Results tagged ‘ Brewers ’

Royals acquire Brewers’ Aoki

The Royals moved to upgrade their outfield on Thursday morning, acquiring outfielder Norichika Aoki from the Brewers for left-handed pitcher Will Smith.

Aoki, who turns 32 in January, played two seasons for the Brewers after signing out of Japan. Last season he played in 155 games, mostly in right field, and hit .286/.356/.370 with eight home runs, 37 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He is set to make $1.95 million in the final year of his contract.

The 24-year-old Smith has spent parts of two seasons with the Royals. He posted a 5.32 ERA over 16 starts in 2012 but bounced back with a 3.24 mark in 19 appearances last season, including 18 out of the bullpen. He also struck out 43 batters in 33 1/3 innings.

The Royals’ acquisition of Aoki will not impact their pursuit of free agent Carlos Beltran, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com and MLB Network. Rosenthal added that trading for Aoki increases the likelihood that signing Beltran would lead Kansas City to deal away designated hitter Billy Butler.

– Andrew Simon

Hart gets full medical clearance, ready for offers

With baseball’s hot stove at a full boil and the Winter Meetings a week away, free agent first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart finally got the good news on Tuesday that he had eagerly been anticipating. 

“Cleared!” Hart wrote in a text message to MLB.com, indicating he had been medically cleared for full baseball activities by the surgeon who performed the second of Hart’s two knee surgeries this year. 

Hart, 31, is a free agent for the first time after sitting out the entire 2013 season, having undergone right knee surgery in January and then left knee surgery in July. He had been rehabbing in recent weeks by running and participating in agility drills, but Hart’s formal foray into the open market was on hold while he awaited final medical clearance from Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The two met Tuesday in Los Angeles. 

With his medical clearance in hand, Hart is ready to begin fielding offers from interested clubs. He said last month that a number of teams, including the Brewers, Rays, Red Sox and Rockies, had called to check in, but clubs were not willing to discuss contract parameters until Hart was fully functional. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Hart had yet to receive any offers. Asked this week whether Hart would have an offer in hand from the Brewers before the start of next week’s Winter Meetings, Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said, “There’s a possibility he will.” 

Another potential suitor may have fallen off the board Tuesday, just as Hart was sharing his good news. The Rockies were reportedly moving toward a two-year deal with another first baseman, Justin Morneau.

– Adam McCalvy

 

Red Sox acquire reliever Badenhop from Brewers

The Red Sox added a piece to their bullpen on Friday, acquiring right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop from the Brewers for Minor League lefty Luis Ortega.

Badenhop posted a 3.47 ERA across 62 1/3 innings in his first season with the Brewers and has been tough on right-handed batters throughout his career. This year, he held them to a .229 average.

Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy tweets that Milwaukee felt its middle-relief depth made the arbitration-eligible Badenhop expendable.

More info to come on MLB.com.

– Andrew Simon

11/21 Roundup

The Royals made the biggest move of the day on Thursday, bolstering their starting rotation by signing free-agent left-hander Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million contract. Vargas, who will turn 31 in February, went 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA last season for the Angels, who now have another hole to fill on their staff.

Meanwhile, Wednesday night’s big trade between the Rangers and Tigers continued to hold the baseball world’s attention. The swap of Ian Kinsler and Prince Fielder could have far-reaching implications. Among them:

  • The trade gives the Tigers additional financial flexibility they could use to pursue contract extensions for Max Scherzer and/or Miguel Cabrera, writes our Jason Beck. There also is the issue of how Detroit will adjust defensively, with Cabrera likely shifting to first and opening up a spot at third that could be filled by top prospect Nick Castellanos.
  • The ripple effects from the deal could surface in Cincinnati, says our Mark Sheldon,  impacting the Reds’ potential plans to move second baseman Brandon Phillips.
  • Kinsler’s departure from Texas likely eliminates the possibility of the Rangers parting with Elvis Andrus. That gives the Cardinals one fewer option in their pursuit of a shortstop, as our Jenifer Langosch explains.

In other news from around the league on Thursday:

  • The Tigers moved quickly to their next order of business, re-signing lefty Phil Coke to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
  • The Giants have agreed to a deal to keep left-handed specialist Javier Lopez in San Francisco, with multiple reports indicating he will receive a three-year contract.
  • The Angels and Cardinals have discussed a swap that would send third baseman David Freese to Anaheim in exchange for an outfielder, such as Peter Bourjos.
  • After adding Josh Johnson to their starting rotation, the Padres will return their focus to acquiring a left-handed hitter, tweets our Corey Brock.
  • Our Adam McCalvy writes that the Brewers aren’t likely to trade Ryan Braun but could move him from left field to right.
  • Ike Davis tells our Anthony DiComo that while he would like to stay with the Mets, he understands that there is a significant chance the club could deal him this offseason.
  • Lance Berkman’s agent told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that his client is leaning toward retirement. The 15-year veteran, who turns 38 in February, posted a .700 OPS for the Rangers last season, and injuries have limited him to 105 games over the past two years.
  • The agent for free-agent catcher Brian McCann told Alex Speier of Boston’s WEEI that his client is willing to spend some time at first base and designated hitter with a new team.
  • The Rays are working toward a two-year deal to retain the services of catcher Jose Molina, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
  • The Dodgers and Giants have free-agent right-hander Dan Haren among their targets as they look to add pitching, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network.
  • Although outfielder Curtis Granderson became a free agent when he rejected the Yankees’ qualifying offer, the club remains interested in bringing him back, reports the New York Post.

– Andrew Simon

A look at the Rockies’ plans with Hawkins and Brothers, plus notes on batting and pitching pursuits

The Rockies’ pursuit of veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, which resulted in a one-year, $2.5 million guarantee that will become official once Hawkins passes a physical, can be seen in an odd way as a compliment to young lefty Rex Brothers, who served capably as closer when veteran Rafael Betancourt was injured.

Brothers, who turns 26 on Dec. 18, went 19-of-21 on save chances and finished with a 1.74 ERA last season. At times he struggled putting away hitters early in innings but he still struck out 76 (against 36 walks) in 67 1/3 innings. It certainly is a signal that he could become even more effective.

But before Betancourt went through a right groin strain, an appendectomy and finally a season-ending elbow injury, many of Betancourt’s save opportunities came partly because of Brothers’ effectiveness as a setup man. Brothers’ club-record 30-inning scoreless streak, which covered 32 games, ran from April 10 to June 27. Only the final nine games of the streak came while he was in the closer role.

As the season progressed, several games ended with Brothers not even taking the mound, because the middle relief and setup men pitched away the lead. It’s the old sabermetric argument: Why have the best option sitting in the bullpen while lesser pitchers blow it?

Hawkins ended up an effective closer for the Mets late last season. He earned all 12 of his saves and blew just one from Aug. 6 to season’s end. He struck out 18 against one walk and held opponents to a .222 batting average in those 23 appearances. At 41, he still throws hard enough and deceptively enough to be trusted with the final inning. The Rockies believe if he holds the closer job, it frees them to use Brothers when the game is tight before the ninth. And if plans change and Brothers at some point ends up the closer — which has been his plan his entire career — Hawkins gives them an attractive option in a setup role.

The Rockies still want to shore up the setup roles through free agency. Signing Hawkins as closer likely takes them out of the chase for Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour, who could be invited to pitch the ninth inning by another club. But a hard throwers such as Jesse Crain, Joe Smith or Jose Veras could further fill the Rockies’ needs.

The attempt to load up the back of the bullpen makes for intriguing competition and decisions when it comes to holdovers from last season. The club likes the 96 mph-plus fastball that righty Chad Bettis brought last season when used in relief, and will keep him there rather than revisit him in the rotation. They tested righty Adam Ottavino in late innings and there were some encouraging numbers, such as a 2.00 ERA at Coors Field. Righty Mitchell Boggs finished up with the Rockies after struggling mightily with the Cardinals when forced into the closer role, and the club is having internal discussions about returning him to a starter role. Boggs started 15 of his first 24 big-league appearances when breaking in with the Cards in 2008 and 2009.

The Rockies also continue to be in the market for starting pitching, although it’s unclear exactly where they’ll look. They’re often leery of accomplishment elsewhere because of the Mike Hampton-Denny Neagle experiment a few years back, but Tim Hudson profiled well. However, Hudson decided to take his passion and intensity to the NL West with the Giants.

Left-handed hitting outfielder-first baseman James Loney continues to be a prime candidate for the corner bat the Rockies seek. Corey Hart, coming off a knee injury, told a satellite radio audience on Tuesday that the Rockies, Red Sox and his former team, the Brewers, have checked in with him. Not much will be known until next month, when he is cleared for full activity. What isn’t clear is how strongly the Rockies are pursuing first baseman Mike Napoli, whose ability to make a pitcher work would fit nicely at first base. However, with his 2013 team, the World Series champion Red Sox, and others in the mix, the Rockies may drop out of the bidding the way they did with catcher Carlos Ruiz, who re-signed with the Phillies on Monday.

– Thomas Harding

11/14 Roundup

Although the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., finished on Wednesday, the baseball world remained plenty busy on Thursday.

The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera’ and the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen were named the American and National League Most Valuable Players, respectively. The owners gave unanimous approval for funding an expanded instant replay system at their quarterly meeting, another key step on the way toward implementing it for the 2014 season. And Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s chief operating officer, revealed that MLB and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball have hit a snag in their negotiations over the posting-fee system, casting doubt on whether highly touted right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will become available to MLB teams this offseason.

Even with the meetings over, rumors continued to circulate, with Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reporting that free-agent right-hander Ricky Nolasco already has received multiple four-year offers, in the neighborhood of $52-60 million. In other news from around the league:

AL East

  • With rumors flying about whether the Rays will trade ace left-hander David Price, our Bill Chastain examines the pros and cons of such a deal, which would be nothing new for the Rays. The club previously has gotten strong returns for pitchers Matt Garza and James Shields.
  • Jake Peavy’s championship-winning stay in Boston could be short-lived, with our Phil Rogers writing that the Red Sox could look to deal the veteran right-hander. He speculates that the Angels could be one of several clubs to have interest in Peavy.
  • Speaking of players leaving Boston, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports that shortstop Stephen Drew will not return to the Red Sox, who aren’t likely to match other teams’ multiyear offers.
  • Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos might have his work cut out for him as he tries to improve his club while staying within Toronto’s budget this offseason.
  • The Orioles might be considering trading catcher Matt Wieters and closer Jim Johnson, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network.
  • Derek Jeter said he feels healthy and is “100 percent” sure he will be the Yankees’ everyday shortstop this season.

AL Central

  • Our Rhett Bollinger addresses some Twins issues, including Joe Mauer’s move to first base and the club’s interest in A.J. Pierzynski.
  • The Royals believe they need to add only one starting pitcher this offseason, writes Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star. That could mean re-signing Ervin Santana or replacing him.

AL West

  • The Rangers agreed to a one-year contract with versatile infielder Adam Rosales, who was eligible for arbitration.
  • Free-agent outfielder and Houston native Chris Young tells our Brian McTaggart that he would like to play for the Astros.

NL East

  • The Marlins are looking to build around their young core, including Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, rather than continuing to deal away pieces. On the other hand, Rosenthal tweeted that Miami is listening to offers for first baseman Logan Morrison.
  • Veteran right-hander Alfredo Aceves “appears to be a good possibility” to sign with the Mets, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney.
  • Free-agent catcher Carlos Ruiz has been drawing plenty of interest this offseason, but our Todd Zolecki says he still could be a fit in Philadelphia.

NL Central

  • The Brewers have a hole to fill at first base, and while they could look to sign a free agent like James Loney or Justin Morneau or trade for someone like the Mets’ Ike Davis, another appealing option is to bring back Corey Hart. The veteran missed all of last season while recovering from knee surgery and is a free agent.
  • Speedy Reds prospect Billy Hamilton is playing winter ball in Puerto Rico and could get a chance to be the club’s center fielder if free agent Shin-Soo Choo signs elsewhere.

NL West

  • Dodgers club president Stan Kasten isn’t ruling out anything but said he doesn’t expect to make any splashy moves this offseason that would add significantly to the team’s already large payroll.
  • As the Rockies seek a replacement for retired first baseman Todd Helton, sources have told The Denver Post’s Troy Renck that they are interested in free agents Mike Napoli and James Loney.

– Andrew Simon

Plenty of interest in Mets’ Davis

Multiple outlets have reported that there’s been significant interest in Mets first baseman Ike Davis, with CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman saying the Astros, Orioles, Rays, Brewers and Rockies are among the suitors.

The Mets also have Josh Satin and Lucas Duda to play first base, so they figure to be likely to move one of them this winter. But ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin says the team could wait until later in the offseason to make a trade, when the market prompts more teams to look into deals.

– Joey Nowak

Reports say D-backs eyeing Gallardo

The D-backs have been discussing a trade for Brewers Opening Day starter Yovani Gallardo, according to two reports late Tuesday.

Both FoxSports.com and CBSSports.com reported the teams had talked, with the former saying Arizona had also shown interest in relievers John Axford, Jim Henderson and Francisco Rodriguez, and the latter saying Milwaukee was eyeing left-handed D-backs prospect Tyler Skaggs. Gallardo is 27 and is under contract through next season, with a club option for 2015.  

Both reports said no deal was imminent. 

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has been open about his willingness to consider trades, with the team sitting in the National League Central cellar even after back-to-back wins over the Nationals. He is in Washington D.C. but did not attend Tuesday’s rain-threatened game, opting to remain at the team hotel to work the phones with pro scouting director Zack Minasian and special assistant Dick Groch.

– Adam McCalvy

 

Brewers’ Aoki a potential trade chip?

Contrary to previous reporting, and with potential implications for the July 31 nonwaiver Trade Deadline, Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki will be a free agent when his current contract expires after this season or next.

Previously, a club official told MLB.com that Aoki’s two-year contract, which runs through the end of 2013 and has a $1.5 million option for 2014, did not include language calling for the Brewers to release him when that deal is up. Under that scenario, assuming the Brewers exercised his ’14 option (a near certainty considering Aoki’s successful transition to the U.S. Major Leagues and reasonable price tag), Aoki would have had three years of arbitration-eligibility from 2015-17 and would have remained Brewers property.

But that is not the case, according to Aoki’s agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, and Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash, who double-checked the language in the contract on Monday. It includes language stipulating Aoki will be an untethered free agent at the end of his current deal, whether or not the Brewers exercise their option.

That is common practice for players making the jump from Japan to the U.S. like Aoki, who was a three-time batting champion for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. That team posted Aoki in December 2011, and the Brewers won negotiating rights with a $2.5 million bid, then signed Aoki to a two-year deal that guaranteed $2.5 million plus incentives.

Aoki, 31, entered Monday batting .284 with a .362 on-base percentage, 43 runs scored and nine stolen bases. Considering he is at most a season and a half from free agency, and the Brewers are expected to be sellers at the Trade Deadline, Aoki could be an appealing trade chip. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has already fielded calls about his relievers, including right-handers John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez, and has indicated an openness to making trades with an eye toward the future.

The Brewers have a strong stable of outfield prospects, including Logan Schafer, who began this season as a Major League reserve but has been playing regularly with left fielder Ryan Braun on the disabled list, and Triple-A Nashville’s Khris Davis, Caleb Gindl and Josh Prince. Davis and Gindl are each on MLB.com’s list of the top 20 Brewers prospects (Davis at No. 14 and Gindl at No. 16), as are Double-A Huntsville’s Kentrail Davis (No. 19), advanced Class A Brevard County’s Mitch Haniger (No. 10) and Class A Wisconsin’s Victor Roache (No. 7) and Tyrone Taylor (No. 13).

– Adam McCalvy

July 28 Late Night Roundup

  • The A’s will send right-handed reliever Fautino De Los Santos to the Brewers in exchange for catcher George Kottaras, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Kottaras was designated for assignment on Thursday, but no trade has officially be announced.
  • Zack Greinke is off the board, and the Braves might not be able to close a deal for Ryan Dempster either. That has led Atlanta to search elsewhere for starting pitching help while also taking a look at the market for relievers, reported our own Mark Bowman.
  • The Cardinals are looking to upgrade their starting pitching, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. Francisco Liriano was one option, but the White Sox nabbed him on Saturday night. That could lead St. Louis to focus more heavily on the Rays’ James Shields, who is attracting interest from several clubs.
  • The race for Padres third baseman Chase Headley is hotly contested but apparently no longer includes the A’s, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • Should the struggling Phillies decide to sell, Shane Victorino could be at the front of the line heading out of Philadelphia. Talks regarding the veteran center fielder are “getting warm,” according to CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. Outfielders Juan Pierre and Hunter Pence and starting pitcher Joe Blanton also could be trade bait.

– Andrew Simon

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