Washington Nationals Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Scott McGregor

Here are the day’s notable minor moves:

  • After being released by the Cardinals, righty Scott McGregor has caught on with the Nationals on a minor league deal, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). The 27-year-old had spent his entire career in the St. Louis organization, but owned a 6.34 ERA through 61 Triple-A frames on the year (with both 33 strikeouts and walks).
  • As MLBTR’s DFA Tracker shows, the following players sit in DFA limbo: Roger Bernadina (Reds), Jake Dunning (Giants), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Evan Reed (Tigers), Josh Outman (Indians), and Kevin Slowey (Marlins).

East Notes: Ortiz, Price, Yankees, Nationals

Five years removed from what seemed like his demise, David Ortiz remains the Red Sox‘s foremost game-changer, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com.  “I couldn’t even watch TV, any sports channel at the time, because it was nothing but, ‘He’s done.’ You’re struggling and people are saying that you’re done, it doesn’t help,” recalled Ortiz. “That’s when your mind has to start processing that and next thing you know, ‘I’m out. ”  Here’s more out of the AL and NL East..

  • The Rays need to trade David Price as soon as possible, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  The Rays, of course, can’t afford to keep their ace long term and Price has grown increasingly frustrated with the team’s losing.  Meanwhile, Topkin doesn’t see a trade within the division as an impossibility, but he says that it will require an additional premium for the Rays to even consider it.
  • The Yankees have to explore their options for starting pitchers on the trade market, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  The Bombers have the phenomenal pitching of Masahiro Tanaka and a strong late-game bullpen working in their favor, but they feel they are one more rotation injury or significant dip in production from being in trouble.
  • There’s no indication that the Nationals would trade someone like Denard Span to make it possible, but Ryan Zimmerman says that his preference is to stay in left field rather than move back to one of the corner infield spots, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

Cafardo’s Latest: Morales, D’Backs, Kemp

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column

  • Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger.  It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
  • The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes.  Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy.  “We’re meeting on it.  Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
  • The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded.  Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
  • The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL.  With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job.  Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
  • Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
  • Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston.  “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo.  “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.”  This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
  • While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder.  Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
  • The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available.  Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
  • Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing.  “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
  • The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.


Quick Hits: Reds, Lee, Yankees, Nationals

The Reds‘ mostly homegrown rotation prevents them from having to spend big on starting pitching in free agency and gives them a big advantage, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes. Homegrown pitchers like Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Homer Bailey (leaving aside Bailey’s large recent extension, at least) have proven to be cost effective, and even Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, both from outside the organization, were acquired without the Reds having to turn to the free agent market. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.

  • Of the high-impact pitchers who might be available at the trade deadline, the PhilliesCliff Lee makes the most sense for the Yankees, the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand writes. Lee will have an enormous salary in 2015, but the Yankees ignored the luxury-tax threshold last offseason, and there’s little reason to think they couldn’t do it again. Lee’s injury status (he went on the DL with an elbow strain in May) and huge contract might mean the Yankees could acquire him for a lesser cost in prospects.
  • Lee threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session Friday, Marc Narducci of the Inquirer reports. He is not yet 100 percent, however. “It is not pain . . . it is not discomfort,” Lee says. “I would say it is there.”
  • The Nationals aren’t planning on making any big trades anytime soon, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. They don’t want to trade Danny Espinosa, believing he’s a future All-Star, or Adam LaRoche. They would listen to offers on pitcher Ross Detwiler, but aren’t actively looking to deal him.

International Prospect Links: Top 30, Padres, Nats, Bonuses

We’re less than two weeks away from the July 2 international signing deadline, and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez has published his ranking of the Top 30 International prospects for the 2014-15 class. Most of these amateur players are still just teenagers, including a number of 15- and 16-year-olds. Players that are 15 years of age currently — such as No. 3 ranked prospect Adrian Rondon – will be eligible to officially sign when they turn 16 (July 7, in Rondon’s case). Sanchez’s list is topped by Dominican shortstop Dermis Garcia and includes free video, scouting reports and rankings of each players’ tools on the 20-80 scouting scale. It’s a must-read for all that are interested in the international market and an indispensable tool that will be referenced heavily on MLBTR in the coming months.

Here’s more in the international prospect front…

  • Sanchez tweets that the Padres have signed 21-year-old Dominican right-hander Dinelson Lamet for a $100K bonus. While teams are currently not allowed to sign any more players from the 2013-14 crop of July 2 prospects, Sanchez adds in a followup tweet that the Friars squeezed this one in just under the wire, finalizing the deal last week.
  • Nationals scouting director Johnny DiPuglia tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that the Nats will be targeting quantity as opposed to spending their budget on two or three high-priced assets. Washington is hoping to add 12 to 15 players to its ranks, says DiPuglia, adding that the areas of focus for the Nats were left-handers with potential for high velocity, speedy up-the-middle players and bats with raw power.
  • Baseball America’s Ben Badler posted an update of his projected Top 10 signing bonuses this week, with the Yankees projected to issue four of the 10 (including a near-$3MM bonus for the previously mentioned Garcia). However, the Bronx Bombers don’t occupy the top spot on the list; that goes to the Brewers, who are expected to give Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara (Sanchez’s No. 4 prospect) a bonus north of $3MM. Badler’s piece requires a BA subscription which is highly recommended to international prospect aficionados, as BA will be producing loads of scouting reports and projections on the July 2 class in the coming weeks.

Draft Signings: Brown, Benjamin, Dickey

Here are Thursday’s notable mid- to late-round draft signings, with all slot info coming courtesy of Baseball America

  • No. 81 overall pick Aaron Brown received an over-slot $750K bonus to sign with the Phillies, reports MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo (on Twitter). Brown, who has already begun his pro career with Short-Season Class-A Williamsport, was a two-way star at Pepperdine, playing both center field and pitching in their rotation. Philly selected him as an outfielder. Brown ranked 89th on BA’s Top 500 and 120th on Mayo’s Top 200. The slot value for the No. 81 overall selection was $682,500.
  • The Rangers saved about $180K by inking fifth-rounder Wes Benjamin to an under-slot, $125K bonus, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (Twitter link). The Kansas left-hander was up to 94 mph prior to Tommy John surgery in April, Callis notes. BA noted that the Jayhawks southpaw was moving up draft boards prior to his injury and still ranked him 371st in the draft.
  • Callis also tweets that Nationals fourth-rounder Robbie Dickey agreed to a $400K bonus that’s about $16K under slot. A 6’3″, 205-pound right-hander out of Blinn Community College in Texas, ranked 179th on MLB.com’s Top 200 and 210th on BA’s Top 500. Callis and Mayo note that Dickey turned heads last fall as a reliever, sitting 95-97 mph with his fastball and showing a solid slider and changeup. He dealt with biceps tendinitis this spring though and saw his velocity dip while his slider lost some of its bite.

Nationals To Sign Third-Rounder Jakson Reetz

The Nationals have agreed to a $800K deal with third-round choice Jakson Reetz, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). Reetz was taken with the 93rd overall pick, which came with a $567,300 slot allocation.

Callis labels Reetz the best all-around high school catcher that was available in the draft. Indeed, he and MLB.com colleague Jonathan Mayo rated him at the 40th slot on their overall board, just beneath the 38th-overall placement of ESPN.com’s Keith Law. Meanwhile, Baseball America had him somewhat further down its list, in the 62nd position. According to Baseball America’s assessment, Reetz features a quick, strong bat, good athleticism, and average power. As a defender, he shows good all-around skills behind the dish but could also play in the outfield or even pitch.

Drawing Reetz away from the University of Nebraska required the Nats to go $232.7K over slot. The organization entered the draft with up to $5,725,700 in available pool space. Washington has yet to agree with multiple choices, including 18th overall selection Erick Fedde and second-rounder Andrew Suarez. According to the MLB.com bonus tracker, the team has saved $236.4K on fifth-rounder Drew Van Orden, $114.8K on seventh-round choice D.K. Carey, and $107.6K on tenth-rounder Matthew Page.


Minor Moves: Ryan Tatusko, Zach Lutz, Nick Evans

Here are the latest transactions from the minors, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Nationals have sold the rights to righty Ryan Tatusko to the Hanwha Eagles of Korea, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). Tatusko came to the Nats along with Tanner Roark in the 2010 deal that sent Cristian Guzman to the Rangers. The 29-year-old owns a 2.85 ERA in 79 Triple-A innings with 5.8 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9.
  • The Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball have signed former Mets third baseman Zach Lutz to a $400K contract (hat tip to NPB Tracker’s Patrick Newman).  It was reported earlier in the week that the Mets had agreed to release Lutz so he could play in Japan.  A fifth-round pick of the Mets in the 2007 draft, Lutz hit .289/.384/.481 with 75 homers in 2155 minor league PA and also appeared in 22 games with the Mets in 2012-13.
  • The Diamondbacks outrighted utilityman Nick Evans off their 40-man roster and to Triple-A Reno, the club’s official transactions page reports.  Evans was designated for assignment by Arizona on Thursday.  Evans, 28, returned to the Majors for the first time since 2011 when he appeared in eight games with the D’Backs this season; he went 1-for-11 over 11 PA, homering for his only hit.  Evans joined the Arizona organization before the 2013 season and has an impressive 1.034 OPS in 191 Triple-A plate appearances this year.

NL Notes: Toussaint, Phils, Pirates, Billingsley, Cards, Marlins, Nats

Here’s the latest out of the National League …

  • The Diamondbacks are close to reaching agreement with first-round pick Touki Toussaint, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert“Touki I think is very close right now,” said GM Kevin Towers. “… Pretty optimistic we’ll get something done here shortly.” Toussaint, who was taken 16th overall (with a $2,338,200 slot bonus), was rated between the eighth (MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo) and thirteenth (ESPN.com’s Keith Law) best player available, with Law saying he could have the most upside of any of the draft-eligible high school righties.
  • Even if the Phillies decide to sell, it may prove difficult, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In particular, many of the team’s veteran players have not only no-trade protection but also vesting options (some of which appear more achievable than others) at the back ends of their already-sizeable contracts. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated, however, that those contracts should not be a major hindrance if the team shops its best players. “[W]e have taken money back on deals before and will do it again if we have to,” says Amaro.
  • The Pirates rotation is looking increasingly thin, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Injuries have accumulated on top of an already poor start to the year, and unlike last year the club lacks obvious internal replacements to step in and provide a boost. Though some attractive arms figure to be made available at the trade deadline, Biertempfel indicates that Pittsburgh seems unlikely to pay the price (in dollars and in prospects) to add an impact starter.
  • Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley says he is exceedingly unlikely to throw again this year, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. Billingsley has been diagnosed with a partially torn flexor tendon. “If I do the rehab I would have a chance,” he said, “but the risk would be … tendon fails, that’s a six-month rehab after surgery. Doing three years’ rehab would be a grind.” As that quote indicates, it has already been a long road for Billingsley and his troubled right arm. He is in the last year of a three-year, $35MM pact that includes a $14MM club option for 2015. It seems highly likely at this point, of course, that Los Angeles will instead pay a $3MM buyout and let Billingsley hit the open market.
  • The Cardinals are currently hesitant to go shopping for a starter, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). St. Louis still has internal options for the rotation (such as Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez) and probably will not meet the asking price for top-end arms. One team that could be in the market for rotation help is the Marlins, Rosenthal adds.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says that the club is not looking to deal Denard Span or Adam LaRoche to allow Ryan Zimmerman to stay in left field when Bryce Harper returns, Rosenthal reports. Span remains an interesting name to watch, however, as Rosenthal notes. The outstanding defensive center fielder has failed to reach base reliably from the top of the lineup, but is under control through next season with a fairly reasonable $9MM team option.

NL East Notes: Scouts, Phillies, Mets

Most scouts live unglamorous, travel-heavy lifestyles and are unknown to fans, but they play vital roles in the draft in particular and player evaluation in general. Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post profiles Nationals assistant GM Kris Kline as he travels to watch players in preparation for the draft. The story follows Kline through the Nationals’ selection of UNLV pitcher Erick Fedde in the first round. It’s a difficult story to summarize here, but a fascinating read. Here’s more from the NL East.

  • The Phillies haven’t yet decided to be sellers at the trade deadline, but they’re preparing for that possibility, GM Ruben Amaro says in an interview with Philly.com’s Ryan Lawrence. “We’re making sure we know which players we like the most in certain organizations and preparing for that,” Amaro says. “At the same time, we’re continuing to assess what our needs are.” It may be tricky for the Phillies to tear down, of course — Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have 10-and-5 protection, and Cliff Lee is hurt and has a contract that will be tough to deal. Amaro says he is hopeful that Lee will return soon, however, and he suggests that the Phillies may be willing to eat salary in trades.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says the team will determine whether to have a higher payroll next year after this season is over, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes. Alderson adds that if the Mets are contending in July, they should have the resources to make a trade.