WASHINGTON - JULY 06: Matt Capps #55 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the San Diego Padres at Nationals Park on July 6 2010 in Washington DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Another day, another no-hitter, apparently. I think I've probably seen more no-hitters this season than I have in the remainder of my life. But because I'm confident that Matt Garza will get the proper recognition for his accomplishment, I'm just going to stick with my focus on the closing in trade deadline. We still have yet to see another deal since Dan Haren went to LA; yesterday's biggest transaction was the agreement between Toronto and second-round pick Kellen Sweeney on an over-slot $600,000 signing bonus.
But it's quite early, rumors have been swirling for days, and unless you just flat-out don't care about baseball, this should be a fun few days. I suppose we'll start with a couple things from late last night and this morning, and like yesterday I'll try to make my way to this post semi-frequently to offer updates and more commentary. Here's a link to yesterday's trade rumor commentary post... and thanks for reading!
MLB.com's Joe Frisario is reporting that a Cody Ross trade has become significantly less likely after left fielder Chris Coghlan injured his left knee on Sunday. Ross began the season in right field but moved over to center when Mike Stanton was called-up, effectively pushing Cameron Maybin down to Triple-A. People around the game believed that the Marlins could move Ross to free up salary and give Maybin the center field job again, but now it appears that Florida would have to be totally overwhelmed to move Ross. UPDATE: The Marlins have called up top prospect Logan Morrison to play left field. Morrison's spent the past couple weeks playing left field in Triple-A. (MLBTR link)
This has to be somewhat disappointing for a lot of people. With Ross likely off the market and David DeJesus out of the season, we've seen two of the top position players on the trade market disappear in the past week or so.
Presumably Florida will still field calls for Ross, but I have a hard time imaging that they'll trade him when they're only 5.5 games out of the wild card and 7.5 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East. They're obviously not major contenders, but they have an outside shot, and Ross has been one of the team's more solid contributors the past few years.
I think that Morrison's conversion to left field actually makes a Ross trade slightly more likely. I've seen speculation that the Marlins could move Morrison to left field full-time, keep Gaby Sanchez at first base, trade Jorge Cantu, and move Chris Coghlan to third base once he returns from the disabled list. That would mean that the Marlins could essentially trade Ross and plug in Maybin whenever he's deemed ready.
A Ross trade is definitely less likely than before, but I don't think it's out of the question. Oh, and by the way, does anyone else think that a 2011 Marlins lineup of Baker, Sanchez, Uggla, Coghlan, Ramirez, Morrison, Maybin and Stanton looks pretty damn solid or is it just me?
ESPN's Tim Kurkjian is reporting that the Twins are showing interest in Nationals closer Matt Capps. Capps is currently making $3.5M and he's slated for a raise through arbitration in 2011 before hitting free agency after the season. Kurkjian speculates that a deal isn't likely to come together because Minnesota isn't likely to offer up catcher Wilson Ramos, which makes sense. Capps was non-tendered last offseason by the Pirates after the team couldn't drum up enough trade interest in the reliever to swing a deal. (MLBTR link)
Initially I called Minnesota's interest here curious, but I've convinced myself otherwise given Capps' surprisingly solid numbers. I'm sure that they miss Joe Nathan, and they currently have the second-best bullpen ERA in baseball behind only San Diego. But to be fair, they're in the bottom ten in the game in bullpen xFIP, so clearly they're pitching over their heads a little bit.
Clearly, the Twins aren't buying into their bullpen's ERA. Capps has mostly been getting attention for his strong save total, but he's actually pitching quite well, too. His 3.57 xFIP would be the best on the Twins, as his impeccable command has mostly returned and he's putting up a career-best 47% GB rate.
Adding Capps would allow the team to move Rauch into a set-up role, so effectively Capps would likely replace Anthony Slama or former starter Nick Blackburn in the bullpen. It's probably not worth giving up a prospect like Ramos, but it would be a legitimate upgrade to the bullpen from top-to-bottom, so it's not surprising that Minnesota has interest. Plus, it would give the team another quality set-up man for 2011 when Nathan returns.
I have a hard time believing that Ramos has fallen out of favor to the extent that the Twins would give him up for a reliever like Capps, and obviously that kind of return would be a big win for Washington.
ESPN's Jayson Stark is reporting that the Rangers are telling teams that they can no longer expand payroll. In talks with the Marlins regarding Jorge Cantu, Florida was told that they would have to eat the entirety of the roughly $2M in remaining salary owed to the infielder. This isn't surprising, as Texas already swung the cost-neutral trade for Bengie Molina earlier this season.
This isn't really huge news, as Texas wasn't really expected to have payroll to work with this summer. Their primary target after adding Cliff Lee and Molina has been a right-handed hitter that can complement Chris Davis at first base.
I'm guessing that the two teams could still work out a deal. The Rangers have shown a willingness this year to give up good prospects rather than take on any money, as they gave up former first-round pick Michael Main in order to get the Giants to pay Molina's salary.
Cantu's weak numbers will likely limit what Florida can expect in return, but if they're willing to eat Cantu's salary, presumably they'll get a decent young player in return. This pretty much ensures that Texas will go after low-cost options, so I highly doubt that they follow through on their reported interest in Derrek Lee.
Adding a small wrinkle to yesterday's story on the Yankees' attempts to trade for Royals closer Joakim Soria, ESPN's Andrew Marchand is reporting that the Yankees are one of six teams that Soria can block trades to. (MLBTR link)
This probably isn't a big deal as the teams weren't close to a deal anyways. The Yankees apparently made a big proposal and "dangled" top prospect Jesus Montero in talks, but Kansas City wasn't interested in moving their closer in such a deal.
I get the feeling that if Kansas City really wants to see what they can get for Soria, they'll probably do it in the offseason when they can get more teams involved.
MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reported last night that the Diamondbacks are likely to continue dealing away veterans after already making respective deals for Dan Haren and Conor Jackson. Catcher Chris Snyder and reliever Chad Qualls are reportedly first in line to be dealt, but the team is also willing to trade first baseman Adam LaRoche or starter Edwin Jackson if the right deal comes along. (MLBTR link)
This isn't really surprising, most people have anticipated that the D-Backs would be selling away veterans for a while. Obviously Justin Upton is off-limits and presumably they don't have huge interest in moving Ian Kennedy or the recently-acquired Joe Saunders. Additionally, it appears that it would take a huge offer to pry shortstop Stephen Drew or center fielder Chris Young away; Young's breakout this season has been one of the biggest bright spots in an otherwise ugly 2010 campaign.
Presumably Arizona should find some takers for Snyder and Qualls at the right price. Snyder's combination of on-base skills, power and the ability to play catcher should make him appealing to teams in need of help behind the plate. It's his salary, roughly $1.85M this season plus $5.75M for 2011 and a 2012 club option at $6.75M with a $7 50K buyout, that's likely to limit interest from other teams, though.
Qualls is an interesting guy, too, given the disparity between his ERA and his FIP/xFIP marks. He still has the ability to miss bats and a strong GB rate, but he's more than tripled his walk rate this season compared to last season. Additionally, while he's still got a strong K rate, his whiff and contact rates indicate that he's actually become far more hittable this year. But we're talking about a two-pitch reliever with a long track record of success and little-to-no change in his Pitch F/X data in terms of velocity or pitch usage, so presumably Arizona should find some interest in one of the league's better relievers of the past five years.
Ed Price of AOL FanHouse wrote in his article today that the Angels and Pirates talked about a potential Garrett Jones deal before LA acquired Alberto Callaspo from the Royals. Talks died when Pittsburgh asked for infielder Maicer Izturis in return for the first baseman, according to Price. Izturis is owed roughly $960K for 2010, $3.1M for 2011 and $3.8M for 2012. Jones will be arbitration eligible in 2013, although he could reach Super Two status in 2012. (MLBTR link)
This move would've had long-term implications for both teams, but obviously the deal fell apart and the Angels chose to look elsewhere in their search for a bat.
It's not surprising that the Angels turned down Pittsburgh's attempts to acquire Izturis, though. Jones is a solid player but he's not much more than a league-average first baseman or corner outfielder. That definitely has value, particularly while he's making near the league-minimum, but Jones is already 29 and presumably will begin his decline phase soon.
Izturis has the comparatively significant financial commitment, but he also projects to be a fantastic bargain. A utility infielder capable of playing above-average defense at second, third and shortstop, Izturis has also proven to be a slightly above-average hitter with very strong contact skills, average walk rates and solid power for a middle infielder.
Given his versatility, solid offensive performance and cheap contract, he's a hugely valuable asset over the next three years. It's not remotely surprising that Tony Reagins didn't want to deal him for Jones, even if Jones could've given the team another outfield option for 2011 and beyond. A cheap, above-average utility infielder will always trump a slightly cheaper, league-average first baseman.
Last night, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that multiple teams have serious interest in Royals left fielder Scott Podsednik. The report was confirmed by both Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star and Ed Price of AOL FanHouse, but it was Rosenthal that suggested that the Giants, Padres and Dodgers could be interested. Podsednik signed for $1.75M over the offseason and is on pace to void his 2011 club option for $2M by accumulating 525+ plate appearances. (MLBTR link)
Most people in the game thought that Podsednik was done as a MLB-quality player after his ugly run from 2006-2008. In 294 games with the White Sox and Rockies over that time span, Podsednik was worse than replacement-level, batting .256/.322/.353 while playing average defense in left field.
But he's come back strong after signing a minor league deal with the White Sox last spring, and he's actually been a quality player over the past two years. He's totaled a .305/.352/.407 line in the past two seasons while playing slightly above-average defense in left field. He's still a threat on the basepaths, but his 71% success rate indicates that he doesn't really provide much value in that manner.
Given his low salary, ability to put up a roughly .350 OBP and base-stealing skills, presumably teams out there view him as a potential upgrade to the top of their batting order. He's not nearly as good as you would think given his batting average and stolen bases, but he's made it a long way from where he was two years ago. It's been a surprisingly solid investment by Royals GM Dayton Moore.
According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Yankees are trying to deal right-handed reliever Chan Ho Park. The 37-year-old signed for $1.2M in the offseason and has roughly $470K in salary remaining through the end of the season. (MLBTR link)
In a weak trade market for relievers, the Yankees are apparently trying to take advantage to rid themselves of Park's salary and maybe get a prospect in the process. Park was dominant out of the bullpen last season in Philadelphia after getting out of the starting rotation. In 38 appearances covering 50 innings, Park put up a 2.52 ERA that was supported by strong FIP (2.10) and xFIP (3.16) marks. He gained over 2 MPH on his fastball with the move to the 'pen, saw significant improvement in his K/BB, and increased his GB rate by 7%.
But Park hasn't really been the same pitcher in New York. His fastball is averaging 91.0 MPH after averaging 92.2 MPH last year in Philly. His whiff and contact rates are still strong, but not quite at last year's levels. He's also struggling with command, as he's throwing pitches for strikes 46% compared to 52% of the time as a reliever last year. It also doesn't help that his first-strike percentage has dropped from 64% to 57%. He might be able to help someone, but I can't imagine that New York will get much in return for him.