According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Kansas City Royals have been scouting RHP Carlos Villanueva and OF Justin Ruggiano. Levine reported the Royals interest in both players during Inside the Clubhouse (670 The Score) Saturday morning.
The Royals have two connections with Carlos Villanueva in Ned Yost and Dale Sveum and he could add depth to Kansas City’s bullpen. Levine mentioned the possibility of Carlos Villanueva and Justin Ruggiano being packaged in a deal with the Royals to net the Cubs the best possible return.
Several teams are interested in Carlos Villanueva according to Levine. The Blue Jays have been scouting Villanueva and is the only other team that has been connected to Villanueva by the mainstream media.
Carlos Villanueva would be an affordable option for a contending team. At this point of the season, he is owed just over $2 million and could give a team, like the Royals or Blue Jays innings out of the bullpen as a swingman or long reliever. Villanueva has been effective out of the Cubs pen over the last two seasons. And while his numbers and what he provides does not offer much to a second division team, he could have value to a team in the hunt for a playoff spot. Entering play Saturday, Villanueva was 3-2 in 19 relief appearances this season with a 3.72 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. In 29 innings, he gave up 29 hits with 12 walks and 24 strikeouts. While Villanueva could not clean-up Edwin Jackson’s mess and gave up a bases clearing double to Justin Upton, Villanueva pitched two clean innings of his own out of the pen Saturday with five strikeouts.
Justin Ruggiano has gotten hot at the right time for the Cubs, and he is a rather affordable option for a fourth or fifth outfielder for a contending team. Ruggiano has less than $1 million left on his contract for this season after avoiding arbitration with the Cubs on a $2 million contract after he was acquired from the Marlins for OF Brian Bogusevic. Ruggiano has two more full seasons of club control left on his contract, and can play all three outfield spots. Ruggiano was 17-for-43 in the 11 games leading up to Saturday’s game against the Braves with three doubles and two home runs (.395/.422/.605/1.027). Ruggiano went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and a RBI in Saturday’s game.
The Blue Jays and Royals are under a lot of pressure to make the playoffs. Toronto entered play Saturday three games back of the Orioles in the AL East and Kansas City started the day 6 1/2 games back of the Tigers in the AL Central. But the Jays are 1 1/2 games out of the last wild card spot while the Royals are 2 1/2 back of the Mariners for the last playoff spot in the Junior Circuit.
Jon Heyman mentioned Junior Lake as an option for the Mariners to “enhance their right handed hitting production” if Seattle cannot acquire Marlon Byrd. Heyman listed Josh Willingham, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo as other possible options the Mariners could be looking to acquire.
According to Heyman, the Mariners “and other teams” have scouted Junior Lake and view him as a possible change-of-scenery player.
Junior Lake is stuck in a major slump and while he has shown flashes of promise, the same as his scouting reports from the minors, he has not been consistent at the Major League level. Lake is 1-for-20 in nine July games with seven strikeouts and no walks in 20 at bats.
Junior Lake turned 24 years old in March.
Hector Rondon and Neil Ramirez
Detroit is looking for relievers and has been scouting the Cubs young arms according to Bruce Levine. The Tigers are interested in RHP Hector Rondon and RHP Neil Ramirez. According to Levine, the Cubs have zero interest in trading Neil Ramirez. Levine said that Ramirez is a “big, big no” when teams have asked about him. Rondon, the former Rule 5 pick, has created interest and it is unclear if the Cubs would move him or not in the right deal.
Other Cubs Rumors
The Braves, Orioles, A’s and Blue Jays are believed to be looking for help in their bullpen. The Braves have scouted both James Russell and Wesley Wright and a lefty reliever remains on Alex Anthopoulos’ list in Toronto. With the Orioles and Athletics wanting to add to their pen, Russell and Wright could be options, plus there is an obvious history of the Cubs working deals with both Dan Duquette (Orioles) and Billy Beane (Athletics).
The Cubs are thought to be in the market to add a catcher or two to the organization. And could be talking to teams about the catching depth they would be willing trade.