Twins pay steep price to avoid sending Rule 5 pick Scott Diamond back to Braves

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Rule 5 pick Scott Diamond wasn’t going to make the Twins, but rather than having to offer him back to the Braves as per the draft’s requirements the two sides have worked out a trade.

Minnesota will be able to keep Diamond and can now send him to the minors as if he weren’t acquired in the Rule 5 draft, but the price was a remarkably steep one, as the Braves receive 2009 second-round pick Billy Bullock in exchange.

I ranked Bullock as the 10th-best prospect in the Twins’ farm system, whereas I had Diamond ranked 36th on the same list, so this deal is a head-scratcher. Bullock was the 70th overall pick just two years ago and is a reliever with a mid-90s fastball who’s racked up 150 strikeouts in 108 innings.

He has control issues, but projects as a potential late-inning reliever. To trade him for someone with mid-rotation starter upside who was left off the 40-man roster and available to any team in the Rule 5 draft is odd enough, but to make that trade when the Twins could have simply kept Diamond around for nothing as a long reliever or mop-up man is doubly confusing.

Helluva move by the Braves though, picking up a high-upside reliever prospect for a guy they didn’t even protect from the Rule 5 draft three months ago.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.