July 2011

Furcal to Cardinals Close

The Dodgers are closing in on a deal that would send shortstop Rafael Furcal to St. Louis and open up shortstop for top prospect Dee Gordon. The Cardinals are willing to pick up most of the remaining $4 million on Furcal’s contract and he is willing to waive his 10/5 trade veto.
The deal means the Dodgers would not trade utilityman Jamey Carroll, who had been shopped. — Ken Gurnick

Braves have widened their focus

Now that the Giants have Carlos Beltran and the Phillies have Hunter Pence how will the Braves answer?  While they might not make an acquisition that creates as much attention as Beltran and Pence, it seems quite certain they will add an outfielder before Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

When this week began, it seemed more likely that the Braves would add a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.  Their focus has widened since they  put two centerfielders  — Jordan Schafer and Nate McLouth —  and All-Star catcher Brian McCann on the disabled list this week.

The Braves’ wish list now includes the Rays’ B.J. Upton, the A’s Coco Crisp and the Astros’ Michael Bourn.  Each could play center and bat leadoff.

While the Braves and Astros have briefly discussed Bourn, it doesn’t sound like those talks have progressed past the preliminary stage.  With Crisp, the Braves have some concerns about his ability to stay healthy.

The Braves have continued to show interest in Upton, but it does not seem they are willing to get him in exchange for any of their top four pitching prospects  —  Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino and Mike Minor.

Because the Braves have a surplus of young pitching talent in their organization, fans and even some of their players (off the record) have questioned why they are not willing to deal Minor or some of their other pitching prospects.

The Braves showed some late interest in Pence but were never interested in him enough to use any of their pitching prospects to acquire him.    The Astros asked the Braves for two of their top pitching prospects in exchange for the outfielder.

The Braves were much more interested in Beltran than they were in Pence.  But they were not willing to part with their pitching prospects to simply have him in their outfield for two months.    — Mark Bowman

Tigers calling up Turner, closing in on deal

Forget about Tigers top prospect Jacob Turner going to Colorado. It appears the right-hander is coming to Detroit. But if the Tigers can complete trade talks in the coming hours, it also appears that it won’t be a long stay.

Turner was abruptly scratched from his scheduled start for Double-A Erie last night and left the SeaWolves, who were in Akron for a weekend series. That move, which was confirmed Friday night, prompted speculation he was about to be traded, especially after a Foxsports.com report suggested the Tigers were willing to include him in a trade package for Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez.

Instead, he’s expected to be called up by the Tigers to start Saturday night against the Angels at Comerica Park in what would be his Major League debut. SI.com’s Jon Heyman first reported the call-up.

Now, that start is sounding more like a spot assignment. CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler reports that the Tigers are hopeful of completing a deal today with the Mariners for right-hander Doug Fister. That trade could include Tigers left-handed prospect Charlie Furbush, Knobler reported.

It wouldn’t be the blockbuster some might have hoped the Tigers would do with Jimenez, but it would fill Detroit’s fifth starter void quite nicely without forcing Detroit to sell out its farm system. Though the 27-year-old Fister owns a 3-12 record, his 3.33 ERA ranks 20th among AL starters, ahead of every current Detroit starter not named Justin Verlander. His 1.17 WHIP ratio ranks 15th.

— Jason Beck

Overnight Rumor Mill Roundup – 7/30

* The New York Post reports that talks between the Yankees and Rockies regarding Ubaldo Jimenez have “stalled”. The paper reports that the Rockies are asking for right-hander Ivan Nova and any two of LHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Dellin Betances or catcher Jesus Montero.

* ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted that if there is a price drop of Ubaldo Jimenez‘s trade stock before Sunday at 4 p.m., it could bolster the Rockies urgency to trade the right-hander.

* Olney also tweeted that the Braves could pick up talks with the A’s regarding CF Coco Crisp.

* ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweeted that the Dodgers and Red Sox have talked about Hiroki Kuroda in exchange for a prospect.

* FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says the Braves are still likely to acquire an outfielder before the Trade Deadline. The names current being tossed about are: B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Quentin and Josh Willingham.

* ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick confirms the Braves’ interest in Bourn, but he says Ludwick is further down the list.

— Jon Star

Pirates interested in Twins’ Kubel

With less than two days remaining until Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Pirates have their eyes on a number of position players that could provide an offensive boost. One of them, a source confirmed to MLB.com, is Minnesota’s Jason Kubel.  

The Pirates have a strong interest in Kubel but have to wait until the Twins determine whether or not the outfielder/designated hitter is even available. With their Friday night game not yet finished, the Twins sit 6 ½ games back in the American League Central. They would have to leapfrog three clubs to move to the top of the division.

The source noted that if the Twins are willing to deal Kubel, it would cost the Pirates some prospects. It wouldn’t, however, likely require that the Pirates part with their top tier of prospects, which the organization is hesitant to do.

Kubel would be able to slot into the Pirates’ lineup as an everyday right fielder. Though the 29-year-old wouldn’t be a defensive upgrade, he would bolster the Pirates’ offense. He has hit .308 with 15 doubles, six homers and 36 RBIs in 59 games this year. Kubel missed nearly two months with a sprained left foot and came off the DL last week.

— Jenifer Langosch

Dodgers Focused on Kuroda Deal

The Dodgers continue trade talks with a small number of clubs for pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, while interest in infielders Rafael Furcal and Jamey Carroll apparently has cooled.
Kuroda has a complete no-trade clause, but has given indications he will waive it for the right situation. The Dodgers had been talking to five clubs — Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Tigers and Rangers — but apparently that list has been whittled down to two or three.
Deals involving infielders Furcal or Carroll are less likely because the Dodgers have not been offered enough in return. Among their needs are a catcher and power hitter. — Ken Gurnick

Tigers, Tribe examine price tag on Rox’s Jimenez

SAN DIEGO — The Indians and the Tigers have emerged as the most aggressive teams in talks with the Rockies about their ace pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez. Of course, the Rockies want to extract a price that thus far several teams have decided not to pay.

For a time this week the Reds were the most prominent rumor, but starting pitchers Homer Bailey and Travis Wood, and either top catching prospect Devin Mesoroco or 100 mph-plus mph lefty Aroldis Chapman was too rich a ransom for a team below .500. The Yankees and Red Sox have made inquiries, and how aggressively you believe depends on which tweet or report you trust most.

The latest report from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has the Tigers willing to include righty prospect Jacob Turner, with Major League pitchers Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer being mentioned as possibly heading to the Mountains. The Indians have talked about not being willing to mortgage the future. However, there are at least indications that two prized pitching prospects, lefty pitcher Drew Pomeranz (at Double-A Akron) and righty pitcher Alex White (at Triple-A Columbus, but headed to Akron on a rehab assignment for a right middle finger injury) are in play. The Indians will not deal prized prospects for rental players, but Jimenez would be under club control through 2014.

The Rockies have shown no inclination to come down on their high price of Major League pitching and a top-of-the-line young player or prospect.

Jimenez is set to pitch for the Rockies on Saturday against the Padres.

In other trade-related news, the Rockies have been willing to discuss everyone except shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and first baseman Todd Helton. Right fielder Seth Smith, who has proven to be a solid gap-to-gap hitter against right-handed pitching, is drawing the interest of multiple teams. The Rockies also are expected to see if they can find a taker for onetime top Draft pick Ian Stewart, a third baseman having a woeful offensive year.

— Thomas Harding

Astros have a deal for Pence

The Astros reached a deal to send All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence to the Phillies in exchange for four players, including Philadelphia’s top two Minor League prospects, a person close to the negotiations told MLB.com.

The deal, which is subject to the approval Major League Baseball, is expected to be finalized on Friday.

Pence was pulled from the field in the middle of the fifth inning of the Astros’ game against the Brewers on Friday night at Miller Park.

The Astros are receiving right-handed pitcher Jarred Cosart and left-handed outfielder Jonathan Singleton, along with two more players. At least one of the players will be a player to be named later. Cosart is ranked by MLB.com as the Phillies’ top prospect, and Singleton is No. 2.

Pence, 28, entered Friday’s game .309 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs for the Astros and made the National League All-Star team for the second time. He’s making $6.9 million this season and still has two years of arbitration remaining, so any team acquiring him would have him under control for at least two more seasons.

Cosart, 21, grew up in League City, just south of Houston, and was drafted in the 38th round in 2008. He’s got an 18-13 career record with a 3.67 ERA in his career, including 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA this year at Class A Clearwater.

Cosart has electric stuff, with one of the better fastballs in the Minors and a very good curve. He’s lean and projectable and he’s got good command of his stuff.

Singleton, 20, was taken in the eighth round in 2009 and is a career .287 hitter with 25 homers and 136 RBIs in 227 games, including .282 with nine homers and 47 RBIs in 92 games this year.

A high school draftee had an extremely productive first full season, being named the South Atlantic League’s Most Outstanding Major League prospect. He should hit for average and power and has a good approach at the plate.

Although he was a top first base prospect, the Phillies have moved Singleton to the outfield to avoid the Ryan Howard roadblock. He’s taken to it better than expected. He’s manning left field in Clearwater this season.

Pence  burst onto the scene in 2007, hitting .322 with 17 homers and 69 RBIs in his first year with the Astros, who drafted him in the second round in 2004 out of the University of Texas-Arlington. He hit 25 homers in each of the next three seasons, and in 2009 became the 12th Astros outfielder to make the All-Star team.

Brian McTaggart



Marlins not likely to trade by deadline

ATLANTA — In two days, the MLB non-waiver trade deadline will arrive. When it passes, the Marlins are not expected to have made any significant moves.

For a while, the team has been leaning towards keeping its core players, including closer Leo Nunez and lefty reliever Randy Choate.

Even National League rivals are not anticipating the Marlins being active at the trade deadline. In fact, one general manager specifically said so.

Doug Melvin, the Brewers executive vice president and general manager, told reporters in Milwaukee the Marlins are not looking to deal. The Brewers inquired about Choate, who is under contract through 2012. Florida has no intention to deal Choate at this point.

“If a club has somebody to replace the guy, he’s available,” Melvin said. “But if you’re going to trade a guy, you have to have somebody to replace him. If you have a young kid in the waiting, that’s one thing. But, if you don’t have anyone to replace him, it’s hard to give up a guy.

“Florida, for example … They’re not anticipating moving anybody.”

Joe Frisaro

Cards may, or may not, be done

The Cardinals have of course made their big move already this month, moving Colby Rasmus and acquiring three pitchers in an eight-player deal. They are not necessarily finished dealing, however.

Multiple reports have suggested they may still be pursuing a closer such as San Diego’s Heath Bell, though it appears that other clubs are well ahead of them on that front. The club could also use some middle infield help. Ryan Theriot is slumping and has some of the poorest defensive numbers of any shortstop in baseball, and top backup Nick Punto has just gone on the disabled list for the third time in 2011.

Enter the Dodgers, with whom the Cards have had conversations regarding Rafael Furcal. The two-time All-Star has missed much of the year due to injury, but he’s been playing better lately. The Dodgers won’t give Furcal away, but if a deal could be struck, he could be a highly intriguing addition to a team that’s clearly playing to win this year. The Cardinals could conceivably take on some salary, if they elected to receive cash rather than three players to be named later as the completion of their deal with Toronto.

Manager Tony La Russa left open the possibility that the Cards could make another addition, though he certainly didn’t play it up.

“I don’t know how to rate that,” he said. “I think ‘Mo’ [general manager John Mozeliak] is the only one that has the knowledge and the experience. I know there’s still days [until the non-waiver Trade Deadline], and there’s conversations. But I don’t know how to rate it. … I think he’s still got conversations, because he’s started a bunch of stuff and they keep it going.”

–Matthew Leach