December 20, 2014

Washington Nationals acquire Trea Turner, Joe Ross from Padres; send Steven Souza to Rays

According to multiple sources, the Washington Nationals completed a three-way deal with the San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Nats will acquire SS Trea Turner and RHP Joe Ross from San Diego and sent OF Steven Souza, Jr. and LHP Travis Ott to Tampa. Tampa sent Wil Myers and others to San Diego.

Turner and Ross are both former first round picks and were on the Padres Top 10 Prospect List.

Since Turner was drafted this past summer, he will have to be included in the deal as a “player to be named later” and will most likely play in extended spring training next season until the deal can be consummated.

Turner, 21, was the 13th overall pick by the Padres in last summer’s amateur draft. He hit .323/.406/.448 with four home runs and 23 steals in 27 opportunities between low- and high-A last year in 321 plate appearances. He grades out with 80 speed according to MLB scouts with the defensive ability to stick at shortstop.

Ross, 21, was the 25th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Padres. In 62 minor league appearances (60 starts) he’s 15-18 with a 3.90 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 7.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. His strikeout numbers took a tick up last season moving from low- to high-A and he made four appearances in AA at the end of last season. According to one report, Ross features a plus fastball in the low 90’s with heavy life, a slider that projects as above average, and a changeup that is still mostly a show-me pitch.

Souza, 26 on opening day, enjoyed his career last season in Syracuse, hitting .350/.432/.590 with 18 home runs in 407 plate appearances. He will forever be remembered by Nats fans for making the spectacular diving catch to save Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on the last day of the 2014 season.

Ott, 19, is a former 25th round pick in the 2013 draft. He’s 4-4 with a 3.96 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 23 appearances, mostly in rookie league and short-season A ball. He’s a soft-tossing lefty with limited MLB upside.

This trade, as with last season’s deal for Doug Fister, is a bona fide and clear win for Nats GM Mike Rizzo. He moved an older prospect and a fringe at best lefty for two of the Padres top minor league prospects, both legitimate MLB talents. Turner obviously becomes the Nats best middle infield prospect, providing strong insurance if the Nats can’t — or won’t — re-sign Ian Desmond to a long-term contract. Ross is added to an already crowded stable of hard-throwing right-handed starters in the Nats minor league system.

Souza was clearly a fan favorite for his catch and power potential, but he had no place in the Nats outfield and, frankly, has limited MLB potential. He owns a long swing and is not a quality defender, despite his tremendous diving catch. The Nats got two of the three best players in this 11-player deal and didn’t give up the third. The Nats got better for the future without giving up any of the present.

Win-win for Rizzo and the Nats.

Washington Nationals trade Ross Detwiler to Rangers for minor leaguers

According to multiple reports, the Washington Nationals on Thursday traded LHP Ross Detwiler (29 opening day) to the Texas Rangers for two minor leaguers. According to USA Today, those players are 2B Chris Bostick and RHP Abel de los Santos.

Detwiler, the former No. 6 overall draft pick of the Nats, was left off the playoff roster last season as his stock had fallen from Game 4 playoff starter in ’12 to middle reliever to afterthought in two seasons.

The tall lefty battled delivery issues early in his career, which led to hip injuries and decreasing velocity. With the loss of speed, Detwiler also lost any semblance of a strikeout pitch, as he turned completely into a “generate weak contact” type of pitcher. He threw his sinking fastball over 90 percent of his pitches and never did develop suitable secondary pitches.

He has never struck out more than 5.8 per nine innings in his career.

Bostick, 22 in March, hit .251/.322/.412 in 130 games in double-A single-A last season in the Rangers organization with 11 homers and 24 steals. He exclusively played second base the past two seasons.

de los Santos, 22, was 5-3 with a 1.92 ERA, 0.959 WHIP and 10.4/2.9 K/BB ratio in 41 appearances between low and high-A for the Rangers last season. In 105 minor league appearances he owns a 9.2 K/9 ratio.

Perhaps the most significant by-product of the deal is shedding Detwiler’s $3 million contract for the upcoming season as the Nats still do not have an answer for their 2B/3B opening as the Winter Meetings come to a close.

Washington Nationals trade for Asdrubal Cabrera, per source

The Washington Nationals have traded for middle infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, late of the Cleveland Indians, per the Indians beat writer. According to a further report, the Nats will send SS Zach Walters to Cleveland.

Cabrera will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Washington Capitals land Halak for Neuvirth, Klesla

The Washington Capitals acquired goalie Jaroslav Halak, the man that almost single-handedly knocked them out of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, and a third round pick in the 2015 draft from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for G Michal Neuvirth and D Rostislav Klesla, acquired Tuesday in a trade with Phoenix.

From the press release:

Halak, 28, has posted a record of 24-9-4 with a 2.23 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 40 games with the St. Louis Blues this season. Halak currently sits ninth among NHL goaltenders in wins, 10th in goals-against average and third in shutouts (4).

Through his eight NHL seasons in Montreal and St. Louis, Halak has played in 260 career NHL games, earning a 139-81-26 record with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. Additionally, Halak has appeared in 23 career playoff games with Montreal and St. Louis, posting a record of 10-11-0 with a 2.42 goals-against average and a ..923 save percentage. Halak’s career shootout save percentage of .711 ranks ninth among active goaltenders with at least 25 career shootouts.

While many thought goaltending was the least of the Caps problems this season, the move frees the team from Neuvirth’s salary next season. Combined with the Erat move on Tuesday, and the salary cap going up for next season, the Caps seem to be sitting pretty this offseason.

Washington Capitals acquire defenseman Klesla, prospect Chris Brown for Erat

Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee is a busy man these days. Tuesday morning he acquired LW Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks, in the afternoon he shipped disgruntled winger Martin Erat, and minor leaguer John Mitchell, to the Phoenix Coyotes for veteran defenseman Rostislav Klesla, forward prospect Chris Brown and a fourth round draft pick in the 2015 draft.

From the press release on Brown:

Brown, 23, played in six games with the Coyotes this season, collecting 17 penalty minutes. In addition, he recorded 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) and 68 penalty minutes in 51 games with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League (AHL). Last season, Brown led the Pirates and all AHL rookies in scoring (29 goals) and ranked tied for third in the AHL with 14 power-play goals. He also made his NHL debut.

During the 2011-12 season, Brown recorded 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) and 66 penalty minutes in 38 games with University of Michigan (CCHA), setting career highs in assists, points and penalty minutes. Brown led all Michigan rookies in 2009-10 with 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists), and led the team with seven power-play goals in 45 games. He was also named to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. Brown registered 80 points (34 goals, 46 assists) and 183 penalty minutes in 125 regular season games during his three-year career with the Wolverines. The Flower Mound, Texas native was the first ever Michigan recruit from the state of Texas.

And info on Klesla:

Klesla, 31, collected four points (one goal, three assists) and 24 penalty minutes with the Coyotes this season. The native of Novy Jicin, Czech Republic, is a 14-year NHL veteran who has played for Columbus and Phoenix. The 6’3’’, 215-pound defenseman has appeared in 659 NHL games, recording 159 points (48 goals, 111 assists) and 620 penalty minutes. Additionally, Klesla has collected nine points (two goals, seven assists) and 11 penalty minutes in 23 career playoff games. Klesla was originally drafted by the Blue Jackets in the first round (fourth overall) in the 2000 NHL Draft.

Both players will report to AHL Hershey for the time being.

With Erat’s $4.5 million off the books for this year and next, McPhee now has some flexibility under the salary cap to address the blueline in a meaningful manner. Of course, every team in the league that considers itself a playoff caliber team would like to upgrade its defensive corps this time of year, but McPhee is a lot better off now to do it than he was a day ago.

Washington Capitals acquire Dustin Penner from Ducks


The Washington Capitals traded the fourth round pick they acquired from the Anaheim Ducks back to its origin and acquired veteran forward Dustin Penner, the team announced on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old, 6’4″, 240 left-handed shot should join Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom on the team’s top line, giving the Caps a big-bodied, experienced running mate for their best players.

From the press release:

Penner, 31, is a 10-year NHL veteran who has played for the Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim. The 6’4’’, 247-pound forward has appeared in 571 career NHL games, recording 307 points (150 goals, 157 assists) and 352 penalty minutes. In addition, Penner has collected 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) and 58 penalty minutes in 78 career playoff games. Penner won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and with the Kings in 2012.

This season, Penner has recorded 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) and 28 penalty minutes while playing in 49 games for the Ducks. The Winkler, Manitoba native ranked fifth on the team in goals, sixth in points and assists and tied for fifth in plus/minus (22).

Penner will wear jersey No. 17 with Washington.

The move costs the Caps very little in terms of trade assets and, for now, Penner fits under the salary cap with Jack Hillen and Aaron Volpatti both on long-term injured reserve. But Hillen is expected to be activated before Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia, so there could be more dominoes to fall.

With the move, GM George McPhee signals that the Caps aren’t folding their tents and expect to make a late push to qualify for the playoffs. This could be just the first of several moves in advance of Wednesday’s trade deadline.

Washington Wizards to trade for Andre Miller

According to multiple sources, the Washington Wizards will acquire veteran point guard Andre Miller from the Denver Nuggets in a three-way deal with the Philadelphia Sixers. Forward Jan Vesely will go to Denver, while a Wizards second round pick, a Nuggets second rounder and guard Eric Maynor goes to Philly. It’s unclear at this posting what Philadelphia gives up in the deal.

Miller, 37, hasn’t played for the Nuggets since late December after an altercation with head coach Brian Shaw. Miller is averaging a career-low 5.9 points and 3.3 assists in 19 minutes per game over 30 appearances this season. He is on the books for $5 million this season and $4.6 million in 2014-15, the final year of his current contract.

The Wizards told the little-used Vesely, the former No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft, before the start of the season the team would not pick up his rookie option for 14-15, so his departure is not unexpected.

Maynor, 26, was signed by the Wizards to a two-year, $4.1 million contract last summer with the goal of making him John Wall’s back-up. The 2009 first-round pick had little impact this season, though, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 assists in 9.3 minutes over 23 appearances for Washington.

Miller gives the Wizards a veteran backup point guard to John Wall as they attempt to secure a playoff spot.

Washington Nationals acquire Lobaton and two minor leaguers from Rays for Karns

The Washington Nationals made a move Thursday to shore up their catching — and restock their minor league system a bit in the process as well.

From the press release:

The Washington Nationals today acquired catcher Jose Lobaton, outfielder Drew Vettleson and left-handed pitcher Felipe Rivero from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns. The Nationals also placed right-handed pitcher Erik Davis on the 60-Day Disabled List with a right elbow sprain. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

A native of Acarigua, Venezuela, Lobaton played in a career-high 100 games for Tampa Bay last season and hit .249 with 15 doubles, seven home runs and 32 RBI en route to an above-grade .320 on-base percentage and a .394 slugging mark.

Lobaton, a switch-hitter, will back up starter Wilson Ramos and provide Major League insurance against the possibility of Ramos injury, always a concern with the burly catcher. The Nats signed veteran Chris Snyder to go along with holdovers Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon, but it’s been no surprise the Nats have been chasing Lobaton all offseason.

Lobaton is a highly-regarded defensive catcher, adept at framing pitches, something the Tampa organization specializes in. The 29-year-old backstop is a career .228/.311/.343 hitter with nine home runs in 564 plate appearances, with seven of his career homers coming last season when he amassed 311 plate appearances for the Rays.

The two other pieces the Nats receive are intriguing. Vettleson and Rivero were both ranked among the Rays top-10 prospects by different scouting services, though both might have stalled a bit in their development this past season.

Vettleson, 22, was a supplemental first round pick for the Rays in 2010, taken 42nd overall as a high schooler. As a 19-year-old in rookie ball in 2011 he hit .282/.357/.462 with seven homers in 267 PA. In 2012 at Low-A, those number dipped to .275/.340/.432, though his 15 homers and 24 doubles were encouraging. Last season at High-A, however, his numbers fell again (.274/.331/.388) with just four homers. The Nats will probably want to challenge him at Double-A this season, and this appears a make-or-break year for him prospect-wise.

Rivero, 22, is a slight (6’0″, 150) left-handed starting pitching prospect from Venezuela. In parts of five minor league seasons, he’s 29-25 with a 3.45 ERA, 1.298 WHIP, 7.3 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9; both peripherals went the wrong way in 2013 with a promotion to High-A though, as his walk rate went up by more than one walk per nine and the K rate dropped by 1.2.  Again, there’s talent there but Rivero is going to have to prove himself in Double-A this season or risk a transfer to the pen.

The Nats get this return in exchange for Nathan Karns, a former 12th round pick, who obviously had fallen in the pecking order in the Nats rotation prospects, passed by Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark and possibly even A.J. Cole. Karns was rated the Nats No. 9 prospect by Baseball America this season and has a big fastball and hard slider, but his other offerings are little more than works in progress right now. He’s 26, so he’s old for a prospect and the Rays obviously see him closer to the bigs in their rotation depth than the Nats do at this time.

I see a lot of Craig Stammen in Karns, and have always believed Karns would excel in the role that Stammen does for the Nats. Still, the Rays gave up a lot to acquire him, so I’m sure they’ll give him every opportunity (and then some) to stick in the rotation.

The other news was bad: reliever Erik Davis, expected to compete for a role in the Nats pen this season, was placed on the 60-day DL with an elbow strain. Davis reported some soreness in the elbow during early throwing in January and after a four-week shutdown, the pain continued once he resumed throwing. He’s slated to be shut down for six to eight weeks at this point with the hopes that the strain heals and Davis can avoid surgery, which would cost him the entire season.

Nats acquire LH reliever Jerry Blevins from A’s

The Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo made another checkmark on his offseason shopping list, acquiring left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins from the Oakland A’s in exchange for speedy outfielder Billy Burns, recently named the Nats minor league hitter of the year in the minors.

From the press release:

Blevins, 30, has spent parts of the last seven seasons in the Athletics’ bullpen, where he’s worked to a career 3.30 ERA while averaging 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Working against both left-handed batters and right-handers, Blevins has thrown back-to-back 60-plus inning seasons (60 IP in 2013, 65.1 IP in 2012).

In 2013, Blevins held opponents to a .218 batting average against while possessing a 5.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio against left-handed batters in particular. Blevins also held opponents to just a .202 batting average in games away from the Coliseum.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jerry Blevins to our bullpen,” Rizzo said. “We look forward to him bolstering our depth in that unit.”

Burns, 24, was selected by the Nationals in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft out of Mercer University. A speedy outfielder, Burns stole a career-high 74 bases in 2013, between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.

With the addition of Blevins, the Nationals’ 40-man roster is full.

Burns came to be a fan favorite in Potomac this past season for his work on the bases and speed in the outfield. While an interesting prospect, his physical strength will be challenged as he moves up the organizational ladder.

Blevins was a leader in the A’s bullpen and he’s not necessarily just a LOOGY as he was actually more effective against righties last season (.190/.267/.314) than lefties (.253/.299/.442). Last season, Blevins posted the lowest walk rate of his career (2.6/9) while posting a 5-0 record and 3.15 ERA and 1.067 WHIP in 60 innings, striking out 7.8/9.

D.C. United acquires Davy Arnaud from Montreal Impact

D.C. United announced today via a press release that the club had acquired veteran midfielder Davy Arnaud from the Montreal Impact, in exchange for an international roster spot for the next two Major League Soccer seasons.

Arnaud, who will be 34 in June, joins what is mostly a young group of United players who will be trying to pick up the pieces from a disastrous 2013 league season that saw United finish 3-24-7 – the fewest wins by any team in league history. United did win the U.S. Open Cup, the club’s 13th major domestic and international trophy, thus qualifying for the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League, which begins next fall. [Read more…]

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