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1:56pm: Baltimore has real interest in Trumbo, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links). The club expects Seattle will tender Trumbo a contract, suggesting that the O’s would need to strike a trade to get him.
1:38pm: Colorado is no longer in active talks with Seattle on Trumbo, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports, though he adds that it’s possible a “new and separate round of talks” could be initiated in the future and says the Rockies could have interest in Trumbo as a free agent if he’s non-tendered. The bottom line, it appears, is that Colorado won’t be taking him on in advance of the non-tender deadline.
12:29pm: The Orioles are also “in the mix” for Trumbo, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Presumably, he could fill some of the power void left by departing free agents Chris Davis and Steve Pearce, though of course Baltimore is still said to be pursuing a return with the former.
8:17am: The Mariners are “trying hard” to find a taker for veteran outfielder/first baseman/DH Mark Trumbo with tomorrow’s non-tender deadline looming, according to reports from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (Twitter link). It’s previously been reported that many rival executives expect Trumbo to be dealt. The Rockies are among the clubs that have spoken with Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto about the slugger, per Rosenthal.
Trumbo, who’ll turn 30 before the season, is projected by MLBTR to take home a $9.1MM salary in his final season of arbitration eligibility. Though he’s generally continued to produce at better than the league-average rate on offense, and remains a significant power threat in particular, the right-handed hitter has not quite matched his early-career batting levels.
Considering his significant defensive limitations and hefty earning power, Trumbo’s trade value would not appear to be peaking at the moment. (That moment probably came when then-Angels GM Dipoto acquired promising young lefties Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago in exchange for Trumbo before the start of the 2014 season.) Trumbo has never cracked three wins above replacement in his career, whether by measure of Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference, and ended up as about a one to one-and-a-half win player last season.
Of course, teams may still be willing to roll the dice on Trumbo cranking his power output back up over a one-year commitment. He averaged over thirty home runs annually from 2011 through 2013, after all, which represents a fairly rare demonstration of playable pop. While he is roundly considered a sub-par defender in the corner outfield, his ability to play there at least increases his versatility. And Trumbo has rated rather well as a first baseman over the years.
Presumably, the Rockies would be interested in utilizing Trumbo at first. The club recently parted ways with incumbent Justin Morneau and designated another potential option in Wilin Rosario. Adding a veteran right-handed bat would allow Colorado to utilize the lefty-swinging Ben Paulsen in a reserve capacity.
The non-tender deadline represents an important market in any trade talks, if only because the Mariners may be unwilling to commit to paying Trumbo if a trade isn’t arranged. Of course, if interest is strong enough, Seattle could always strike a bargain after tendering him an arb contract. In the worst case, of course, clubs can cut bait on tendered players whil remaining responsible only for one-sixth of their salary, but that’s obviously not the preferred outcome — especially when that would represent such a significant sum.
It’s worth noting, also, that several other major power sources could be available. The Astros’ Chris Carter and Evan Gattis might be trade candidates, and we’ve heard every indication that the Pirates have interest in moving lefty slugger Pedro Alvarez. All of those players project to earn less than Trumbo, though Alvarez isn’t far behind at $8.1MM.
The Astros are shopping slugger Chris Carter as the non-tender deadline approaches, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). Meanwhile, the club is willing at least to “listen” to offers on center fielder Jake Marisnick.
We heard earlier today that the Mariners were looking to move Mark Trumbo, and it seems that many of the same clubs could have interest in both players. Both offer thirty home run pop from the right side of the plate — along with lots of swings and misses and iffy on-base abilities.
Houston is focusing its trade efforts on fellow American League teams, per the report. That’s not terribly surprising, given that Carter is known as a terrible outfielder and may not have shown enough consistent production to warrant a regular first base job on a contending club. The lumbering slugger also hasn’t rated well with the glove at first.
If anything, Marisnick offers the opposite profile of Carter. The 24-year-old, who will likely qualify for arbitration next year as a Super Two, hit just .236/.281/.383 in 372 plate appearances last year. But he made up for that by contributing 24 stolen bases and quality defense up the middle, making him about a 2-win player even in part-time duty.
It’ll be interesting to see how things play out for Houston. The willingness to consider deals for Carter and possibly Marisnick could be related to the team’s somewhat unexpected retention of Colby Rasmus, who occupied an outfield job and $15.8MM of salary by accepting a qualifying offer.
The Orioles have made a “competitive” bid for free agent reliever Darren O’Day, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. Baltimore appears to be one of the final teams under consideration for the veteran, though numerous others — the Nationals, Braves, Dodgers, and perhaps more — could still be involved, per the report.
While a signing timeline remains uncertain, O’Day has seen plenty of action over the early weeks of the offseason. He could reach an agreement before the Winter Meetings open on Monday, Connolly suggests.
The O’s have been in touch with O’Day’s representatives for some time, so the interest itself isn’t new. But Connolly writes that this is the team’s first formal offer to the late-inning ace. And its apparent competitiveness also seemingly suggests that the team is more serious about retaining O’Day than had perhaps been expected.
O’Day is the top-ranked reliever on the free agent market, per MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes. While he’s entering his age-33 campaign, O’Day’s sub-2.00 ERA over the last four seasons makes him an obvious target for many teams looking at pen upgrades.
Slugger Chris Davis is not the “top priority” for Cardinals GM John Mozeliak, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. A source tells Crasnick that St. Louis’s reported interest in the free agent is “overblown.” Of course, it remains tricky to find a perfect fit for the slugger, whose market still seems to be developing. From an analytical perspective, though, he appears to be a fairly solid match with the Cards. Indeed, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes picked the former Oriole to land there.
Here’s the latest from the rest of the free agent market:
- Top free agent outfielder Jason Heyward looks more like a “secondary option” for the Cubs, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets. In other words, Chicago is pursuing other opportunities, but could pivot to chase Heyward if those other possibilities don’t come to fruition.
- The Mets‘ interest in Ben Zobrist is real, but that doesn’t mean the team will promise him four years to get a deal done, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. New York’s pursuit of Zobrist is part of a flexible offseason plan, writes Rubin, in which various types of additions could be considered at the second base position — and elsewhere — as the market dictates.
- Three teams are “in the mix” for free agent middle infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. He’s expected to ink a deal “within the next week or so,” per Cotillo, which would seem to suggest that the veteran could find his next team by the time the Winter Meetings are wrapped up.
- The Royals have had “encouraging talks” with free agent righty Chris Young about a return, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. Both the 36-year-old and the team have expressed interest in a continued relationship, though it remains to be seen whether other clubs will make a push for his services — and, if so, whether Kansas City will be willing and able to meet or beat the market.
- Similarly, the Twins have real interest in bringing back lefty reliever Neal Cotts, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Minnesota added Cotts in an August waiver trade. Fellow free agent southpaw Brian Duensing, meanwhile, tells Berardino that he hasn’t heard anything yet from the only professional organization he’s ever played for.
12:07pm: Bonds “tentatively plans” to take the job, Nightengale tweets, though negotiations are not yet wrapped up.
11:28am: The Marlins have been pursuing legendary-but-controversial slugger Barry Bonds to serve in a coaching capacity with the club, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. Miami has now extended him a formal offer and is awaiting a decision, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter.
If Bonds joins the organization, he’d serve as a co-hitting coach with incumbent Frank Menechino, according to Heyman. That’s somewhat unusual in that neither would, apparently, be the assistant to the other, but presumably represents the team’s attempt to strike a balance in doling out job titles and responsibilities.
The two sides are said to be close to reaching an arrangement after holding extensive talks in recent weeks, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter links). At this point, it seems, the only question is whether Bonds is willing to move to Miami and take on the demands of the position.
Obviously, the possibility of a hitting coach hiring doesn’t normally draw many headlines. But in this case, the name under consideration is of particular importance. Bonds, of course, hit more home runs than any player in MLB history and came closer than anyone to eclipsing Babe Ruth in total wins above replacement. Indeed, he might have done just that had he continued his career past a 2007 campaign in which he put up a .480 OBP. But Bonds had become a toxic asset by that point — he was embroiled in PED controversy, though he ultimately was unsuccessful in proving a collusion case — and has been frozen out of the Hall of Fame thus far despite his historic excellence.
The Fish, then, would be making a highly significant move in bringing Bonds back into the baseball fold. He has already increased his public exposure and engagement with the sport recently — including serving as a spring instructor with the Giants — and the rehabilitation efforts of Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire have probably also cleared a path. But it would still make for a major point of transition if Bonds were to put on a uniform again.
From a team-specific perspective, Bonds is obviously as knowledgeable about the craft of hitting as anyone and is said to have genuine interest in coaching. Adding his outsized personality carries some risk, of course, to say nothing of the intense media coverage his presence will generate (at least initially). But Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is said to have developed a “friendship” with the now-51-year-old, per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, and obviously appreciates the broader dimensions of the move. Notably, the club has already installed former Yankees legend Don Mattingly as its skipper and brought back Ichiro Suzuki as he pursues the 3,000 hit milestone.
TODAY, 11:33am: The deal is backloaded, per another Heyman tweet. Zimmermann will take home $18MM apiece in the first two years, then earn $24MM in 2018, and receive $25MM apiece over the contract’s last two campaigns.
7:30am: Zimmermann gets full no-trade protection for three years, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). In the final two years of the contract, Zimmermann will be able to name a ten-team pre-approval list but otherwise block any movement.
Heyman notes that this provision was “key” to getting a contract done. The righty is, of course, a native of Wisconsin, and was drawn by the chance to settle his young family in the broader midwest region without having to worry about being shipped elsewhere.
The contract’s hefty trade protection helps to explain its allure at this still-early stage of the winter. As explained below, there was some cause to believe that Zimmermann could achieve a sixth guaranteed year, but it appears he was willing to part with some pure earning upside to control his destiny (for the most part) over the life of the deal.
YESTERDAY: Having already bolstered their bullpen with the acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez, the Tigers made a move to fortify their rotation on Monday, officially announcing the signing of Jordan Zimmermann to a five-year contract. The Relativity Sports client will reportedly receive $110MM over the life of the contract.
Earlier this offseason, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes rated Zimmermann as the seventh best free agent available this winter and predicted that he could net a six-year, $126MM contract. A reliable righty, Zimmermann’s stock fell slightly this season due to a decline in his strike out and whiff rates from 2014. He also reverted to a league average HR/FB ratio, leading to a higher-than-normal 3.66 ERA. The 29-year-old right-hander (30 in May), has a career 3.32 ERA with 7.43 K/9 and 1.82 BB/9 in over 1,000 innings. His most recent campaign for the Nationals included similar numbers in 201 innings with the aforementioned regression in home run rate.
Zimmermann was shut down early in 2011, his first year back from Tommy John surgery, as the Nationals sought to build up his innings, but he has been quite durable ever since. In the last four years, Zimmermann has made at least 32 starts each season while compiling 810 1/3 total innings. Though he’s never put up gaudy single-season inning tallies, he is fifth in the game in total starts since the beginning of 2012 and ranks 12th in total frames over that span.
Zimmermann has also performed well in limiting platoon splits. He’s been slightly better against righties historically, of course, but has handle opposite-handed hitters in equivalent manner in most regards. Lefties do draw walks at a higher rate (2.3 vs. 1.4 BB/9), but their overall production has not been markedly greater (.310 vs. .286 wOBA).
There’s a lot to like, but 2015 undoubtedly represented a step back for the righty, and not just in the earned run department. Zimmermann’s 3.66 ERA was by far the highest full-season mark of his career, and his FIP (3.75), xFIP (3.82), and SIERA (3.83) marks all landed a fair sight over his career averages.
Detroit once boasted an elite rotation but after losing Max Scherzer and David Price in recent seasons, they’ve been in need of reinforcements. Additionally, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez have become unreliable due to injuries and performance decline. Now, the Tigers figure to have a stronger rotation in 2016 and beyond thanks to the addition of Zimmermann, who becomes the first pitcher to receive a $100MM+ deal after having previously undergone Tommy John surgery. Adam Wainwright set the previous watermark with his five-year, $97.5MM extension signed in 2013.
Zimmermann rejected a qualifying offer from the Nationals, so the Tigers will have to sacrifice a draft pick in order to sign him. The Tigers select ninth overall – a protected pick – so they would surrender their second pick. Likewise, the Nationals will receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of the 2016 draft.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were in talks. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that there was an agreement in place (on Twitter). Morosi reported the $110MM figure (on Twitter), and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick added that there were no options on the straight five-year pact (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Indians have signed righty Joba Chamberlain to a minor league deal, per a club announcement. He’ll receive an invitation to major league camp.
Last season was forgettable for the 30-year-old veteran. Over 27 2/3 innings with the Tigers and Royals, he worked to a 4.88 ERA. Though his overall K:BB rates were palatable — 7.5 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 — Chamberlain surrendered 38 hits and six long balls in that short span.
Of course, Chamberlain has shown more in the not-so-distant past, including a solid 2014 season in which he threw 63 frames with a 3.57 earned run average (and underlying numbers that metrics liked even better). And his velocity is still good, as he sat just under 94 mph with his average fastball.
TODAY: Maxwell would earn a $1.1MM salary if he can crack the major league roster, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. The deal also includes an opt out just before the start of the season that would allow Maxwell to seek a new opportunity if he’s not ticketed for Miami at the end of camp.
YESTERDAY: The Marlins have agreed to a minor league deal with outfielder Justin Maxwell, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. Also agreeing to terms with the Fish were first baseman Xavier Scruggs and righty Paul Clemens.
Maxwell played a bigger-than-expected role with the Giants last year as injuries impacted the club’s outfield alignment. He got off to a nice start, but faded over time and finished the year with a .209/.275/.341 batting line over 274 plate appearances. Maxwell did produce above-average slash lines in 2012 and 2013 as an oft-used part-time player.
Scruggs, who just turned 28, will be moving away from the Cardinals system for the first time. He’s received a quick taste of the big leagues in each of the last two years, but has spent most of his time in the upper minors. After a strong .281/.367/.490 campaign in 2014, Scruggs took a step back last year and finished with a .222/.323/.386 slash in his 601 plate appearances.
Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Clemens has thrown just under 100 MLB innings, all of which were logged over 2013-14 with the Astros. He carries a 5.51 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in that limited time. Last year, Clemens pitched in the Phillies’ and Royals’ systems, tallying 81 frames with a 5.44 ERA.
MLBTR and Matt Schwartz had projected Wieland at just the league minimum, with MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes labeling Wieland a possible non-tender candidate even at that price. After all, he’s thrown only 47 2/3 MLB innings while racking up the three-plus years of service time required to qualify for arbitration. (Wieland was on the active roster when it was determined he needed Tommy John surgery.)
Though the soon-to-be 26-year-old is hardly an established major leaguer, the Dodgers obviously didn’t want to risk losing him with a non-tender. Wieland has worked almost exclusively as a starter over his career but could conceivably factor in the major league pen this year. Last season at Triple-A, he tossed 113 2/3 innings of 4.59 ERA ball with 7.3 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9.