Latest On Joe Maddon

Joe Maddon shocked many people by opting out of his contract with the Rays Friday and has now become the most coveted managerial free agent in recent history. While early speculation was that he’d follow former GM Andrew Friedman to the Dodgers, Friedman and the Dodgers have issued a statement backing Don Mattingly as their manager, definitively stating that Mattingly will manage the Dodgers next season.

There’s been plenty of other Maddon chatter, however, so we’ll keep track of the latest on his situation here…

October 25

  • Maddon’s agent Alan Nero says 10 teams have contacted him about Maddon, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Job suggestions have varied from manager to something like the Chief Baseball Officer position occupied by Tony La Russa. Maddon has also been contacted by several media outlets. Nero notes that Maddon is prepared to sit out 2015. He cited a previous experience with Lou Pinnela who spent a year as a FOX analyst before joining the Cubs. Apparently, Maddon’s friends say he’s interested in joining a NL club due to the added challenge of managing the pitcher’s at bats.

October 24

  • Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Berardino that the news of Maddon’s availability came as a surprise to him. “This is a pretty big opt-out,” he said. “When I saw it, I was surprised, but it’s certainly caught my eye.” Though he did not say expressly that the team would consider Maddon, Ryan seemed to indicate that is very much a possibility. “I certainly will do my due diligence on anybody that’s available,” said Ryan. “Everybody was hoping I would hurry up and get a manager. ‘What’s taking so long.’ Now everybody sees this.”
  • Meanwhile, sources tell LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (via Twitter) that the team will indeed reach out to Maddon.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto put to bed any speculation that the Halos would consider Maddon, telling Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (Twitter link) that, “of course Mike [Scioscia] will be our manager.”

Earlier Updates

  • David Kaplan of CSNChicago has spoken to several sources who have indicated to him that the Cubs are indeed the front-runner to land Maddon at this time, but there are several teams that have shown interest (Twitter link).
  • ESPN’s Buster Olney, who intially reported the opt-out, hears that if Maddon ends up with the Cubs, the Rays will investigate the issue of tampering (Twitter link).
  • Sherman reports that Maddon is looking for a five-year deal worth roughly $25MM (Twitter link). He again downplays any thought that the Mets could go to those heights, noting that GM Sandy Alderson doesn’t believe managers should be compensated as such.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with Maddon on the phone (Four links to Twitter) and was told that Maddon didn’t feel the Rays would commit to him the dollars he was hoping for on a new contract. Maddon, 60, has had jobs throughout his career where his salary was dictated to him, and he felt this would be his last chance to find out how the open market would value him. He added that he was unaware of a clause in his contract that allowed him to opt out if Friedman left the team, and it was new Rays president of baseball ops Matthew Silverman who told Maddon of the clause. He said being contacted by teams with managers is none of his business. “They will do their business how they want to do it,” he told Sherman.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (via Twitter) that Maddon was looking to be compensated with a deal that would’ve paid him like one of the top two or three skippers in the game, meaning something north of $5MM per season. Cafardo then spoke with Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero (Twitter link), and was told that Maddon would consider sitting out for a year, perhaps taking a TV gig, if the right opportunity doesn’t arise, but Cafardo adds that Nero’s phone line is “lighting up.”
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also spoke to Maddon (Facebook link), and Maddon told him that he learned his contract contained a two-week opt-out window in the event that Friedman left the Rays. Rosenthal asked Maddon specifically about the Cubs, to which Maddon replied, “I don’t know. I have to talk to people. I have interest everywhere right now. I’ve got to hear what everyone has to say.” Maddon wants to work, regardless of landing a new managerial gig, but his preference is to be in a dugout.
  • Sherman tweets that he’s been told that Maddon won’t be going to the Braves or Blue Jays and that all signs point to the Cubs.
  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan spoke to one Maddon confidante who said Maddon wouldn’t have opted out of a deal without having a sense for what the market could offer, and he wants to go to a big market (Twitter link).
  • The Twins are the only team with a current managerial opening (besides the Rays, of course), but La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune heard that the team had yet to contact Maddon (Twitter link).
  • Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at whether or not the Twins could plausibly make a run at Maddon, noting that the team has never paid a manager more than $2MM annually and will in fact be paying Ron Gardenhire $2MM not to manage the club this season.
  • Mets owner Jeff Wilpon gave Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link) a very concise and definitive answer when asked about Maddon, stating, “No. We are not changing managers.” GM Sandy Alderson told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, “Terry is our manager,” via text message (Twitter link).
  • Jayson Stark of ESPN tweets that the more people with whom he speaks, the greater the sense he gets that there was almost no offer the Rays could’ve made to keep him there.

Quick Hits: Astros, Towers

Here’s the latest off-the-field notes from around the league, as the Royals nurse a misbegotten 4-1 lead.

  • The Astros have added former Cardinals scout Charlie Gonzalez as a special assistant, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Gonzalez is not the first Cardinals employee to follow GM Jeff Luhnow to Houston. Drellich lists pitching coach Brent Strom, amateur scouting director Mike Elias and pitching coordinator Dyar Miller as others who moved south with Luhnow. Gonzalez may help to fill recently vacated positions left by Dave Post (now with the Padres) and Marc Russo (with the Braves).
  • Assistant hitting coach is the final coaching position the Astros must fill, writes Drellich in a separate article. One name to watch is incumbent Ralph Dickenson. He’s expected to remain with the organization if he is not chosen for the job.
  • Bruce Bochy and Kevin Towers are long time friends, but don’t expect a reunion in San Francisco, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Understandably, the club is happy with the current management team.

Poll: Will Maddon Manage In 2015?

As we begin to digest Joe Maddon’s departure from the Rays, interest will begin to focus on what’s next for the now-former manager. We at MLBTR have diligently collected quite a volume of information and reactions to Maddon’s decision. If you’re lacking any detail from yesterday’s surprise announcement, you’ll probably find it there.

We know that Maddon reportedly seeks a five-year, $25MM contract. And as we learned earlier tonight, the move may have been mutually beneficial for Maddon and the Rays. Maddon would have been a lame duck manager with his contract set to expire after the season and little hope for an extension. Now the Rays can get a head start on finding their next manager.

The Twins are the only club with a current opening at manager, and they appear to have narrowed the search to their three finalists. Minnesota GM Terry Ryan will reportedly do his due diligence, but it’s worth noting they have never paid a manager an annual rate above $2MM.

The Cubs are a much rumored destination due to supposed similarities between Maddon and Cubs president Theo Epstein. However, second year manager Rick Renteria led the club to 73 wins while overseeing a few breakout performances. He also handled a potentially fractious bullpen with aplomb. Low expectations helped Renteria form a good impression, but Chicago already appears to be in excellent hands.

Other managers on the hot seat like Ryne Sandberg, Terry Collins, and Fredi Gonzalez have all received votes of confidence since Maddon hit the open market. While that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, it would be a bold move to fire a manager who was considered secure (for now) as of just a few days ago. Another NL East club that might make sense – the Nationals – just reached the playoffs in Matt Williams first season with the club.

Of course, the question as posed does not exclude a mid-season job offer for Maddon, so let’s make that a separate option.


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Joe Maddon | MLBTR Polls

AL Notes: Rays, Montreal, Vargas

The Rays operate on one of the tightest budgets in baseball, but relief could be within sight, writes Cork Gaines of RaysIndex.com. The team’s television contract is set to expire following the 2016 season. While Tampa Bay has a reputation for poor fan investment, they actually draw a strong viewership. Based on recent television deals, Gaines finds a roughly linear relationship between viewership and annual payment. That would put the Rays in line to earn about $80MM to $100MM per season, a large increase over their current $20MM payment. One cautionary outlier is the Twins, who earn just $29MM per season despite a viewer base that would suggest a $80MM yearly return. Gaines noted that ownership stakes were not factored into the analysis.

  • Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon might not be the only Rays stakeholders ready to abandon Tampa Bay, reports Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Despite the impending television deal, owner Stuart Sternberg has discussed a possible relocation to Montreal with potential Wall Street investors. Montreal drew over two million fans four times during the Expos tenure. Tampa Bay has not reached that milestone since their inaugural season. To me, it seems like Sternberg is attempting to improve his leverage in stalemated talks with St. Petersburg, but there is some question about the Tampa area’s ability to support a major league franchise.
  • As we prepare for Game 4 of the World Series, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com notes starter Jason Vargas almost didn’t end up with the Royals. Vargas was expected to return to the Angels who coveted a stable veteran presence in their rotation. However, Kansas City was willing to guarantee a fourth year, which was a sticking point for the Angels. Vargas is quoted as having made the decision for his family, although I’m sure he’s quite pleased with how the first year of his contract turned out. Good luck to him in tonight’s contest.

East Notes: Nationals, Phillies, Hamels, Rays

The Nationals will try to re-sign some combination of Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister this offseason, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes. The trio combined for 10.8 fWAR in 2014, and all three are eligible for free agency following the 2015 season. The Nats might have to make decisions about which of the three to extend, and could consider trading those they don’t, although GM Mike Rizzo suggests no trades are imminent. “I think we’re a long way from that conversation,” he says. Kilgore adds that Zimmermann became more difficult to sign when the Reds signed Homer Bailey to a $105MM deal last February, changing the market for starting pitchers. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Interim president Pat Gillick’s recent comments that the Phillies did not figure to contend again until at least 2017 marked a change in philosophy for the organization, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “We’ve been talking about a lot of things internally,” says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “[I]t’s pretty clear that we have had a shift. … [W]e’ve got some regrouping, rebuilding — whatever you want to call it. There’s things that we have to do that are different.” That means the Phillies will try to deal Ryan Howard this offseason, and they’ll also consider dealing Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins if they get the right offers (and if Utley and Rollins approve trades). The Phillies could also sign Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who would be expensive but who would add youth and star power.
  • The Phillies are willing to deal Hamels, but they’ll be asking a lot, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Hamels should fetch a strong return on the trade market despite the four years and $96MM remaining on his contract, Heyman writes, because free agent aces Max Scherzer and Jon Lester are likely to get even more. Hamels has a 20-team no-trade list that he must update by November 1. Until then, Hamels can be traded to the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers without his consent. The Cubs claimed Hamels off revocable waivers in August.
  • The Rays‘ list of candidates to replace Joe Maddon could include bench coach Dave Martinez, Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo, FOX Sports analyst Gabe Kapler, White Sox coach Joe McEwing and former Rangers interim manager Tim Bogar, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Topkin notes that Martinez has interviewed for five other managerial jobs already.

Red Sox Notes: Maddon, Davis, Breslow

Manager Joe Maddon is now available, but the Red Sox won’t be hiring him, owner John Henry tells the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo (via Twitter). “Joe Maddon is an excellent manager. But we are extremely happy with John,” says Henry. Farrell, of course, led the Sox to a World Series victory in his first season on the job before a disappointing 71-win season in 2014. Here are more notes out of Boston.

  • New Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis’ new three-year contract runs a year past the expiration of that of manager John Farrell, Cafardo writes.  Generally, coaches’ contracts don’t extend longer than those of their manager. Cafardo cautions us not to read into this too deeply, however — the Red Sox offered three years to prevent Davis from signing on with the Yankees instead.Farrell is heading into the third year of a four-year deal that will expire after the 2016 season.
  • Reliever Craig Breslow does not sound optimistic that the Sox will pick up his $4MM 2015 option rather than paying him a $100K buyout, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. “If you were to strictly look at 2014 with blinders without what had happened previously and what you might expect to happen going forward, $4 million is probably a hefty price tag,” says the lefty, who posted a 5.96 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings in 2014. Nonetheless, Breslow remains confident that he’ll have a bounce-back season. “If they were to decline it I would be a bargain for somebody and I’€™ll pitch to the value of the contract,” he says.

NL Notes: D-Backs, Nationals, Braves, Mets, Pirates

The Diamondbacks expect new assistant GM Bryan Minniti to focus on the administrative side of baseball operations while also contributing to the organization’s analytical development, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic“I won’t say [administration is] a weakness for me, but it’s part of my job that I don’t necessarily want to embrace on a day-to-day basis,” said GM Dave Stewart. “He picks me up in that area and is very knowledgeable in that area. People in the industry say he’s one of the best in the business at that position.” Minniti said he is not an “analytics guy,” though he does have a statistical background and is said to have played an important role in that regard with the Nationals. Here are more notes out of the National League.

  • As Minniti settles into his new job, the Nationals have begun the process of replacing him, as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. They made a variety of moves in their front office, including promoting director of baseball operations Adam Cromie to assistant general manager and hiring two analysts.
  • Braves president John Schuerholz says that he never approached Royals GM Dayton Moore about a return to Atlanta and would not have done so since Moore has two years left on his contract, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. Reports had suggested that the Braves were considering making a run at bringing back Moore as general manager, but the team ultimately convinced John Hart to take over baseball operations and says it has no plans of hiring a new GM under him.
  • The Mets have hired Kevin Long as their hitting coach, the club announced via Twitter. Long had served as the Yankees’ hitting coach before his recent firing after eight years with the team.
  • The Brewers have named a new hitting coach as well, hiring Darnell Coles to replace Johnny Narron, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on Twitter. Coles served as the Tigers’ assistant hitting coach in 2014 and managed the Brewers’ Double-A Huntsville affiliate in 2012 and 2013.
  • As the Pirates look forward to 2015, the club faces a number of complicated arbitration decisions, as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review discusses. Two of those were seemingly resolved this morning when the Bucs designated John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez for assignment, but the Pirates still have 11 arbitration-eligible players, including three first basemen (or likely first basemen) in Pedro Alvarez, Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez.

Notes On Joe Maddon: Rays, Cubs, Sandberg

Here’s the latest on Joe Maddon, whose agent Alan Nero (via a tweet from the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo) says is still “early in the process” of deciding what to do in 2015. Nero adds that taking a year off might be a possibility for Maddon.

  • Joe Maddon exercising the out clause in his contract might have been the result of a deliberate strategy by the Rays, Cork Gaines of Rays Index speculates. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted yesterday that Maddon wasn’t even aware he had an opt-out clause until Rays president Matt Silverman told him. So why, Gaines wonders, did the Rays tell Maddon? With Andrew Friedman heading to the Dodgers, Maddon had lost a close friend. One possibility is that, with only one year left on his contract, it would have been a foregone conclusion that Maddon would leave after 2015 anyway, given the salary he might have sought. That would have made him a lame duck, and the Rays might have wanted a fresh start rather than continuing with a manager who they knew would be gone within months anyway.
  • The Cubs need to hire Maddon as soon as possible, Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Triune writes. Maddon’s approach to the game is consistent with those of Theo Epstein and the Cubs, and his reputation as a player-friendly manager might help the Cubs attract free agents.
  • One team Maddon will not be managing to open the 2015 season is the Phillies, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. “We have a manager,” says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “Ryne Sandberg is our manager.” Maddon is a Pennsylvania native, and he has connections to Amaro. Salisbury notes that there is the possibility that Amaro will be fired at some point in 2015, in which case Sandberg might be dismissed as well. If Maddon hasn’t found another team to manage at that time, he would likely become a contender for the Phillies position.

Offseason Outlook: Pittsburgh Pirates

Led by outstanding seasons from Andrew McCutchen, Russell Martin and Josh Harrison, the Pirates made the playoffs for the second straight year in 2014, but the possible departures of Martin and Francisco Liriano cloud their immediate future.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via Matt Swartz)

*Axford and Gomez were designated for assignment Saturday.

**Melancon had 33 saves and 14 holds last season, a rare combination that caused Swartz’s model to project Melancon would receive a raise of $5MM to $7.6MM. We think such a large increase is unlikely.

Free Agents

Despite an unceremonious end to their season with an 8-0 loss to the Giants in the NL Wild Card game, the Pirates have a strong core of players, along with a well regarded farm system. They appear poised to be competitive for years to come. This year’s offseason, however, will likely revolve around their decision regarding Martin, who’s set to depart as a free agent.

Martin’s expiring two-year, $17MM contract was a fantastic deal by any standard, and was easily the best free agent signing of GM Neal Huntington’s career. Martin contributed 9.4 fWAR over the course of the contract and arguably produced even more value than that thanks to his framing and his work with pitchers. The Pirates have gotten unexpectedly strong work from pitchers like Liriano, Edinson Volquez and Mark Melancon in the last two years, and Martin was by all accounts a big reason why.

Now, the Pirates will either have to let Martin go or make the sort of expensive, multi-year commitment he’ll surely receive on the free agent market. The Bucs have indicated they’re willing to “stretch” to keep Martin, but re-signing him would represent a dramatic departure from their usual offseason patterns. And as important as Martin has been to the Pirates, signing him for, say, four years might put them in dangerous territory, given their tight budget and the brutal aging patterns of catchers in their thirties.

There are, however, no comparable options on the free agent market, and the Pirates’ internal replacements to replace Martin, Tony Sanchez and Chris Stewart, represent big downgrades that the Pirates will have to make up elsewhere (even though Stewart is another good framer who had a surprisingly palatable offensive season in 2014). The Pirates have already indicated they will extend Martin a qualifying offer, earning them a draft pick in the likely event that he signs elsewhere.

The Bucs could also lose Liriano and Edinson Volquez, who were key contributors to the team’s 2014 rotation. (They have not indicated they plan to extend a qualifying offer to Liriano, and perhaps they won’t — they didn’t extend one to A.J. Burnett last offseason and likely don’t feel Liriano is as crucial a player as Martin.) The Pirates might feel it makes more sense to replace Liriano and Volquez with buy-low reclamation projects (Justin Masterson or Brett Anderson might make sense, given the Pirates’ love of ground-ball pitchers) rather than paying top dollar for pitchers they’ve already helped improve. Of course, the Bucs’ talents with reclamation pitchers could decrease if Martin leaves.

In any case, the Pirates will need to do something to acquire starting pitching this winter — Charlie Morton and top prospect Jameson Taillon will both be returning from significant injuries, leaving the Pirates with only Gerrit Cole, Vance Worley and the erratic Jeff Locke as sure bets to make their rotation out of spring training.

The Bucs’ corner infield positions will also need tweaking, thanks mostly to Pedro Alvarez’s throwing issues at third base last year. Harrison, who before this season had looked like little more than a spare infielder, had a shocking borderline-MVP-caliber campaign in 2014. He replaced Alvarez at third base down the stretch and will probably continue as the Pirates’ third baseman next year. The lefty-hitting Alvarez is a likely a first baseman going forward, with the Bucs either trading or non-tendering lefty Ike Davis. The Pirates could also consider trading Alvarez, but he’s not eligible for free agency until after 2016, so they could again gamble on his raw power, even though he produced -0.2 fWAR last season. The Bucs will also have to decide whether to keep righty Gaby Sanchez, who is arbitration eligible for the third time and who hit just .229/.293/.385 in 2014. If Sanchez returns, he will presumably continue in a platoon role.

Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer are set to man the middle infield, but the Bucs will need a utility infielder, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they re-signed Clint Barmes to a one-year deal, like they did last offseason. Barmes doesn’t hit well, but his strong defense makes him a good fit for the Pirates’ grounder-heavy pitching staff. The newly acquired Justin Sellers, could also fill that role, but given his weak bat, the Pirates seem likely to try to sneak him through waivers at some point.

In the outfield, the Pirates have superstar Andrew McCutchen in center and emerging star Starling Marte in left, both of them signed long-term to team-friendly extensions. Gregory Polanco, who will likely supplant Travis Snider as the starter in right field in 2015, also has superstar upside, although he struggled in his rookie season. Snider quietly had a strong 2014, hitting .264/.338/.438, and he’ll probably continue on as the Pirates’ fourth outfielder and top pinch-hitting option.

The Pirates’ bullpen wasn’t a strength in 2014, but the Bucs control most of their relief talent and aren’t likely to make a big addition. Melancon and Tony Watson should return as closer and set-up man, respectively, and huge righty John Holdzkom improbably emerged from independent baseball to become another late-inning option. Jared Hughes, Justin Wilson and Stolmy Pimentel are also set to return.

Fans have long criticized the Pirates for failing to spend, and though the Bucs’ Opening Day payrolls have increased in each of the past four seasons, they’re still way behind the rest of the league. Heavy spending made little sense when the Pirates were perennial doormats, but now that they’re contenders, judicious spending can make a big difference. To cherry-pick one example, the Pirates lost the NL Wild Card game this year; if they had signed Jose Abreu last offseason, they might have won the NL Central and bypassed that game altogether.

This offseason, many fans will treat the team’s decision with Martin as a bellwether of its willingness to spend to keep their team competitive. On one hand, that’s not entirely fair — there are legitimate worries about Martin’s age, and a bad, expensive contract can be a serious problem for even a mid-market team.

On the other hand, replacing Martin’s production will be very difficult if he leaves. The Pirates’ key needs are at catcher and in the starting rotation. If they believe in their ability to fix broken pitchers, it hardly makes sense for them to pay heavily for pitchers who are already at the tops of their games, particularly given how risky multi-year deals for aging pitchers tend to be. Many of the best hitters in a very weak hitting class are either third basemen or outfielders, and the Pirates already have excellent or potentially excellent options at all four of those positions. Meanwhile, there’s no obvious way for the Pirates to replace Martin at catcher with anyone remotely comparable, even in a trade. The top names after Martin on the free agent market are players like Geovany Soto and A.J. Pierzynski.

Another way for the Pirates to upgrade this offseason might be to deal from their deep pool of outfield talent to acquire a younger, cost-controlled starting pitcher. The Mets, who have plenty of promising starting pitching and can use outfield help, might be a good trade partner. The Bucs could also try to deal prospects to a rebuilding team for a pitcher (a ground-ball pitcher like Dallas Keuchel might make sense), but such a trade might be easier in July — teams often aren’t willing to wave the white flag on their seasons before they’ve even begun.

The Pirates’ only significant moves last offseason were to sign Volquez and re-sign Barmes, even though they were coming off their first winning season in two decades and were set to lose a top starting pitcher in Burnett. (They also traded for Davis early in the season.) This winter might not be much different. The Pirates’ acquisitions to address catcher and their rotation will probably be relatively quiet ones. Or, in the case of the catcher position, they might not acquire anyone at all. Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently made the case for Stewart as a stopgap starting catcher — Stewart isn’t anywhere near Martin’s equal offensively, but he’s good enough at framing and defense to be a passable starter, particularly given the weak catching market. Tony Sanchez could then serve as Stewart’s backup, with prospect Elias Diaz (who is quickly developing a strong defensive reputation of his own) possibly taking over for Stewart in 2016.

With Stewart at catcher, the Pirates would then likely focus their offseason spending on their large group of arbitration-eligible players. They could also continue to try to negotiate a long-term deal with Polanco, who despite a somewhat disappointing rookie season is a prime extension candidate, given his outstanding tools and control of the strike zone. Harrison and Walker might also be extension candidates, albeit less likely ones.

Pirates fans won’t be happy about losing Martin. At this point, though, it’s unwise to ever bet on the Bucs being serious players in free agency. They’ve now had two straight winning seasons, and they set a PNC Park attendance record in 2014, but they’ve shown no indication of the willingness (or perhaps ability) to raise their payroll out of the lowest third of MLB teams, even for a season or two.

There are ways for the Pirates to make significant additions this offseason even without a huge payroll increase. One might be to non-tender or trade Davis, Gaby Sanchez and Alvarez, and go with rookie Andrew Lambo at first base. The Pirates could then use the savings (along with the $7.5MM they’ll have coming off the books now that they’re out from under their portion of Wandy Rodriguez‘s salary) to make a splash elsewhere. But that possibility seems remote, given that it’s unclear which big names the Bucs might pursue, other than Martin. It’s more likely that they’ll have another relatively quiet winter.


Pirates Acquire Sellers, Designate Axford And Gomez

The Pirates have announced that they’ve acquired shortstop Justin Sellers from the Indians for cash considerations. They’ve also designated relievers John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez for assignment and reinstated starter Charlie Morton from the 60-day disabled list.

Sellers spent most of the 2014 season with Triple-A Columbus, hitting .254/.307/.355. The 28-year-old has hit sparingly in parts of four seasons with the Dodgers and Indians, but he can play second and third as well as shortstop and he has a strong defensive reputation. He will be on the Pirates’ 40-man roster.

Axford and Gomez were both non-tender candidates, so it’s no surprise that the Bucs would designate them for assignment. Axford, a former closer, would have received a small raise on this year’s $4.5MM salary, even though he had a walk-heavy 2014 season in which the Indians let him head to the Pirates via waivers. Gomez served as a long reliever for the Pirates in 2014 and posted a 3.19 ERA, but with an underwhelming 5.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.


Week In Review: 10/18/14 – 10/24/14

Here’s a look back at this week at MLBTR.

Extended

Avoided Arbitration

Declined Option

Claimed

Designated For Assignment

Outrighted

Key Minor League Signings

Other


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Week In Review

MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Episode 3

On the third episode of the MLB Trade Rumors Podcast, Jeff Todd runs down the transactional news from the week (1:20) before being joined by Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak (2:07), who talks about the state of the Halos as they look to supplement a 98-win team while remaining cognizant of the future. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes also joins the line (24:05) to talk through upcoming qualifying offer decisions around the league and predict whether or not this will be the year that a QO is finally accepted.

 

PodcastClick here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! You can download the episode directly with this link.

You can access the podcast via SoundCloud at this link. The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


*MLBTR apologizes for the delay in posting this episode, which was the result of technical difficulties.


Miguel Cabrera, Adam Wainwright Undergo Surgery

Two of the game’s biggest stars, Miguel Cabrera and Adam Wainwright, underwent surgery today, according to reports from MLB.com’s Jason Beck and Will Carroll of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Cabrera’s operation isn’t entirely surprising, but doctors also discovered a stress fracture in the navicular bone near the top of his right foot, Beck writes. That injury requires a longer rehab process and required screws to be inserted into Cabrera’s foot, according to Beck.

Cabrera will be re-evaluated in three months’ time, and GM Dave Dombrowski said the former AL MVP will be “pretty much inactive” until that point. Dombrowski wouldn’t comment on whether or not Cabrera would be ready for Spring Training, but it seems possible that he’ll be getting a late start to his 2015 campaign at this point. Dombrowski said the team would provide further updates once Cabrera is re-evaluted in January, but missing an offseason of workouts does bring his status for Opening Day in 2015 into question. Needless to say, the onset of injuries is troubling for both Tigers fans and the team itself, as Cabrera is owed an enormous sum of $240MM through the 2024 season.

Shifting to Wainwright, the team has since confirmed the news, and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provided further details. Wainwright had some cartilage “trimmed” in the back of his elbow in order to avoid irritation in that area, an official tells Goold. The Cardinals have said Wainwright will resume a throwing program in eight weeks, and the surgery is not expected to impact his 2015 season, Goold writes.

Clearly, the eight-week timeframe for Wainwright is less troubling than Cabrera’s outlook, although it doesn’t leave a large amount of room for setbacks. That schedule would allow Wainwright to resume throwing in mid-to-late December. The right-hander is owed $78MM over the remaining four years of his five-year, $97.5MM contract.


Royals Designate Liam Hendriks For Assignment

The Royals have designated righty Liam Hendriks for assignment, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Presumably, the move creates space for Moises Sierra, who was claimed earlier today.

Hendriks, 25, threw 19 1/3 frames for Kansas City after being acquired from the Blue Jays in a mid-season deal. On the year, Hendriks tossed 32 2/3 innings if 5.23 ERA ball, striking out 6.3 and walking 1.9 batters per nine and posting a more favorable 3.84 FIP.

Over parts of four seasons in the bigs, Hendriks has worked to cumulative 5.92 ERA over 188 2/3 total innings. In nearly 400 Triple-A innings in his career, however, Hendriks has allowed 3.19 earned per nine.


Victor Martinez To Seek Four-Year Deal

Victor Martinez is coming off perhaps the finest season of his career at age 35, but age won’t stop the designated hitter from pursuing a four-year contract on the open market, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Martinez implied earlier in the month to Anthony Castrovince that he’d like to play another four years, though not specifically all on one contract.

Martinez will decline a qualifying offer from the Tigers and seek a contract that covers the same term that his previous four-year, $50MM contract with Detroit. However, it can be reasonably assumed, in my estimation, that the guarantee on a new four-year deal would exceed that total. The Tigers would love to have Martinez back, Heyman writes, but a four-year deal could be a sticking point for the team.

Martinez ranked sixth on the final in-season edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings and will undoubtedly be looked upon favorably in MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agent Rankings following the conclusion of the World Series. The veteran DH (and occasional first baseman/catcher) put up an excellent .335/.409/.565 batting line with 32 homers this season, leading the American Legaue in OBP and leading all of Major League Baseball in OPS (.974).

Nonetheless, a four-year deal for Martinez would run through his age-39 season, which obviously carries a tremendous amount of risk for any party interested in signing him. A four-year deal at an average annual value he and his representatives deem acceptable could approach or even exceed the $60MM mark — a steep price to pay for a slugger of that age, even coming off such a strong season.

Then again, the free agent market lacks few power bats, so Martinez will have no shortage of interest. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that a team in need of a bat that feels it can contend in 2015-16 ponies up that kind of cash, even if the final years of the deal can be reasonably expected to return diminished results.