Though he could hold appeal as a setup option to a contender, Astros closer Chad Qualls appears unlikely to change hands at the trade deadline,MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. Qualls, 35, has been lights out this year with a 1.78 ERA and 7.9 K/9 against just 1.0 BB/9. GM Jeff Luhnow indicated that he has little interest in moving Qualls, who is playing out the first season of a two-year, $6MM deal that includes a $3MM option for 2016. Said Luhnow: “I hesitate to use the word ‘untouchable,’ but he likes it here, he’s comfortable here, and he’s pitching well. To have a guy who’s capable of pitching late in the game, in close games, we’re going to have opportunity going forward. This is a team that’s improving, and as the team improves, you have more save opportunities, more opportunities to pitch at the end of close games. We need more Chad Qualls. We don’t need less.” Qualls, likewise, says he hopes to finish out his career in Houston.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said on WEEI radio’s Dennis and Callahan show today that extension talks with ace Jon Lester have been tabled until the offseason. Lucchino reminded that Lester’s preference is to avoid negotiating during the season. Lester told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, that he wasn’t surprised to hear Lucchino’s comments (Twitter link). However, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com does hear from a source that Lester would be open to signing a midseason deal if the Sox were to offer market value for his services right now. The other possibility for Lester could be a trade, if the Sox fall further back in the East — a concept which Lester admits he has considered (via the Globe’s Nick Cafardo)
The reformulated Yankees rotation has performed better than Brian Cashman would have anticipated, and the general manager said that he’d prefer to focus his attention on acquiring a big bat as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
The Orioles have acquired infielder/outfielder Jimmy Paredes from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations, the team announced. Paredes, who had been designated for assignment by the O’s last week, has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. This isn’t the first time that Baltimore has shown interest in Paredes, as they briefly claimed him off waivers from the Marlins this offseason before losing him on waivers to the Royals just a couple of days later. Paredes went from the Astros to the Marlins to the Orioles to the Royals on waivers this offseason and ultimately received just 10 plate appearances (which yielded a pair of singles) for Kansas City’s big league club. Most of his season was spent at Omaha, where he produced a strong .305/.332/.457 batting line in 280 plate appearances.
12:04pm: The A’s announced that they have actually designated Johnson for assignment, not released him (though that could obviously be the ultimate outcome of the move). Evan Scribner has been recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to fill his roster spot. 11:55am: The A’s have released right-hander Jim Johnson, a source tells Jane Lee of MLB.com (Twitter link). The 31-year-old Johnson was acquired by the A’s this offseason in a salary dump that sent Jemile Weeks and David Freitas to the Orioles. While many Baltimore fans were shaken by the deal after seeing Johnson lead the league in saves in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the move proved to be a wise decision by the O’s, as Johnson has struggled to a 6.92 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 56.8 percent ground-ball rate in 40 1/3 innings this season with Oakland. He lost his ninth-inning role to Sean Doolittle early in the season. Johnson is earning $10MM in 2014 after avoiding arbitration for the final time this past winter. The A’s will eat the remaining $3.66MM on his contract if he is ultimately released
Last night, the Tigers landed right-hander Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for two of their top prospects — right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. Detroit has long been said to be in the bullpen market, and they’ve now added one of the top relief arms on the market. Here are some reactions to the deal as well as a few additional bits of info about the Tigers’ trade talks… Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Soria was the Tigers’ primary bullpen target, and they didn’t pursue former Tiger Joaquin Benoit all that aggressively before landing Soria last night. Likewise, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that the Tigers were never in on Philadelphia’s Jonathan Papelbon all that seriously.
The 60-40 Angels are a reminder that winning doesn’t happen overnight, even when the blueprint is smart and the execution flawless. They’re also a reminder that the best general managers find players here, there and everywhere.
Here’s the latest out of the National League East: For the Mets, trading and replacing starter Bartolo Colon would be a more natural step in the club’s progression than moving second baseman Daniel Murphy, making a trade of the former much more likely, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. As for Colon, the scouts watching the Mets’ game today against the Mariners were probably not there to see him, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). Of course, word will surely get around of his strong outing; Colon carried a perfect game into the 7th before Robinson Cano broke it up. He ultimately allowed three hits, two earned runs, and a walk while striking out five. The Phillies are still listening to trade interest in outfielder Marlon Byrd, tweets ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. As yet, however, Philadelphia’s asking price has been too high for a buyer to pull the trigger. Phillies hurler Cliff Lee would clear waivers in August, rival evaluators tell ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). Lee’s first outing back from the DL was not promising.
The Tigers have agreed to acquire reliever Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for right-handed pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel, Kyle Bogenschutz of Scout.com was first to report on Twitter. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports confirmed that an agreement is in place (via Twitter). With the acquisition of Soria, the Tigers now possess both of the Rangers’ most recent closers (having signed Joe Nathan as a free agent over the offseason). It remains unclear precisely how the late-inning duties will be allocated for Detroit, but regardless the team will now have an additional premium arm to throw into high-leverage situations. Soria, a 30-year-old righty, owns a 2.70 ERA with a spectacular strikeout to walk ratio of 11.3 K/9 against only 1.1 BB/9.
As his struggles worsen, the Phillies have had internal discussions about releasing one-time star first baseman Ryan Howard after the season, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Howard is owed the rest of his $25MM salary this season and comes with $60MM in future guarantees. It does not appear that the club has reached any finality in regards to Howard’s future. The possibility of a trade has been explored, but Philadelphia has not found another club interested in taking on any substantial part of Howard’s contract. That is not surprising, of course, given that the 34-year-old is slashing a career-low .224/.305/.377 through 417 plate appearances on the year. Now, with Howard’s decline becoming more pronounced, Philadelphia appears set to give more playing time to younger first base option Darin Ruf, who was recalled today. Manager Ryne Sandberg did not call it a platoon situation, but suggested as much. “As far as the lineup, that will be a day-to-day thing,” he said. “I think it’s important to see what a guy like Darin Ruf can do also going forward,” the skipper added