With the calendar about to flip to June, it seemed like an opportune time to run through some recent transactions in the month before primary deadline season. Most major swaps occur in July, of course, and most of those occur toward the end of the month. (This year, we’ll all be waiting with baited breath on August 1st, which is the trade deadline in 2016.)

The biggest “early” deadline deal of recent memory — the 2014 swap that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs to the Athletics in exchange for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily — didn’t go through until the 4th of July. Likewise, the equally important deal from the year prior — in which the Cubs nabbed Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop from the Orioles for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger — was reached on July 2nd.

But that doesn’t mean that nothing of consequence occurs in June. Those deals could easily have come a few days sooner, and baseball’s increasingly free-wheeling player market could lead to some surprises. Indeed, we’ve already heard significant chatter involving James Shields. Organizations looking to reap added trade value could well strike earlier than usual this time around.

What kinds of swaps might be anticipated over the thirty days to come? Here are some of the most notable deals that were actually completed in the month of June over the last four seasons:


  • The month started with an interest arrangement that saw slugger Mark Trumbo head from the D-Backs to the Mariners along with lefty Vidal Nuno. That seemed mostly motivated by salary from Arizona’s perspective, but the team has received compelling production from backstop Welington Castillo. The team also picked up righty Dominic Leone and prospects Gabby Guerrero and Jack Reinheimer from Seattle.
  • One day later, the Orioles sent veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza to the Red Sox after designating him for assignment, receiving minor league righty Joe Gunkel in return. De Aza performed well in Boston, which took on about $1MM of his remaining salary, but couldn’t turn around a sinking ship, and was eventually passed along to the Giants.
  • Later that June, the D-Backs struck another interesting deal. In exchange for taking over about $10MM of salary obligations to injured veteran Bronson Arroyo, and sending over infielder Philip Gosselin, the Braves earned the rights to high-upside pitching prospect Touki Toussaint.


  • In another agreement involving prospect assets, the Pirates got the 39th overall pick in the 2014 draft from the Marlins on June 1. Miami picked up righty Bryan Morris, who’s been a sturdy reliever who’s still controlled for two more years, while Pittsburgh ultimately turned that selection into first baseman Connor Joe, who has largely scuffled in the low minors since.
  • Later that month, the Pirates and Angels made a change-of-scenery swap that sent Jason Grilli out west in exchange for Ernesto Frieri. While Grilli provided some solid innings, Frieri faded, though both organizations ended up making the post-season.


  • DFA swaps are often fruitful in the middle of the year, and the Brewers managed to land a useful piece from the Braves out of limbo. Third baseman Juan Francisco went to Milwaukee for lefty Tom Keeling, and ultimately gave the Brew Crew a league-average bat with some pop while the club dealt with an injury to veteran Aramis Ramirez.
  • A middle-of-the-month trade of seemingly limited consequence was reached between the Mets and Rockies. New York added speedy but limited outfielder Eric Young Jr., while Colorado picked up righty Collin McHugh. The latter didn’t find success at Coors Field, but turned into quite a useful starter for the Astros in the season that followed.


  • The month of June started with a quiet transfer of cash considerations from the Orioles to the division-rival Yankees. The return? A first baseman by the name of Steve Pearce, who had joined New York on a minor league deal. He showed a bit of a spark that year, filled in usefully in 2013, and then exploded in the following season, when the O’s trounced the Yankees and the rest of the AL East.
  • Kevin Youkilis traded color schemes, going from the Red Sox to the White Sox on June 24th. A struggling Youk headed to Chicago along with a stack of salary-offsetting cash for lefty Zach Stewart and utilityman Brent Lillibridge. The 33-year-old provided a jolt for the South Siders, though the club ultimately fell shy of the playoffs.
  • And at month’s end, the Orioles picked up veteran slugger Jim Thome from the Phillies in exchange for a pair of prospects (Kyle Simon and Gabriel Lino). The 41-year-old Thome wasn’t an impact bat for Baltimore, but neither of the players dealt has been of much consequence since.

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The Twins have recalled Byron Buxton to take the roster spot of fellow outfielder Danny Santana, who’s headed to the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring. Long considered one of the game’s truly elite prospects, Buxton scuffled badly in the early going this year, racking up 24 strikeouts in just 49 plate appearances. He’s been laying waste to Triple-A pitching since his demotion, however, posting a .333/.402/.605 slash with six home runs and four steals over 127 plate appearances. Buxton entered the year with 113 days of service to his credit, and has added another twenty thus far in 2016, so he’d stand to pass one year of service time if he can stick for a reasonable stretch.

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  • Red Sox prospect Sam Travis has suffered a torn left ACL, Boston announced. The first baseman will be out for the rest of the season, though the team says the expectation is he’ll be ready for 2017. Travis looked like a useful depth piece in the near-term, and some had suggested that the young first baseman could factor into the team’s plans next year. While that may still prove to be the case, he’ll miss a big stretch of development and a chance to show that he’s ready. That makes it difficult to imagine Boston altering its spending plans based on the promise that the 22-year-old will be ready for a major role. A second-round pick in 2014, Travis had posted a solid (but hardly dominant) .272/.332/.434 slash in 190 plate appearances at Triple-A.
  • The Yankees are playing the long game in optioning prized righty Luis Severino, as Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog reports. After an excellent debut in 2015, the 22-year-old had allowed 29 earned runs and eight long balls in his 35 innings of work to start the year. While the triceps strain that landed Severino on the DL appears to be a blip, the organization has broader concerns and obviously decided that he was due for some further polishing. Skipper Joe Girardi explained: “This is a kid with a lot of talent, and we want, the next time he comes up, to be a finished product. He came up last year — some of it was based on need — and did very well. Sometimes when you enter your second season and people have seen you, you have to make adjustments probably more than you’ve ever had to make, it’s not always so easy. So that’s why I think that he’ll get through this and it’s going to make him a better pitcher.”
  • Outfielder Carlos Gomez will be activated tomorrow by the Astros, the team announced. Houston is hoping that the 30-year-old former star can turn things around after a dreadful start. He’ll take the roster spot of third baseman Colin Moran, who’ll be optioned back to Triple-A. Moran, 23, managed only two base hits while striking out six times in his twenty plate appearances, though that represented a limited opportunity in his first taste of the majors.

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The Angels announced a series of pitching moves today, including designating righty Deolis Guerra for assignment. Los Angeles also optioned right-hander Mike Morin, replacing those two arms with closer Huston Street — who had been on the DL — and lefty Chris Jones, who gets his first MLB call-up.

Guerra, 27, has been hit hard in two brief stints in the majors over the past two seasons. All told, he’s allowed 16 earned runs in just 22 big league frames, with a more promising 21:3 K/BB ratio. Guerra has been rather dominant at the Triple-A level of late, however.

Los Angeles will be glad to welcome back Street, who last pitched on April 23rd and has been rehabbing an oblique injury. The 32-year-old had been as effective as ever in the early going: despite recording only four strikeouts in his 7 2/3 innings of work before hitting the DL, Street had allowed only one earned run on four hits while picking up a handful of saves. Fill-in ninth-inning man Joe Smith had permitted seven earned runs over his 12 1/3 innings in May, though he also converted five of six save opportunities in the last month.

The 25-year-old Morin has shown promise at times — he carried a 2.90 ERA over 59 frames in 2014 and racked up 10.4 K/9 against just 2.3 BB/9 in 35 1/3 innings last year — but his results have lagged of late. On the year, he’s been touched for a 5.48 ERA in 21 1/3 frames, with 7.6 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9.

Jones hasn’t exactly had the best of years at Triple-A since being acquired from the Orioles late this spring. He’s generally been effective there in the past, but currently owns a 6.32 ERA over 47 innings with 5.9 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9.

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Yankees utilityman Dustin Ackley has been diagnosed with a torn right shoulder labrum, manager Joe Girardi said today, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. A surgical option is on the table, per the report.

Ackley, 28, had struggled to a .148/.243/.148 batting line over 70 plate appearances. He had shown promise in a brief run with New York late last year after being acquired from the Mariners, but the former top prospect was limited by a back issue.

Originally a second baseman, Ackley has increasingly seen time in the outfield over recent years. For New York, he played mostly in right and at first base, as he’s filled in the gaps that have arisen due to other injuries. A left-handed hitter, Ackley has mostly been utilized against righties; unsurprisingly, he’s been better when hitting with the platoon advantage over his career.

The loss of Ackley for what seems to be a lengthy stretch will obviously force a roster realignment. Rob Refsnyder could function in a generally similar role, though he has limited outfield experience, has never played first as a professional, and hits from the right side. Fortunately for New York, the club has plenty of left-handed-hitting options in the outfield. And for now at least, first baseman Mark Teixeira is battling through his own injury difficulties and poor start to the year. Losing Ackley removes a fill-in option there, though it seems that the club feels reasonably comfortable utilizing reserve catcher Austin Romine and third baseman Chase Headley at first to spell Teixeira.

Ackley’s injury certainly raises questions about his future with the Yankees. He’s earning $3.2MM this year in his second-to-last run through the arbitration process, and could figure as a non-tender candidate if he can’t return to health and turn around his work at the plate later this season.

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Mets third baseman David Wright has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck, he told reporters including Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). His outlook remains uncertain, though he suggested that he’ll know more tomorrow.

Wright has been battling through spinal stenosis in his back all year. That condition limited him to 38 games a season ago, but he’s just one shy of that number already in 2016. He’s no longer one of the game’s very best hitters, but he’s still managed to compile a .226/.350/.438 batting line with seven home runs and three stolen bases over his 164 plate appearances thus far.

The neck issue appears to be a new one, and it’s certainly concerning to see another variable introduced for the 33-year-old. His back condition is expected to require intensive care, conditioning, and periodic rest for the rest of his career. It certainly seems fair to wonder whether it also leaves him somewhat more susceptible to other ailments.

For now, it’s not clear whether a DL stint is in order. New York is already dealing with the loss of Lucas Duda for an unknown stretch with his own back problems, with James Loney expected to fill in. The hope might have been that Wilmer Flores could also see time at first, in addition to providing support in the middle infield, but he may now be leaned on to fill in (or at least spell) Wright at the hot corner.

The Mets do have some infield options within the organization who could help shoulder the load. Dilson Herrera and Gavin Cecchini are both hitting well at Triple-A, and could perform utility roles, though only Herrera is on the 40-man roster. Matt Reynolds is another 40-man infield possibility; he was just sent down to make way for Flores, but could be recalled without waiting the usual ten days if the move is required due to an ensuing DL placement.

All told, it’s far too soon to know whether Wright’s neck injury is a significant new cause for concern. It’s impossible to know his individual prognosis, given that he and the team have yet to learn of it, but one data point that’s worth noting is that of Nick Markakis. The outfielder underwent offseason surgery after signing with the Braves to address his own, seemingly similar condition, and was able to recover within six weeks or so in order to begin a full spring with his new organization.

Wright remains a critical piece of the puzzle for the Mets, who not only need him to contend this year but are also obligated to him for $67MM over four seasons in the future. Given his preexisting issues, this new malady rates as a topic to watch for the time being.

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The Blue Jays have designated Jimmy Paredes for assignment, the Toronto Star’s Brendan Kennedy reports (Twitter link).  In a corresponding move, righty reliever Ryan Tepera was called up from Triple-A.

Toronto claimed Paredes off waivers from the Orioles two weeks ago.  He hit quite well (.267/.353/.533) over 17 plate appearances and also filled in around the diamond for the Jays, making one start each at second, third and DH while also appearing in right field for a game.  As MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets, however, the Jays needed an extra reliever for their struggling bullpen and other infield bench candidates like Ryan Goins or Darwin Barney are needed with Troy Tulowitzki on the DL.

Paredes has never exhibited much defensive value despite his versatility over his six years in the majors, and he owns a .257/.294/.373 slash line over 862 PA with Toronto, Baltimore, Kansas City and Houston.  The 27-year-old was originally signed by the Yankees in 2006, and notably dealt along with Mark Melancon to the Astros in the July 2010 trade deadline deal that brought Lance Berkman to New York.

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The White Sox have lost 14 of their last 18 games, including a nightmarish weekend sweep to the Royals that saw Chicago blow late-inning leads in all three games.  Saturday’s result was the most crushing of all, as the White Sox held a 7-1 lead with one out in the ninth before allowing seven runs to lose 8-7.  The sweep also pushed the Royals into first place in the AL Central.  Here’s more from around the division…

  • Phil Hughes is being moved to the Twins bullpen, manager Paul Molitor told reporters (including MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger).  Kyle Gibson will replace Hughes in Minnesota’s rotation.  Hughes allowed a league-high 29 homers in 2015 and has struggled to a 4.74 ERA over 208 2/3 innings since the start of last season.  Unless he can regain his form while relieving and eventually get back to the rotation, the Twins will face further scrutiny over signing Hughes to an extension following his excellent 2014 season, the first year of a three-year/$24MM contract.  The Twins overwrote the final two years of that deal for a new extension that guaranteed Hughes $58MM from 2015-19.
  • While the Indians could well be deadline buyers as they make a push for the division title, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer figures top prospects Clint Frazier, Bradley Zimmer and Bobby Bradley are untouchable in trade talks.
  • Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that since the start of the 2013 season, Justin Upton and Marlon Byrd have posted more similar counting stats than one might think.  Upton is the better player overall (as seen through an fWAR comparison) and is a decade younger, though Pluto’s point is that the Indians are getting a bargain after signing Byrd to a minor league deal worth a $1MM guarantee plus incentives.  The veteran is outperforming Upton, who has been a sub-replacement player in his first two months with the Tigers.
  • Shane Greene could return to the Tigers as either a starter or reliever when he comes off the DL, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes.  Michael Fulmer seems to have locked up a rotation spot, so Greene could find himself back in the pen barring further notice (such as if Jordan Zimmermann’s groin injury worsens).  Greene has been sidelined with a finger blister.
  • Dave Dombrowski is happy to have “a championship type of guy” like Eduardo Rodriguez on the Red Sox roster, but the southpaw was a trade roadblock back when Dombrowski was the Tigers’ general manager.  As Dombrowski tells Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, Detroit was eager to acquire Andrew Miller from the Red Sox at the 2014 trade deadline and Dombrowski felt a deal was imminent after the Tigers agreed to give then-Sox GM Ben Cherington the two players he was seeking.  Cherington had to make one more call, however, which led to Miller being dealt to the Orioles for Rodriguez.  “They didn’t say we had a deal but you thought you had a deal,” Dombrowski said.  “There is a difference between the two….It’s ironic how it worked out because I’m the benefactor of it.  Really when they got Eduardo Rodriguez, he was better than the guys we were offering.  So I understood it.”

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