Cliff Lee traded to the Rangers for Justin Smoak, three others

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The Mariners have traded Cliff Lee and relief pitcher Mark Lowe to the Rangers for Justin Smoak and three prospects.

According to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, the prospects are pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke, and second baseman Matt Lawson. Buster Olney is reporting that Seattle is kicking in
$2.5 million in order to help offset the $4 million in salary owed to Lee. In
return, Texas gave a better package of prospects than they otherwise would have.

This is a fairly astonishing turn of events given how the day has been ruled by rumors of Lee going to the Yankees. The return the Mariners are getting for Lee is fairly astonishing as well.  The inclusion of Smoak in the deal is a coup enough for the Mariners, but three prospects as well is a very tall price for Texas to pay for what is no better than a rental of Cliff Lee.  It may be a great rental — this trade has to make them the favorites in the AL West going forward if they weren’t already, and having Lee in tow will make them a strong team come playoff time — but it’s a rental all the same.

Whether this deal guts the Rangers’ vaunted farm system is unclear. I’m not familiar with Beavan, Lueke, and Lawson, but we’ll do some digging here and find out exactly what Texas has given up.

Either way, this deal may work out for the Rangers, but it’s hard to see how any outcomes short of winning the pennant will make the trade a true success.

Athletics sign Santiago Casilla to two-year, $11 million deal

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 10: Santiago Casilla #46 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the 9th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.

Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system. Who has the worst?

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 06:  General manager Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks laughs on the field before the Opening Day MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on April 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.

For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.