July 2010

Rangers inquired about JJ

You can file this in the “Worth A Shot” category.

MLB.com has learned that in talking to the Marlins about acquiring Jorge Cantu, the Rangers also figured it was worth a chance to reach for the sky. They also inquired to see if the Marlins would consider trading All-Star Josh Johnson.

Texas was willing to part with their top three prospects, just to get the conversation rolling for the hard-throwing Florida ace.

Before a conversation could even get started, the Marlins made it clear that Johnson is “unmovable.”

In the first of a four-year, $39 million contract, Johnson is one of the top talents in the game. The 26-year-old right-hander is 10-3 and he holds a MLB-leading 1.72 ERA.

On Tuesday at San Francisco, Johnson had a string of 13 consecutive starts of going at least six innings while allowing no more than two runs stopped. He gave up three runs in seven innings in a no-decision. 

The streak is one shy of the MLB record of 14 set by Mike Scott in 1986.

Johnson is one of the building blocks of the Marlins, and he projects to be a central figure with the organization when their new stadium opens in 2012.

On Thursday, the Marlins did deal Cantu to Texas for pitching prospects Evan Reed and Omar Poveda.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Twins acquire closer Matt Capps

The Twins have acquired
closer Matt Capps and cash from the Nationals in exchange for catching
prospect Wilson Ramos and left-handed pitching prospect Joe Testa.

Capps,
26, has 26 saves in 30 opportunities and a 2.74 ERA in 47 games for the Nationals this season. He
has around $1.3 million remaining of his $3.5 million salary and will
be under the Twins control for 2011 as an arbitration-eligible player.

The
deal helps to bolster the Twins’ bullpen, which recently lost one of
its late-inning options when Brian Duensing was moved into the rotation.
Capps will fill the role of closer. Manager Ron Gardenhire already called Jon
Rauch and told him of his move back into a set-up role. Rauch said he just wants to help the team win.

Ramos, who had been labeled as the
Twins’ No. 2 prospect, was batting .241 with five home runs and 30 RBIs
for Triple-A Rochester this season. Ramos had been considered to be the
Twins’ best trade chip since Spring Training when the club signed Joe
Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million extension. Ramos was a late scratch
from Rochester’s lineup on Thursday night, fueling further speculation
that a trade was in the works.

Testa was signed by the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 2008. He began this season at Double-A New Britain and went 1-4 with an 8.25 ERA in 21 games for the Rock Cats. He was moved to Class A Fort Myers,and went 1-1 with a 3.30 ERA in 15 games for the Miracle.

Twins working on deal for Capps?

There was an ESPN report earlier this week that the Twins had expressed interest in Nationals closer Matt Capps and it appears that Minnesota could be making a stronger push for Capps as Saturday’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline looms.

According to a few national reports, the Twins and Nationals are in deep discussions regarding the closer.

The Nationals are reportedly seeking a high-level prospect in return for Capps, which likely means that the Twins must decide whether it’s worth giving up catcher Wilson Ramos in exchange for the pitcher. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Ramos was a late scratch from Triple-A Rochester’s lineup on Thursday night.

The Twins have appeared to shift their focus from acquiring a starting pitcher to instead adding relief help in recent days. The change was due to the lack of fits the Twins had found in regards to starting pitchers. With Brian Duensing having recently moved from the bullpen to the rotation, the Twins could use another late-inning relief option such as Capps.The Twins have also been talking with the Blue Jays in regards to some of their relievers.

– Kelly Thesier

Padres add Tejada from the Orioles

Baltimore infielder Miguel Tejada, a six-time All-Star, is on his way to the San Diego Padres.

The Padres on Thursday added Tejada to fill need in the infield and add a bat to their lineup.

San Diego sent Minor League pitcher Wynn Pelzer in a deal that also saw the Padres receive about half of the remaining $2.33 million on Tejada’s contract.

Tejada, 36, is hitting .269 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs this season for the Orioles. He is a career .288 hitter.

Pelzer is 6-9 with a 4.20 ERA in 22 games, including 18 starts, this season with Double-A San Antonio.

Tejada will likely spell third baseman Chase Headley in San Diego and also play some shortstop.

– Corey Brock

Giants focus on relief help as Deadline nears

Thursday, July 29

SAN FRANCISCO — As Saturday’s 1 p.m. non-waiver Trade Deadline crept closer, indications grew that the Giants were almost exclusively concentrating on acquiring bullpen help and had abandoned their pursuit of a hitter.

Sources familiar with the Giants’ trade talks said team officials constantly found that the “prices” for competent hitters, in terms of players San Francisco would have to part with, were far too costly. Giants general manager Brian Sabean has stated his unwillingness to trade left-handers Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgarner, who routinely appear on other teams’ most-wanted lists.

San Francisco’s most immediate division rivals have fortified themselves. The Los Angeles Dodgers traded for outfielder Scott Podsednik while the San Diego Padres got slugging infielder Miguel Tejada.

But the Giants believe they aren’t so desperate offensively that they must overpay for a proven hitter. Despite Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Florida, they lead the National League with 141 runs scored in July. They’re 18-8 this month. As a result, they’re willing to stand pat.

“I like this club, I do,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “If it’s the right fit, I’m sure something would happen, but this is a good team with a lot of moveable parts. …”

This enables the Giants to throw even more energy into obtaining a reliever — preferably a left-hander, since injuries have sidelined southpaws Jeremy Affeldt and Dan Runzler.

“You know the obvious. We lost two left-handers,” Bochy said. “There’s been a lot of talks. I’ll leave it at that.”

San Francisco reportedly has expressed interest in Toronto lefty Scott Downs, who has limited left-handed hitters to a .182 batting average. Downs also has been effective against righties, who have batted .232 off him.

By contrast, another lefty who captures the Giants’ fancy, Baltimore’s Will Ohman, is the quintessential situational reliever. Left-handers own a .207 batting average against him, compared to .340 for righties.

A handful of right-handers also intrigue the Giants, including Florida’s Leo Nunez, who has a .210 opponents’ batting average against lefties. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Giants are eyeing Seattle’s Brandon League, against whom lefties are batting .235.

Chris Haft, Cash Kruth

Cantu, Rangers rumors gain steam

Jorge Cantu singled and scored in the fourth inning, about the same time the latest report surfaced that the veteran was on the verge of being traded.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com, the Marlins and Rangers are finalizing a deal that would send Cantu to Texas for two Minor League pitchers.

As MLB.com reported Wednesday, right-hander Evan Reed of Double-A Frisco was one of them. The second is right-hander Omar Poveda, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Rosenthal reported Poveda, and MLB.com confirmed the right-hander also is the prospect the Marlins were looking at.

The Rangers have been closely scouting Cantu since the All-Star Break. The Giants and Rockies also have had interest.

– Joe Frisaro

Jays involved in Phils, Astros swap?

According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Blue Jays are also involved in the trade that sent Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt to the Phillies on Thursday. As part of the deal, Houston received outfield prospect Anthony Gose from Philadelphia and the Astros planned on flipping him to Toronto, sources told Stark.

UPDATE: MLB.com has confirmed that the Blue Jays will receive Gose from the Astros. It was not immediately known who Houston would receive in return. FOXSports.com reported that first base prospect Brett Wallace was the player heading to the Astros.

UPDATE: It’s official, the Blue Jays have completed a one-for-one trade with the Astros, sending first base prospect Brett Wallace to Houston in exchange for outfield prospect Anthony Gose.

–Jordan Bastian

Oswalt OKs deal to Phillies

Roy Oswalt, one of the greatest pitchers to wear an Astros uniform, is headed to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Oswalt told the Astros on Thursday afternoon he would waive his no-trade clause in order to approve a trade to the two-time defending National League champions, a person close to the negotiations told MLB.com. The two sides were working the final details of the deal, which is expected to be announced today.

The Astros and Phillies reached a deal on Wednesday night to send Oswalt to the Phillies if the pitcher agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ and a pair of Minor Leaguers are expected to come to the Astros, who are also expected to pay a portion of Oswalt’s contract. When reached by MLB.com earlier Thursday afternoon, Oswalt said he hadn’t made a decision.

“No news yet,” he said.

Oswalt is owed about $5 million more this year and is due to make $16 million next season in the last year of his contract, but there’s a club option for 2012 that would pay him another $16 million.

The Astros have scouted Happ’s most recent starts.

Astros general manger Ed Wade also personally scouted Philadelphia’s Class A Lakewood affiliate earlier this month. First baseman Jonathan Singleton, an eighth-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, could be part of the deal. Singleton, 18, is hitting .319 with 12 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .962 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 248 at-bats.

The Astros have been fielding calls about Oswalt since he informed the team in May he wanted to be traded to a contender. Oswalt said Wednesday he would like to have some time to decide prior to Saturday’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline if he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause to accommodate any deals the Astros put on the table.

Oswalt is 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA, but he has received some of the worst run support in the league. He has 143 wins and needed just one more victory to tie Joe Niekro for first place on the club’s all-time list..

The two-time defending National League champion Phillies are 54-46 and trail the Braves by 3 1/2 games in the NL East. By adding Oswalt, they bolstered a pitching staff, which boasts Roy Halladay, that’s ranked seventh in the NL with a 3.99 ERA.

– Brian McTaggart

Oswalt-to-Phillies reportedly in place

The Astros have a deal in place to trade right-hander Roy Oswalt to the Phillies if the ace pitcher agrees to waive his no-trade clause, Houston television station KRIV reported late Wednesday.

The report, citing league sources, said the Astros have approached Oswalt about the trade and are awaiting his response. The story also says the teams have agreed upon the amount of money the Astros will absorb to help offset some of Oswalt’s contract, as well as the players going to Houston.

The Astros have scouted Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ’s most recent starts, and he likely would be included in the deal.

Astros general manager Ed Wade also personally scouted Philadelphia’s Class A Lakewood affiliate earlier this month. First baseman Jonathan Singleton, an eighth-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, could be included in the deal. Singleton, 18, is hitting .319 with 12 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .962 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 248 at-bats.

Oswalt is owed about $5 million more this year and is due to make $16 million next season in the last year of his contract, but there’s a club option for 2012 that would pay him another $16 million. He said last week the option wouldn’t be an issue when it came to approving a trade.
When contacted late Wednesday, Wade declined comment on trade discussions, and Oswalt could not be reached for comment.

The Astros have been fielding calls about Oswalt since he informed the team in May he wanted to be traded to a contender. The Dodgers and Cardinals were among the teams interested in acquiring the three-time All-Star, along with the Phillies.

Astros owner Drayton McLane told MLB.com earlier on Wednesday the club has been involved in a lot of discussions about Oswalt.

Oswalt said Wednesday he would like to have some time to decide prior to Saturday’s 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline if he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause to accommodate any deals the Astros put on the table. He said before Houston’s 8-1 win over the Cubs that he has yet to be approached by the club about any proposals.

“I’m hoping it’s not going to be dropped on me an hour before the Deadline,” he said. “Give me a little bit of time to think about.”

Oswalt is scheduled to pitch Friday in an attempt to tie the club’s all-time win record, a start that appears more and more unlikely to happen. The game will come will come less than 24 hours before the Deadline.

“You do need a little bit of time,” Oswalt said. “I don’t want it to be two hours before the Deadline and have to make a quick decision. I would rather have a little bit of time to think about it.”

The two-time defending National League champion Phillies are 54-46 and trail the Braves by 3 1/2 in the NL East. They are looking to bolster a pitching staff that’s ranked seventh in the NL with a 3.99 ERA, and adding Oswalt to the top of a rotation that includes Roy Halladay would certainly accomplish that.

Oswalt is 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA, but has received some of the worst run support in the league.

– Brian McTaggart

Carrasco hopeful of chance to play for contender

Aware that the Pirates could dangle his name to teams looking for relief help before Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline, D.J. Carrasco said that he would welcome the chance to join a team making a push for the playoffs.

“Yeah, I’d like to have an opportunity to go and play in the postseason and play with a contender,” Carrasco said on Wednesday. “I’m not getting any younger. That window gets a little smaller as you get older. At the same time, hopefully it could help the Pirates build if they can get what they need from me.”

The market for quality relievers isn’t particularly strong right now, which could bode well for the Pirates considering that they would be selling from an area of strength. Though Octavio Dotel is speculated to be the most likely to go before the deadline, Carrasco’s versatility could certainly be an asset to a team looking to fill a bullpen hole.

In 54 2/3 innings this season, Carrasco has posted a 3.95 ERA, struck out 44 and walked 22. Fourteen of his 44 appearances have been over an inning in length, as he has been used as the Pirates’ primary long reliever. Carrasco has maintained, too, that he’d welcome the chance to start again, though it’s unlikely that a team would acquire him solely for that purpose.

Carrasco comes at an affordable price – a $950,000 salary for 2010 plus up to another $300,000 in incentives – though it’s unknown what type of return the Pirates are seeking from clubs inquiring about the right-hander.

Jenifer Langosch

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 653 other followers