Wilson Ramos Rumors
Jayson Werth told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that he doesn’t hate the Phillies at all and hopes for a warm reception when he returns to Philadelphia for the first time since signing with the division rival Nationals as a free agent. Here’s the latest on Werth's new team plus other rumors from around the league...
- The Nationals would like to add a veteran to the back of their bullpen.
- When teams ask about Nationals backstop Wilson Ramos, they’re hearing that the Nats don’t want to deal him because they believe he’s nearly ready to be a regular catcher.
- The Red Sox have been “quietly poking around” to determine which catchers could become available.
- The Phillies are looking for an affordable backup outfielder who can play center field and they have targeted Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay.
- There are no indications that the Phillies plan to deal for a second baseman to replace the injured Chase Utley, however.
- Though the Mets don’t appear to want Luis Castillo to win the second base job, scouts say he’s their best option by far.
- The Twins are open to adding relief depth.
The Nationals are loaded with quality catchers and most likely will trade one of them for pitching, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com. With Ivan Rodriguez, Jesus Flores, Wilson Ramos, and Derek Norris in the fold, Ladson writes that one of the backstops could be moved prior to Opening Day.
Now fully recovered from right shoulder surgery, the leading candidate to be traded could be Flores, who has been seen throwing the ball hard to second and third base. The injury cost the 26-year-old most of the 2010 season as he appeared in just 26 games.
The veteran Rodriguez will be the club's starting catcher to start the year while Ramos is being groomed as his heir apparent. Norris, 22, will probably start the season in the minors and is said to already possess a big league bat.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo explained to Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com that he asked for specific players in potential deals and refused to make trades when clubs kept offering different combinations of players that didn't include the Nats' target. Here are other trade-related notes from Rizzo’s exchange with Goessling:
- The Nationals believe Wilson Ramos will be an everyday catcher in the near future and have confidence that he could be a regular MLB catcher right now.
- Matt Capps, the player the Nationals traded to obtain Ramos, will get a raise through arbitration next year, but the upcoming pay hike did not compel the Nats to move their former closer.
- Rizzo says the club wasn’t looking to trade Adam Dunn, and “didn't find the value for him.”
- The Nationals were not looking to make “a quantity deal” for multiple so-so prospects. Instead, Rizzo wanted impact players.
- The deadline is fun for fans, but what about executives? Rizzo says he enjoys the trade deadline, since it’s “kind of fantasy baseball in the real world.”
The Twins have interest in Nationals closer Matt Capps, reports ESPN's Tim Kurkjian. Kurkjian finds a deal unlikely - he feels that the Nats would want catching prospect Wilson Ramos in return, and the Twins would be unwilling to make that deal. I wouldn't blame them - they may be aiming to replace Jon Rauch, but Capps is not a shutdown stopper either. In their search for another late-inning arm, the Twins have also been linked to Scott Downs of the Blue Jays.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told MLB.com's Bill Ladson recently that he is not looking to trade Capps, Josh Willingham, or Adam Dunn, but he does receive a lot of calls on them. Rizzo said he'd make a deal "if there was an opportunity to improve and impact the ballclub." Two days ago ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted the sentiment of rival executives: Capps stands a good chance of being traded, even though he is under team control for 2011.
The Nationals have a quality catching prospect at High A ball in Derek Norris. 25-year-old Jesus Flores is promising as well, but he has yet to make his 2010 debut as he tries to recover from shoulder and elbow surgeries. Ramos would be a welcome addition, as a team can never have too much catching depth.
Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will eventually end up with another club, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The reality of a seven- or eight-year deal at more than $20MM per season in a market as small as San Diego remains a long shot. If Gonzalez, who is under contract through 2011, reaches free agency, he'll be preferred over fellow slugger Prince Fielder, who is also in that free agent class. Let's see what else Cafardo has for us..
- Orioles infielder Ty Wigginton's right-handed bat and versatility make him attractive to the Yankees, Reds, Rays, and Angels. Wigginton likes playing in Baltimore but wouldn't mind being in a playoff race.
- A major league source wonders if Roy Oswalt will get too picky about to which teams he would approve a trade. We've already heard that Oswalt won't approve a trade to the White Sox or Tigers. One talent evaluator says that Oswalt can succeed in the American League.
- That same talent evaluator told Cafardo that Ted Lilly will encounter problems with a move to the American League. Therefore, he would make more sense for a team like the Mets, who are said to have interest.
- Twins catcher Joe Mauer has been playing through a few undisclosed injuries, in part because he feels the need to live up to his enormous contact. The club has been dangling catcher Wilson Ramos in a trade for a prime pitcher but they're now less inclined to deal him due to concerns about their franchise player.
- The Red Sox watched Mark Prior throw in Arizona, but a team source says that they won't sign him.
The Twins aren’t close to a deal for Cliff Lee, but the Rangers are working hard to acquire him and a number of other clubs are involved. The Mariners are seeking a monster return for Lee, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com and Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Click here to check out yesterday’s Lee rumblings and check back throughout the day for the latest on the lefty:
- MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports that talks between Seattle and the Reds have yet to "hit the serious stages." No formal proposals have been exchanged between the two teams.
- Lee appeared on ESPN 710's Brock and Salk earlier today, and said that he and his agent approached the Mariners about an extension before the season only to be told that the team wasn't "going to go down that road."
- The Mariners are interested in some of the game’s top prospects and young players, sources tell Jon Heyman of SI.com. Their wish list includes catching prospects Jesus Montero (Yankees) and Wilson Ramos (Twins) plus Justin Smoak and Wade Davis. A competing team says the Twins are a “real” threat to acquire Lee, though we’re not accustomed to seeing them give up lots of talent at the deadline.
- A rival executive told Heyman that the Rangers discussed Chris Davis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in a possible Lee trade. As we heard earlier today, the Mariners prefer Smoak and would want more than Davis and Saltalamacchia.
- The Mariners asked the Yankees for at least three prospects, including Montero, according to Heyman.
- B.J. Upton’s name has come up, but Heyman suggests the Rays haven't offered him to the Mariners.
- Larry Stone of the Seattle Times hears rumblings that the White Sox, who just lost Jake Peavy to the DL, are at least 'kicking tires' on Lee. That would not be a surprise given Kenny Williams' track record.
- One MLB GM told Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the Rangers are the favorites to acquire Lee. The Rangers don’t want to include Justin Smoak in a trade and at least one rival executive believes they would be ‘crazy’ to do so. The Rangers’ desire to hold onto Smoak is one of the biggest barriers remaining between the two teams. If the Rangers trade Smoak, they could call on Chris Davis, who has a .961 OPS in Triple A.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears the Mets mentioned with Lee less and less frequently (Twitter link). The Mariners are looking to obtain a major league-ready power bat, but the Mets don't want to part with Ike Davis.
- Jack Curry of the YES Network says the Yankees are being thorough and will inquire on Lee, just as they would on any available player of his caliber (Twitter link). That doesn't mean the Yanks are willing to out-bid everyone else, however.
- The Rangers and Mariners continue to discuss a possible Lee trade, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. The Rangers have spoken to numerous teams to figure out what it will take to improve the club for the stretch run.
- In case there was any doubt remaining about the Mariners' asking price, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer clears it up. An insider tells Fay that "it's going to take a ton," but Fay does not get the sense that a trade is about to happen.
- The Rangers have financial restrictions, but MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports that they have some money ‘tucked away’ for making moves. GM Jon Daniels is ‘fully engaged’ in the Lee trade talk.
- We know a lot of teams are interested in Lee, but how many? “Pretty much every team within five games of the playoffs," a source tells Ken Davidoff of Newsday (That's 17 teams). We’ve heard that the Mets may have trouble adding payroll, but GM Omar Minaya and his front office are operating as though they can add salary. That means Lee and Ted Lilly could be targets for the Mets.
The Cliff Lee trade talk started intensifying yesterday, as the Twins, Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Phillies and Tigers now have a new suitor to out-bid: the Rays. Not only are the Rays on the periphery of the Lee sweepstakes, they are ready to add payroll and appear willing to part with B.J. Upton. The Yankees are confident that they can jump in and pry Lee away from their divisional foes, but let's not rule out the Yanks' crosstown rivals. Here is the latest on Cliff Lee, with more rumors to come throughout the day:
- MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says that the Rangers are working hard to acquire Lee, but nothing is imminent. Texas has plenty of minor league talent to offer, but they don't appear to be willing to move Tanner Scheppers or Martin Perez according to Sullivan. Derek Holland, Blake Beavan, Chris Davis, Justin Smoak, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia could all be fair game. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says the Mariners "inquired about the availability" of Davis and Saltalamacchia. Righty Alexi Ogando is said to be on the Mariners radar, though "there is some resistance to include him in a deal" on the Rangers' side.
- Morosi expands on his earlier tweet, saying that the Reds and Mariners have exchanged names "in preliminary fashion," though the two sides have yet to exchange firm proposals. One GM called Cincinnati a "sleeper" in the Lee sweepstakes.
- CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam checked on the status of Boston's interest in Lee earlier today, and heard that the asking price was too high (Twitter links). Seattle wants a "stud catcher" close to the bigs, which the Red Sox simply don't have.
- Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune gets the impression that the Mariners aren't close to moving Lee, at least not to the Twins. He was also told that the two sides haven't exchanged official proposals, and that the Ramos-Hicks talk is "pure speculation."
- The Mariners are seeking a “mammoth return” for Lee, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. One executive interested in the left-hander said the Mariners made a “crazy ask,” demanding an even better package than Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks.
- FOX reports that the Twins offered Ramos and Kevin Slowey for Lee. At the moment, the Twins, Mets, Yankees and Rangers are most actively engaged with the Mariners in trade talks.
- The Mariners are calling teams back and telling them that it will take two blue-chip prospects plus a third young player to acquire Lee, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
- Two scouts tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that third base prospect Juan Francisco would be the Reds' best trade chip, not Yonder Alonso (Twitter link).
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney hears that the Yankees are not engaged in trade talks for Lee now. They are confident they could acquire the left-hander, but do not intend to deal for him. Olney says the Twins are the favorites to acquire Lee, followed by the Reds, the Rays, the Mets, the Rangers and the field.
- The Mets officials who have spoken to Joel Sherman of the New York Post don’t seem concerned that the Twins are the perceived frontrunners for Lee. The perception within the game is that the Mariners are leaning more toward scouting than number crunching, and the Mets believe that will work in their favor.
The Twins offered prospects Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks to the Mariners for Cliff Lee, according to a report by Jeff Fletcher of AOL FanHouse yesterday. Reports have since indicated that the two clubs are not close to a deal. If nothing works out between the Twins and Mariners, other teams, such as the Yankees, Mets, Rangers and Reds would likely be involved. We'll keep track of all the day's Cliff Lee rumors right here, so check back later in the day to see if we have moved this post back to the top of the page with updates.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter link) hears that Lee trade talks are "heating up," since some teams want to add the southpaw as soon as possible.
- An official from one team interested in Lee tells AOL FanHouse's Ed Price that his club has yet to hear back from Jack Zduriencik regarding what sort of return the Mariners are seeking.
- B.J. Upton, now involved in the Lee rumors, tells Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he doesn't want the Rays to trade him (Twitter link). Joe Maddon also talks to Topkin about the Upton rumors, saying there's "nothing from our end regarding that being true."
- The Yankees believe they could trade for Lee if they wanted to, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
- The Yankees are “kicking the tires” on Lee, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The source estimates that the Yanks have less than a 50% chance of obtaining Lee and suggests the Yankees could flip Javier Vazquez to another team if they do acquire Lee.
- The Rays are on the periphery of the Lee sweepstakes, according to Rosenthal’s sources, who confirm that B.J. Upton-Cliff Lee trade talk surfaced amoung scouts last night.
- The Tigers like Lee, but aren't optimistic about acquiring him, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- Olney hears that the Mariners "really like" Brewers prospect Brett Lawrie (Twitter link). The 20-year-old second baseman recently made Baseball America's mid-season All-Star team. Lawrie "still strikes out too often and is a work in progress at second base," but is among the offensive leaders at AA. The Mariners have 2009 first rounder Dustin Ackley, also a second baseman, hitting well in AA, though Ackley's presence doesn't mean they can't pursue Lawrie.
- Morosi hears that talks between the Mets and Mariners have not progressed much (Twitter link).
- Jerry Crasnick's sources estimate that there's a 60-100% chance that the Mariners trade Lee this month. The Mets prefer Lee to innings eaters and the Yankees ‘covet’ him, but the Phillies would be more likely to pursue Dan Haren if they go after an ace, according to Crasnick’s report for ESPN.com. One AL executive suggested the Mariners might have to explore three-way trades to get as much as possible in return for the left-hander.
- A rival executive told Ed Price of AOL FanHouse that the Twins will ‘go hard’ after Lee. Some believe the Rangers called Omar Beltre up to showcase him for the Mariners.
- Peter Gammons hears rumblings of a Lee-B.J. Upton deal and wonders if a third team could be involved along with the Mariners and Rays (Twitter link).
- Rosenthal hears that no deal between the Twins and Mariners is imminent. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik declined to characterize the talks he has had with the Twins, but Jon Paul Morosi hears that the Mariners have scouted the Twins extensively. Executives were divided on whether the Twins, who have traditionally held onto their prospects, would offer Hicks and Ramos in the same deal.
Yesterday Cliff Lee had another dominant outing and the Dodgers, Yankees, Cardinals and Phillies had scouts in Detroit to watch it. We'll keep track of all the day's Cliff Lee rumors right here, so check back later in the day to see if we have moved this post back to the top of the page with updates.
- The Twins aren't close to a deal for Lee, a team source tells LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune (via Twitter).
- The Twins have offered outfielder Aaron Hicks and catcher Wilson Ramos for Lee, a major league source told Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse (via Twitter).
- There are "interesting discussions" and "possibilities" for a Lee-to-Minnesota deal, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.
- The Reds have talked to the Mariners about Lee, according to John
Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. While tampering rules prevent GM
Walt Jocketty from commenting on Lee in particular, Fay believes that
his words infer that the 2008 AL Cy Young winner would be a player of
“I will say this: We’re looking at any way we can to improve the club,” said the GM. “To improve the club, it would have to be a pretty significant player to do that. We have a lot of good things going. We don’t want to disrupt that.”Fay writes that it will take more than Yonder Alonso, a trade candidate mentioned by ESPN's Buster Olney over the weekend, to land Lee. Edinson Volquez's performance upon his return will also have an impact on the Reds' interest in making a deal.
- The Rangers, Twins, Yankees and Mets are among the teams having the most active conversations with the Mariners about Lee, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Dodgers have also discussed the left-hander with the Mariners.
- The Tigers, Phillies and Cardinals have been scouting Lee, but those teams are not pursuing him as aggressively.
- Some of Morosi's sources believe the Mariners would rather obtain hitters than pitchers, while others don't believe position matters to GM Jack Zduriencik. There is consensus that the Mariners prefer prospects who are close to contributing in the major leagues.
4:26pm: MLB.com's Kelly Thesier has more from Gardenhire, who says that he and GM Bill Smith are aware of who's out there and talk casually about trades up until the All-Star Break, when they typically sit down to discuss potential moves in a more serious manner.
1:57pm: Mired in a four-game losing streak, and having lost six of their last ten games, the Twins find themselves with just a half-game lead on the AL Central as they square off against their former ace Johan Santana in New York today.
Since Santana's trade following the 2007 season, the Twins have lacked a definitive ace atop their rotation. Francisco Liriano has shown flashes of brilliance and looks to have returned to form somewhat in 2010. However, it seems a long shot that he'll ever recapture the dominance he exhibited in his 2006 breakout, which was cut short by Tommy John surgery.
Currently relying on Liriano, Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Nick Blackburn, the Twins' rotation has begun to falter over recent weeks. Slowey and Blackburn in particular have struggled of late, posting ERAs of 5.18 and 9.47 over the last month, respectively.
Knowing that the Twins are a front-runner for Lee and that they've explored a trade for Houston's Roy Oswalt, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune spoke with Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire today regarding the club's trade philosophy. If the Twins are pursuing Lee, who is rumored to be available immediately, Gardenhire isn't tipping their hand:
Gardenhire's comments aren't necessarily entirely accurate. While the Twins haven't dealt elite prospects for talent in the past, they did trade for two rentals last season when they acquired Orlando Cabrera from the Athletics and traded the Indians for Pavano's services in August. Pavano remains a Twin after accepting arbitration this past offseason.
"This organization’s pretty set in its ways about not ever giving up your system for a rental, as they say. We haven’t done that in the past, and I wouldn’t think they would be leaning that way now."
Gardenhire does concede that "things happen" and mentions increased revenue from the sellout crowds every game at the Twins' new home, Target Field. He's quick to cover that admission, however:
The one hole in Gardenhire's statement? Ramos, ranked as the game's 58th-best prospect by Baseball America in late February, won't supplant AL MVP Joe Mauer, making it impossible to see him being brought to the big leagues as a regular -- at least in a Twins uniform.
"But it still goes with the philosophy of the organization and that’s develop and bring these guys to the big leagues -- and that’s never going to change here, I don’t believe."
While those comments may leave the door more open for Oswalt, the Astros recently called up their own elite catching prospect, Jason Castro. There's also the issue of Oswalt's contract. At $16MM in 2011, it will be a considerable burden to any club looking to acquire the Houston ace, making Lee a far more logical target for Minnesota, despite its past philosophy.