Washington Nationals Rumors

Washington Nationals trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Minor Moves: Satin, Kensing, Romak, Orioles, Billings, Avery

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

Earlier Updates

  • The D’Backs have agreed to terms on a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweeted today. The 29-year-old Romak, a client of Taurus Sports’ David Sloane, made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2014 and collected his first hit in the Majors. The former fourth-rounder is a lifetime .258/.324/.474 hitter at Triple-A.
  • The Orioles announced the signings of infielder Paul Janish, right-hander Terry Doyle and outfielder Quincy Latimore to minor league contracts and invitations to big league Spring Training. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was the first to tweet Janish’s agreement, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had previously reported that the team was working on a deal with him. Janish is the only one of the bunch that comes with MLB experience; the 32-year-old defensive specialist is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 1206 plate appearances between the Reds and Braves.
  • The Nationals announced that they have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Billings pitched four innings for the Yankees last season and split the season between the Yankees and Dodgers organizations. Overall, the veteran posted a 5.27 ERA with 6. K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings.
  • Outfielder Xavier Avery has inked a minor league deal with the Tigers and will receive a Spring Training invite as well, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 24-year-old Avery spent last season with the Mariners after being acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Mike Morse trade. Avery hit .275/.344/.413 with 10 homers and 31 steals, appearing at all three outfield spots for Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014.

Outrighted: Bass, Mattheus, Walters, Morel

Several players were outrighted off of 40-man rosters today to clear space for players who needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft:

  • The Astros outrighted righty Anthony Bass, the club announced.  Bass, 27, has seen his ERA rise over each of the last four years, and he suffered in 2014 from a sudden inability to miss bats.
  • Right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus was outrighted by the Nationals, also per the club. Mattheus has elected free agency. Though he has been effective in long stretches at times in D.C., Mattheus never regained his place in the bullpen after breaking his hand last May. The 31-year-old, out-of-options righty should certainly find a club willing to give him a chance to earn a job out of camp.
  • The Mets announced that Jeff Walters has been removed from the 40-man. A 27-year-old right-hander, Walters has yet to see MLB action. He struggled mightily in 2014, his first attempt at Triple-A, and ultimately was diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery.
  • The Pirates announced that infielder Brent Morel has been outrighted. Morel has seen relatively scant MLB time since a run with the White Sox in 2011. Last year, at Triple-A, he slashed .271/.335/.375 over 376 plate appearances.

Pirates Claim Pedro Florimon

The Pirates have claimed infielder Pedro Florimon off waivers from the Nationals, Washington announced today.

Florimon, 28 next month, is a switch-hitting shortstop with a questionable bat and outstanding glove. He saw the lion’s share of playing time at shortstop for a last-place Twins club in 2013 and batted .221/.281/.330, hitting a somewhat surprising nine homers and swiping 15 bases. That offense certainly isn’t much to look at, but combined with his glove, he generated 1.8 rWAR and 1.3 fWAR. Defensive Runs Saved pegs Florimon as 21 runs above average over the course of 1700 big league innings at short.



Latest On Nationals, Jordan Zimmermann

The Nationals have not re-started extension talks with righty Jordan Zimmermann since they broke off last winter, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. The homegrown star says that he still hopes to stay with the team in the long run and remains interested in an extension — “if the deal is right.”

“I like D.C.,” he said. “I like the ownership. I like the manager, the coaches. I like everything about D.C. It’s just a waiting game right now to see what happens.”

While recent reports suggested that Zimmermann had rejected a five-year, $85MM offer last year, Wagner reports that the actual offer is believed to have been lower. As he also notes, the Homer Bailey deal (five years, $105MM) would appear to set a practical starting point, as Zimmerman has a better track record than the Reds hurler.

Meanwhile, the club has informed competitors that it is willing to deal Zimmermann and fellow righty Doug Fister in the right scenarios, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (Twitter links). Fister, like his compatriot, is poised to hit free agency after the coming season.

Of course, Rizzo has emphasized in the past that he will listen to proposals on any player, and in that regard this report does not appear to change the club’s stance. But the notion that the Nationals have told other clubs of an openness to fielding trade proposals could, potentially be an added development.

With a roster that puts the organization firmly in contention mode, it will surely take a big offer to pry either arm loose. Indeed, per Nightengale, the Nats will not move Zimmermann for less than a “strong return,” and will not pursue a deal simply to shed salary.

It is worth recalling that we previously heard more specific rumors involving Zimmermann, though those were quickly shot down. But in concept, the idea of a trade is not as far-fetched as it might seem at first glance. As I explained a few weeks back in my outlook for the Nats, it makes eminent sense for the club to at least dangle both starters to see if an overwhelming return — particularly, one that can fill a current need (most likely, second base) while delivering future value — can be found.

Of course, payroll flexibility always must be considered. Though Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told me at the GM Meetings that the organization is not feeling the pinch, every team has its limits. Zimmermann is earning $16.5MM in the second half of his backloaded, two-year deal from last season, while Fister is projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to take home $11.4MM through arbitration.

Replacing the production of one of those outstanding performers would no doubt be difficult, and the Nationals unquestionably hope to put another World Series-contending club on the field next year. But there are plenty of internal options, and the free agent market is plentiful. In past seasons, Rizzo has looked to high-upside rebound candidates; how he would act in a post-deal scenario is anyone’s guess, but would likely be opportunity-driven.


Latest On Yoan Moncada

19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada remains one of the most intriguing names to watch over the coming months. As he waits for OFAC clearance after being declared an MLB free agent, let’s check in on the latest:

  • While it remains possible that the Cubs and Rangers — currently sitting out the big bonus side of the international amateur market due to past overages — could try to convince Moncada to wait until the summer to sign, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America, the young Cuban seems likely to come available too sign to make that the most plausible outcome. Badler ticks through the teams that, in his estimation, are best situated to make a serious run at Moncada. He lists the NationalsGiantsTigersRaysAngelsBravesRed Sox, and Yankees, noting that New York would figure to be the favorite if they decide the want Moncada.
  • Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs discusses an under-the-radar aspect of the CBA’s provisions regarding international signing penalties. Those dollars, which are steadily rising as multiple clubs blow past the signing limits — with Moncada potentially representing by far the greatest single outlay — are set to be utilized by the league for various, seemingly largely discretionary, purposes relating to international operations. One possibility contemplated in the CBA, funding for the implementation of an international draft, is particularly relevant here. As McDaniel explains, the burgeoning penalty dollars could conceivably go a long way towards a push for a draft. That, in turn, increases the incentives for teams to spend now rather than avoiding the penalties regarding limitations on future bonuses.
  • Both Badler and McDaniel have, of course, been all over the Moncada market. You’ll want to give their pieces a full read to understand all the nuances. And remember that you can click on the Yoan Moncada tag to catch up on all the recent chatter.

Minor Moves: Butler, Robinson, Solano, Marcum, Lincoln

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • The Cardinals have outrighted right-hander Keith Butler off the team’s 40-man roster, according to the MLB.com transactions page. St. Louis has also released center fielder Shane Robinson. The 25-year-old Butler has yet to establish himself in the bigs, but has been quite good in the upper minors. Robinson, 30, has seen his role reduced and was no longer a valuable piece for a Cardinals club that just picked up Jason Heyward.
  • The Nationals have released catcher Jhonatan Solano, also per MLB.com. Solano, the older brother of Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano, has seen minimal big league time over the past two years and did not have a clear role in the organization moving forward.
  • The Indians announced that they’ve re-signed right-handers Shaun Marcum and Dustin Molleken to minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training. Marcum, 33 next month, was of course a fixture in the Blue Jays and Brewers rotations from 2007-12, though he dealt with his share of injuries in that time. Still, he posted a 3.67 ERA in 830 1/3 innings in that span before thoracic outlet syndrome in 2013 required surgery and has kept him on the shelf since. He did make it back to a minor league mound with Cleveland last season, posting a 2.35 ERA in 15 1/3 Triple-A innings in August.
  • Molleken, 30, made 54 relief appearances for Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate last season and posted big strikeout numbers but also struggled with his command, to an extent. In 74 1/3 innings, he pitched to a 4.84 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.
  • The Pirates have signed a familiar name to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training in the form of Brad Lincoln, per the club’s transactions page. Lincoln was selected fourth overall by the Bucs in 2006. He struggled through the early portion of his career but got off to a good start as a reliever in 2012 and was flipped to the Blue Jays for the man who was drafted 10 picks after him in ’06 — Travis Snider. Toronto would eventually deal Lincoln to the Phillies for Erik Kratz and Rob Rasmussen. Lincoln struggled with Philly but had success in Pittsburgh and Toronto, posting a 3.76 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 119 2/3 innings from 2012-13.
  • The Pirates also announced a host of other signings, including righties Collin Balester, Blake Wood, and Deolis Guerra, lefty Jeremy Bleich, and shortstop Gustavo Nunez.
  • The Twins have re-signed infielder/outfielder Eric Farris to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, reports 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson (on Twitter). The 28-year-old hit .280/.316/.356 with Minnesota’s Triple-A affiliate last season, playing primarily center field.

Minor Moves: Purke, Jensen, Walters, Marks, Hermida, Orr

Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has this week’s edition of his Minor League Transactions feature up, which, as usual, features several recent minor league signings. Here are a few highlights from his piece, as well as other minor moves from around the league…

  • After releasing him on Friday, the Nationals have re-signed lefty Matt Purke to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. Purke has never thrown to the potential that the team saw when they gave him a massive bonus to sign out of the 2011 draft, but now he will have a chance to rehab from Tommy John surgery without occupying a 40-man roster spot.
  • The Dodgers have acquired right-handed-hitting outfielder/first baseman Kyle Jensen from the Marlins, the clubs announced. Jensen, 26, has yet to see playing time at the MLB level, but slashed .260/.331/.481 with 27 home runs last year in the PCL. Miami will receive cash or a player to be named later in return.
  • The Phillies have signed right-hander P.J. Walters, according to Eddy. The 29-year-old comes with 152 innings of big league experience, though he’s struggled to a 6.28 ERA in that time. Much of that work came with the 2012-13 Twins, where he posted  a 5.79 ERA in 101 innings. Walters has a 4.70 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 735 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level.
  • The D’Backs and left-hander Justin Marks have agreed to a minor league deal, also per Eddy. The 26-year-old Marks picked up his first two big league innings in 2014 and has a lifetime 5.02 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in Triple-A. Marks struggled overall in 2014 but was previously excellent against lefties, holding them to a .191/.301/.268 batting line in 2013. He, along with Vin Mazzaro, was one of two players acquired by the Royals from the A’s in exchange for David DeJesus back in 2010.
  • The Brewers announced last week that they have re-signed outfielder Jeremy Hermida and infielder Pete Orr to minor league deals. The 30-year-old Hermida once carried a significant amount of promise — he was the 11th overall pick in 2002 and hit .296/.369/.501 as a 24-year-old in 2007 — but hasn’t seen Major League action since 2012 with the Padres. Orr, 35, has seen MLB action parts of eight seasons, most recently with the Phillies in 2013. He is a career .257/.289/.328 hitter that is capable of playing all over the diamond. He hit .301/.329/.423 with the Brewers in Triple-A last year.
  • The Marlins have inked indy league second baseman Omar Artsen, Eddy reports. The 24-year-old Artsen spent last season playing in the Pecos League where he boasted a gaudy stat line of .397/.480/.576 with nine homers and 52 steals in 353 PA.

NL East Links: J. Upton, Marlins, Nats, Mets

To say it’s been an eventful few days in the NL East would be a colossal understatement, as the Marlins have reportedly finalized a record-setting 13-year deal with Giancarlo Stanton and the Braves have traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals. While those transactions are rightfully dominating the headlines, here are a few more notes from around the division…

  • With Heyward now in St. Louis, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that a trade of Justin Upton can’t be ruled out. Nightengale lists the Mariners as a strong suitor for Upton, should the Braves decide to market him. Upton recently dropped the Mariners from his no-trade list.
  • Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria tells Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald that he plans to surround Stanton with an improved lineup and can afford to go out and add a bat to hit behind him this offseason.
  • The Nationals have hired veteran scout Terry Wetzel as a special assistant to GM Mike Rizzo, reports MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby. Wetzel has 32 years of experience, including 17 seasons with the Royals and the past 15 seasons with the Rockies. He was named scout of the year once within each of those organizations.
  • The Mets, to this point, have had very few inquiries on pitchers Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). All three are said to be potentially available this winter, and I’d imagine that interest will pick up to an extent, particularly at the Winter Meetings.

Nationals Release Matt Purke

The Nationals have released left-hander Matt Purke, according to the team’s transactions page. The 24-year-old Purke, who had been on the 40-man roster, underwent Tommy John surgery in late May.

Purke was a high-profile acquisition by the Nats in the 2011 draft, as he received a Major League deal and a total of $4.15MM ($2.75MM of which was in the form of a signing bonus) in the third round. The 6’4″, 215-pound southpaw was originally selected by the Ranges with the No. 14 overall pick in 2009, but he elected to attend college at TCU instead. Injuries are nothing new for Purke, as they were the main factor for his slide from the first round to the third round, although those concerns were pertaining to his shoulder.

Purke has totaled just 136 2/3 innings since being drafted in 2011, posting an even 5.00 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9. He did pitch well in 90 innings in 2012, posting a 3.80 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, although his best work came at Class A Hagerstown. Baseball America ranked him 11th among Nats prospect a year ago at this time, noting that he’d lost some life on his fastball but still had a changeup that projected as above-average to plus and that he his floor was a big league reliever if he could stay healthy.


Nationals Avoid Arbitration With Kevin Frandsen

FRIDAY: Frandsen and the Nationals have agreed to terms on a one-year, $1MM contract that contains up to $300K worth of incentives, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter).

THURSDAY: The Nationals and utility player Kevin Frandsen are nearing an agreement to avoid arbitration for the 2015 season, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post. Frandsen is a client All Bases Covered Sports Management’s Damon Lapa.

The versatile 32-year-old batted .259/.299/.309 with one homer in 236 plate appearances for the Nationals this past season, seeing time at third base, second base, first base and left field in his first year with Washington. A lifetime .259/.313/.350 hitter, Frandsen has also spent time with the Giants, Angels and Phillies in parts of eight big league seasons. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Frandsen to earn $1.2MM in what will be his final season of arbitration eligibility before hitting the open market.