Wesley Wright Rumors

Quick Hits: Urias, Braves, Burnett, McCutchen

17-year-old Dodgers lefty Julio Urias wowed observers at the Futures Game, leading to chatter about the possibility that he could make his big-league debut as soon as next year, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes. “This guy’s got the ability to pitch in the big leagues at 18,” says Dodgers scouting director Logan White. That doesn’t mean the Dodgers will promote Urias that soon — he’s currently at Class A+ Rancho Cucamonga, and he’s only pitched 52 1/3 innings because the Dodgers are concerned about overworking him. But his stuff (he can touch 97 MPH) and composure are impressive beyond his years. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Braves badly need lefty bullpen help and particularly like the Red SoxAndrew Miller, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Luis Avilan‘s struggles on Sunday are an example of the problems the Braves have had, O’Brien writes — Avilan entered in a 10-4 game in the eighth and faced three batters, giving up a single and two walks. By the time the inning was over, it was 10-7, and a blowout had suddenly become a save situation. Miller, who has struck out 14.4 batters per nine innings for Boston this season, would be a big upgrade. The Braves also like James Russell and Wesley Wright of the Cubs, O’Brien writes.
  • The Braves should release second baseman Dan Uggla, writes Mark Bradley of the Journal-Constitution. The $19MM the Braves owe Uggla through 2015 is a “sunken cost,” and the Braves won’t be able to find a team willing to trade for him. Uggla is hitting an execrable .162/.241/.231 in 145 plate appearances this season. Uggla received only 15 plate appearances in June and only has three so far in July. The Braves also suspended him for a game on Sunday for being late arriving at Wrigley Field Saturday.
  • A.J. Burnett wants to stay with the Phillies, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “I’m not a guy who looks for an out or wants to get out because things aren’t going the right way,” says Burnett. “If that happens, then it happens, but I’m not looking to move on. This is my team.” Burnett has a limited no-trade clause, and says he isn’t sure how he would respond if the Phillies asked him to waive it.
  • The rash of pitcher injuries this season might affect the salaries of free-agents-to-be like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Recent injuries to Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia and the questionable or disappointing contracts of pitchers like Justin Verlander and Johan Santana show how risky long-term deals for star pitchers can be. Scherzer and Lester have performed well this season, but other pitchers’ recent histories might affect the market this winter.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington wants Andrew McCutchen to be a Pirate for life, although he’s realistic about how difficult McCutchen will be to keep, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “We truly hope Andrew McCutchen retires as a Pirate. That is going to be incredibly challenging to do, but that is our long-term goal,” says Huntington. The Bucs already control McCutchen through 2018 at bargain rates — his yearly salary through his age-31 season never exceeds $14.5MM.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Tulo, Dodgers, Valbuena, Peavy, Sox

In his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki ask for a trade this offseason. One friend of Tulo told Rosenthal, “I think the guy is going to lose his mind,” due to Colorado’s consistently poor results. He adds that this offseason will be a better time to deal Tulo or Carlos Gonzalez (with an eye on a larger rebuild), and while owner Dick Monfort may prefer to move CarGo, plenty of teams would make sense as a landing spot for Tulowitzki.

Here are some more highlights from Rosenthal’s newest work…

  • One reason that Tulo could be particularly frustrated is with the Rockies‘ inability to build a competitive pitching staff at Coors Field. That’s no easy task, as Rosenthal notes, but it isn’t helped by the fact that free-agent pitchers simply don’t want to go there. While Jon Gray and Eddie Butler are promising, Butler joins a long list of currently injured Rockies starters. Additionally, rival scouts opined to Rosenthal that Colorado pitchers are poorly prepared: “They pitch not to hitters’ weaknesses but hitters strengths,” one scout told Rosenthal.
  • The Dodgers talked with the Cubs about Jeff Samardzija before he was dealt to Oakland, but talks never got serious, as Los Angeles didn’t want to part with Joc Pederson or Corey Seager.
  • Speaking of the Samardzija trade, Rosenthal hears that the deal was almost larger, as the Athletics at one point were trying to get Chicago to include Luis Valbuena in the deal as well. The A’s like Valbuena as a potential second-base upgrade and could rekindle talks for him later this month, but Chicago is reluctant to deal him, as he’s controlled through 2016, according to Rosenthal.
  • The Cubs are receiving interest in lefty relievers James Russell and Wesley Wright, both of whom are more likely to be traded than Valbuena.
  • Multiple reports today have indicated that the Cardinals have interest in Jake Peavy of the Red Sox, and Rosenthal reports that the two sides spoke a month ago, though not necessarily about Peavy. Boston has interest in the Cardinals’ young outfielders, and while St. Louis won’t deal Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty for Peavy, the teams could expand the deal to include other players and make something work. Rosenthal floats the idea of a scenario in which Allen Craig heads to Boston, though that appears to be speculation.
  • In other Red Sox rumors, he writes that the Sox don’t necessarily want to move free agents they would like to re-sign after the season even if they end up as sellers. In other words, Jon Lester and Koji Uehara may stay put regardless of the team’s approach. Beyond that, the team’s chips are largely underwhelming, as Jonny Gomes, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew and A.J. Pierzynski either don’t have huge appeal to buyers or would net marginal returns at best.

Chicago Links: Beckham, Quintana, Russell, Wright, Garcia, Samardzija

The White Sox are willing to move second baseman Gordon Beckham, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but Jose Quintana isn’t available (Twitter link). The 27-year-old Beckham opened the season on the disabled list and had a strong month of May after being activated, but he’s cooled since that time and is hitting .248/.302/.395. He’s under team control through 2015 and is earning $4.18MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the second time this season. It’s not entirely surprising that the team wouldn’t move Quintana, as he just inked a five-year, $21MM contract extension in Spring Training. He’s in the midst of his finest season in the Majors to this point, having posted a 3.20 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate.

Here are a few more items pertaining to the Sox and their north-side counterparts…

  • Left-handers James Russell and Wesley Wright are both drawing trade interest, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Each southpaw is under team control through the 2015 season, and each has a 2.22 ERA through 24 1/3 innings this season. Wright, who is earning $1.43MM is slightly more affordable than Russell and his $1.78MM salary.

Earlier Links

  • White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters today that injured outfielder Avisail Garcia has been cleared to resume baseball activities (via CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes). While he has a long way to go and it’s a long shot, Hahn wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Garcia could play in the Majors again this season.
  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Cubs talked with the Blue Jays regarding Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel before trading the pair to the A’s on Independence Day. The Cubs were asking for Marcus Stroman and Drew Hutchison in addition to “at least” one of Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez and Dalton Pompey. That’s a steep price to pay, to be sure, though none of those prospects are as highly regarded as the centerpiece Chicago did acquire in the deal — shortstop Addison Russell.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports heard the same five names, though he hears that they were discussed in various combinations, and the Blue Jays didn’t discuss packages to acquire both pitchers (Twitter links). One scout tells Rosenthal that Norris and Stroman could both be No. 1 or No. 2 types of starters, and the Jays would be “crazy” to deal them.
  • Speaking to WFAN’s Mike Francesca on Monday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he had extensive negotiations with the Cubs to acquire both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but he doesn’t think the Cubs could have landed a better package than they one they wound up taking from Oakland, regardless of who they were dealing with. CBS New York has highlights and audio from the conversation.


Cubs Sign Wesley Wright

TODAY: The Cubs have made Wright's signing official with an announcement today via press release.

DECEMBER 4: The Cubs have signed left-handed reliever Wesley Wright to a one-year deal for $1.425MM, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Wright, who was recently non-tendered by the Rays, is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.

The 28-year-old came to Tampa for the stretch last year after he was traded via waiver claim from the Astros. He posted a combined 3.69 ERA in 53 2/3 innings for the two clubs. As one might expect, Wright has historically been much more effective against lefties. When facing same-handed hitters, he has posted a career 3.11 K:BB ratio while surrendering only a .655 OPS.

Entering the off-season with four years and 105 days of Major League service, Wright was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $1.4MM in arbitration. Since Wright will fall shy of qualifying for free agency following next year, the Cubs will also have future control over their new left-hander.


American League Non-Tenders

Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of American League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.

  • The Orioles announced they've non-tendered outfielder Jason Pridie and minor league starter Eddie Gamboa.
  • The Rays will non-tender reliever Wesley Wright, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
  • The Red Sox announced that they have non-tendered outfielder Ryan Kalish, Mike Salk of WEEI.com tweets.
  • The White Sox will not tender a contract to pitcher Dylan Axelrod, tweets Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune.
  • The Angels will non-tender pitcher Jerome Williams, tweets  Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The club will also non-tender righty Tommy Hanson and third baseman Chris Nelson, tweets DiGiovanna. J.C. Gutierrez will also be non-tendered, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, though that seemed a given since that he had already been designated for assignment.
  • The Indians have non-tendered outfielder Matt Carson, pitcher Tyler Cloyd, and catcher Lou Marson, the club announced.
  • The Rays are non-tendering outfielder Sam Fuld, a source tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Fuld, who will turn 32 in a few weeks, could be a lefty-swinging bench piece for another club, though he slashed only .199/.270/.267 last year in 200 plate appearances for Tampa.
  • GM Brian Cashman says that the Yankees will non-tender infielder Jayson Nix, tweets Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News. The 31-year-old veteran appeared in 87 games for New York last season, putting up a .236/.308/.311 line in 303 plate appearances. The club will also non-tender reliever Matt Daley and infielder David Adams. New York confirmed the moves via press release.
  • The Royals announced that they have non-tendered second baseman Chris Getz. The 30-year-old Getz has tried to hold down Kansas City's keystone spot for several years now but produced just a .246/.299/.314 batting line from 2012-13. Swartz had pegged Getz for a $1.3MM salary in 2014.

AL Notes: Tigers, Royals, Bonifacio, Rays, Astros

If MLBTR had only been around in 1954. On this date 59 years ago, the Yankees and Orioles completed the largest trade in baseball history by naming the eight players to be named later in the 17-player deal. Two weeks prior, the Yankees received Don Larsen (yes, that Don Larsen) Billy Hunter, and Bob Turley from the Orioles in exchange for Harry ByrdJim McDonaldWilly MirandaHal SmithGus Triandos, and Gene Woodling. Let's take a look at what's simmering on the Hot Stove in today's American League:

  • The Tigers are one more bold move away from entering Spring Training with the "Best Team in Baseball" designation, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. Signing Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, or Curtis Granderson would qualify as that bold move, in Justice's opinion.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore tells the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton his staff will convene Monday morning to determine the fate of their nine arbitration eligible players. "I don't look for us to do anything that is too surprising," said Moore. "We might not tender everybody, but we might. There are some things that we’re kind of working on.
  • Also within Dutton's article, Royals officials acknowledge Emilio Bonifacio is drawing steady interest from other teams, so second baseman Chris Getz may be tendered as insurance against a deal involving the utilityman. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz predicts a $3.3MM arbitration award for Bonifacio and $1.3MM for Getz. 
  • The Rays are likely to tender each of their nine arbitration eligible players and then possibly flip one or more in a trade, reports Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. David Price is the most obvious arbitration eligible trade candidate, but Mooney also lists outfielder Sam Fuld and lefty relievers Cesar Ramos and Wesley Wright as possible chips. If the Rays do tender all nine players, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz expects their arbitration salaries to total $26.6MM.
  • The Astros are already preparing for the 2014 amateur draft as they expect to interview several candidates for the first overall pick by the end of the year, according to the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. The club's approach to the interview process and its slight variations based on whether the player is in high school or college is also detailed by Drellich.
  • On Thanksgving Day, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk examined the managers and GMs entering the final year of their contract. Today, Jim Margalus of SouthSideSox.com concludes the most front office stability can be found in the AL Central.  

Placed On Waivers: Santana, Rodriguez, DeJesus, Willingham

Here's Tuesday's list of players who have been placed on revocable trade waivers…

  • Ervin Santana — Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Ervin Santana has been placed on waivers. He instantly becomes one of the most desirable pieces on waivers, but the Royals are likely not inclined to move him. Santana, 30, has a 3.21 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in what has been a tremendous rebound campaign with the Royals. He's owed about $2.23MM this season and is a free agent at season's end. However, Kansas City is still within striking distance of a Wild Card spot and will be making Santana a qualifying offer following the season, so a return would likely have to overwhelm them.
  • Francisco Rodriguez — Rosenthal's tweet also reported that K-Rod has been placed on waivers by the Orioles. This is likely nothing more than a procedural move, as he's been solid for the O's, and they're just 2.5 games back from a Wild Card spot.
  • Wesley Wright, David DeJesus — Rosenthal also noted that the Rays have put both of their most recent waiver pickups back on waivers. However, in a second tweet he cautions that DeJesus needn't be worried this time, as the Rays are merely putting all of their players through waivers as a procedural move right now, which explains Wright's placement as well.
  • Josh Willingham — Peter Gammons of the MLB Network tweets that the Twins have placed Willingham on waivers. Minnesota was expecting big things out of Willingham following a 35-homer season in 2012, but knee injuries diminished his production at the plate and he ultimately underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in early July. Since being activated on Aug. 9, he's batting just .177/.316/.371 with a pair of homers and six doubles. Willingham's walk rate (13.4 percent) and power (.179 ISO) remain strong, but his strikeout rate is up (26.7 percent) and his average is down due to a decrease in line drives and an increase in pop-ups. He's owed roughly $1.3MM for the remainder of the season and is owed $7MM in 2014 — the final season of a three-year, $21MM contract.
  • Earlier today, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported that Marlon Byrd, Pedro Feliciano and John Buck of the Mets were all on waivers, and at least one trade is likely. Byrd was claimed by an unknown NL team shortly thereafter.

For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primer. You can see who is available to be traded to any team by checking MLBTR's list of players who have cleared waivers.


Rays Acquire Wesley Wright

The Rays have acquired left-hander Wesley Wright from the Astros after claiming him off waivers, the Astros announced via press release. The Rays will send cash considerations to the Astros in exchange for the 28-year-old southpaw. Right-hander Philip Humber will have his contract selected from Triple-A to take Wright's spot on both the 40-man and 25-man roster. Wright-Wesley

Wright struggled in the early portion of his career but has been solid since 2011, posting a 3.32 ERA with 8.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 51.9 percent ground-ball rate. He's actually struggled against left-handed hitters this season, as they've posted a .305/.372/.463 batting line against him. However, he limited lefties to a .169/.247/.231 line from 2011-12.

Wright, who had been the team's longest-tenured player, is earning $1.03MM this season after going through arbitration for the first time this past offseason. He is under team control through 2015 and will be eligible for arbitration a second time this offseason. He was originally acquired by the Astros from the Dodgers via the Rule 5 Draft back in 2007. With Wright now a member of the Rays, Erik Bedard's $1.15MM salary is the lone salary on Houston's roster that exceeds $1MM.

In a statement to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, Wright said he is excited to pitch for a contender and offered the following kind words for the Astros organization and the fans of Houston:

“The organization has been great to me and my family throughout the past six seasons. They gave me an opportunity to see what I can do at the big league level. I’m really grateful to the organization and the fans and the city. They were really supportive to me and my teammates. Even in the down years, they supported me and all I can say is thanks to the city of Houston and the fans.”

This is the second move made by Rays general manager Andrew Friedman to bolster the team's bullpen, as he acquired Jesse Crain from the White Sox prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Crain has yet to appear in a game for the Rays, however, as he works his way back from injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Bullpen Notes: Papelbon, Nathan, Tigers, Padres

Closer Jonathan Papelbon is dissatisfied with the Phillies' current direction, MLB.com's Todd Zalecki reports. In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, Philadelphia has fallen to seven games below .500, and that's not what Papelbon anticipated when he signed with the Phils. "I definitely didn't come here for this," he says. He also doesn't sound optimistic when asked about the Phillies' future. "Oh man," he says. "We could be here all day."

Papelbon is of the opinion that the Phillies need to undergo an overhaul, similar to that of his former team, the Red Sox (whose overhaul, ironically, included losing Papelbon to free agency). He says he does not want to be traded, but adds that he does not want to stay in Philadelphia if his team continues on the same path.


Braves Eyeing Left-Handed Relievers

The Braves' priority is to add a left-handed reliever, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, with James Russell of the Cubs, Mike Gonzalez of the Brewers, and Wesley Wright of the Astros on their wish list.  The Braves are more interested in Russell and Gonzalez, he adds.

The Braves' need for a southpaw reliever has increased with the plan to put Alex Wood in the starting rotation, possibly swapping roles with right-hander Kris Medlen.  That would leave Luis Avilan as the only lefty in the Braves' pen, with Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters both out for the season due to Tommy John surgery.

Russell, 27, has a large platoon split.  He'd held lefties to a .187/.218/.284 line, but righties have hit him hard (small sample size warning).  Russell is earning $1.075MM this year, and he's under team control through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player.  Gonzalez, 35, joined the Braves from the Pirates in the January 2007 Adam LaRoche trade.  He racked up 125 innings and 26 saves for the Braves over three seasons, mostly after recovering from June '07 Tommy John surgery.  The Braves allowed him to leave as a free agent for Baltimore, drafting Matt Lipka as a supplemental pick in 2010 as compensation.  After spending time with the Rangers and Nationals, Gonzalez signed with the Brewers as a free agent in January this year.  He's always been prone to the free pass, especially against righties this year, but he's been strong against lefties.

Wright, 28, came to the Astros in the '07 Rule 5 draft, from the Dodgers.  They were able to retain him by keeping him in the Majors for all of '08, and he's improved since then.  Similar to Russell, Wright is under team control through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player.  His problem this year, against righties and lefties, has been an abnormally high batting average on balls in play and rate of flyballs leaving the yard.

Which other left-handed relievers might be available?  We'll have a full post on the topic later today, but Mike Dunn, Charlie Furbush, Oliver Perez, Jose Mijares, Darren Oliver, Scott Downs, Joe Thatcher, Javier Lopez, and Jeremy Affeldt are names to consider.

The Braves also seek a backup infielder to fill the void after the loss of Ramiro Pena to season-ending surgery; they'd prefer a left-handed hitter with more offense than Paul Janish, writes Bowman.  The Cubs' Luis Valbuena could be a logical candidate there, in my opinion.