Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

Here is today’s list of minor arbitration settlements, with all projections coming via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • The Orioles and Steve Pearce have agreed to a one-year deal that will pay the first baseman/outfielder a sizable $3.7MM sum, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). Pearce had an unexpected breakout season with the O’s in 2014, batting a whopping .293/.373/.556 with 21 homers after spending the first seven season of his career in relative obscurity. The 31-year-old entered the 2014 campaign with a pedestrian .238/.318/.377 batting line over the life of 847 big league appearances. The unique nature of Pearce’s breakout led him to vastly surpass the $2.2MM estimate of Swartz’s projection model. His $3.7MM settling point was the exact midpoint of the $5.4MM at which he filed and the $2MM figure submitted by the Orioles (which is one of the more notable gaps you’ll see in arb filing numbers). With his case settled, the Orioles have only Zach Britton, Alejandro De Aza and Miguel Gonzalez remaining.

Remember, all arbitration situations can be monitored using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.


Red Sox To Sign Alexi Ogando

3:11pm: Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that there are an additional $1.5MM worth of roster bonuses and performance incentives in the deal.

3:05pm: Ogando’s deal is worth a guaranteed $1.5MM, tweets Rosenthal. He adds that Ogando can earn more via incentives.

2:44pm: The Red Sox and right-hander Alexi Ogando are in agreement on a one-year, Major League contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had just tweeted that the two sides were “moving along,” and colleague Alex Speier added that they were nearing a Major League deal. The deal is pending a physical, per Rosenthal. Ogando is a joint client of Reynolds Sports Management and Draft Pix Sports.

The Rangers non-tendered Ogando this Deceber rather than pay him a projected $2.6MM due largely to concerns over his health. For that reason, the physical on this deal would not seem to be a slam dunk; Ogando battled nerve damage and inflammation in his shoulder as well as a biceps issue in 2013. In 2014, he was limited to just 25 innings of work thanks to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm.

Suffice it to say, the risk with Ogando is considerable, however the upside is tantalizing. In four seasons with the Rangers from 2010-13, Ogando pitched to a 3.12 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 381 innings as both a starter and a reliever. Ogando’s fastball averaged 96-97 mph when he was at his best with the Rangers in the first three seasons of his career, but his arm issues over the past two season dropped that heat to about 93.5 mph. If he’s healthy and his velocity returns, Ogando can provide the Red Sox with a weapon out of the ‘pen or perhaps another option for the rotation, though the picture is fairly crowded on that front. Boston has the added benefit of controlling Ogando through the 2016 season via arbitration, should he perform well enough to merit that scenario.


Rockies Acquire David Hale, Gus Schlosser From Braves

The Rockies have acquired right-handers David Hale and Gus Schlosser from the Braves in exchange for minor league catchers Jose Briceno and Chris O’Dowd, the teams announced today.

Of the players involved in this trade, Hale easily has the most big league experience. The 27-year-old Hale has turned in 98 1/3 innings of 3.02 ERA ball over the past two seasons in a swingman role for the Braves, making eight starts and 39 relief appearances. He’s averaged just 5.3 K/9 and walked a slightly troubling 3.7 hitters per nine, but he’s also posted a stellar 56.7 percent ground-ball rate, which undoubtedly has appeal to the Rockies. It’s unclear at this time what role Hale will fill for the Rockies; Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Matzek and Jordan Lyles appear likely to hold down the first four rotation spots, and Hale could join Eddie Butler, Christian Bergman and Chris Rusin in competing for the fifth slot. He could also again serve as a swingman, providing long relief when needed and slotting into the rotation on occasion throughout the year.

As for Schlosser, the 26-year-old debuted in 2014 but struggled to a 7.64 ERA in 17 2/3 innings of work. Schlosser struck out just eight hitters against six walks in that stretch, though he fared better in the minors to some extent, notching a 4.18 ERA with 6.4 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9. As MLB.com’s Mark Bowman points out (on Twitter), Schlosser has been through a curious cycle with the Braves over the past two months. He was non-tendered on Dec. 2 to clear a space on the 40-man roster then re-signed to a minor league deal four days later, and he’s now been shipped to Colorado.

Briceno, the more highly regarded of the two prospects headed to the Braves, didn’t rank among the Rockies’ Top 10 prospects per ESPN’s Keith Law or Baseball America, but he did place 11th among Rockies farmhands on the list of Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel. Briceno, who turned 22 in September, spent this past season at Class-A where he batted .283/.336/.476 with 12 homers in 350 plate appearances. As McDaniel notes, Briceno is a work in progress defensively but has a plus arm and plenty of athleticism to go along with raw power and a feel for hitting. It’s a long shot, but he’s a potential everyday option behind the plate in McDaniel’s eyes, which is enough for him to praise Atlanta for making this move (Twitter link).

O’Dowd, the son of former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd, was San Diego’s 23rd-round pick in the 2012 draft. He split the 2014 season, his age-23 campaign, between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, posting a combined batting line of .271/.335/.385 in 471 plate appearances.

From Atlanta’s perspective, this move will open a slot on their 40-man roster, allowing the team to make Jonny Gomes‘ one-year contract official.



Salisbury’s Latest: Gillick, Sandberg, Utley

While new Phillies president Pat Gillick only figures to occupy that role for a year or so — the 77-year-old has expressed no interest in filling the position long-term — his brief tenure could define the next generation for the team, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes.

As Salisbury notes, Gillick has already signed off on an organizational rebuild and the decision to replace longtime scouting director Marti Wolever. Now, Gillick will be tasked with overseeing any structural changes to the Phillies’ front office, including the decision as to who will replace him as the club’s president. Should the team make a change at GM, a new president would likely make that call.

Additionally, Gillick’s successor would oversee any changes made in the dugout. Ryne Sandberg didn’t distinguish himself with his leadership in 2014, Salisbury writes, and some within the organization question whether he’s the “right guy” to oversee the rebuild. Sandberg will be afforded more time to prove himself, but Gillick will be keeping a watchful eye on his skipper as he enters the second season of a three-year contract.

Also of note in the article, Salisbury hears that teams that have expressed interest in Chase Utley this winter have been informed that he is not interested in waiving his 10-and-5 rights, which grant him the ability to veto a potential trade to any club.

The Dodgers and Phillies reportedly had brief discussions regarding Utley and the Winter Meetings prior to the team’s acquisition of Howie Kendrick, but shortly thereafter, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated to reporters that Utley’s desire was to remain in Philadelphia. Utley himself has said as much in the past, but some have speculated that he might eventually warm to the idea of a trade as the Phillies’ rebuild wore on. That apparently has not been the case even after trading Antonio Bastardo, Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd.

Utley, 36, batted .270/.339/.407 in 664 plate appearances last season — his highest total since the 2009 season. He’ll earn $15MM in 2015 — he triggered a $5MM salary increase by avoiding the disabled list — and has three vesting options at the same price on his contract, the first of which will trigger if he reaches 500 plate appearances this coming season.


Yankees To Sign Scott Baker To Minor League Deal

The Yankees have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with longtime Twins right-hander Scott Baker, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter).

Baker was a mainstay in the Twins’ rotation during their run at the top of the division, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in Spring Training of 2012 and has yet to re-establish himself as a reliable rotation cog in the Major Leagues. Baker has spent the past two seasons in the Cubs and Rangers organizations, working to a combined 5.17 ERA in 95 2/3 innings of work.

Prior to those struggles and his surgery, however, Baker was a solid, if unspectacular mid-rotation arm for Minnesota. He averaged 181 innings of 4.11 ERA ball (103 ERA+) from 2008-10 with the Twins before seemingly taking a significant step forward in a 2011 season that was cut short by injury. Baker notched just 134 2/3 innings that year but had turned in a pristine 3.14 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 prior to being shut down. Metrics such as his 3.45 FIP and 3.43 SIERA reflected genuine improvement as well.

Now with the Yankees, the former second-round pick will hope to earn a rotation spot amid a sea of other injury question marks. Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova ultimately comprise New York’s ideal rotation, but Nova won’t be ready to start the season after having his own Tommy John last year. Meanwhile, Sabathia is coming off knee surgery, uncertainty surrounds Tanaka’s UCL and Pineda’s history of shoulder problems is a persistent concern. Chris Capuano was signed to a big league deal this winter, so he should open the year in the rotation, but given the injury troubles surrounding the entire group of rotation options, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Baker get a crack, should his own health issues permit.


MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Episode 15

In our 15th episode, Jeff runs down a slower news week in baseball before welcoming Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle on to talk Astros (0:51). Jeff then takes a look back at his prior research on options (see: overall trendsprimary option types) as a gateway to sizing up the coming extension season (21:22).

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


Deal Between Blue Jays, Belisario Falls Through

JAN. 30: The deal between Belisario and the Blue Jays has fallen through, reports Mike Wilner of Sportsnet (on Twitter). The two sides were very close to a deal before it fell apart. Belisario remains a free agent.

JAN. 29: The Blue Jays added some depth to their bullpen mix today, agreeing to a minor league contract with right-hander Ronald Belisario. Toronto has long been said to be looking at bullpen upgrades, with reports last night suggesting that the team was looking hard at the free agent market. Though Belisario’s spot isn’t guaranteed, the McNamara Sports Group client will compete for a job in Spring Training and will reportedly earn $1.7MM if he makes the team.

Belisario, 32, was designated for assignment back in November by the White Sox to make way for the claim of Onelki Garcia. He was one of several players to slot in at closer last year in Chicago, but failed to grab hold of the job. Belisario was ultimately charged with an unsightly 5.56 ERA on the year.

Though the bottom-line results weren’t pretty, Belisario’s peripherals are decidedly better. With 6.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and a stellar 59.3% groundball rate, Belisario drew marks from ERA estimators in the low-to-mid three range. His ballooned run tallies may well have been the result of a very low 57.7% strand rate and a somewhat bloated .339 BABIP.

Belisario had been projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn $3.9MM in arbitration before losing his roster spot in advance of the non-tender deadline. Toronto saw former closer Casey Janssen lured away with a total $5MM guarantee, though the club is said to have about that much in remaining payroll space.

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported, on Twitter, that the Jays were making a strong push for Belisario. ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported the agreement and terms (Twitter links).


Brewers Designate Elian Herrera For Assignment

The Brewers announced that they have designated infielder/outfielder Elian Herrera for assignment in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for the newly signed Neal Cotts.

The 29-year-old Herrera, claimed off waivers from the Dodgers last winter, spent 69 games with the Brewers and picked up 140 plate appearances, hitting .274/.288/.341. He’s seen time at all three outfield positions as well as third base, second base and shortstop in parts of three seasons at the Major League level.


Brewers Sign Neal Cotts

It’s been no secret that the Brewers were on the lookout for bullpen help, and they’ve added an arm to their relief corps, announcing the signing of left-hander Neal Cotts to a one-year contract today. The Pro Star Management client will reportedly receive a $3MM guarantee.

Cotts, 35 in March, comes with a lengthy injury history but has been healthy for the past two seasons and clearly showed he was healthy enough to pass Milwaukee’s physical.  Between Tommy John surgery and four surgeries on his right hip, Cotts missed three full seasons from 2010-12 before re-emerging with the Rangers in 2013.  Upon returning to the mound, Cotts delivered a 2.84 ERA, 3.12 K/BB rate and 9.3 K/9 over 123 2/3 innings and 131 appearances out of the Texas bullpen over the last two seasons.

The Brewers have been focused on bullpen additions in recent weeks, and they’ve been rumored to be exploring options like trading for Jonathan Papelbon, signing Rafael Soriano or re-signing former closer Francisco Rodriguez.  With only four career saves, of course, Cotts doesn’t project to be Milwaukee’s ninth-inning answer and looks to be in line for more of a setup role.  Cotts is also something of a reverse-splits pitcher (left-handed batters have a career .753 OPS against him, while righty batters have only a .703 OPS) so he doesn’t fit the usual mold of a lefty specialist.

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the agreement (Twitter links). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted the financial details.


Fredi Gonzalez Entering Final Year Of Contract

Eleven and a half months ago, the Braves announced that they had extended the contract of manager Fredi Gonzalez, but terms of the deal were not disclosed. Now, however, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Gonzalez signed a one-year extension, meaning he’s entering the final season of his contract (all Twitter links).

Rosenthal adds that while the Braves’ chances of posting a strong record are slim given their offseason rebuild, Gonzalez may still be an extension candidate, as he has strong support from both Bobby Cox and president John Schuerholz. However, an extension isn’t likely until the club determines whether or not he fits in with the new leadership dynamic that is in place under president of baseball operations John Hart.

Gonzalez, 51, has managed the Braves to a 358-290 record in his four seasons as manager and owns a lifetime 634-569 record between Atlanta and Miami. He’ll be tasked with leading a new-look coaching staff that has added the likes of Bo Porter (third base coach) and Kevin Seitzer (hitting coach). Word of a possible extension for Gonzalez will draw ire from some Braves fans, as Gonzalez has become somewhat of a polarizing figure among the Atlanta fan base; many felt that he should have been dismissed alongside now-former GM Frank Wren, who was fired in late September. The Braves started out strongly in 2014, posting a 52-43 record in the first half before limping to a 27-40 finish following the All-Star break.


Quick Hits: Joba, Beachy, Eovaldi, Clippard

Rather than throwing touchdowns for the Patriots, could Tom Brady have instead had a career throwing out baserunners for the Expos?  MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro looks back at how Montreal selected Brady (then a catcher at Serra High School) in the 18th round of the 1995 draft, even though it was widely known that Brady was going to play football at Michigan.  “I think he would have been a pro,” said scout John Hughes, who evaluated Brady for the Expos.  “He had all the intangibles. He could throw, left-handed power. There is no reason to think this guy couldn’t have been a big league catcher.”  While every New England sports fan breathes a sigh of relief that Brady stuck to the gridiron, here are some more notes from around baseball…

  • Joba Chamberlain has rejected multiple offers because he simply didn’t want to pitch for the teams that offered him those deals, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports.  He’s considering a one-year deal with a modest base salary and incentives, as his hopes for a two-year contract have likely gone by the wayside.  There is still some question about Chamberlain’s makeup amongst league executives, and one exec told Rosenthal that the Tigers‘ lack of interest in re-signing Chamberlain “alarmed him” given Detroit’s need for bullpen help.
  • Though Brandon Beachy was reportedly considering multiple offers and was thought to be close to signing a new contract earlier this month, his agent Rob Martin tells Ken Rosenthal (all Twitter links) that the right-hander will wait a bit longer.  “Brandon has decided not to sign a contract at this time. With each day his arm is getting stronger and he’s feeling even more confident about his progress,” Martin said.  “Thus, he is going to continue with his throwing program and make a decision closer to Spring Training.”
  • The Marlins were linked to Wade Miley earlier this winter, and now ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) reports that the Marlins thought they were in agreement with the Diamondbacks on a Miley-for-Nathan Eovaldi trade.  Arizona pulled out of the deal, however, and Miami instead dealt Eovaldi to the Yankees while the D’Backs sent Miley to the Red Sox.
  • Also from Olney, there is some speculation in rival front offices that the Nationals‘ trade of Tyler Clippard might’ve been motivated by more than just a desire to move salary, especially since Washington just signed Casey Janssen to a healthy contract.  It’s possible the Nats could see “red flags” about Clippard’s future production that aren’t obvious to most observers, especially given that Clippard had another strong season in 2014.

West Links: Luhnow, Reimold, Angels, Dodgers

In an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link), Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said his club had looked at signing Kevin Correia and Kyle Kendrick.  Houston’s interest in Correia was reported earlier this week, while Kendrick has been linked to the ‘Stros as another potential fit to fill out the back of their rotation.  Luhnow also stated that the Astros had been looking at other similar starters with Major League experience.  Here’s some more from both the AL and NL West divisions…

  • The Athletics have checked in on free agent outfielder Nolan Reimold, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets.  The Indians and Orioles are also known to be interested in Reimold, and Dan Duquette said earlier today that the O’s have extended an offer for Reimold to return to Baltimore.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was non-committal about the idea of his team pursuing any of the top arms available in next year’s free agent market, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes.  Payroll space could be an issue given how (according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts) the Halos have over $128MM committed to only seven players for the 2016 season.
  • With Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson both set for free agency after 2016, Gonzalez wonders if the Angels could sign a major starter and then use Weaver or Wilson as trade bait, similar to how the Nationals signed Max Scherzer and now have the depth to explore trading Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister.  There were rumors earlier this winter that the Angels were already shopping Wilson, though Dipoto issued a denial.
  • Sergio Santos will earn $1MM if he makes the Dodgers‘ Major League roster, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports (via Twitter), plus another $3.05MM is available in incentives.  Santos signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month.
  • The Dodgers are committed to rebuilding their minor league system and thus are wary about exceeding their international bonus pool to sign Yoan Moncada, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick writes.  While L.A. is very interested in Moncada, any team that wants to sign the Cuban phenom would have to greatly exceed their bonus pool to do so, and thus be limited to international signings of $300K or less for the next two international signing periods, or until July 2017.  Of course, several teams have employed the strategy of exceeding the pool limit to load up on premium international talent during one signing period — the Red Sox, Angels, Rays, Yankees and Diamondbacks already face that $300K limit during the 2015-17 international signing market.
  • The Diamondbacks hired former slugger Joe Carter as a special assistant to GM Dave Stewart, the team announced.  Carter and Stewart were teammates in Toronto in 1993-94, both playing major roles in the Blue Jays’ 1993 World Series title.

AL East Notes: A-Rod, Red Sox, Hendrickson

It’s been a busy day around the AL East, as the Blue Jays made a pair of minor league signings, Dan Duquette spoke about his situation and other Orioles topics, and we collected some Rays notes.  Here’s some more from around the division…

  • The MLBPA would support Alex Rodriguez if the Yankees attempt to withhold his $6MM contract bonus for tying Willie Mays on the all-time homer list, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports.  “The union would challenge any breach of contract with the union,” a source close to the MLBPA tells Martin. “A player can’t be punished again for something he’s already been punished for.”  The MLBPA’s argument is that A-Rod is being further penalized for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal, while the Yankees intend to argue that the homer bonuses are based around marketing and Rodriguez’s diminished reputation around baseball has negated any celebration of the milestone.
  • “In some ways, the importance of ‘No. 1 starters’ has been devalued by the sheer quality of arms, in general, in today’s run-squelching environment, and mid-inning matchup play has increased the prominence of the bullpens,” MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince writes in an examination of how the Red Sox may not need a proven ace atop their rotation.  Boston could model itself after the Orioles, whose recent success has been based around defense, relief pitching and big hitting rather than a superb rotation.  On the other hand, Castrovince notes that the Sox could make a move for an ace at midseason if necessary, or any of the Boston rotation could still emerge as a true frontline starter as the season develops.
  • The Orioles are “leaning toward” extending a Spring Training invitation to left-hander Mark Hendrickson, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports.  The 40-year-old Hendrickson pitched for the O’s from 2009-11 and hasn’t appeared in the majors since, spending 2013 with the Orioles’ Triple-A team and 2014 in independent ball.  Kubatko notes that the Orioles are interested in hiring Hendrickson as a pitching coach within the organization when he eventually retires.

Rays Notes: Moncada, Moore, Teaford

Here’s the latest from Tampa Bay…

  • Yoan Moncada took part in a private workout for Rays officials at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  Despite the Rays’ interest in Moncada, it is widely expected that they will be outbid given the widespread interest in the Cuban phenom.
  • Left-hander Matt Moore threw off a mound on Tuesday of this week for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery, reports Topkin. Moore made 15 tosses from halfway up the bullpen mound at Tropicana Field and said the session couldn’t have gone better. Moore says he is targeting a return to the Tampa rotation sometime in June. In the meantime, trade acquisition Nate Karns and prospect Alex Colome should battle to hold down the fifth slot behind Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer.
  • The Rays’ minor league signing of Everett Teaford is yet another example of how the organization focuses on pitchers who throw high fastballs, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes.  Tampa generally either pursues pitchers with rising fastballs or tries to add the pitch to a hurler’s arsenal after the club acquires him, as was the case with Drew Smyly last season.

Duquette On Blue Jays, Snider, Reimold

Before a dinner event at the Orioles’ A-ball affiliate in Aberdeen this evening, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette spoke to reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) about both his own tumultuous offseason and some other hot stove topics.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Duquette doesn’t discuss ongoing negotiations for players, and that same logic led to his lack of comment about the rumors connecting him to the Blue Jays president’s job, and the discussions between the Jays and Orioles about a possible trade to free him from his Baltimore contract.  “You know, these things happen in baseball. This is rare, but sometimes trades are made for managers, sometimes trades are made for executives and that’s the way it goes,” Duquette said.  “It’s a part of the business. If there’s trade discussions that I have as an executive, I really don’t talk about those publicly, because you never know what’s going to come to fruition and what’s not.”
  • Despite the Toronto situation, Duquette described his Orioles offseason work as “business as usual” and said he didn’t feel it necessary to reiterate his commitment to O’s upper management.  “I’ve always done my job 24 hours a day and to the best of my ability,” Duquette said. “That’s a habit. We’re going to have another good ballclub this year. I’m confident of that.”
  • The O’s have offered Nolan Reimold a contract, Duquette said, though he noted that the outfielder is also receiving interest from other teams.  The Indians are known to be one of the clubs linked to Reimold this winter.
  • Duquette said he is still looking to add a right-handed bullpen arm.
  • The Orioles’ recent acquisition of Travis Snider gives the club added depth both offensively and defensively, Duquette said, and he thinks Snider’s bat is a good fit for Camden Yards.  Duquette and Pirates GM Neal Huntington had originally discussed a Snider deal during the Winter Meetings, though talks were only rekindled a few weeks ago.  “I had stayed in touch with Neal because we were still looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder, so we continued our persistence and Neal made him available,” Duquette said.