Will Middlebrooks Rumors

Quick Hits: Astros, Middlebrooks, Peavy, Rodriguez

Matt Harvey posted a game score of 97 while taking a perfect game into the seventh, striking out 12, and walking none over nine innings against the White Sox Tuesday night, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes (on Twitter). Only 40 outings of nine innings or fewer since 1916 have earned a higher game score. Here's a collection of notes from around the majors.

  • The nine Asian-born pitchers who have pitched in the big leagues this year have combined to post numbers similar to a typical Justin Verlander season, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs says. Those nine pitchers have 241 1/3 innings pitched so far in 2013, with a 2.91 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. Yu Darvish has been a big part of that, of course, but Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hisashi Iwakuma, Hiroki Kuroda, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara have also pitched well. The past struggles of pitchers like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Irabu have allowed today's Asian-born pitchers to fly under the radar somewhat, Cameron argues, and he wonders whether pitchers from overseas leagues might be undervalued in the market. Specifically, he says, emphasis on fastball velocity and breaking balls may cause teams to undervalue pitchers with great splitters or changeups.
  • Free agency has become "a used car lot cluttered with lemons," with only a few bargains to be found, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated argues, citing the examples of Josh Hamilton (Angels), B.J. Upton (Braves) and Zack Greinke (Dodgers). Thus far, Hamilton and Upton have failed to produce with their new teams, and Greinke is hurt. In the past four seasons, Verducci notes, there have been 24 free-agent contracts worth $35MM or more. Most of those have turned out badly, and some (such as Jason Bay's deal with the Mets) have looked bad almost immediately. That means that "win[ning] the winter" by signing the biggest-name free agents isn't all it's cracked up to be, as the 2012 Marlins can attest. This year's Angels and Dodgers have struggled out of the gate, and so have the Blue Jays (who had a big offseason mostly driven by trades).
  • The Astros' decisions to designate Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez for assignment made their outfield more athletic, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says. Robbie Grossman, Brandon Barnes and Jimmy Paredes started in the outfield for the Astros Tuesday night. "We went out to get more athletic, get more guys who have the ability to mishit the ball and still have a possibility of getting on base because of their athletic ability," says manager Bo Porter.
  • Will Middlebrooks and David Ross left the Red Sox's game against the Twins Tuesday night after they collided. There is no indication yes that Middlebrooks will miss significant time. But after Middlebrooks, the Red Sox have little depth at third base, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. Utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco "isn't the answer," MacPherson says, and the choices at Triple-A Pawtucket aren't thrilling. Minor-league veteran Justin Henry, who was acquired in the offseason for Rule 5 pick Jeff Kobernus, may be the best option there. Brock Holt, who arrived from the Pirates with Joel Hanrahan in the offseason, is another possibility. Of course, Middlebrooks himself has struggled this year, hitting just .195/.232/.281.
  • Jake Peavy does not have a no-trade clause in his new contract with the White Sox, and he doesn't need one, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. "I told (GM) Rick Hahn that if he didn’t trade me before spring training was over, that was good enough for me," says Peavy, pointing out that it's unlikely he will be traded if the White Sox are contending.
  • Rosenthal also notes that Madison Bumgarner's contract with the Giants could be one of the most team-friendly in baseball. Bumgarner, 23, would have been eligible for free agency after the 2016 season, but his new deal contains cheap team options that can allow the Giants to carry him through 2019.
  • The Brewers have assigned Francisco Rodriguez to Class A+ Brevard County, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. Rodriguez will make three relief appearances there, then head to Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers must promote Rodriguez to the majors by May 17, or he can become a free agent. Rodriguez posted a 4.38 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 78 appearances with the Brewers in 2012.
  • Diamond Mines' new database provides a fascinating look at old scouting reports, including many in the scouts' own handwriting.

AL East Notes: Middlebrooks, Ichiro, Blue Jays

On this date in 1998, Cal Ripken Jr. took himself out of the Orioles' starting lineup and ended his consecutive games played streak at 2,632. The Orioles haven’t made the playoffs since, but this could be their year; they’re currently in playoff position. Here are today’s AL East links…

  • There are indications that the Red Sox won't pursue a long-term extension with Will Middlebrooks this offseason, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. The team's front office executives aren't in a rush to make a long-term judgment about Middlebrooks. “Obviously it’s a possibility,” Middlebrooks said.
  • Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner are too similar to be the Yankees' corner outfielders in 2013, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. The Yankees hope to have Gardner back at full health next year, so Ichiro might have to sign elsewhere as a free agent. Davidoff won't be surprised if Ichiro's still unsigned in January.
  • Blue Jays president Paul Beeston characterized the last few months as the "half season from hell," Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun reports. Beeston said "there is a feeling of emptiness" at not being able to deliver for fans and added that he’s “actually pissed off” that the A’s and Orioles are headed for the playoffs while the Blue Jays are not.

Cafardo On Upton, Phillies, Red Sox, Mariners

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks the top ten managers in baseball.  Don Mattingly of the Dodgers tops the list as he has the club off to a surprising 38-22 record, putting them four games above the Giants in the NL West.  Robin Ventura (White Sox), Terry Collins (Mets), Bobby Valentine (Red Sox), and Buck Showalter (Orioles) round out the top five.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • Only Kevin Towers knows for sure if the inconsistent Justin Upton could ever be available in a deal.  However, a few baseball evaluators wouldn’t mind tempting the Diamondbacks with a package.  Arizona doesn't need pitching, so the Red Sox can't use someone like Clay Buchholz to get him.
  • The Phillies may be more interested in Will Middlebrooks than Kevin Youkilis, a major league source told Cafardo.  However, it doesn't look like the Red Sox would have interest in dealing Middlebrooks.
  • The Orioles' new six-year, $85MM deal with Adam Jones has led to speculation on how the Red Sox will approach Jacoby Ellsbury, who can be a free agent after the 2013 season.  However, there's reason for both sides to wait.  As an Oregon native who shuns the spotlight, Ellsbury may want a quieter market.  The Sox, meanwhile, would want to see Ellsbury stay healthy for a while before committing 6-8 years to him.
  • While the Mariners haven’t given indications that they will sell off veteran pieces, teams are targeting them as a seller.  The M's have already received some inquiries for Brandon League.
  • The Rays have to be looking for a middle infielder, which are extremely hard to come by.  Tampa Bay is anxious to upgrade from the defensive play of Sean Rodriguez.
  • The Red Sox really like Jorge Soler, but they don’t appear to be the front-runners for him.

Latest On Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Youkilis returned to Boston's lineup last week and he already has a home run and a pair of two-hit games. But he remains a trade candidate given the presence of Will Middlebrooks, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz on the Red Sox roster. Here's the latest on Youkilis…

  • There’s a feeling other teams would be interested in Youkilis, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). The 33-year-old isn’t the player he once was, so the Red Sox would likely have to contribute toward his $12MM salary in a trade. One scout says the Red Sox must trade Youkilis because Middlebrooks has as much power as Mark Trumbo of the Angels.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Red Sox, Crawford, Yankees

A look at a few items out of the AL East as the Blue Jays take on the Orioles in Baltimore..

  • The Orioles are still looking for ways to improve defensively and the club has some interest in Brandon Inge, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.  Inge was let go by Detroit earlier today but made it clear that he wants to continue playing.
  • There hasn't been any talk of Will Middlebrooks being promoted in support of the struggling Kevin Youkilis, a Red Sox source told Alex Speier of WEEI.com.  So far this year, the veteran is hitting just .204/.267/.296 as Middlebrooks has looked solid for Triple-A Pawtucket.
  • Peter Gammons of MLB.com tweets that the lesson to be learned from the Red Sox's Carl Crawford "debacle" is that the club should have had his agent work with the club to help with his adjustment to a new market.  Crawford hit just .255/.289/.405 for Boston in 2011 and could now miss three months after undergoing elbow surgery.
  • Former pitcher Curt Schilling suffered the same torn anterior labrum in his throwing shoulder as Michael Pineda and believes that he could bounce back better than ever and return in less than a year, writes Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com.  Yesterday we learned that the Yankees pitcher is likely going to be sidelined for a full year.

Latest On A’s-Red Sox Andrew Bailey Talks

8:49am:  The talks are not that far along and the A's have not asked for Middlebrooks, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.  The A's would need more, but WEEI's Alex Speier tweets that they've liked Lars Anderson, Raul Alcantara, and Brandon Workman.  Things are currently quiet on the Bailey-Red Sox trade front, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston

6:39am: The A's asked the Red Sox for third base prospect Will Middlebrooks, writes the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo. It's probably safe to assume that Middlebrooks, 23, is not one of the prospects mentioned in Gammons' proposal.

5:01am: Peter Gammons of MLB Network tweets that the Athletics are considering a trade offer from the Red Sox that includes Josh Reddick and prospects in exchange for Andrew Bailey. Jed Lowrie is not in this proposal.

The 24-year-old Reddick appeared at all three outfield spots for the Sox in 2011 (earning stellar reviews from UZR and DRS in an admittedly small sample) and hit a solid .280/.327/.457 in 278 plate appearances.

The A's stand to lose their entire starting outfield of David DeJesus (already signed with the Cubs), Coco Crisp, and Josh Willingham to free agency this offseason, so it makes sense that they would have interest in controllable outfielders.

The two teams were reportedly set to meet on Tuesday to discuss a potential Bailey trade, though is is the first we've heard of the results.

Rosenthal On Jimenez, Red Sox, Rockies, Beltran

In the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal, we learn how this year's trade deadline could have turned out drastically different..

Ubaldo Jimenez Rumors: Saturday

Yesterday we learned that the Tigers have strong interest in Rockies' ace Ubaldo Jimenez, showing a willingness to include top prospect Jacob Turner, who is being called up to start today but not as a showcase.  However, Detroit may be out for now and the chances of any Jimenez deal may have slipped below 50%.  The latest:

  • Pomeranz and White will be in the deal if it happens, Renck tweets.
  • Jimenez was scratched from his start tonight, Heyman tweets.
  • The Yankees infuriated the Rockies by taking their  top prospects off of the table and offering Phil Hughes and others instead, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).
  • The Rockies are moving toward a deal with Cleveland, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (on Twitter).
  • White has been scratched from his one-inning rehab outing, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter).
  • There are indications that Pomeranz and White could be available in a possible deal, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
  • The Rockies asked for Pomeranz, Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
  • The Rockies and Indians are in serious talks, Renck reports (on Twitter). He hears that a deal would center around Pomeranz, Alex White and Jason Kipnis.
  • Renck gets the "strong sense" that Cleveland hasn't given up (Twitter link) and Morosi says Indians prospect Drew Pomeranz was scratched from his Double-A start today (Twitter link).
  • The Red Sox, Reds and Indians are in on Jimenez, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees aren't talking actively with Colorado and won't include Nova, Betances, Banuelos or Montero in a deal for Jimenez (Twitter links).
  • The Rockies haven't dropped their demands and are still asking for three players, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network (on Twitter). The Yankees still won't part with Montero, Betances and Nova for Jimenez.
  • Two teams have enhanced their offers, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
  • Rival teams believe the Rockies match up best with the Indians, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
  • The Rockies will have a scout watching Nova tonight at Yankee Stadium, tweets Sherman.
  • The price on Jimenez has come down a tad, tweets Jon Heyman.  He says the Rockies are no longer asking for Banuelos from the Yankees; Betances, Nova, and Montero would work.  That's similar to what Joel Sherman wrote earlier today.  The two teams have not talked today, tweets Troy Renck.  Renck believes the Yankees currently will not put both Montero and Betances in the deal – just one.
  • One executive who has been speaking with the Rockies and Reds believes the teams "have discussed an expanded version that could include someone like Seth Smith, because the Reds also have been targeting controllable bats," reports ESPN's Jayson Stark.   
  • The Red Sox haven't been in contact with the Rockies about Jimenez since Thursday, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.  And the Reds aren't currently discussing Jimenez with the Rockies, tweets Jon Paul Morosi.
  • The Yankees are all over Jimenez, a source tells ESPN's Tim Kurkjian.
  • The Yankees are hearing that the Rockies may lower the price on Jimenez today, tweets Ken Rosenthal, but still not to a point that they consider realistic.  Renck tweets that the Rockies' price hasn't changed during the process.
  • The Indians, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Reds are still in on Jimenez, tweets SI's Jon Heyman, and he's not counting out the Yankees.
  • In addition to Turner and maybe Rick Porcello or Max Scherzer, the Rockies asked the Tigers for outfielder Brennan Boesch, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  Knobler notes that Turner is starting for the Tigers today.
  • The Indians were willing to discuss southpaw pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.  Pomeranz is ranked anywhere from #14 to #35 among all teams by prospect experts.  Red Sox third base prospect Will Middlebrooks and righty Anthony Ranaudo are of interest to Colorado, adds Renck.
  • The Rockies want Ivan Nova and two of Manny BanuelosDellin Betances, and Jesus Montero from the Yankees, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman writes, "to say the Yankees and Rockies are not finding common ground on Jimenez’s value is an understatement."  The Red Sox, Tigers, and Indians remain involved, while the Reds are "less heated to make a deal."
  • "Rival executives believe that if the Rockies lower their asking price at all today, it will signal clear intent to move the pitcher," tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.