July 2011

Marlins weighing offers on Infante

ATLANTA — Omar Infante has played a Gold Glove-caliber second base for the Marlins. But will the veteran complete the season with the club?

In recent weeks, Marlins’ scouts have floated Infante’s name out to other teams, according to a National League source.

MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported the Braves have had discussions with the Marlins for Infante, who will be a free agent after the year.

A source on Sunday confirmed a deal with Atlanta is possible before Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline. As of late Sunday morning, a second source added that a number of teams called regarding Infante, but nothing was close.

The Marlins acquired Infante from the Braves as part of the Dan Uggla trade last November.

Along with weighing trade options for Infante, the Marlins also have been considering whether to sign the veteran for 2012 and perhaps beyond because he has been so good defensively.

If the Marlins do move Infante, Emilio Bonifacio — who has been at third base — is the likely candidate to play second base.

The Marlins also are considering the future of Chris Coghlan, who recently hyper-extended his right elbow while on rehab assignment. Coghlan opened the season as the starting center fielder, but he has dealt with left knee and right shoulder issues. He has been on the disabled list since June.

A converted infielder, Coghlan has played second and third base in the Minor Leagues. In the big leagues, Coghlan projects more to play third base than second.

Joe Frisaro

Furcal deal will happen

The trade sending Rafael Furcal to the Cardinals is not fully completed yet, but it will be. A Cardinals source said Sunday morning that “it will get done,” and Furcal cleaned out his locker on Saturday night. It’s not yet clear what the Dodgers will receive in return.

-Matthew Leach

Overnight Rumor Mill Roundup – 7/31

* FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the momentum for Astros CF Michael Bourn has subsided, but could pick up again before the 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline. Among potential trade partners include: Braves, Nationals and Giants.

Other Rosenthal notes include:

-The Angels are set with their current roster, though another reliever may be in the cards.

– The Padres may make another two or three trades today, including closer Heath Bell. However, RHP Aaron Harang is “unlikely” to be dealt. Rosenthal also says San Diego is leaning toward keeping setup man Mike Adams to replace Bell in the ninth inning.

– The White Sox are looking to add another starter after trading away Edwin Jackson last week.

– The Nationals and Twins are working on a deal that would send OF Denard Span to Washington and RHP Drew Storen to Minnesota. Talks remain preliminary.

– The D-backs have a list of “seven or eight” relievers they are looking at.

* FOX Sports Jon Morosi tweeted that the Rockies have reopened their interest in Twins RHP Kevin Slowey now that a roster spot has opened following the Jimenez trade.

* The Toronto Sun reports that the Blue Jays and Indians have both inquired about Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta.

Jon Star

Infante among players Braves could add before deadline

The Braves could add a center fielder in the form of B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn before today’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.  There is also a chance they could welcome Omar Infante back to their clubhouse and enhance their bullpen depth with the acquisition of a right-handed reliever.

Before placing their two centerfielders Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer on the disabled list this week, the Braves were looking for a right-handed hitter who could play each of the outfield positions.  This was something the versatile Infante provided them before they traded him to the Marlins in exchange for played for Dan Uggla in November.

With the Marlins currently in Atlanta preparing to wrap up a three-game series, Infante could change clubhouses before the end of the day.  Multiple Major League sources said the Braves and Marlins have had multiple conversations regarding Infante.

The Braves have also had multiple conversations with the Rays over the past couple weeks about Upton, who like Bourn, could play center and serve as their leadoff hitter for the remainder of the season.

Hitting .304 with a .364 on-base percentage and 39 stolen bases, Bourn provides more certainty than Upton, who has hit .228 with a .310 on-base percentage, 16 homers and 23 stolen bases.

But the Braves would likely have to give up more to get Bourn than they would to add Upton.    —  Mark Bowman


Furcal Clears Out Locker

Although the Dodgers did not confirm the deal as official, Rafael Furcal had emptied his locker, removed the nameplate from the top and said goodbye to clubhouse staff before reporters arrived after Saturday night’s 6-4 loss to the Diamondbacks. It was all evidence that he waived his trade veto and accepted an assignment to St. Louis. The Dodgers will receive almost $4 million in salary relief and a Minor League player from the Cardinals in return. Dee Gordon will be called up to replace Furcal at shortstop. — Ken Gurnick

Harden says he’s staying in Oakland

A deal that was to send A’s right-hander Rich Harden to the Red Sox in exchange for two Minor Leaguers, one that appeared close to being finalized on Saturday evening, is no more.

“I just spoke with [general manager] Billy [Beane], and he says I’m an A and I’m starting Tuesday in Seattle,” Harden said late Saturday after Oakland’s 8-3 win over Minnesota.

Hours earlier, the A’s it seemed were finally entering play in a bustling trade scene, with a Major League source confirming that the two clubs were closing in on a deal. Harden was to join a depleted Red Sox rotation, with the A’s receiving first base prospect Lars Anderson and a player to be named later in return.

“That’s obviously what I had heard too, but I talked to Billy and he said I’m here and not going anywhere,” said Harden, who received premature congratulatory text messages and phone calls from friends.

Though a deal has seemingly fizzled, the A’s have until 1 p.m. PST, when the non-waiver Trade Deadline expires, to make a move.

It’s no secret that the Red Sox have tirelessly been working to add a starter to the mix, and Harden admitted he sees plenty positives in Boston via a contending squad and a familiar face in former A’s pitching coach Curt Young — now in the same position for the Red Sox — but said, “I’m real happy to be here. I love being a part of this organization and pitching here.”

Harden, 29, is no stranger to midseason deals in Oakland. On July 8, 2008, he was traded by the A’s alongside hurler Chad Gaudin to the Cubs for pitcher Sean Gallagher, catcher Josh Donaldson, infielder Eric Patterson and outfielder Matt Murton.

Fast forward to the present, following stints in Chicago and Texas, and Harden is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in five starts in his second tour of duty with the A’s, who signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million this offseason. He suffered a strain to his lat muscle on report day in Spring Training and didn’t make his season debut until July 1.

This isn’t the first time a deal between the Red Sox and A’s has fallen apart. In November, 2002, Beane was set to be named general manager of the Red Sox. However, Beane had a change of heart, and that was when Theo Epstein became Boston’s GM.

The A’s, then, could potentially stay quiet through the Trade Deadline. Outfielders Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus — all free agents at season’s end — were thought to be prime candidates to be dealt, but Beane has said he won’t make a move just to trim payroll. However, more than 12 hours remain before the deadline, and Beane could be seeing offers for such players increase as the market thins. Willingham and Crisp have both been linked to the Braves.

Several A’s relievers, including Grant Balfour and Brad Ziegler, have also been rumored with a multitude of teams looking for bullpen help.

— Jane Lee

Pirates to acquire 1B Derrek Lee

In an attempt to try to boost the offense, the Pirates solidified a deal with the Orioles that will send first baseman Derrek Lee to Pittsburgh. The deal, which was confirmed to MLB.com by a source, is expected to be announced after the Pirates finish reviewing Lee’s medical records.

The Pirates will reportedly send Single-A hitter Aaron Baker to the Orioles as a part of the trade.

While Lee hasn’t put up stellar numbers this season, his arrival should improve the Pirates’ production at first base. He’ll become the team’s new everyday first baseman over Lyle Overbay, who could end up being released by the club.

In 84 games with the Orioles this season, Lee has hit .248 with 15 doubles, 12 homers and 41 RBIs. He missed some time earlier in the summer with a left oblique strain.

Lee’s production has been much better in recent weeks. In his last 17 games, Lee has batted .328 with 11 extra-base hits and 16 RBIs. He has hit .294 since June 17.

Ironically, the Pirates went after both Overbay and Lee this offseason when looking for a first baseman. Lee eventually signed a one-year deal with the Orioles worth $7.25 million. The Pirates would have to pay the remainder of that salary, though there might also be money changing hands as a part of the trade. Lee became expendable to the Orioles after they acquired first baseman Chris Davis in a trade with the Rangers earlier in the day.

— Jenifer Langosch

A’s to deal Harden to Red Sox

Surprisingly quiet for much of the week, the A’s finally entered play in a bustling trade scene Saturday, closing in on a deal that will send right-hander Rich Harden to the Red Sox, a Major League source confirmed.

The deal is not yet considered done, but the A’s are expected to receive first base prospect Lars Anderson and a player to be named later in return.

Harden’s second tour of duty in Oakland marked a short reunion, as the 29-year-old righty made just five starts for the club — going 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA — after signing a one-year deal worth $1.25 million only to suffer a strain to his lat muscle in mid-February that kept him away from a big league mound until July 1.

Harden offers pitching depth to a Red Sox team that was tirelessly working on adding a starter to the mix by Sunday’s 1 p.m. PST non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Anderson, an Oakland native, was a 2006 18th-round Draft pick by the Red Sox out of Jesuit High School in Sacramento. He’s batting .261 with 10 home runs and 57 RBIs, along with 59 walks and 92 strikeouts, for Triple-A Pawtucket.

The 23-year-old made his Major League debut in 2010 and at one time was considered Boston’s first baseman of the future. But those plans changed upon the offseason arrival of Adrian Gonzalez, who was signed to a seven-year extension.

Anderson could offer the A’s immediate help at the big league level in an already youthful infield, as the club is without a true first baseman following Daric Barton’s demotion to Triple-A Sacramento in June. Barton, who hit just .212 with no home runs and a .592 OPS in 67 games for the A’s, was recently diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right shoulder and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Harden was next scheduled to start for the A’s in Seattle on Tuesday, but Oakland has several replacement options, including right-handers Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey and lefty Josh Outman.

— Jane Lee

Bourn and Reds unlikely match

It appears less than likely that the Reds will make a trade with the Astros to get outfielder and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn.

According to a baseball source, Houston’s asking price was too high. However it is not known which players or prospects from the Reds the club was seeking.

The Reds and general manager Walt Jocketty remain buyers on the market ahead of Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waivers Trade Deadline. They are also looking for players under club control beyond this season and Bourn was signed with the Astros through 2012.

— Mark Sheldon

Ubaldo dealt to Indians

SAN DIEGO — The Rockies have traded ace pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who has thrown the only no-hitter in club history and was the first pitcher to start an All-Star Game, to the Cleveland Indians for four prospects, although one — pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz — can not become official until next month.

The Rockies will immediately receive pitchers Alex White and Joe Gardner, and first baseman-outfielder Matt McBride. Pomeranz cannot be traded until next month because he was drafted last year, and Major League Baseball rules say a player cannot be traded until one year into his professional career.

The retooling Rockies would be receiving the Indians’ top picks in 2009 in White and 2010 in Pomeranz.

Word of the deal filtered into the public just before Jimenez started on Saturday against the Padres at PETCO Park. It did not go well. Taking the mound with right-hander Esmil Rogers warming up in the bullpen, Jimenez gave up four runs on two hits and four walks. He struck out two in a distracted, 45-pitch inning.

After a slow start during which he dealt with a torn thumb cuticle and hip flexor and groin issues, Jimenez has pitched well for 10 of his last 11 starts. Jimenez is 6-9 with the result of Saturday’s game pending, and with a 4.46 ERA. Last year, Jimenez threw a no-hitter on April 17 against the Braves, started the All-Star Game for the National League and finished 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and set numerous club records.

The deal is considered a game-changer in the American League Central, where the Indians are battling the Tigers, who also were in the running for Jimenez. The Reds, Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays also were involved in talks with the Rockies.

Pomeranz, the fifth overall pick in 2010, was was 3-3 with a 1.98 ERA in 18 starts this season between Class A Kinston and Double-A Akron. Over 91 innings, the lefty struck out 112 and walked 38.

White, who was the Tribe’s top pick in the ’09 Draft, has been on the 60-day disabled list with a right middle finger injury. In three starts for Cleveland this year, he went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA.

As the deal was nearing fruition, Pomeranz was scheduled to start for Arkon, and White was slated as the starter on Sunday for his first rehab assignment. Both were pulled before Saturday’s game started.

Gardner, a third-round pick in 2009, is 7-8 with a 4.99 ERA in 19 starts at Akron. Last year, Gardner went 12-6 with a 2.65 ERA at Class A Kinston and was a postseason Carolina League All-Star.

McBride, a supplemental pick in 2006, has hit .297 with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs at Akron, and hit .156 with one home run in 45 at-bats at Triple-A Columbus. Before moving to first base and outfield this year, McBride caught for much of his professional career.