The Orioles have announced that they’ve acquired infielders Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar from the Red Sox for infielders Jemile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus. This is the Orioles’ second significant trade of the evening, having also recently acquired outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox. The Johnson deal gives the Orioles a bit of low-cost infield depth.
Johnson, 32, began the season with the Yankees, then headed to Boston in a trade for Stephen Drew. (He also played for the Rays in 2013 and the Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012, meaning that he’s now been or will be on the roster of all five AL East teams, with no non-AL East teams in between.) He’s played mostly third base and first base since 2012, and he’s hit .212/.290/.354 for the season. With the Orioles, he’ll likely play mostly at third base in the wake of the team’s loss of Manny Machado for the rest of the year.
The Orioles selected Almanzar from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, but returned him in early July. Since then, he’s hit .280/.360/.427 in 186 plate appearances for Double-A Portland, mostly playing third base. At 23, he’s the youngest player in the deal.
Weeks was a first-round draft pick by the Athletics in 2008, and they sent him to Baltimore in 2013 in the Jim Johnson trade. The 27-year-old Weeks played in 215 games with the A’s in 2011 and 2012 but has spent most of the past two seasons in the minors. This season, he’s hit .278/.391/.385 in 254 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk. Despite the high on-base percentage, the second baseman probably profiles mostly as depth at this point, although CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam tweets that Weeks will join the Red Sox’ big-league team. (Dustin Pedroia may have suffered a concussion in Saturday’s game, but the timing of Weeks’ acquisition appears to be a coincidence.)
De Jesus, who heads back to the Red Sox after spending a few months in the organization in 2012, also appears to be mostly a depth player. De Jesus came to Boston from the Dodgers in the Adrian Gonzalez / Carl Crawford / Josh Beckett blockbuster, then headed to Pittsburgh almost immediately as the Red Sox traded for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt. The Pirates showed little interest in him despite a strong offensive season in Triple-A in 2013, and he signed with the Orioles after the season. The 27-year-old hit .282/.358/.389 in 469 plate appearances for Norfolk this year, mostly playing shortstop.
The Orioles have announced that they’ve acquired left-handed outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox for minor league pitchers Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar. Orioles executive Dan Duquette says (via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko on Twitter) that De Aza had been available for a few weeks, which suggests he cleared waivers.
De Aza, 30, has hit .246/.312/.358 this season, with his power, in particular, taking a step backward — he hit a career-high 17 homers last year, but only has five this season, and his slugging percentage is off by about 50 points as compared to the last two years. He remains, however, a solid defender who can play all three outfield spots. He’s making $4.25MM this season in his second year of arbitration, and he can become eligible for free agency after 2015, although at least one executive has opined that De Aza could be a non-tender candidate after the season.
The Orioles already have a strong starting outfield of Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, but they can surely use De Aza as a backup. With Manny Machado‘s recent injury, sometime-outfielder Steve Pearce is needed more frequently in the infield, meaning the Orioles have playing time available for a fourth outfielder type. De Aza’s addition will probably also mean even less playing time for fellow lefty outfielder David Lough, who has struggled at the plate this season.
Even with the Orioles’ need to play Pearce more in the infield, they were fairly well stocked with outfielders, so De Aza represents more of a luxury than a need. It’s no surprise, then, that they do not appear to have paid a high price to get him. Chalas, 22, has pitched most of the season with Class A+ Frederick, where he posted a 4.80 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 69 1/3 innings of relief. He has also appeared in two games for Triple-A Norfolk. Blackmar, also 22, has pitched 130 1/3 innings for Frederick, with a 3.18 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9, pitching mostly has a starter. MLB.com does not rank either of them in its list of the top 20 Orioles prospects.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Throughout the Pirates organization, the first base position has become the home of players who have struggled at other positions, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Of course, it’s not unusual for players at more demanding defensive positions to have to move to first base, but what’s distinctive about the Pirates’ case is the precise reasons players are moving to first. At the big league level, Pedro Alvarez is moving across the diamond because of inexplicable problems making routine throws to first. And in the minors, Stetson Allie moved to first (with a stop at third base) after flaming out as a pitcher, while catcher Tony Sanchez has experimented with the position after troubles throwing out basestealers. The Pirates’ future at first base, though, might belong to another prospect, Josh Bell, who’s learning the position for a more straightforward reason — with Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco set to man the Pirates’ outfield for the next several years, there might not be room for Bell there. Here’s more from the National League.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says he is not expecting to make additional trades before tomorrow’s deadline for new additions to be postseason eligible, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets that Dipoto says he will rely on the Angels’ bullpen and September roster expansion to help the team get through the rest of the season.
After losing Garrett Richards to a season-ending injury, the Angels had been connected to pitchers like A.J. Burnett and Bartolo Colon, but they’ve reportedly been hemmed in by their desire to stay below the luxury tax threshold next season. (Pitchers like Burnett, Colon and Scott Feldman who might otherwise be good August additions for a team in need all are owed significant money in 2015.) Instead, it appears the Angels will allow pitchers like Cory Rasmus, who will make his first big-league start tonight, to continue to take turns in their rotation. Randy Wolf and Michael Roth could also be candidates to take starts alongside Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker.
The Reds have the toughest upcoming offseason of any team, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. They could lose most of their rotation following the 2015 season, they still have big commitments to Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Homer Bailey, and they’re facing dealing with three good NL Central competitors and another in Chicago that could have a very bright future. Sherman suggests the Reds consider trading Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and perhaps Jay Bruce. “We still have a small window,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty protests. “This year is disappointing because of the injuries. From the very beginning, we had 11 DL guys and eight were key. … I feel we still have a small window if the guys come back healthy.” Here’s more from the National League.
Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera hasn't looked like his usual all-world self at the plate in 2014. It appears that the injury concerns surrounding the slugger finally caught up to him Saturday night, as he left the game against the Chicago White Sox in the fourth inning with an apparent ankle injury.
Chris Iott of MLive.com reported the news:
Cabrera was removed from the game Saturday night after trying to beat out a single on a ground ball that deflected off Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Bassitt in the top of the fourth inning. There was no immediate word from the Tigers regarding why Cabrera left the game, but his right ankle has been bothering him for some time.
His exit from the game might not come as too much of a surprise for most observers. Rotoworld's Matthew Pouliot noted he looked abysmal at the plate:
Normally one of the league's best hitters—he led the American League in batting average from 2011 through 2013, all by fairly wide margins—Cabrera has seen both his average and power diminish this year, especially in recent weeks. The nine-time All-Star was hitting just .260 for the month of August, with a paltry .350 slugging percentage, per Baseball-Reference.com.
This may have been due to an overall lack of fitness. Manager Brad Ausmus noted in early August that Cabrera had some "aches and pains," per MLive.com's James Schmehl.
The ankle injury could also be a critical blow to the Tigers' playoff hopes. They are currently 73-61 on the season and just one game back of the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central.
The team made it clear that it has high hopes for the season when it traded for starting pitcher David Price back in July. The left-handed ace and Cabrera are integral to the team's plans of winning the AL Central and making a deep playoff run.
Should Detroit have to play for an extended period of time with a gaping, Cabrera-sized hole in its lineup, the Royals could pull away down the stretch and leave the Tigers scrambling for a wild-card spot.
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According to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, Pedroia was hit by Forsythe's forearm as he slid into second:
McAdam had more after the game:
Some Sox fans were crying foul on social media, but The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham felt that there was nothing untoward about the play. Abraham added that it doesn't take much to set off the powder keg that has become the Rays-Red Sox rivalry:
Coming into the game, Pedroia was averaging .281, which was second on the team, along with seven homers and 51 RBI, also second on the team. Taking the 2008 MVP out of the lineup leaves a massive hole in Boston's offense.
With the Red Sox still mired in last place, though, his injury will have little impact on the standings. The end of the 2014 season can't come soon enough for Boston.
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Regular-season success and postseason success are often two different things in Major League Baseball, as some teams are simply better built for postseason success.
The article ahead offers an in-depth look at the seven teams best built to win in October.
The following areas carried the most weight when it came to ranking the teams:
Those three factors were examined for each team considered to be a contender at this point in the season, and the following is a ranking of the seven teams best built for playoff success.
MLB teams usually aren't afraid to utilize an infield shift for hitters who tend to pull the ball, but the Los Angeles Dodgers went a bit extreme with this one.
In the bottom of the 12th inning on Friday night with the bases loaded against the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers used a four-infielder shift, moving everyone to the right side of the infield. The move ended up paying off, with the Dodgers getting a fielder's choice at home for the second out to stay alive.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Yasmani Grandal ended up hitting a walk-off single shortly after to give the Padres the 3-2 win.
Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com
To many, July 31 is known simply as the trade deadline. Of course, that's not entirely accurate.
Plenty of deals go down in August; the process just gets more complicated.
To be traded post-July, players must clear revocable waivers. Meaning, in essence, other teams have an opportunity to snatch a guy off the trading block, and the team that offered him up has a chance to yank him back.
To be eligible to play in the postseason, however, a player must be traded by Aug. 31 (11:59 p.m.).
That date's almost upon us. Which means, for baseball's playoff hopefuls, the real trade deadline is looming.
Injuries and exposed weaknesses have shifted the balance of power in both leagues. Multiple contenders, including elite squads, are searching for an upgrade somewhere.
With that in mind, here are a few 11th-hour swaps that could benefit some clubs with their sights set on October.
They're based on the needs of each specific team and players who have either cleared waivers or have been the subject of waiver-trade rumors. They're also conjecture, naturally. And, as with all trade talk, most of them probably won't happen.
Still, it's always fun to speculate.