Major Rumor Quick Reactions 7/29

My coverage of yesterday's rumors fell somewhat short at the night went on, so I'd like to get through most of what I missed this morning. 

We did see a couple deals come to fruition yesterday though, as some contenders moved to shore up holes after injuries. Detroit was quick to find help at the hot corner with Brandon Inge on the DL, as they traded for Cleveland's Jhonny Peralta. Additionally, the Dodgers moved to upgrade on Manny Ramirez's left field replacements, Garret Anderson and Xavier Paul, by trading for Royals left fielder Scott Podsednik

But we're sure to see more deals in the coming days, and there's really no excuse for not being up-to-date on the latest rumors in this day and age. Unless you just don't care, that is. 

We'll start with a few rumors from last night, and I'll do my best to update the post throughout the day.

Wow, didn't see this coming. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Astros are sending center field prospect Anthony Gose to the Blue Jays in exchange for first base prospect Brett Wallace. Gose was acquired from Philadelphia in today's Roy Oswalt trade. ESPN's Jayson Stark first reported that Toronto was acquiring Gose. (MLBTR link)

Gose, who turns 20 in roughly two weeks, is hitting .263/.325/.385 with 17 doubles, 11 triples and 4 homers in 103 games. He stole 76 bases in his full-season debut last year, but has struggled with his base-stealing this season, going 36-for-63 on SB attempts. That's a 57% success rate, and that's detrimental to the team's effort to score runs. But he projects as a plus defender in center field given his plus-plus speed, and some development with the bat could turn him into a star player given his potential value in the field and on the bases.

With all of that said, Houston already has quite the stable of raw center field prospects. Between T.J. Steele, Jay Austin, Jon Gaston, Collin DeLome and recent first-round pick Delino DeShields Jr., who could start at second base but projects just as well in center field, the Astros are loaded with good athletes that need refinement.

I think that we definitely have to consider this a huge win for the Astros. Wallace gives the Astros the kind of high-quality hitting prospect that they didn't have before, and he'll presumably step in for Lance Berkman in 2011. It's safe to say that Toronto didn't have a player like Gose in their system before now, but I don't think that anybody thought that the Astros could get Brett Wallace for him. Gose is potentially a premium defender and elite base-stealer, something the Toronto system simply didn't have in a center field prospect. I wouldn't be surprised if Gose was Toronto's center fielder at some point soon, with Vernon Wells' inevitable move to a corner outfield spot coming to fruition.

But Wallace is far closer to contributing in the majors, and seems far more likely to be a solid regular given his hitting ability and on-base skills. Frankly, if you look at this deal as Oswalt and $11M for Brett Wallace, J.A. Happ and Jonathan Villar, that looks like a pretty impressive move by Houston when the D-Backs are taking the Saunders/Skaggs special for their ace. And while I've loved pretty much every move that Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has made so far, this doesn't appear to be a great move by the Jays.

I said a deal seemed likely, and it appears I was right...    that's pretty cool, I guess. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that the Marlins have agreed to trade Jorge Cantu to the Rangers in exchange for Double-A right-handers Omar Poveda and Evan Reed. Presumably the Marlins are paying most of Cantu's salary. (MLBTR link)

We've talked about Cantu a lot the past couple days. He's an okay bat that's flashed good power before but not this season, and without that power he's not a particularly valuable hitter given his lack of patience. Factor in his poor defense at third base, and I would have to guess that Florida's mostly happy with their return.

Reed is a 24-year-old reliever who put up a 1.62 ERA in 39 innings at Double-A before getting the call to Triple-A. His 2.68 FIP is equally as impressive, although he hasn't given up a home run yet which isn't remotely sustainable even with a 48% groundball rate. He wasn't considered much a prospect coming into the season, although his performance has been strong as a reliever so far.

Poveda is currently on the DL recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he projected as a solid back-end innings-eater before that. He's still only 22 and the track record for TJS is pretty good now though, so if he his stuff can miss enough bats at the next level presumably he'll be a useful piece for Florida.

It's a pretty solid return for Florida.

Obviously the biggest rumor of the day is going to be how this Roy Oswalt-to-the-Phillies deal works out. It was first reported by Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston that the two teams had agreed to a deal pending Oswalt's approval. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that the Astros would be receiving three players from Philly, but he hears that top 1B prospect Jonathan Singleton is not included in the deal. This came after ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that Houston was pushing hard to have Singleton included in the deal. Although most of the reports agree on one of the pieces going to Houston: left-handed starter J.A. Happ. Houston's reportedly chipping in some money to cover Oswalt's salary, although Rosenthal hears it's less than $12M. UPDATE: Stark is hearing that Oswalt will in fact approve the trade, though it's not yet official. UPDATE II: Stark adds that Houston will be sending $11M to Philly  to offset Oswalt's salary, while Rosenthal is reporting that Oswalt's 2012 club option will NOT be exercised. According to ESPN's Amy K. Nelson, the Phillies are adding $1M to Oswalt's 2012 club option buy-out. AOL FanHouse's Ed Price hears that right-hander Vince Worley and outfielder Anthony Gose are in the package as well. UPDATE III: Meanwhile, CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury has confirmed that Happ and Gose are in the deal. UPDATE IV: It's a done deal, according to Rosenthal. As outlined by MLBTR, the final deal appears to be this: Oswalt and $11M to Philadelphia in exchange for J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. (MLBTR link)

This trade is going to need its own post to really get in depth. But now that we pretty much know that Oswalt will be approving this deal in some form, though, here are some new thoughts.

- The package of lefty J.A. Happ, shortstop Jonathan Villar and outfielder Anthony Gose would seem to make for a solid deal for both sides. Happ has struggled with injuries this year but he emerged as a solid back-end starter last season and gives Houston a decent short-term replacement for Oswalt in their rotation. Villar, whose name is sometimes spelled Villan, is a 19-year-old shortstop prospect in Single-A currently flashing a solid .283/.340/.372 line with 38 steals in 51 attempts. His defense at shortstop is suspect at best, with 42 errors in 99 games, so a move to second base seems likely. He's still immediately one of the better middle infield prospect in Houston's farm system.

Gose is another place where Houston's getting some upside, for sure. A 2008 second-round pick, he got attention from scouts after stealing 76 bases in his full-season debut as an 18-year-old. He's up in Advanced Single-A right now, and while he's holding his own at age 19, he's still remarkably raw as a baseball player. He's still very raw as a hitter, and even his base-steailng skills need a good deal of refinement- he's just 36-for-63 on steals this season. He projects to be a quality defender in center field, though, so there's huge upside if the bat comes along.

It's a strong move for Philly, who add a high-quality starter without giving up a blue-chip prospect. And I don't think it's a bad deal for Houston, who got a decent replacement for Oswalt and a couple of solid low-level prospects, even though they had to eat almost half of the money owed to Oswalt. Frankly, I think that Houston would've gotten a bigger return if Oswalt wasn't wielding a no-trade clause, and people really need to factor that in when looking at the return that Houston got. At the very least, this is better than Brendan Ryan and Jon Jay from St. Louis.

- So the Phillies traded one year of Cliff Lee at $9M, Anthony Gose, J.A. Happ and Jonathan Villar for one-year-and-two-months of Roy Oswalt at $12.5M, Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez. Not too good, I would say.

- I had a thought up here regarding Oswalt's questionable desire to win if he didn't approve the trade, but it doesn't appear that will be the case. Anybody else ready to face The Two Roys when the playoffs come around? Braves and Mets fans probably aren't too happy right now. But you know what? This deal all but ensures that Jayson Werth is gone next year. So, I mean, I guess there's that.

 

Despite being on his no-trade list, count the Phillies in on Cubs lefty Ted Lilly - FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Phillies inquired on Lilly. There was talk of a potential Lilly-for-J.A. Happ trade, but ESPN's Jayson Stark has reported that Philadelphia isn't willing to give up Happ in a Lilly deal. The left-hander has about $4.4M in salary remaining for 2010 before he hits free agency. Reports have pegged the Dodgers, TigersMets and Twins as interested as well, but the Twins are on Lilly's no-trade list in addition to the Phillies. UPDATE: A Mets official told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that a Lilly deal is very unlikely. They don't want to give up prospects AND take on the remainder of Lilly's contract. (MLBTR link)

Lilly's been considered a major trade candidate for a while, given that he's an impending free agent pitching well on a struggling team. Since moving to the NL, he's consistently put up very strong K/BB numbers. But he's also an extreme fly ball that's long had issues with home runs; guys that give up homers at Lilly's rate pretty much have to strike out lots of guys while limiting walks. 

Now would probably be a good time to sell on Lilly though, as he's showing signs of decline that haven't been reflected in his ERA yet. Beyond his well-discussed decline in velocity, there are some not-so-good indicators in his performance. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is still strong, but his K rate is at its lowest mark since 2005. And that shouldn't be surprising; his contact and whiff rates are the worst of his career since they began recording the statistics in 2002. Beyond that, his 29.7% groundball rate is truly ugly; only Kevin Slowey has a lower rate among qualified starting pitchers. It's worth noting that he's pitched better of late though. In his past three starts, he's pitched 20 innings and put up a 1.80 ERA with a very strong 24/5 K/BB ratio.

With all of that said, he's generally been a better pitcher than the one he's been most of this season. He's a veteran with a strong track record and minimal risk in terms of money, as he'll be a free agent after the season. Not to mention there's a chance that he could decline arbitration after the season, giving his team a couple draft picks, too. The biggest concern about Lilly would absolutely have to be his performance. 

But if you're a team who buys into Lilly as a solid mid-rotation starter with veteran experience, there shouldn't be too many roadblocks in terms of money or high asking prices. That is, unless you're the Mets apparently. I'm not sure where the Mets expect to upgrade their rotation if they won't deal for Lilly, because most of the market's options have similar flaws. 

According to Mike DiGiovanni of the L.A. Times, the Angels are thinking about becoming sellers and GM Tony Reagins is open to dealing veterans. This comes in the wake of the announcement that starter Joel Pineiro will be out 6-to-8 weeks, with the Angels 8.5 games out of first-place in the AL West. (MLBTR link)

Most will consider this report to be pretty surprising, given that the Angels traded for Dan Haren and Alberto Callaspo in the last week. But realistically, those deals were 2011-and-beyond just as much as they were about 2010. The Haren deal was genius regardless of what you think of Haren's 2010 performance. And both players can be under control until 2013 if LA wants; Callaspo doesn't hit free agency until after 2013 and the Angels hold Haren's club option for 2013.

The Phillies and Padres aren't the only teams with interest in Baltimore's Miguel Tejada, apparently. We can add two new teams to the fray today. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Cardinals have interest in the former shortstop, while George A. King III of the New York Post reported on the Yankees' interest yesterday as well. Tejada has been playing third base for Baltimore and has roughly $2.3M remaining on the one-year, $6M contract he signed with Baltimore before the season. UPDATE: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cards contacted the Orioles about a Tejada deal, but there was "no traction" for a trade. (MLBTR link)

I find all the interest in Tejada to be a tad curious. He's a 34-year-old below-average defensive third baseman with minimal, declining power and startling impatience at the plate. I know he was pretty solid last season and ZiPS calls for better production from here on out, but I just don't think that this guy would be getting much attention if he wasn't a star shortstop for so many years.

All four interested teams would presumably use Tejada primarily at third base, although he could conceivably play shortstop in a pinch if there was an emergency. I just have a hard time believing that this guy, with a .271/.309/.364 line and poor defense at the hot corner, is really worthy of giving up a decent prospect.

If Tejada's price tag is a fringe prospect with Baltimore covering most of the salary, then I can see the interest. But I wouldn't pay the freight or give up a decent prospect for him. And apparently St. Louis wouldn't either. I have to assume that Baltimore was interested in getting a legitimate return for Tejada, and as I outlined above, that just isn't the best use of resources. 

I wasn't totally convinced that Tejada would be much of an upgrade on Felipe Lopez and Tyler Greene, anyways.I suppose this is good news for White Sox fans: GM Kenny Williams told second baseman Gordon Beckham today that he won't be traded, according to Scot Gregor of The Daily Herald. The 23-year-old is under team control through 2015, and is regarded as one of the team's most valuable assets. Gregor also mentions that Williams gave similar assurances to right fielder Carlos Quentin, who's also popped up in trade talks. (MLBTR link)

If you're a Nationals or Brewers fan, this probably isn't such good news. Both teams were reportedly trying to pry the former first-round pick away with their power-hitting star first basemen, but it appears that Chicago will try to use other pieces to acquire such players.

And frankly, this is exactly how it should be. Outside of a couple ugly months to begin 2010, Beckham has looked like a future star for years. He was a top-10 pick in the 2008 draft and made it to the majors in his full-season debut. He hit .270/.347/.460 and put up 2.2 WAR in 103 games as a 22-year-old, emerging as one of the AL's best young position players. 

He's even hit quite well the past month or so, raising his numbers from pathetically awful to merely awful. The White Sox can certainly use some help all over their roster, but they certainly shouldn't do it at Gordon Beckham's expense.

According to MLBTR, the Giants asked the Mariners about closer David Aardsma yesterday. Talks didn't last long, though, as the Mariners countered by offering Aardsma with infielder Jose Lopez in exchange for third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Obviously, the Giants declined such an offer. Aardsma is under team control through 2012, while Lopez is widely considered a non-tender candidate for this offseason. Sandoval is under control through 2014. (MLBTR link)

San Francisco's reportedly had interest in Toronto's Scott Downs and Aardsma's teammate Brandon League, so I suppose we can add Aardsma to that list as well.

The Giants' bullpen has mostly been solid. Closer Brian Wilson is one of the game's top relievers, and they have some other solid arms in Sergio Romo, Dan Runzler and Jeremy Affeldt. Aardsma would obviously help, as he misses a shockingly high amount of bats for someone who goes to their fastball so much.

But Seattle's reported counter-offer seems pretty ludicrous. I know that Sandoval's numbers are way down this year and it's starting to look more and more like 2009 will end up being his career-year. But he's still doesn't turn 24 for a couple weeks and he won't hit free agency until after the 2014 season. Seattle offered a good-but-not-great reliever through 2012 and a guy who's batting .236/.267/.333 in his second year of arbitration for him. That's just not a realistic offer however you twist it.

I'm not sure if I totally buy this rumor. But if it's true, then people should expect Aardsma and Lopez to stick around for Seattle for a while. Because they aren't going anywhere at that price. 

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