undergoes Season-Ending Knee Surgery

After being released by the Pirates, starter Wandy Rodriguez has undergone surgery on his right knee, according to a report from Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (Spanish language link). Rodriguez will miss the rest of the season but hopes to be ready to return next spring.

The 35-year-old lefty drew interest from several clubs after being shown the door by Pittsburgh, he told Rojas. But he decided instead to work on getting healthy for next year. Of course, there was limited upside to returning to the hill this year, especially at less than full capacity. The Pirates and Astros were (and are) on the hook together for $13MM ($5.5MM still being paid by Houston), so Rodriguez was not going to increase his earnings.

Rodriguez tossed 205 2/3 innings of 3.76 ERA ball in 2012, and worked to a 3.59 mark in 62 2/3 frames over an injury-shortened 2013. After exercising a player option for 2014, though, Rodriguez was neither healthy nor productive. He managed only 26 2/3 innings, allowing 20 earned runs in the process. Nevertheless, given his prior track record as a useful innings-eater, Rodriguez should draw interest if he can show that his knee and left arm are healthy come spring.

Pirates Place Wandy Rodriguez On Release Waivers

MAY 30: The Pirates have placed Rodriguez on unconditional release waivers, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter).

MAY 22: The Pirates announced that they have re-instated Russell Martin from the 15-day disabled list and designated left-hander Wandy Rodriguez for assignment.

The DFA marks a somewhat surprising end to what has been an injury-riddled Pirates tenure for Rodriguez. Acquired from the Astros in 2012 (in exchange for Colton Cain, Rudy Owens and Robbie Grossman), Rodriguez totaled just 164 1/3 innings in parts of three seasons with Pittsburgh.

Rodriguez was healthy and effective for the Bucs after the acquisition in 2012, pitching to a 3.72 ERA in 75 innings. However, a forearm strain limited him to just 62 2/3 innings last season, and right knee inflammation cost him three weeks earlier this season. Still, with the exception of 2014, the veteran southpaw has pitched well when healthy.

This season, he’s registered a 6.75 ERA with a 20-to-8 K/BB ratio and a whopping 10 homers in 26 2/3 innings. Never one to throw particularly hard, Rodriguez’s average fastball velocity is a career-worst 88.3 mph this season. Still, given his $13MM salary ($5.5MM of which is being paid by Houston) and the fact that the Pirates have previously bought low on pitchers with potentially fluky homer-to-flyball ratios (A.J. Burnett, Mark Melancon and, to a lesser extent, Francisco Liriano), it’s a bit surprising that Rodriguez was the odd man out.

Pittsburgh will have 10 days to trade, outright or release Rodriguez, though his salary and recent injury problems make it highly unlikely that someone would claim him on waivers. A trade is unlikely for the same reason, unless the Pirates were to kick in some cash. Rodriguez is earning $13MM in 2014 — $5.5MM of which is being covered by the Astros. In other words, with more than a quarter of the season gone, Pittsburgh is eating roughly $5.33MM worth of salary, which is a sizable chunk of its $72MM Opening Day payroll.

Wandy Rodriguez Exercises Player Option

Wandy Rodriguez has informed the Pirates that he has exercised his $13MM player option for the 2014 season, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.

Rodriguez's decision was an expected one, as the soon-to-be 35-year-old pitched just 62 2/3 innings for the Pirates in 2013 as a result of an injury to his left (throwing) forearm. Rodriguez wouldn't have been able to approach this type of money as a free agent, so he will instead look to bounce back as a member of a Pirates rotation that will also include Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. The Pirates want to bring A.J. Burnett back into the fold, but they have Jeff Locke as an internal replacement, should Burnett decide to retire.

Rodriguez was effective in his limited 2013 sample, posting a 3.59 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 1.7 BB/8 and a 42.3 percent ground-ball rate. He was originally acquired by the Pirates in a 2012 trade that sent Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens and Colton Cain to the Astros.

Central Notes: Grimm, Rodriguez, McDonald

Since picking up Justin Grimm from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, the Cubs have liked what they've seen from him in a relief role, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Pitching coach Chris Bosio explains that the club is "presenting different roles for him," and Gonzales says that Grimm could stay in the pen going into spring training. On to more links from the AL and NL Central…

  • The Pirates have shut down Wandy Rodriguez because of persistent pain and discomfort in his left forearm, according to a statement from GM Neal Huntington. The move will provide more time for the flexor tendon in Rodriguez's forearm to heal and sets him up to be ready for Opening Day 2014, Huntington said.
  • Rodriguez says he hasn't considered whether he'll trigger his $13MM player option for next year, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets. However, it's unlikely that he doesn't do so, Biertempfel says. The Pirates are on the hook for $7.5MM of the option.
  • The Twins don't plan to sign James McDonald, who elected free agency today after being outrighted to Triple-A by the Pirates, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com says. Minnesota will re-evaluate McDonald and take a look at his medicals over the offseason, however.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.

Pirates Acquire Wandy Rodriguez

The Pirates have acquired left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez from the Astros in exchange for minor leaguers Rudy Owens, Robbie Grossman, and Colton Cain

The Astros will also pay some of the remaining salary owed to Rodriguez at least through 2013 and perhaps through 2014, as the club option for that year became a player option when Rodriguez was traded, per a stipulation in his contract. The Astros' yearly contributions to Rodriguez's salaries break down as such: $1.7MM in 2012, $8.5MM in 2013, and potentially $7.5MM in 2014.

Rodriguez, 33, has posted a 4.04 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in a little over 1,300 career innings, all with the Astros. The Wasserman Media Group client signed a three-year, $34MM extension with Houston prior to the 2011 season.

Grossman, an outfielder, is the best of the three prospects acquired by Houston, according to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM ESPN radio (Twitter). A 22-year-old switch-hitter, Grossman was a sixth-round draft choice of the Bucs in 2008. He's hit .262/.374/.403 with seven homers in 413 plate appearances this season with Double-A Altoona.

Owens, 24, had a 3.14 ERA in 19 starts with Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He has been added to Houston's 40-man roster.

Tom Singer of MLB.com first broke that the trade was close. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com confirmed that it was official and added in financial details (via Twitter), as did Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter). And club press releases added which players the Astros received.

Texas Links: Scutaro, Lee, Wandy, Astros

The Rangers have the second best record in baseball (55-37) while the Astros have the worst record in baseball (34-60). Here's the latest from Texas…

  • The Rangers would have interest in Marco Scutaro as a utility man if the Rockies were to put him on the market, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
  • Cliff Lee does not have the Rangers on his 21-team no-trade list according to Heyman. There is still no indication that the Phillies will move their veteran left-hander, even to free up payroll to sign Cole Hamels long-term.
  • Carlos Lee, Brandon Lyon, J.A. Happ, and Brett Myers have all been traded already, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that it "will be a while" before the Astros deal Wandy Rodriguez (Twitter link).
  • In an Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Keith Law says the two pitchers the Astros received in exchange for Myers – Matt Heidenreich and Blair Walters – "barely qualify as prospects." He says Walters has a chance as a lefty specialist.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney hears from rival executives that the Astros seem to be following the old Devil Rays strategy, meaning they'll accumulate top draft picks for several years because their big league team will be so bad (Twitter link).

Stark On Rays, Volquez, Butler, Phillies

The chances of Cole Hamels getting traded are diminishing, but they haven't disappeared, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. The Phillies are trying to sign the left-hander to a long-term deal, but will weigh trade offers if they can’t agree on an extension. Here are Stark’s latest rumors…

  • The Rays would be looking for a combination of high-end young pitchers, a young catcher and a controllable hitter if they discuss trades involving James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. Wade Davis is drawing as much interest as Shields, now that he’s pitching well out of the Tampa Bay bullpen, Stark reports.
  • The Astros have told rival teams that they’d absorb a substantial percentage of Wandy Rodriguez’s salary in a trade if it allows them to get “the best value back.” 
  • The Padres aren’t shopping Edinson Volquez, but they haven’t made him untouchable.
  • Teams don’t expect the Marlins will trade Josh Johnson, who’s under contract for 2013.
  • Brandon McCarthy’s history of shoulder problems diminishes his trade value. “He's not going anywhere," one executive predicted to Stark.
  • The Nationals haven’t been focused on finding a center fielder.
  • Hunter Pence is attracting as much interest as anyone on the Phillies, including Hamels. However, the Phillies have downplayed their interest in trading the right fielder. Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco and Kyle Kendrick would be available if the Phillies decide to sell this month, Stark reports. Rollins can veto any trade and would only accept deals to West Coast contenders.
  • The Pirates have asked about tons of hitters, including Billy Butler, but they’re still in a “buy-low frame of mind.” The Royals have told clubs they’d have to be overwhelmed to part with Butler, Stark reports.
  • The Rockies are trying to move Marco Scutaro and Jason Giambi, but they’d have to be “bowled over” to deal relievers such as Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle and Matt Reynolds.