Yovani Gallardo Rumors
The NL Central features a pair of matchups this afternoon each at a different end of the spectrum. The division-leading Cardinals are hosting the Pirates and lead Pittsburgh by one-half game while the Brewers and Cubs are at Wrigley Field battling to avoid the cellar. The Brewers sit in fourth place by only one game. In other news and notes from the NL Central:
- The first place Cardinals can thank their deep farm system (especially in terms of pitching reinforcements) for their place in the standings, but it has had a ripple effect throughout the entire system, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Bernie Miklasz, Goold's colleague at the Post-Dispatch, agrees the Cardinals' young talent has been a tremendous resource; but, with Allen Craig nursing a sprained foot, the club will turn to a grizzled playoff veteran: David Freese.
- The Brewers have a glaring hole at first base with seven different players starting there this season, but Juan Francisco's audition to win the job for 2014 hasn't gone well, opines Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Since a two-home run, four-RBI game against the Rangers on August 14, Francisco has slumped with only seven hits in 44 at bats (.159), two RBIs, and 23 strikeouts.
- In an recent online chat, Rosiak explained trading either Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse this offseason wouldn't make sense because it would create more holes in a rotation which already doesn't have enough proven arms.
- Within that same chat, Rosiak can envision the Brewers cutting ties with Rickie Weeks citing the recent examples of Bill Hall, Jeff Suppan, and Randy Wolf. Rosiak notes those three cases occurred in the final year of their contracts, which is what Weeks is entering in 2014.
- Right-hander Daniel Bard, claimed on waivers by the Cubs last Wednesday, threw his second bullpen session today, but there is still no timetable for him to see any game action, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "It’d be nice to see but it’s his timetable and we’ll evaluate and we’ll find out how he’s doing and how he’s feeling," said manager Dale Sveum. Bard is eligible for arbitration this winter.
- Earlier today, the Cubs designated infielder Cody Ransom for assignment to create roster space for right-hander Scott Baker, who is making his first MLB appearance in two years.
Here's Monday's list of players that have been placed on revocable trade waivers...
- Yovani Gallardo -- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) reports that Gallardo has been placed on waivers by the Brewers. The starter drew interest this summer as a player who could help not just for 2013, but beyond, as he is under contract for $11.25MM next season with a $13MM club option for 2015. Gallardo is having a down year, but he has had two strong starts against the Reds this month since coming off of the DL. For his career, Gallardo owns a 3.76 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
- Mike Morse -- Rosenthal also reports that Morse was placed on waivers by the Mariners. Morse's teammate, Kendrys Morales, was claimed off of waivers earlier today, giving Seattle two bats to dangle to interested clubs. Will either player be moved? We can surmise that the M's held on to impending free agents like Morse, Morales, and Raul Ibanez with the idea of retaining them beyond this season. On the year, Morse owns a .227/.282/.414 slash line with 13 homers in 301 plate appearances - down from his career line of .285/.338/.480.
- Heath Bell -- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Bell, 35, has been placed on waivers. He came to the Diamondbacks from the Marlins this offseason in a three-team trade that also included the A's. Bell has rebounded, to an extent, from a rough 2012 season that saw him post a 5.09 ERA in his only season with the Marlins. He's pitched to a 3.88 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. His HR/FB ratio is at a sky-high 17.2 percent, which has bloated his ERA. xFIP predicts that with a league-average HR/FB rate (roughly 11 percent), Bell would have an ERA of 3.05. His K/BB numbers and the fluky nature of high HR/FB rates suggest he's in for some improvement in the ERA department, but he's under contract for $9MM this season and again in 2014. The Marlins are picking up $8MM of that salary, but he'd be an expensive acquisition. I'd expect Bell to clear waivers.
- Javier Lopez -- Heyman also tweets that the 36-year-old Lopez has been placed on waivers by the Giants. Lopez has a masterful 1.99 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a monstrous 64 percent ground-ball rate. He drew significant interest from multiple teams prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. San Francisco GM Brian Sabean reportedly had exorbitant asking price at the time, seeking top prospect Danny Salazar from the Indians in exchange for Lopez. A free agent at season's end, Lopez is owed roughly $813K over the remainder of the year and seems likely to be claimed.
3:12pm: Gallardo left today's start early due to an injury, limping off the mound. The Brewers described the injury as left hamstring tightness.
11:09am: "We're not going to move him," Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in regard to affordable right fielder Norichika Aoki. Melvin noted that most of the players being traded are in their contract years; Aoki has a $1.5MM club option for 2014.
Melvin also told Haudricout he's not motivated to move Kyle Lohse, nor is he engaged in trade talks about today's starter, Yovani Gallardo. Melvin isn't in active talks for any of his relievers, either, including Mike Gonzalez. "Teams have to make offers," said Melvin who did acknowledge having one offer on the table for a pitcher, which he does not expect to lead to a deal.
3:02pm: Clubs that have spoken with the Braves get the sense that they won't trade for a starter, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). The Braves are adamant in their stance on not trading top prospects and are more focused on the bullpen. Stark adds that the Braves also aren't "roaring down the Bud Norris trail," as he lacks the big game experience that the Braves prefer when acquiring a pitcher.
FRIDAY, 12:15pm: The Braves are more focused on front-line starting pitchers such as Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana than they are on Norris, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Peavy's 118-pitch outing yesterday, which was scouted by the Braves, helped to quell some of the hesitation surrounding his health, Bowman adds. The Braves aren't interested in Yovani Gallardo, according to Bowman, but they may contact the Brewers regarding Kyle Lohse's availability.
Norris, 28, has a 3.93 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 126 1/3 innings for the Astros this season. He carries a significant platoon split, as lefties have rocked him at a .306/.365/.494 clip. Despite his struggles against lefties, Norris has drawn interest from multiple teams, including the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies, Rangers, Giants and Dodgers throughout the summer.
2:37pm: In the wake of Tim Hudson's season-ending ankle injury last night, the Braves will consider making a trade to upgrade their rotation, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journa-Constitution. O'Brien was among the reporters who spoke with general manager Frank Wren today, who told the media:
“A lot of thoughts have gone through my mind since last night. It’s created a lot more (trade) discussions, there’s no question.”
It wasn't long ago that the Braves looked to have an enviable surplus of starting pitching with Hudson, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Paul Maholm and Kris Medlen in the rotation and a returning Brandon Beachy on the horizon. However, the team has seen Maholm and Medlen struggle tremendously lately, and Maholm is slated to miss his next three starts with a sprained left wrist. The Braves feel that Beachy is ready to return, and rookie Alex Wood presents another option, but he didn't escape the fifth inning today. Wood lasted just three frames in his only other start for the Braves this season.
Wren and his top assistants will convene over the weekend to discuss their options, O'Brien writes. That group will try to determine if there's a starting option on the market who can improve the team significantly without costing too much in terms of young talent. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Wren, like most general managers, is waiting to see if the asking prices on available starters drops as the deadline nears. O'Brien adds that the Braves are not in the mix for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
Earlier today it was reported that the Braves will be one of the many teams scouting Jake Peavy's start against the Tigers in Chicago. The team also remains in the market for a left-handed reliever to fortify its bullpen after losing Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to Tommy John surgery.
The Cubs continued their trajectory as baseball's most active team on the trade front this morning when they officially traded Alfonso Soriano and $17.7MM to the Yankees in exchange for right-hander Corey Black. The deal saves the Cubs roughly $6.8MM and brings a power arm that was selected in the fourth round of last year's draft into their system. Here's more on Soriano and the rest of the NL Central...
- Soriano told Gordon Wittenymyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes another team would've beaten the eight-year, $136MM contract he signed with the Cubs back in 2006. At least one team told Soriano's agent to give them a chance to beat any offer, but Soriano decided that he wanted the opportunity to join the storied history of the Cubs and bring a championship to Chicago.
- While Brewers GM Doug Melvin recently turned away an inquiry on Kyle Lohse, another Brewers-connected person implied to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that Lohse could be had for the right package of prospects.
- Within that same piece, one GM provided a long list of reasons that Yovani Gallardo isn't drawing interest. Gallardo's velocity is down, he's owed $15MM through 2014 and he also comes with off-the-field baggage in the form of a DUI arrest earlier this season.
- The Pirates announced today that Jason Grilli has a flexor strain in his right arm. He is not a candidate for surgery, which is good news for the Bucs, but he will still miss four to eight weeks. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Pirates become more active in the bullpen trade market.
- Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon that he has had a lot of conversations but nothing substantial. The Reds would like to add a right-handed bat but feel they can wait until Ryan Ludwick returns from the disabled list. They have a similar stance on waiting for Johnny Cueto, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton.
Ryan Braun has yet to address the public regarding his 65-game suspension for his involvement with Tony Bosch's Biogenesis clinic, but he issued a statement through the Brewers' PR department today explaining that he is not legally able to speak on the topic while MLB's investigation still ongoing (Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporting). Braun says he will speak when he is legally allowed to do so. Here's more on the NL Central...
- Haudricourt tweets that the question surrounding Yovani Gallardo should no longer be whether or not he's traded, but rather whether or not the Brewers can salvage a pitcher who is losing his stuff. Gallardo allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings against the Padres today.
- Alfonso Soriano will be the last Cubs player to cause any drama regarding no-trade protection for a long time, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. President Theo Epstein doesn't believe in putting no-protection in contracts, so Soriano will be the last to receive that luxury (aside from players who end up with 10-and-5 rights, of course). The Cubs have dealt with no-trade hurdles when trying to move Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, Carlos Marmol, Aramis Ramirez and Soriano himself in recent years.
- The Cardinals appear unlikely to make a significant trade, according to Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. General manager John Mozeliak won't part with top prospects Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Oscar Taveras or Kolten Wong unless a "major" upgrade at shortstop or a high-end starting pitcher becomes available.
The Red Sox are searching for pitching in advance of Wednesday's trade deadline. The latest:
- The Sox have scouts most everywhere, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB Network. They have a scout watching the Astros' Bud Norris last night, and will have scouts in attendance for starts by Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers, Edinson Volquez of the Padres, and Jake Peavy of the White Sox today.
- Earlier today, we learned that the Red Sox may stand pat with their bullpen, and are in "pretty hard" on free agent Cuban righty Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a number of executives who feel the trade deadline has lost its luster since many teams have locked up their top young players, teams are reluctant to acquire rental players who carry no draft pick compensation as free agents, and the second wild card has narrowed the market of outright sellers to just a few teams. That said, Stark still has lots of hot stove items for us in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column...
- Ryan Braun's suspension could drastically change the Brewers' perspective on trading some veteran stars. While Francisco Rodriguez was indeed traded just a day after Braun's suspension was announced, Stark hears that the Brewers are asking for a lot in deals. "One of the problems with dealing with Milwaukee is that [their] trade for [Jean] Segura last year was so one-sided that they want another tilted deal. Not going to happen," an AL executive said.
- The price for Kyle Lohse, for instance, involves the price of a first-round pick. The Crew gave up as first-rounder as compensation for signing Lohse as a free agent in the spring.
- Three scouts who have recently seen Yovani Gallardo say he's been pitching like a fourth or fifth starter. Gallardo in his prime was "close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back," one scout said. Gallardo has a 4.58 ERA and a career-worst 7.2 K/9 in 21 starts this season, plus he's lost two miles of velocity off his fastball.
- We'd heard that the Yankees and Rangers had checked in on Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and Stark adds the Phillies and Giants to the list of a half-dozen interested teams. The Marlins weren't too keen on dealing Ruggiano but he could be expendable now that Christian Yellich and Jake Marisnick have been called up.
- The Phillies' next five games "will determine Michael Young's fate more than anyone else on their roster," said one executive who has talked to the club. Young is seen as "pretty much a lock" to be dealt if the Phils struggle during their road trip through St. Louis and Detroit this week. The Phillies dropped a 4-1 result to the Cardinals last night.
- Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been made available by the Phillies but even if he was, one AL executive thinks Papelbon's contract makes him "practically untradable."
- Stark thinks the Phillies and Marlins are good trade partners on paper since the Phils could use Ruggiano or any of Miami's good relievers. The Marlins aren't willing to move anyone unless they get a great offer, however, and the Phillies aren't willing to move any of their top prospects to facilitate a deal.
- The Nationals could listen on a good offer for Drew Storen, the former first-round pick who is struggling through a tough year. The Nats are in a tough spot trade-wise, however, since the team is largely set at every position yet are still in need of hitting.
- Alex Rios' long slump has lowered his trade value and the White Sox will be hard-pressed to find a team to meet their asking price for the right fielder. The Rangers still have some interest in Rios, as they're looking for an outfielder that can be controlled beyond this season.
- The Red Sox are seen as very likely to add pitching before the deadline. Boston has been linked to Jake Peavy and were interested in Francisco Rodriguez before the Orioles got him.
- The Braves have targeted Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Scott Downs of the Angels, Mike Dunn of the Marlins and James Russell of the Cubs in their search for left-handed relief pitching. While Atlanta has been looking at these names and others, however, Stark says the team isn't close to a deal.
- In regards to the Biogenesis scandal, Stark hears from an attorney who believes "virtually every case will be settled by a plea deal. You're going to see a lot of pleas. You're going to see a lot of deals."
Francisco Rodriguez's trade to the Orioles may be the first of several moves for the Brewers before the trade deadline, though Brewers GM Doug Melvin hinted that further moves (if any) would require a very high return. Here are the highlights of Melvin's conference call with reporters, including Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal...
- As many as six teams had interest in Rodriguez but the field narrowed to three bidders, Melvin said. The other two finalists, besides the O's, were also from the American League. The Tigers and Red Sox were known to have interest in Rodriguez, though it's just speculation on my part that they could have been the two mystery AL teams.
- Melvin spoke highly of Nick Delmonico, the infield prospect acquired from Baltimore. Melvin said he asked the Orioles about Delmonico three weeks ago and were turned down, so the deep trade market for Rodriguez helped the Brewers eventually get the prospect they wanted.
- The Brewers are "not shopping" other bullpen pieces like John Axford or Jim Henderson "but if teams have interest, I have to listen," Melvin said. "We've still got a lot of good young players here. People talk about our pitching but if you trade pitching, you're going to need pitching back for this year, next year and the following years."
- Teams have called about Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse but Melvin said he's "not motivated" to move either starter. Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) reported earlier today that the Brewers "need to be blown away" to consider moving Lohse, and the Giants weren't a fit as a trade partner.
- Melvin made it clear that he isn't under any pressure to move veterans just for the sake of rebuilding the roster. "This isn't where we're selling. I'm not a believer in buyers and sellers; I'm a believer in making a good deal," Melvin said. "Deals that help both ball clubs are the best deals to work. When you're selling, you're just moving players because of salary and we don't have to do that."
- Some teams have called about the Brewers' position players though Melvin declined to provide details.
The three most prominent starting pitcher trade candidates reside in baseball's Central divisions: Matt Garza (Cubs), Jake Peavy (White Sox), and Yovani Gallardo (Brewers). The latest on the Garza rumors can be found here while Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune reports at least a half dozen scouts, including ex-Cub GMs Jim Hendry (Yankees) and Ed Lynch (Blue Jays) were on hand to see Peavy's outing against the Braves last night. "There are a lot of eyes on me, period," Peavy said after allowing two earned runs on seven hits during his six-inning stint (96 pitches). "I was trying to win for (27,294 fans) who came to support us. Whatever the scouts see, they see. I love to play and I love to compete. I want to win, that's the bottom line." The bottom line with Gallardo, according to a tweet from ESPN's Jayson Stark, is not a lot of enthusiasm for what two executives called a "4-5 starter" despite tossing six and 1/3 shutout innings against the Marlins last night. Here's more from the Central:
- The Tigers have made initial inquiries with the Padres about their relievers, sources tell FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link). Morosi lists Huston Street and Luke Gregerson as possibilities.
- Both the Tigers and Red Sox are scouting Brewers' closer Francisco Rodriguez, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
- The Pirates' biggest need is another bat but they are also exploring the pitching market and seeking a bench upgrade, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel (Twitter link), "We know players we want and we know what we're willing to give up. We're willing to stretch lot on some guys, not so much others."
- Huntington acknowledges he has the flexibility to add payroll "within reason," but would not elaborate, per a Biertempfel tweet.
- The Pirates had lost three in a row and Huntington blamed their struggles on BABIP, tweets Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Pirates have also scuffled with runners in scoring position breaking an 0-for-29 drought with a pair of RBI singles this afternoon.
- Brandon Phillips addressed the reaction to his recent comments in a Cincinnati Magazine article, which quoted him as saying the six-year, $72.5MM contract extension he signed with the Reds in 2012 was a "slap in the face" and that GM Walt Jocketty and owner Bob Castellini lied to him during the process. "Do I feel like they lied to me? If someone tells me they don’t have no money and you find $200 million somewhere, what does that sound like?" Phillips told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, referencing the ten-year, $225MM deal first baseman Joey Votto completed with the Reds about a week before his own deal was announced. "I’m very happy for Joey, don’t get me wrong," the second baseman added. "It was basically, if you think about it, I was saying I thought I wasn’t going to be a Cincinnati Red ... if y’all want to take that to the negative way, be my guest, that doesn’t bother me."
- While there has been a great deal of speculation about Justin Morneau and other Twins, rival executives haven’t sensed a big push from Minnesota to make deals, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
Edward Creech contributed to this post.