Chris Young Reviewing Offers, Nearing Decision

Free agent starter Chris Young is reviewing offers and preparing to make a decision on where to sign by the end of the week, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Young, the reigning AL Comeback Player of the Year, is entering his age-35 season.

Young had not made more than twenty starts in a season since way back in 2007 before toeing the rubber thirty times (29 starts) last year for the Mariners. Over 165 frames, he compiled a 3.65 ERA with 5.9 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9.

Advanced metrics were less sanguine on Young’s performance, though he has traditionally outperformed ERA estimators. Young benefitted from a .238 BABIP against, although unusually low marks are no surprise given his extreme flyball tendencies.

Interest has seemed to lag for Young in spite of his solid run-prevention tallies last year. At the very least, his market remains quiet. MLBTR’s Steve Adams and Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan have each taken a look at landing spots that might make sense, but there have been virtually no public reports tying Young specifically to any clubs.


Check Out ProFootballRumors.com

The NFL’s franchise tag deadline has passed, and while stars like Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, and Justin Houston received tags from their respective teams, a number of standout players are poised to hit the open market a week from today. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, safety Devin McCourty, and wideouts Jeremy Maclin and Randall Cobb are among the players who will be free to negotiate with other teams as of Saturday and to sign with new clubs next Tuesday. To prepare for the free agent madness, be sure to check out our breakdown of the market by position, and keep an eye on ProFootballRumors.com for all the latest updates.


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Uncategorized

Trade Notes: Red Sox, Hamels, Gee, Mets, Pirates

Joel Sherman of the New York Post runs down a list of the teams with obvious trade candidates this spring and notes that executives to whom he spoke most often mentioned the Red Sox as a team to watch. Sherman examines speculative landing spots for Allen Craig, Shane Victorino and Jackie Bradley. He feels that a healthy Victorino would be an idea fit in Seattle in front of Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano (though I don’t imagine Seattle having interest given their platoon acquisition of Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano). For Craig, he theorizes that the Angels make some sense, should Josh Hamilton face a lengthy suspension. And the Braves have long fancied Bradley, even before Melvin Upton went down with a foot injury, Sherman adds. Sherman also runs down situations in Los Angeles, San Diego, Toronto, Chicago and Philadelphia.

A bit more from his piece and a few other trade-related notes from around the league…

  • As Sherman notes, many out-of-options players will become trade candidates at the end of Spring Training, and he feels that some such candidates could be outfielder David Lough, infielder Eduardo Nunez, lefties Felix Doubront and Brad Hand, and right-handers Jacob Turner, Randall Delgado, Stolmy Pimentel and Jesse Chavez. I’d be a bit surprised to see Chavez moved coming off such a strong season, though it’s certainly possible. Lough, in particular, strikes me as someone who could interest clubs, given his elite defense and his strong numbers against right-handed pitching.
  • While each side will privately acknowledge that they’ve been in contact with the other, talks between the Red Sox and Phillies regarding Cole Hamels have been dormant for weeks, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale spoke to Boston GM Ben Cherington and Red Sox pitchers Rick Porcello and Wade Miley about the confidence each has in their current staff.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson tells MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo that it’s “fair to say” there’s been little to no recent trade talk regarding right-hander Dillon Gee and any of the Mets’ other starting pitching options (Twitter link). Gee seems destined to open the season in the bullpen, barring an injury or a spring injury to a rotation member.
  • Travis Sawchick of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review takes a look at the spring battle between Vance Worley and Jeff Locke for the Pirates‘ fifth spot in the rotation, noting that neither is a candidate for a bullpen spot, so the loser of the battle could ultimately end up as a trade candidate. Sawchik notes that it’s possible that both could end up breaking camp with the team, should Charlie Morton open the season on the DL (or should the Bucs incur another spring injury), but he predicts that Worley will win the rotation spot if everyone else is healthy.


Recent March Extensions

It appears that we may already be headed toward our first long-term deal of Spring Training, as Brian Dozier and the Twins are said to be making progress on a long-term deal. Fans should get accustomed to seeing a lot more of this in March, if history is any indication, as Spring Training is often used as a time for teams to negotiate long-term deals with up-and-coming players or to extend the contracts of veterans already under control. Here’s a look at the past couple of years’ worth of action on the March extension front, with an assist from the MLBTR Extension Tracker…

2014 (Extension Tracker link)

  • Matt Carpenter, Cardinals agree to six-year, $52MM extension: Fresh off an MVP-caliber season, the 28-year-old Carpenter inked this pact. Like Dozier, he was between two and three years of service time. While he didn’t quite repeat his 2013 success, Carpenter enjoyed a strong season for the Redbirds and made his second straight All-Star team, doing little to suggest that the Cardinals erred in their decision to extend him.
  • Glen Perkins, Twins agree to two-year, $14.1375MM extension: Perkins, too, made his second straight All-Star team in 2014, though a late-season forearm strain caused his numbers to dip dramatically (his ERA spike from 2.44 to 3.65 before he was shut down Sept. 16). A Minnesota native, Perkins said at the time of the deal he hoped to remain with the Twins for the long haul. The deal gave him two additional guaranteed years, while the Twins picked up a 2018 club option.
  • David Ortiz, Red Sox agree to one-year, $16MM extension: Arguably the face of the Red Sox, Ortiz’s contract eliminated the concern of free agency this past offseason and gave Boston a pair of $10MM club options that can vest at 425 PAs and increase in worth with further PAs. Ortiz launched 35 homers last year, showing no signs of his age.
  • Jose Quintana, White Sox agree to five-year, $21MM extension: Quintana’s deal looks like a brilliant move by the Sox on the heels of a second straight 200-inning season. Quintana notched a 3.32 ERA with even better marks in stats like FIP (2.81), and both his strikeout and walk rates trended in the right direction. Quintana secured his first fortune on the deal and can still hit the free agent market at 32 even if a pair of club options are exercised. Quintana’s guarantee is contingent on his Super Two status, and it seems likely that he’d have been a Super Two, meaning the figure will jump from $21MM to $26.5MM. Add in the options, and he can earn $47.5MM over seven years.
  • Starling Marte, Pirates agree to six-year, $31MM extension: Marte shook off a rough start to the 2014 season and wound up finishing with better numbers than he did in his breakout 2013. He’s batted .286/.349/.447 over the past two seasons, flashing 15-homer power and 35-steal aptitude on the bases. He’s only 26, so he may have even more in the tank.
  • Miguel Cabrera, Tigers agree to eight-year, $248MM extension: Cabrera’s monstrous extension came on the heels of a pair of MVPs and a Triple Crown, but he wasn’t fully healthy in 2014 and his otherworldly numbers dropped to “merely” excellent as a result. However, the notion of paying a 40-year-old Cabrera $32MM is a tough one to get behind, regardless of how great he’s been in his late 20s and early 30s.
  • Mike Trout, Angels agree to six-year, $144.5MM extension: Trout didn’t go the Giancarlo Stanton route of signing a potentially lifetime contract, instead opting for a six-year deal that will let him hit free agency entering his age-29 season. If he keeps up his current pace, he could set a free agent record that won’t be touched for quite some time. Still just 23, Trout took home his first MVP last season with a .287/.377/.561 batting line and 36 homers.
  • Yan Gomes, Indians agree to six-year, $23MM extension: Gomes wasn’t a household name at the time of the deal and that may still be the case, but he should be one. The Brazilian backstop has emerged as one of baseball’s best catchers, and he combined elite defense with a strong .278/.313/.472 batting line last season.

2013 (Extension Tracker link)

  • Chris Sale, White Sox agree to five-year, $32.5MM extension: Sale is on a short list of baseball’s very best pitchers and may have won a Cy Young Award last season were it not for a stint on the disabled list that limited him to 174 innings. His contract allows him to hit the open market at age 31, even if (or, when) both of his options are exercised by Chicago, and in the meantime, the Sox will enjoy a pitcher that has worked to a 2.79 ERA in three full seasons of rotation work.
  • Allen Craig, Cardinals agree to five year, $31MM extension: Craig is one of few names on this list whose deal has gone somewhat south. It looked like a sound move in year one, but a foot injury in 2014 resulted in an abymal .215/.279/.315 slash line. There’s still time to rebound and easily justify the deal, but there’s no certainty of that happening at this time, and he’s already been flipped to the Red Sox in the John Lackey trade.
  • Carlos Gomez, Brewers agree to three-year, $24MM extension: Gomez was the rare Scott Boras client that signed an extension, and Boras may use Gomez as the poster boy for future clients shying away from long-term deals. In what would have been his walk year, Gomez hit .284/.338/.506 with 24 homers, 40 steals and elite defense. That production, heading into his age-28 season, could have resulted in an enormous contract. However, Gomez still stands to be paid handsomely following the 2016 season; he more or less repeated those elite numbers in 2014 and will hit the open market heading into his age-30 campaign.
  • J.A. Happ, Blue Jays agree to one-year, $5.4MM extension: Happ signed a somewhat bizarre extension that bought out his final year of arbitration eligibility at the price of surrendering a year of team control via club option, and the Mariners will be the ones to receive whatever value he provides in that option year, as he was flipped to Seattle for Michael Saunders in a one-for-one swap. Happ recorded a 4.22 ERA in 158 frames last season but will be in a much better pitchers’ park in 2015.
  • Adam Wainwright, Cardinals agree to five-year, $97.5MM extension: Wainwright is entering the second season of this deal and his been his typically excellent self since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2012. Some are concerned about the mileage on his arm and his age, but he’s still among the top pitchers in the National League. Wainwright posted a 2.38 ERA in 227 innings last season and finished third in Cy Young voting.
  • Buster Posey, Giants agree to eight-year, $159MM extension: Posey signed on to be the face of the franchise in San Francisco, and he’s been just that over the past two seasons (perhaps alongside Madison Bumgarner), hitting .303/.368/.470 in 1200 plate appearances. That production becomes even more impressive when considering it’s coming from a catcher who plays half his games in the cavernous AT&T Park.
  • Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks agree to five-year, $32MM extension: Speaking of faces of the franchise, Goldschmidt has undoubtedly become that in Arizona. A fractured hand suffered when he was hit by a pitch cut his 2014 season short, but Goldy’s hit .302/.399/.548 over the past two seasons, homering at a pace of 34 per 162 games played in that time. He’s among baseball’s very best overall hitters.
  • Justin Verlander, Tigers agree to five-year, $140MM extension: Verlander was excellent in 2013 before struggling through perhaps his worst season in 2014. He underwent core muscle surgery on his abdomen last January, which may have impacted his season, but he’ll need to bounce back from his 4.54 ERA and see his 6.9 K/9 rebound, because his extension technically begins this year. (He was already controlled through 2014 when he signed.) Verlander will be paid $28MM annually through 2019 — his age-36 season.

Full Story | Comments | Categories: MLBTR Originals

Brewers Outright Brooks Hall

The Brewers announced today that they’ve outrighted right-hander Brooks Hall to Triple-A (Twitter link). Presumably, this move frees up a spot on the 40-man roster for Francisco Rodriguez, although the official announcement has yet to be made.

The 24-year-old Hall missed much of the 2014 season with bone spurs in his right elbow, pitching only 26 innings at the Double-A level. He did work to a solid 2.77 ERA in that time, though his 15 strikeouts continued a trend of marginal strikeout rates. The former fourth-round pick has done his best work over the past three seasons after struggling in his first year of pro ball; overall h has a 4.00 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 360 1/3 minor league innings.


Twins, Brian Dozier Making Progress On Extension

The Twins and second baseman Brian Dozier are making progress on an extension, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The deal is believed to be close, per Berardino’s source. Dozier, a client of All Bases Covered Sports Management’s Damon Lapa, naturally declined comment on any talks, though he did express a willingness and openness to signing a long-term pact. “I don’t want to be anywhere else,” he told Berardino. “If the opportunity presents itself, then I’m all for it. We’ll see.”

Dozier, 28 in May, has gone from a relatively unheralded prospect to what looks to be a potential long-term answer at second base for the Twins in short order. Over the past two seasons, he’s shown 20-homer, 20-steal capabilities and batted .243/.330/.415 with 41 homers and anywhere from slightly below-average defense to slightly above, depending on your metric of choice. (For what it’s worth, I consider Dozier to be underrated by defensive metrics.) Fangraphs has pegged him at 7.3 wins above replacement over the past two seasons, while Baseball-Reference, which likes his defense more, has him at about nine wins.

In terms of plate discipline, Dozier made a significant step forward in 2014, boosting his walk rate to 12.6 percent and cutting his strikeout rate to 18.2 percent. The uptick in walks bodes well for further positive OBP marks in the future, and if he can work to reduce his pop-ups (15 percent of his fly-balls are of the infield variety), he could harness that keen eye into better batting average marks down the line as well.

Dozier isn’t yet arbitration-eligible, and a look at MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows a pair of potentially relevant comparables in extension talks; both Jason Kipnis and Matt Carpenter agreed to extensions in the $52MM range over six-year terms last spring when they were in Dozier’s same service class.


AL Central Notes: Boyer, Hanrahan, Chamberlain

Twins righty Blaine Boyer hung up his spikes after 2012, in spite of good health and a live arm, in large part to spend more time with his family, as he tells Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. But his clan has made it work since, aided by busy travel arrangements, and Boyer is in camp with Minnesota after a strong campaign last year with the Padres. His minor league deal with the Twins includes a late March out clause, Miller also reports.

Here are a few more notes from the AL Central:

  • Tigers reliever Joel Hanrahan has seemingly stalled out in his comeback attempt, as Jason Beck of MLB.com reports. Since going in for a Tommy John procedure in the middle of the 2013 campaign, Hanrahan has been unable to get his elbow back into form. Soreness has kept him from moving onto the mound this spring, and he has already received at least one suggestion that he undergo a second TJ surgery. There appears to be at least some question at this point whether the 33-year-old will ever return to a big league pen, let alone contribute to the club in 2015.
  • While Hanrahan tries to figure out his situation, fellow Tigers righty Joba Chamberlain discussed his recent free agent process with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. His son’s connection with Detroit proved a strong inducement for the righty, who said he left money on the table to return. Among the teams with interest in him were the Rangers, Dodgers, Royals, and Brewers, some of which were willing to pay him in the range of his $2.5MM salary from 2014.

East Notes: Marlins, K-Rod, Braves, Lee, Hamels

The Marlins‘ best offer for Francisco Rodriguez was for two years and $10MM, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. While that was not enough to convince K-Rod to part from the Brewers, it does represent a relatively significant chunk of change that the team could presumably tap into at some point in the future.

Here’s more from the eastern divisions:

  • Braves owner Liberty Media continues to provide some interesting insight into the club through its legally-required Securities and Exchange Commission filings, as Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains. In addition to ticking through the accounting for last year’s emergency pickup of Ervin Santana and release of Dan Uggla, the filing documents that the organization has already borrowed about $100MM from credit facilities arranged to help fund its portion of the funding of its new stadium.
  • Atlanta’s biggest write-off may be yet to come, as struggling and now injured center fielder Melvin Upton could eventually go the way of Uggla. For now, the team is focused on finding a temporary replacement and getting him back up to speed as soon as possible, as David O’Brien of the AJC reports. One possible fill-in, prospect Todd Cunningham, says that the players in camp “can kind of smell blood in the water,” while Eric Young Jr. called it an “unfortunate situation” but acknowledged that “you’re kidding anybody if you don’t see it as an opportunity.” The most interesting possibility could be Eury Perez, who is just 24 and has a solid track record in the upper minors but never had a real chance with his prior clubs.
  • The Phillies have had one of their top advisers, Charlie Kerfeld, watching Red Sox prospects as the clubs continue to eye one another over left-handed pitching, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. There is a sense now that Cliff Lee could be dealt before Cole Hamels, Cafardo adds, though that doesn’t necessarily mean Boston is the inevitable destination.
  • As Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports, there are no signs of progress on a Hamels deal. The Sox are more likely to be willing to part with players like Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero, and Jackie Bradley Jr. in any trade scenarios than they are some of their other top young players, Mastrodonato adds.

Nationals Sign Tony Gwynn Jr. To MiLB Deal

The Nationals have signed outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a minor league pact, the club announced. The deal includes a big league spring invite.

Gwynn is, of course, the son of one of the greatest players in recent memory. Though he has not matched his father’s near-untouchable stat line, he has obviously maintained the big league legacy with a career spanning eight seasons. Across 1,798 total career plate appearances in the bigs, Gwynn owns a .238/.309/.310 slash with 80 stolen bases.

Gwynn enjoyed a four-year run (2009-12) where he had over 250 trips to bat annually, but that streak ended when he failed to reach the game’s highest level in 2013. But he returned to the majors last year with the Phillies, putting up a meager .152/.264/.190 slash line in 127 plate appearances.


International Notes: July 2 Market, Cuba

Hector Olivera and Yadier Alvarez are the two biggest names to watch on the international market at present, but let’s take a look at some other notes while we wait to learn more on their situations:

  • Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has a wide-ranging round-up of the latest from the upcoming July 2nd signing period, which has clarified somewhat with Yoan Moncada now in agreement with the Red Sox. Noting that slot money has gone up by about five to seven percent, as Baseball America’s Ben Badler details, McDaniel says that about five clubs seem to be on track to exceed their bonus allotments and “many more” will attempt to spend to their max.
  • Uncertainty in U.S.-Cuban politics is dampening some teams’ interest in going over their pools and incurring severe spending restrictions for two years, per McDaniel. Depending upon how things progress, that might mean missing out on a sudden influx of talent. Nevertheless, it appears that overall spending will see significant increases; indeed, as McDaniel tweets, one team that he does not mention in his post is already believed to have about $7.5MM set to go out to six players — none of whom will be among the highest-earning prospects.
  • McDaniel provides a ton of detail on July 2nd prospects, including Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is said to be likely heading to the Blue Jays for a bonus that will top $4MM. Also expected to go over the $4MM mark are young slugger Jhailyn Ortiz, who is expected to land with the Phillies, and shortstop Wander Javier, whom the Twins are believed to be line to sign.
  • While there is nothing new on Alvarez, Badler does explain that his situation — and that of fellow young righty Vladimir Gutierrez — could shape the future of Cuban amateur talent. Alvarez could test MLB’s historical unwillingness to grant exceptions to its timely registration rule, given the fact that he could not do so while in Cuba, and that would presumably set the precedent moving forward. A similar situation holds for Gutierrez, who could face an exceedingly long delay if he cannot establish residency in a third country in relatively short order.

Understanding Pre-Arbitration Salaries

While the 2014-15 arbitration process is complete — final results can be found here — you may have noticed that agreements between non-free agent players and teams are still being reported and announced. These deals are being arrived at with players who own 40-man spots but remain shy of the service requirements to reach arbitration eligibility. (I.e., they have less than three years of service and did not qualify as Super Two players.)

Generally, MLBTR does not cover these deals. Not only are there are dozens per team, but they have minimal bearing on the broader market. The reason is simple: the collective bargaining agreement stipulates that teams may simply renew pre-arb players at the league minimum (or any other desired level) if agreement on a price cannot be reached, leaving no obligation for teams to pay more and affording scarcely any leverage to the player. In other words, there is not much to see or think about.

But, as with most things, there are exceptions. Last February, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported that the Rockies had drawn the ire of some agents for only spending a few thousand dollars above the minimum. MLBTR’s Zach Links proceeded to undertake a deep dive on the subject, explaining how different teams use varying types of formulas to arrive at pre-arb salaries — many of which are informed by some combination of service time, playing time, and performance.

Sometimes teams choose to go well above the required levels of pay. The two most notable examples — Ryan Howard‘s final pre-arb salary of $900K and Mike Trout‘s $1MM pact last year — were followed by extensions. It is difficult to know whether those shows of good faith helped pave the way to longer-term deals, but the teams involved (the Phillies and Angels, respectively) obviously were motivated to go above and beyond for players who were coming off of MVP or MVP-type seasons.

In some cases, players and teams are unable to agree upon a deal, leading the team to simply renew the player at its desired value. This is in large part a symbolic matter, though as Zach and fellow MLBTR writer Steve Adams learned last year, the Astros have taken a $5K deduction (as against the team’s offer) when renewing pre-arb players who declined to reach agreement at the team’s price.

Inability to agree upon a price is but one aspect of a team’s relationship with a player, of course, but tension in the pre-arb process is certainly one possible outcome. Interestingly, Trout had his contract renewed without agreement in the season before his huge pre-arb payday, with his agent blasting the team at the time. The sides were ultimately able to come together on a nine-figure deal, with the prior years’ salaries constituting an element of the jockeying in the lead-up to that contract.

It remains to be seen whether this year will feature any particularly interesting cases. But it is worth noting that several of 2014’s top performers — Corey Kluber of the Indians, Anthony Rendon of the Nationals, and Sonny Gray of the Athletics come to mind — remain shy of arbitration eligibility.


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Uncategorized

AL Notes: Haber, Street, Ludwick, Orioles

The White Sox announced today that they have promoted Jeremy Haber, who was previously assistant to general manager Rick Hahn and will now bear the title of assistant GM. The 31-year-old Haber led negotiations on the team’s five-year, $21MM extension with Jose Quintana last offseason, says Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter), and he also leads salary arbitration negotiations. CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes profiled Haber last offseason, noting an impressive educational background but little experience in the baseball world. Haber has a B.A. in political science from Brown as well as an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Haber was initially hired as an intern with the Red Sox after a series of blind emails to teams in search of a front office opportunity, and he’s since helped in the White Sox’ hiring of hitting coach Todd Steverson in addition to making player acquisition recommendations for Hahn and the rest of the Chicago front office.

More from the American League:

  • Huston Street tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that he and Angels GM Jerry Dipoto have begun swapping text messages to figure out a time when they can have more serious extension discussions in the near future. Street, who acts as his own agent, has said he wants to get a new contract worked out in Spring Training and made no attempt to hide the fact that he’s eyeing something between the four-year, $36MM deal inked by Andrew Miller and the four-year, $46MM contract signed by David Robertson. He did say he envisions a new contract overriding his current one-year deal, so he’s essentially looking for three new years.
  • Ryan Ludwick told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that multiple teams for which he had played in the past expressed interest in bringing him back this offseason, though he declined to specify which teams. The Rangers are clearly one, as the now-36-year-old signed a minor league pact to return to Texas, where he made his big league debut 13 years ago. “It’s cool knowing that teams are willing to take you on,” Ludwick said Sunday. “I guess that means I’m somewhat of a decent guy.” The Rangers will hope that in addition to being a “somewhat decent guy,” Ludwick will bring the offense he showed as recently as 2012, when he hit .275/.346/.531 with 26 homers in just 472 plate appearances for the Reds. He’s also played for the Cardinals, Indians, Padres and Pirates.
  • Replacing Nelson Cruz‘s production will not be straightforward but may yet be possible for the Orioles, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com writes. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette explains that the current roster not only has power across the board but does so with generally well-rounded players. And, as he notes, the team will never “grab a lot of headlines in the offseason,” as would have been needed to bring Cruz back or replace him with a single player. “We pick up players year round,” said Duquette. “We don’t do it all in the offseason.”

The D-Backs’ Veteran Trade Candidates

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted this morning that the Diamondbacks have let other clubs know they’re willing to move Trevor Cahill, Cody Ross or Aaron Hill in trades, although that tweet prompted a denial from GM Dave Stewart that he’s had any actual conversations on that trio of veterans (Twitter link).

We can debate the semantics here, but conventional wisdom would seem to suggest that three expensive veterans that have underperformed for a last place team whose president/CEO has previously stated that his club may get “creative” to trim payroll are certainly candidates to be moved. The D-Backs showing a willingness to move them would hardly be a surprise, nor would it be surprising were Stewart’s comments genuine as well. However, the reason for the lack of conversations would likely be a lack of interest, and Stewart or the D-Backs may ultimately prefer to spin it in a different fashion.

What the D-Backs have on their hands are three formerly productive players that are compensated at levels which don’t reflect their recent performance. That’s not to say that none of the three has value, however, should Arizona show a willingness to absorb some salary to grease the wheels on a potential trade. Let’s look at each player and try to determine a few fits.

Trevor Cahill: Somewhat surprisingly, Cahill is still just 27 years old (he turned 27 yesterday, in fact). The right-hander is owed $12.3MM before he’s eligible for free agency next offseason, but his contract does contain a pair of club options at $13MM and $13.5MM. Cahill, until the 2014 season, was generally accepted as a ground-ball inducing machine and a perfectly serviceable mid-rotation arm. From 2010-13, he pitched to a 3.72 ERA (4.09 FIP) in 751 innings, and he’d settled in as a 200-inning horse before injuries struck in 2013. Cahill was struck in the hip by a line-drive that season and missed about six weeks, and a shoulder strain ended his season shortly after.

If he looks healthy and at all like his old self in Spring Training, a team with a need in the rotation could do worse than gambling on him, should the D-Backs kick in some of the remaining guarantee. There’s always the chance that he could regain his form in 2015 and give an acquiring club a rotation piece that can be controlled for another two seasons. Would a team with questionable pitching depth like the Phillies or Rockies be willing to take that kind of risk? The Phillies are rebuilding, but Cahill’s still young, and they have the financial wherewithal to make it happen. The Rangers’ back-of-the-rotation options are questionable (but also plentiful), and the Tigers lack depth beyond their currently projected five starters.

Cody Ross: The 34-year-old Ross is owed $9.5MM in 2015 and has a $1MM buyout on an option of the same value for the 2016 season. Hip surgery and a calf strain kept Ross off the field for much of last season, but he’s always handled left-handed pitching well, as evidenced by a career .294/.360/.557 batting line against them.

The Blue Jays just added Dayan Viciedo on a minor league deal, but if he struggles in Spring Training and Ross looks healthy, perhaps they’d prefer Ross in the event that the Snakes take on half of his remaining salary or so. The Indians were also interested in Viciedo on a minor league deal, so it stands to reason that a healthy Ross may have some appeal as well, if the price was right. The same could be said for the Reds. Again, the D-Backs may need to eat $5MM+ to make any of these scenarios realistic.

Aaron Hill: Hill will turn 33 later this month and is one season removed from an excellent .291/.356/.492 batting line in a half season’s work. Hill showed no ill effects of the broken hand he suffered early in 2013 upon returning from the disabled list, but that only makes his 2014 drop-off even more puzzling; Hill stayed healthy for most of the season but still mustered just a .244/.287/.367 line in 137 games. And, he dislocated a finger on his other hand at the end of the year.

Hill is the toughest to move because his remaining $24MM over two years is the largest commitment. I don’t know that Arizona would want to eat the type of salary that would be necessary to move him, so it might be in the team’s best interest to, rather than absorb $12MM to move him, just pay him for the first half and hope for a rebound. Multiple teams have been connected to second base upgrades this winter without pulling the trigger on a deal, and there figure to be additional teams in need this summer. The A’s, Orioles, Angels and White Sox could all conceivably find themselves with needs as the season progresses, and one injury to a currently healthy player could open the door for a summer trading partner, if Hill is able to demonstrate production closer to his previous heights than his 2014 decline.


2016-17 MLB Free Agents

With this year’s group of free agents mostly picked clean, and with MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings for next year’s crop already taken care of, we’ll do what we typically do at MLBTR and take an extremely preliminary look at the following free agent class, even if it’s a full 18 months away. At first glance, the group is definitely weaker than the class we stand to see next winter, though comparing any free agent class to that of next winter may be foolhardy, as the 2015-16 group is among the best in recent history.

A pair of notable names are likely to join this group once their 2016 options are officially exercised — Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Others with 2016 options that could join the list depending on the outcome of their 2016 options include Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, Alexei Ramirez, Nori Aoki, R.A. Dickey and Joaquin Benoit. Of course, that group features a wide range of elder statesmen that don’t dramatically increase the appeal of the unit as a whole, but the addition of some veterans that are candidates for short-term deals would nonetheless strengthen the group to some extent.

Bear in mind that this group will also feature any player that is non-tendered after the 2016 season and any player that signs a one-year deal next winter. Additionally, we don’t yet know what, if any, major international names will be on the list. We also don’t know which of these players will sign extensions.

For the time being, however, the following is the list of players you can expect to see on the open market following the 2016 season.

If you see any errors or omissions, please contact us. To see who represents these players, check out MLBTR’s Agency Database.

Catchers

Drew Butera (34)
Jason Castro (30)
Francisco Cervelli (31)
A.J. Ellis (36)
Ryan Hanigan (36) — $3.75MM club option with an $800K buyout
Nick Hundley (33)
Jonathan Lucroy (31) — $5.25MM club option with a $25K buyout
Salvador Perez (27) — $3.75MM club option (no buyout)
Wilson Ramos (29)
David Ross (40)
Carlos Ruiz (38) — $4.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (32)
Chris Stewart (35)
Kurt Suzuki (33) — $6MM vesting option
Josh Thole (30)

First Basemen

Pedro Alvarez (30)
Michael Cuddyer (38)
Ike Davis (30)
Ryan Howard (37) — $23MM club option with a $10MM buyout
Travis Ishikawa (33)
Adam LaRoche (37)
James Loney (33)
Mitch Moreland (31)
Logan Morrison (29)
Mike Morse (35)
Brandon Moss (33)
Carlos Santana (31) — $12MM club option with a $1.2MM buyout
Justin Smoak (30)
Mark Teixeira (37)
Mark Trumbo (31)

Second Basemen

Darwin Barney (31)
Everth Cabrera (30)
Daniel Descalso (30)
Yunel Escobar (34) — $7MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Aaron Hill (35)
Martin Prado (33)
Justin Turner (32)
Luis Valbuena (31)
Neil Walker (31)

Third Basemen

Adrian Beltre (38)
Daniel Descalso (30)
Martin Prado (33)
Justin Turner (32)
Luis Valbuena (31)

Shortstops

Erick Aybar (33)
Everth Cabrera (30)
Daniel Descalso (30)
Yunel Escobar (34) — $7MM club  option with a $1MM buyout

Left Fielders

Gregor Blanco (33)
Chris Coghlan (32)
Sam Fuld (35)
Chris Heisey (32)
Matt Holliday (37) — $17MM club/vesting option with $1MM buyout
Travis Ishikawa (33)
John Mayberry, Jr. (33)
Michael Saunders (30)
Jordan Schafer (30)

Center Fielders

Gregor Blanco (33)
Peter Bourjos (30)
Michael Bourn (34) — $12MM vesting option
Coco Crisp (37) — $13MM vesting/club option with a $750K buyout
Sam Fuld (35)
Craig Gentry (33)
Carlos Gomez (31)
Chris Heisey (32)
Jon Jay (32)
John Mayberry, Jr. (33)
Cameron Maybin (30) — $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Angel Pagan (35)
Justin Ruggiano (35)

Right Fielders

Carlos Beltran (39)
Jay Bruce (30) — $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Michael Cuddyer (38)
Chris Heisey (32)
John Mayberry, Jr. (33)
Brandon Moss (33)
Josh Reddick (30)
Justin Ruggiano (35)
Michael Saunders (30)
Seth Smith (34) — $7MM club option with a $250K buyout
Travis Snider (29)
Nick Swisher (36) — $14MM vesting option

Designated Hitters

Carlos Beltran (39)
Michael Cuddyer (38)
Ryan Howard (37) — $23MM club option with a $10MM buyout
Adam LaRoche (37)
Kendrys Morales (34) — $11MM mutual option with a $1.5MM buyout
Mike Morse (35)
Brandon Moss (33)
Carlos Santana (31) — $12MM club option with a $1.2MM buyout
Nick Swisher (36) — $14MM vesting option
Mark Teixeira (37)

Starting Pitchers

Brandon Beachy (30)
Andrew Cashner (30)
Jesse Chavez (33)
Josh Collmenter (31) — $2.25MM club option with a $150K buyout
John Danks (32)
Jorge De La Rosa (36)
Scott Feldman (34)
Dillon Gee (30)
Gio Gonzalez (31) — $12MM club option with a $500K buyout
Jason Hammel (34) — $10MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Jeremy Hellickson (30)
Derek Holland (30) — $11MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Edwin Jackson (33)
Kris Medlen (31) — $10MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
Matt Moore (28) — $7MM club option with a $2.5MM buyout
Charlie Morton (33) — $9.5MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Jon Niese (30) — $10MM club option with a $500K buyout
Ivan Nova (30)
Jake Peavy (36)
Yusmeiro Petit (32)
CC Sabathia (36) — $25MM vesting option with a $5MM buyout
Stephen Strasburg (28)
Josh Tomlin (32)
Edinson Volquez (33) — $10MM mutual option with a $3MM buyout
Jered Weaver (34)
C.J. Wilson (36)
Travis Wood (30)

Closers

Aroldis Chapman (29)
Neftali Feliz (29)
Greg Holland (31)
Kenley Jansen (29)
Mark Melancon (32)
Sergio Romo (34)
Drew Storen (29)
Koji Uehara (42)

Right-Handed Relievers

Aaron Crow (30)
Ernesto Frieri (31)
Jason Grilli (40) — $3MM club option with a $250K buyout
Luke Hochevar (33) — $7MM mutual option with a $500K buyout
Daniel Hudson (30)
Kevin Jepsen (32)
Sam LeCure (33)
Pat Neshek (36) — $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Alexi Ogando (33)
Esmil Rogers (31)
Fernando Salas (32)
Joe Smith (33)
Craig Stammen (33)
Junichi Tazawa (31)
Jordan Walden (29) — $5.25MM club option with a $250K buyout

Left-Handed Relievers

Brett Cecil (30)
Mike Dunn (32)
Boone Logan (32)
Javier Lopez (39)
Brian Matusz (30)
Josh Outman (32)
Cesar Ramos (33)
Matt Reynolds (32)
Marc Rzepczynski (31)

Cot’s Baseball Contracts was used extensively in the creation of this post.


NL Central Notes: Wainwright, Holliday, Pirates, Leake

Adam Wainwright returned to the mound today and threw a 30- to 40-pitch bullpen session without issue, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wainwright gave Cardinals fans a bit of a scare last week when he had to return to St. Louis to see a specialist for pain in his abdomen, but he was diagnosed with a strain and merely prescribed some rest. Manager Mike Matheny said his ace will first have to face hitters in a live batting practice session before getting into a game, but he didn’t give reporters a timeline on that next step.

More from the NL Central…

  • Matt Holliday said to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports today that he hopes the Cardinals will eventually pick up his 2017 option (Twitter link). Holliday says he’s not concerned with the financial component of the $17MM option, but rather that he likes playing in St. Louis and hopes to remain as long as he can. In reply, Goold tweeted to Heyman that team president Bill DeWitt Jr. has told the Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz that the current intention is indeed to exercise the option. Of course, plenty could change that line of thinking over the next two seasons, especially considering the fact that Holliday is already 35.
  • Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review opines that new addition Jung-ho Kang is more likely to eventually cut into the playing time of Jordy Mercer or Josh Harrison than Neil Walker in the short-term. He also tackles recent reports that the Pirates are open to an extension with Andrew McCutchen at a premium price, wondering if such a move would be wise for the Bucs four years in advance of the end of a contract that already runs through McCutchen’s age-31 season. As Sawchik notes, paying for a player’s decline phase rarely proves to be a sound decision for any team, and the team could have younger assets like Gerrit Cole or Gregory Polanco on which to use that hefty sum as they enter their arbitration years.
  • Mike Leake tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s happy to have survived the Reds‘ offseason with the team, as he and fellow right-handers Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon entered the offseason fully aware that they could be traded. (Latos and Simon, of course, were indeed traded.) Leake hasn’t been approached by the Reds about an extension yet and isn’t expecting them to do so, although he’d like to see them at least try to work out a long-term deal. The 27-year-old former No. 8 overall pick can become a free agent at season’s end and has enjoyed a pair of productive seasons in 2013-14, posting a 3.54 ERA in 406 2/3 innings.