Will Venable Rumors

NL West Links: Betancourt, Venable, Hall

The Dodgers‘ losing streak extended to five games after dropping a 3-2 result to the Astros today.  It was another rough outing for the struggling Los Angeles bullpen, as Kenley Jansen blew a save by allowing Houston to tie the game in the ninth, and Chris Hatcher picked up the loss after giving up a 10th-inning walkoff homer to Jason Castro.  Entering Sunday, Dodgers relievers had combined for a 6.00 ERA since the All-Star break, the second-worst bullpen ERA of any club in the second half.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Rafael Betancourt was designated for assignment by the Rockies earlier today, and the veteran reliever told reporters (including MLB.com’s Thomas Harding) that he’s at peace with the fact that his 12-year career could be over.  He isn’t too optimistic about another team picking him up, saying “I don’t see any team that’s a contender right now that is looking to” acquire a struggling 40-year-old.  Betancourt may be a little hard on himself; several ERA indicators (3.32 FIP, 4.27 xFIP and 3.67 SIERA) show that he’s pitching much better than his 6.18 ERA would imply, and his velocity, strikeouts and walk rates are around his career averages.  Betancourt has been hurt by a .328 BABIP and a stunningly low 52.6% strand rate over his 39 1/3 innings of work.
  • The Dodgers declined to claim Will Venable on trade waivers, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.  Los Angeles is rather deep with outfield options but, as Morosi notes, the Dodgers could’ve used Venable in center with Joc Pederson struggling.  The Dodgers were hardly alone in passing on Venable, who went through waivers and then garnered interest from several teams.  The Padres dealt Venable to the Rangers last week.
  • The Diamondbacks are eager to make an impact in Japan both marketing-wise and in terms of player acquisitions, team president Derrick Hall told Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times.  “For us, we’ve always looked to be identified with someone in Japan.  We’re still hoping to find that talent one day,” Hall said.  “It’s a dream of mine personally to have a Japanese player in a D’Back uniform, as well as a Mexican-born player who can have an impact. Because I’ve seen what a difference that makes having grown up and cut my own teeth in the Dodgers organization all those years. Of course I was around during the time of Nomo-san and Nomomania and that was electric.”
  • Hall, Tony La Russa, Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez recently traveled to Japan on a goodwill tour on the Diamondbacks’ behalf, and while they weren’t specifically there to scout players, they did see Kenta Maeda and Shohei Otani pitch in NPB action.  Arizona was one of several teams linked to Maeda last offseason before the righty decided to re-sign with the Hiroshima Carp.  Maeda could be posted this winter, while Otani is just 21 and it’ll be at least a few seasons before the Nippon Ham Fighters consider making him available to North American teams.  Hall said the D’Backs are “going to be aggressive” on signing talent they believe in, though given the large fees involved in signing top-flight Japanese talent, “it makes it more difficult for teams like us in smaller markets.  When we write that big a check, we cannot miss. We’ve gotta be right.”

Padres Complete Venable Trade, Designate Chris Rearick

The Padres have officially added righty Jon Edwards from the Rangers to complete the recent trade that sent Will Venable to Texas, the club announced. Edwards had needed to clear revocable waivers before he could be sent as the player to be named later.

San Diego designated Chris Rearick for assignment to clear a 40-man spot. The 27-year-old southpaw was knocked around in his first three big league innings this year, and struggled to a 5.11 ERA (with thirty strikeouts and thirty walks) over 44 Triple-A frames. Rearick has been much more successful in the minors in past seasons, and has never shown those kinds of control issues previously.


Rangers Acquire Will Venable, Designate Michael Choice

The Rangers have acquired outfielder Will Venable from the Padres in exchange for minor league catcher/outfielder Marcus Greene and right-hander Jon Edwards (who was included as a player to be named later), per a team announcement. In order to clear space on the roster for Venable, the Rangers have designated have designated outfielder Michael Choice for assignment.

Will Venable

Venable, 32, will give the Rangers some additional outfield depth and could immediately step into left field, if Josh Hamilton‘s injury troubles continue. Hitting .258/.318/.378, Venable is in the process of bouncing back from perhaps the worst season of his career — a 2014 campaign in which he batted just .224/.288/.325 in the first campaign of a two-year, $8.5MM extension. He’s earning $4.25MM this season as part of that contract, of which about $1.11MM remains. Venable will be a free agent at season’s end, making him a pure rental for the Rangers as they push to bridge either the three-game gap separating them from the AL West lead or the one-game gap sitting between their team and a Wild Card slot.

Venable’s career numbers (.252/.316/.410) don’t leap off the page, but he has superior numbers against right-handed pitching and away from Petco Park — the stadium which he’s called home for the entirety of his career. He’s a career .257/.323/.425 hitter against righties and a .269/.330/.431 hitter on the road.

Greene, 20, is recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent this June. He began the season at the Class A level, where he hit .218/.365/.500 with five homers, 16 walks and 23 strikeouts in 96 plate appearances before suffering his injury. He did not rank among the Rangers’ Top 30 prospects, but Baseball America gave him a favorable write-up upon being selected in the 16th round of the 2013 draft. Per BA, Greene’s best tool is arm strength, but he also comes with raw power upside and a solid makeup.

The 27-year-old Edwards first had to pass through revocable waivers before he could be included in the deal. He has thrown 14 1/3 big league innings over the last two seasons, working to a 5.02 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against a troubling 8.2 BB/9. But he’s been excellent this season at Triple-A, compiling a 1.42 earned run average while striking out 44 batters and issuing just eight walks over 31 2/3 frames.

Choice is a former Top 100 prospect that the Rangers acquired prior to the 2014 season in the trade that sent Craig Gentry to Oakland. Though the 25-year-old has a solid .279/.363/.463 slash line throughout his minor league career, he’s mustered just a .188/.253/.320 slash in 300 plate appearances between the Rangers and Athletics.

For the Padres, this marks the first piece that GM A.J. Preller has traded away. The first-year general manager took some heat from the media for his decision to stand pat at last month’s non-waiver deadline despite facing a significant gap in the division and Wild Card standings. It’s conceivable that this could be the first of a few trades made by the Padres, who also stand to lose Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit (though he does have a club option) to free agency this winter. Of that group, only Upton would be a lock for a qualifying offer, although Kennedy has pitched markedly better as of late. Right-hander James Shields has also cleared waivers and will probably see his name kicked around the rumor mill a bit more before the end of the month.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported on Twitter that Edwards was the PTBNL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



AL West Notes: White, Hahn, A’s, Paxton, Venable

Astros first base prospect Tyler White is a triumph for the team’s scouting department, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. White, a 33rd-round selection that signed for $1,000 out of Western Carolina, has soared through the minors and reached Triple-A this year, where he’s hitting .396/.489/.617 with five homers and nearly as many walks (26) as strikeouts (28) in 178 plate appearances. Drellich spoke to Astros scouting director Mike Elias and the team’s director of decision sciences, Sig Mejdal, about the way in which they came to draft White. Drellich also wonders if the Astros, who are struggling with first base production, can afford to keep White in Triple-A. Though he doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft, White could potentially boost the production of a team dedicated to winning right now, which may trump traditional roster concerns.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • Athletics right-hander Jesse Hahn may not pitch again in 2015, manager Bob Melvin suggested to reporters, including John Hickey (Twitter link). Hahn has not yet begun playing catch since being shut down with a flexor tendon injury just over a month ago. Hahn, an offseason trade acquisition, was outstanding for the A’s through 96 2/3 innings this season, posting a 3.35 ERA with a 64-to-25 K/BB ratio. Durability, however, has long been a concern for Hahn, who totaled just 163 1/3 innings in a minor league career that spanned from 2012-14.
  • Billy Beane and his lieutenants have never had fewer than 74 wins in a season, but that number is in danger in 2015, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. A good deal has gone wrong for the A’s in 2015, but perhaps the most troubling fact is that the A’s have only received contributions from four players that are products of their own farm system. Two of those names — Max Muncy and Arnold Leon — have been fringe roster pieces this season.
  • Mariners southpaw James Paxton believes he’s ready to embark on a rehab assignment after throwing a pair of innings in a simulated game on Wednesday, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Paxton said it’s been “a couple of weeks” since he felt pain in the strained tendon in his finger that has sidelined him since May 28.
  • Talks between the Padres and the Rangers on Will Venable came together fairly quickly, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). Venable passed through waivers, and multiple teams showed interest, but the Rangers jumped into talks on Monday evening and had a deal completed by Tuesday evening.

Mets May Have Concerns With Cuddyer; Have Interest In Tigers’ Yoenis Cespedes, Rajai Davis

12:08pm: New York is talking with Detroit about Cespedes, Rosenthal tweets. At this point, he’s one of many options, per the report.

12:05pm: As previously reported, the Mets are open to numerous outfield possibilities as the trade deadline approaches. The club has some concern that outfielder Michael Cuddyer “may not be back,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links), which certainly would appear to add a new component to the decisionmaking process.

The veteran had been expected to experience only a relatively short DL stint. It’s not entirely clear, though, what the new issues are that are referenced by the report, or what kind of absence might be expected.

Per Rosenthal, the names currently being considered by New York include not only the oft-discussed Jay Bruce (Reds), Yoenis Cespedes (Tigers), Justin Upton (Padres), and Will Venable (Padres), but also Rajai Davis of the Tigers. Davis is a speedy right-handed hitter who is capable of playing center field, where Rosenthal says the team has real concerns about incumbent Juan Lagares (who fits a similar general profile).


Latest On Padres: Baez, Kimbrel, Deadline Strategy

2:15pm: The Padres have engaged in at least some discussions with the Cubs regarding young infielder Javier Baez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Chicago is said to be pursuing pitching, and we heard last week that they had exchanged ideas with San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Friars seem increasingly likely to hold onto Craig Kimbrel, reports Heyman. The team lost a significant suitor when the Nationals got Jonathan Papelbon, and San Diego has been unable to convince the Yankees to give up shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo in a deal.

11:40am: The Padres continue to explore a wide array of options on this year’s trade market, though they’ve yet to make a move. Multiple reports suggest that the team is still weighing its ultimate approach, perhaps considering major moves while also preparing for a more modest sell-off.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that rival teams expect San Diego to be “super active” and pursue a “huge deal” of some kind (via ESPN.com’s trade deadline page), with the team said to be considering deals on controllable rotation pieces such as James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and even Tyson Ross.

[RELATED: Rangers Discussing Ross, Cashner With Padres]

The inclusion of those names on the market could even reduce the Phillies’ leverage with regard to Cole Hamels negotiations, executives with other clubs tell Stark. The Phillies, of course, are said to be asking teams with interest to get their bids in on the lefty today.

Meanwhile, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Padres GM A.J. Preller could “take a more measured approach” in selling than he did in compiling assets over the winter. San Diego wants “substantive” value in its deals, per the report.

Efforts to move Shields have not resulted in promising offers of yet, says Lin, and he could become an August trade piece. And while San Diego is indeed discussing both Cashner and Ross, it seems hesitant to part with them. There is some belief within the organization that larger-scale moves could wait for the winter.

The club does still appear likely to move its short-term assets, per the Union-Tribune. There is still at least some possibility, though, that it will hold onto Justin Upton and make him a qualifying offer, with talks not yet having produced a substantial enough return, though it seems rather likely that something with come together on the slugger. Other pieces fairly likely to be dealt include Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, and Will Venable.


Padres “Pushing Hard” To Trade Big-Name Players

The Padres are “pushing hard” to trade big-name stars, executives from other teams tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Obviously, Justin Upton, Will Venable and Ian Kennedy are clear trade candidates, since those players are due to become free agents after the season. But James Shields, Andrew Cashner and Craig Kimbrel, who all are controlled beyond 2015, have also come up very frequently in talks, according to Heyman. Other possibilities include Tyson Ross, who’s due for free agency after 2017, and Joaquin Benoit, whose contract contains a club option for 2015.

This isn’t the first time that any of these players have been mentioned in trade talks, of course, but rival executives now seem to think the Padres could be even more active at the deadline than had previously been anticipated. Given how aggressively GM A.J. Preller remade the team last offseason, it would come as little surprise if he were itching to make another round of big trades in the midst of what’s turned into a disappointing season.

Heyman adds that another potential motivation for the Padres to make trades could be to reduce payroll. (ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote earlier today that the Padres were feeling “pressure” to shed payroll beyond 2015 by making trades.) Via Cot’s Contracts, the Padres had an Opening Day payroll of about $108MM this season, about $17MM more than their 2014 figure. Trading someone like Shields, whose contract is backloaded, would help the Padres reduce their already significant payroll obligations for 2016 and beyond.


NL East Notes: Alvarez, Cishek, Haren, Mets, Venable, Nats

Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez experienced a setback in his rehab from right shoulder inflammation, and his season is now in jeopardy, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Manager Dan Jennings told Spencer and others prior to Thursday’s contest: “He had a recurrence of the shoulder. We’re trying to determine if it’s going to be best for a non-surgical, or surgical procedure regarding the shoulder.” Alvarez’s injury troubles in 2015 have contributed to the team’s disappointing season. If he’s to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season, Alvarez will have made just four starts in 2015, with the end result being an ERA over 6.00.

Here’s the latest from the NL East…

  • The Dodgers, Cardinals, Twins and Blue Jays are still in the mix for former Marlins closer Steve Cishek, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Cishek’s been throwing well since returning from a brief stint at Triple-A, allowing just one earned run with an 11-to-4 K/BB ratio in 11 2/3 innings. Frisaro also adds the Orioles to the list of teams with interest in right-hander Dan Haren, adding to recent reports that have linked the Blue Jays and Dodgers to Haren.
  • Mets general manager Sandy Alderson made a pair of definitive statements to reporters today, writes MLB.com’s Joe Trezza. First and foremost, Alderson said that none of the four young arms in his rotation — Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz — is available in trades. Alderson also insisted that ownership has provided him with the resources to take on a major contract, though he added that the media and fans alike would both take that news with a heavy grain of salt: “Now, none of you will believe me, OK? So I’m not sure why you asked the question and insisted on the answer.”
  • The Mets have interest in Padres outfielder Will Venable, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link), who echoes previous reports that Gerardo Parra is under Mets consideration as well. According to Morosi, the Cubs are intrigued by both Parra and Venable as well, however, so the Mets have some competition in regards to those two trade targets.
  • Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, tweets that the Mets don’t feel they need to acquire a third baseman while David Wright is on the shelf, because the team is better defensively with Daniel Murphy at third base while Wright is out. Adding an outfielder — preferably one controllable beyond 2015 — is the Mets’ priority.
  • Speaking about the trade deadline in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter links), Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said, “There’s no trade I could make that could be as the guys we’re getting back [from the DL]. We will certainly be looking, but I don’t know how active we’ll be.”

Deadline Rumors: Cespedes, Cishek, Price, Gallardo, Jays, Royals, Reds, Alvarez, Padres

In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.

There are a ton of important deadline developments to cover in the wake of the Scott Kazmir trade, so let’s get to them:

  • There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
  • Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
  • Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
  • The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
  • One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
  • Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.

Trade Notes: Hamels, Pitching, Mets, Johnson, Beede

Two weeks from this writing, the non-waiver trade deadline will be firmly in the rear-view mirror. Rumors pertaining to trades and actual trade activity should pick up substantially here over the coming 14 days, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports previews the deadline for all 30 clubs, examining each buyer’s biggest need, each seller’s greatest asset and what will determine the course of the teams that have yet to plot a course of action. Similarly, ESPN’s Buster Olney took a look at the biggest questions surrounding each of the 30 teams heading into the second half — many of which have revolve around trade deadline strategies (ESPN Insider subscription required).

General overviews aside, here’s the latest trade chatter from around the league…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post is surprised by the number of executives he’s spoken to that feel the Phillies will not trade Cole Hamels this summer, barring a no-brainer offer (Twitter links). Sherman says that many within the industry feel that new Phillies president Andy MacPhail may wait until the Winter Meetings to shop Hamels, as he’ll by then be more comfortable with the scouts that are giving him advice and have input from a more functional analytics department.
  • Newsday’s Marc Carig writes that while names like Justin Upton, Carlos Gomez and Jay Bruce would all have appeal to the Mets, each would also come with a steep prospect price. Such transactions aren’t commonplace for the Mets, Carig notes, but the addition of a versatile outfielder such as Will Venable or Gerardo Parra could help improve the club’s production at a lower cost. And, as ESPN’s Buster Olney notes (on Twitter), the Mets should be highly motivated to add pieces, as 17 of the team’s final 39 games come against a pair of selling clubs: the Phillies and Braves.
  • Sherman also hears that the Dodgers, Astros, Royals and Blue Jays are the four teams that are most aggressively trying to add pitching at this juncture (Twitter link). The Royals and Blue Jays scouted the Reds, who are said to be ready to move both Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, heavily before the break.
  • Part of the reasoning behind the Braves‘ signings of right-hander Jason Frasor and left-hander Ross Detwiler is that the team wanted to add some veteran leadership to a bullpen that will likely soon be without Jim Johnson, tweets MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Johnson, in Bowman’s estimation, is very likely to be traded in the near future.
  • Giants prospect Tyler Beede‘s name is in high demand in trade talks, manager Bruce Bochy tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link). Per Bochy, Beede’s name is the first one mentioned by opposing clubs in the majority of the Giants’ trade talks. San Francisco selected Beede with the No. 14 pick in the 2014 draft, and he has a 2.91 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 89 2/3 innings between High-A and Double-A in his first full pro season.