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Astros-Phillies talking Lopez

The Astros are working on a deal that would send relief pitcher Wilton Lopez to the Phillies in exchange for Minor League prospects, a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com

Lopez has been a workhorse member of the Astros’ bullpen the past three years, going 6-3 with a 2.17 ERA last season in 64 games. He also had a career-high 10 saves after assuming the club’s closer role following the trade of Brett Myers and ineffectiveness of Francisco Cordero.

He posted the lowest walks-per-nine-innings ratio among all NL relievers (1.09) last season after setting the franchise record in 2010 by issuing only five walks in 67 innings pitched. He began last season by facing 78 batters without issuing a walk.

Brian McTaggart

Astros trade Johnson to the D-backs

The Astros traded third baseman Chris Johnson to the D-backs on Sunday in exchange for Minor League infielder Bobby Borchering and outfielder  Marc Krauss.

Borchering, 21, was the D-backs first pick in the 2009 MLB First Year Player Draft while Krauss, 24, was taken in the second round of the 2009 Draft.

Borchering has played in 102 games combined at Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile  in 2012, tallying 23 doubles, 20 home runs and 68 RBI. In 2011, he had 29 doubles, 24 homers and 92 RBI for Visalia. He attended Bishop Verot High School, the same high school Johnson attended years earlier

Krauss hit .283 in 104 games at Mobile with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs with a .416 on-base pct. and a .509 slugging percentage. Krauss, who was invited to the D-backs Major League camp in Spring Training this year, was a California League All-Star in 2012 at Visalia after hitting .302 in 138 games with 27 doubles, 25 home runs, 87 RBIs and a .509 slugging percentage.

Johnson hit .279 in 92 games for the Astros this season with eight home runs and 41 RBIs.

– Brian McTaggart

Myers heading to White Sox

The Astros have acquired right-hander Matt Heidenreich, left-hander Blair Walters and a player to be named later from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for veteran Brett Myers.

Heidenreich (6-5, 185) was  9-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 18 combined starts at Winston-Salem (Class A) and Birmingham (Double-A) with two complete games and a shutout. He was a Carolina League mid-season All-Star and earned the league Pitcher of the Week award for the week of June 2nd. The 21-year-old, who was the White Sox fourth-round selection in the 2009 draft, has a 25-17 record in four Minor League seasons with a 3.87 ERA in 75 appearances (56 starts). He will be assigned to Corpus Christi (Double-A).

Walters, 22, was 4-6 with a 3.96 ERA in 18 combined starts with Kannapolis (Class A) and Winston-Salem (Class A) this season while tallying 93 strikeouts in 97 2.3innings with 22 walks. Walters, who was taken in the 11th round of the 2011 draft by the White Sox, has a 13-6 record in his two minor league seasons with a 3.99 ERA in 32 appearances (31 starts) with 165 punchouts in 171 1/3 innings of work. He will be assigned to Lancaster (A).

 “The pitchers we are receiving are talented, young prospects with big league upside,” Luhnow said. “They have had success in their young careers and we’re excited to add them to the mix.”

This season, the 31-year-old Myers was 0-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 35 relief appearances for Houston with 19 saves in 21 chances as he made the transition from starter to reliever.

“Brett showed that he was a real team player by going to the bullpen for us and was very successful as our closer,” Luhnow said. “We appreciate everything he has done for us.”

Lee-to-Dodgers deal is dead

Tired of waiting for an answer from Astros first baseman Carlos Lee whether he would waive his limited no-trade clause, the Dodgers have pulled their trade offer, according to a baseball source.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow didn’t return a message seeking comment.

Lee said following Sunday’s game against the Cubs that he still hadn’t made a decision on whether to accept the trade, though several of his teammates believe the slugger wanted to stay with the Astros. Lee was pulled into manager Brad Mills’ office upon his arrival at Wrigley Field for a closed-door meeting and left with the club for Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

Lee said Saturday he was informed by Luhnow he would be sent to Dodgers in a trade if he approved the deal. Lee, in the final year of six-year, $100-million contract, has a limited no-trade clause and would have to waive it to be sent to Los Angeles. He has given the Astros a list of 14 teams to which his contract may not be assigned (he had the ability to change that list at the end of last year). The limited no-trade supersedes his 10-5 rights to veto any trade.

Brian McTaggart

Lee still hasn’t made up his mind

Carlos Lee said Sunday morning he still hadn’t made a decision on whether to accept a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, though several of his teammates believe the slugger wants to stay with the Astros. Lee was pulled into manager Brad Mills’ office upon his arrival at Wrigley Field for a closed-door meeting.

When approached by the media at his locker prior to the game, Lee said he hasn’t made a decision.

After going 0-for-4 and hitting into a double play in the Astros’ 3-2 loss to the Cubs on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Lee admitted the weight of trying to decide whether to accept the trade to the Dodgers or stay in Houston has been difficult.

And that’s what prompted Mills to talk to him

“I just wanted to talk to him about a few things, being in the lineup today and so forth,” Mills said. “I kind of wanted to see where his head was and making sure he’s focused. This is a big decision he has to make, and I want to allow him the opportunity to make that. But he felt he wanted to play and wanted to be in the lineup and that wouldn’t affect us.”

Lee said Saturday he was informed by general manager Jeff Luhnow he would be sent to Dodgers in a trade if he approved the deal. Lee, in the final year of six-year, $100-million contract, has a limited no-trade clause and would have to waive it to be sent to Los Angeles.

Lee’s limited no-trade clause means he has to give the Astros a list of 14 teams to which his contract may not be assigned (he had the ability to change that list at the end of last year). The limited no-trade supersedes his 10-5 rights to veto any trade.

He entered play Sunday hitting .285 with five homers and 29 RBIs, but had yet to hit a home run on the road this year.

Brian McTaggart

Lee says he’ll decide by Sunday whether to accept trade

Astros first baseman Carlos Lee expects to make a decision by Sunday whether he’ll accept a proposed trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After going 0-for-4 and hitting into a double play in the Astros’ 3-2 loss to the Cubs on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Lee admitted the weight of trying to decide whether to accept the trade to the Dodgers or stay in Houston has been difficult.

“That’s why I’ll probably decide by tomorrow. Either I’m going or not,” he said. “I’m going to sit down and talk to my wife tonight.”

Lee said prior to the game he was briefed by general manager Jeff Luhnow about the situation earlier in the day. Lee has a limited no-trade clause and said he would have to approve a trade to the Dodgers.

“I met with Jeff this morning and he told me what’s going on and let’s see what happens,” Lee said.

Lee did confirm the Dodgers have made an offer for the 36-year slugger who was hitting .285 with five homers and 29 RBIs this year. His power numbers have dropped off dramatically – he hasn’t any homers on the road – from earlier in his career, but he’s struck out only 17 times in 242 at-bats and could flourish in a better lineup.

“L.A. has made an offer,” Lee said. “I just told Jeff I want to see my options. I just want to wait and see what my options are.”

Luhnow said Saturday he has a policy not to discuss trades.

“The information you guys have learned from Carlos, that’s fine,” he said. “But I’m not going to add anything to that at this point.”

Brian McTaggart

 

Lee mulling whether to accept trade to Dodgers

Astros first baseman Carlos Lee said Saturday he’s mulling whether to accept a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Lee, upon arrival at Wrigley Field for a game against the Cubs, said he was brief by general manager Jeff Luhnow about the situation earlier in the day. Lee has a limited no-trade clause and said he would have to approve a trade to the Dodgers.

“I met with Jeff this  morning and he told me what’s going on and let’s see what happens,” Lee said.

Lee did confirm the Dodgers have made an offer for the 36-year slugger who’s hitting .290 with five homers and 29 RBIs this year.

“L.A. has made an offer,” he said. “I just told Jeff I want to see my options. I just want to wait and see what my options are.”

Lee, who’s in the final year of a six-year, $100-million contract that has about $9 million left this season, said he wasn’t given a deadline from the Astros to make a decision. He’s got deep business ties in Texas and owns and operates a large ranch not far from Houston.

“We’ll see how it plays out,” he said.

When asked if he’d like to finish out the season in Houston or go to a contending club, Lee said that will weigh into his decision

“That’s one of the things I have to think about,” he said. “There ain’t much I can tell you right now.”

Brian McTaggart

Report: Dodgers pursuing Lowrie

The Dodgers are talking to the Astros about a trade that would send shortstop Jed Lowrie to Los Angeles in exchange for Minor League pitchers Zach Lee and Garrett Gould, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported. Olney wrote via Twitter the chances of a deal going through is about 50-50.

Lowrie, who began the season on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb, has been nothing short of spectacular for the Astros and has put himself into consideration to be chosen as a reserve for the National League in next month’s All-Star Game.

Lowrie leads the team and leads all Major League shortstops with 14 home runs, which is tied for the second-highest total by an Astros shortstop in team history. Through 68 games he was batting .262 with 33 RBIs. Unless he gets hurt or traded, he appears to be a shoo-in to break the single-season club record for homers by a shortstop (Dickie Thon hit 20 in 1983).

– Brian McTaggart

10 Astros players relish Opening Day assignments

HOUSTON — Friday was a little more special for the 10 Astros players who were making their first appearance on an Opening Day roster: second baseman Jose Altuve, outfielders J.D. Martinez and Brian Bogusevic, catcher Jason Castro and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez and pitchers David Carpenter, Rhiner Cruz, Fernando Rodriguez, Kyle Weiland and Lucas Harrell.

“Opening Day is a big day,” said Martinez, who was called up last July. “I used to go to Opening Day in Miami and it was a big, big game. That was the game to go to. I’m just excited to be part of it now and I’m the guy standing on the field now instead of being in the stands.”

Carpenter, who pitched in 34 games in his Major League debut last year, relished the chance to be on the Opening Day roster and get introduced before the fans.

“I’ve heard so much about it,” he said. “Guys talk about how great Opening Day is and to get to see it firsthand is going to be a lot of fun. I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be butterflies like there was the first time I got the chance to take the mound here. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Perhaps no one was more excited than Cruz, a hard-throwing pitcher taken in the Rule 5 Draft last December. He had never played above Double-A prior to the Astros plucking him away from the Mets.

“I felt so excited when they told me for the first time I had made the team,” he said. “I’m still working hard and trying to help the team all the time.”

– Brian McTaggart

Cust to the Astros

Jack Cust, who has hit 105 home runs in a 10-year Major League career that has spanned six teams, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Astros with an option for 2013, according to a baseball source.

The deal is pending a physical and could be announced as soon as Wednesday. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow declined to comment.

Cust, 33, appeared in 67 games for the Mariners last year, batting .213 with three homers and 23 RBIs. He spent the previous four seasons with the Oakland A’s, hitting 97 homers and driving in 281 runs in that span. He’s played primarily left field, right field and designated hitter in his career.

-- Brian McTaggart

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