McDaniel On International Bonus Pools

A number of teams are expected to break the bank on international talent next July, writes Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs.com. Due to international spending restrictions, teams that spend more than 15% above their allotted pool may not ink any international free agents for over $300,000 in the following two signing periods. However, there is growing consensus within the industry that an international draft will be implemented when baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is re-visited after the 2016 season. If a draft is put in place, teams will have only two years to live with the current arrangement.

McDaniel’s sources have suggested that as many as 10 teams may blow past their limit when the next signing period begins on July 2. The Cubs, Blue Jays, and Phillies will “almost definitely” exceed their respective pools. As McDaniel notes, plans will likely be affected by verbal commitments as we get closer to July. Additionally, the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Angels have greatly exceeded their budgets during the current signing period, meaning they will be penalized during the next two periods.

If there truly are only two more years before a draft is implemented, then teams have an interesting “strategic choice.” At least four clubs – possibly five pending the outcome of the Yoan Moncada bidding – will be handicapped. More will spend heavily next summer, making themselves ineligible for big signings in 2016. If enough teams are aggressive, it could be advantageous to wait until 2016 for a spending spree. McDaniel also points out that the penalized teams are mostly those who usually spend a lot on international talent.

Put it all together, and it’s increasingly clear that clubs are unconcerned about the international bonus pool. While small market clubs may be loathe to pay excessive taxes (100% on overages), those theoretically get passed onto the player via a lower signing bonus. In my opinion, if most of the big spenders are excluded from the marketplace in 2016, then we could see some nontraditional sources of big bonuses.


Angels To Sign Cuban Infielder Roberto Baldoquin For $8MM Bonus

TODAY: Baldoquin has passed his physical. The deal is done, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (via Twitter). Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (also Twitter) adds that there is still some paperwork to be filed before the deal is official.

DECEMBER 9: Baldoquin has arrived in the United States, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times).  The team hopes to have Baldoquin’s physical completed and the signing finalized by next week.

NOVEMBER 4: The Angels have reached an agreement with 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin on a record-setting $8MM bonus, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The agreement is pending a physical and the $8MM bonus is the most ever for an amateur player under the current international signing rules.

Baldoquin called his agreement a “dream come true” in speaking to Sanchez, going on to state, “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. I’m ready for the next part of my journey.”

Baldoquin has three seasons of professional experience playing with Las Tunas in Serie Nacional, Sanchez writes, and he also appeared on the Cuban National 16-and-under team when he was eligible. Baldoquin left Cuba in February and has been training in the Dominican Republic. He can play both third base and the outfield, Sanchez adds.

Because Baldoquin was subject to the international signing bonus, the Angels have now clearly shattered their international bonus pool. By adding Baldoquin, the Halos are subjecting themselves to a 100 percent luxury tax on any dollars spent over their $2.383MM bonus pool, and they will also be ineligible to sign any player for more than $300K in either of the next two international signing periods. They can, however, spend as aggressively as they wish for the remainder of this signing period, which runs through mid-June. At this point, because they’ll already have been hit with the max penalties, the only further penalties they will incur will be the 100 percent on any further dollars that are spent on international free agents.

Information on Baldoquin is sparse, but Sanchez lists him at 5’10”, and interested fans can take a look at this 10-minute video compilation from YouTube that shows the right-handed hitter taking batting practice, fielding grounders, throwing across the diamond from third base and turning double plays as a shortstop with the help of a few workout partners.

At just 20 years of age and with only three seasons of experience in Serie Nacional, Baldoquin seems like a clear candidate to begin his Angels career in the minor leagues. The team lacks a current infield opening, although Howie Kendrick and David Freese are controlled only through the following season, while Erick Aybar is controlled through 2016.


Ohio Notes: Floyd, Murphy, Howard

With the addition of right-handed pitcher Gavin Floyd, the Indians have a wealth of rotation options, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The unit is more about projection than proven ability, which is why the club signed Floyd. Cleveland now has seven starting pitchers competing to fill out the rotation behind Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Zach McAllister, who is expected to join the bullpen, is out of options, as are Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco. The latter pair and Floyd are thought to have roles locked down, which leaves T.J. House, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin, and McAllister to battle for the last spot – assuming Floyd is healthy.

  • Speaking of Floyd, other pitchers with an injury history, like Brett Anderson, Kris Medlen, Luke Hochevar, and Justin Masterson signed for more guaranteed money than Floyd this offseason. That’s why Floyd was able to sign for $4MM plus another $6MM in incentives despite missing 2013 for Tommy John surgery and the second half of 2014 with a broken elbow. From his perspective, Floyd chose Cleveland in part due to their strong track record with injured and struggling veterans. Recently, Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez revived their careers with the Indians.
  • The Indians have a handful of left-handed outfielders, which leads Pluto to believe David Murphy will be traded. Murphy is owed $6MM in 2015. This is my speculation, but we learned earlier today that the Giants could turn to the trade market for a left-handed outfielder.
  • Nick Howard, the Reds first round pick (19th overall) has joined Jeff Randazzo and the Ballengee Group, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. For more agency related information, visit MLBTR’s Agency Database.


Cherington On Hanigan, Middlebrooks, Rotation

Here are the results of Red Sox GM Ben Cherington’s press conference this afternoon to discuss the Ryan Hanigan / Will Middlebrooks trade, via Tim Britton of the Providence Journal:

  • Cherington says the Sox have been interested in Hanigan for over a year, so they jumped at the chance to acquire him as a backup and insurance policy for youngster Christian Vazquez. “If you look at all the criteria we look for in a catcher, Ryan checks all the boxes: very good defender and game-caller, well-respected, a tough at-bat, capable of playing a lot — that’s a nice bonus,” Cherington says.
  • Cherington admits he sold low on Middlebrooks, who hit just .191/.256/.265 in 234 big-league plate appearances in 2014. “Obviously we’re not trading Will at a particularly high point right now,” says Cherington. “We still believe in him. The last few years haven’t gone well, but the talent is still in there.”
  • The Red Sox aren’t currently actively looking for rotation help, Cherington says. Britton notes, though, that given the pitching the Red Sox have already acquired this offseason (Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson), it wouldn’t make sense for the Red Sox to declare dissatisfaction with their current rotation, whether or not they were still hunting for starters.
  • Cherington says he’ll “keep an eye open” to potential bullpen upgrades.

NL West Notes: Preller, Giants, Kemp, Kendrick

The Padres‘ new lineup might not make them the best in the NL West, but GM A.J. Preller’s flurry of activity has made the team relevant again, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes. “I think he went in there very open-minded,” says Preller’s former boss Jon Daniels, who notes that Preller’s background in finding amateur talent with the Rangers might have made rebuilding the more obvious course than the one he ended up following. “To his credit, when he saw they had a strong pitching foundation and such a good environment with the staff, he knew they had an opportunity to build off that and not take it backwards.” Here’s more from the NL West.

  • Giants GM Brian Sabean says the team has not had discussions with Max Scherzer and does not plan to, the San Jose Mercury News’ Alex Pavlovic tweets. Pavlovic adds that Sabean does not think much of the current free agent market for left fielders, and instead could attempt to acquire one in a trade. Sabean says (via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle on Twitter) that the team has “limited financial flexibility,” given their recent signings of Jake Peavy and Sergio Romo and trade for Casey McGehee, and must decide whether to spend aggressively on James Shields or a left fielder.
  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is aware of the risks involved in trading Matt Kemp to San Diego, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times writes. “We get it. I have a lot of respect for what he can do in the batter’s box,” says Friedman. Nonetheless, the Kemp trade and the Dodgers’ many other offseason moves have been aimed at “mold[ing] our roster into the most highly-functioning baseball team, as opposed to a collection of talent,” he says.
  • The Dodgers’ acquisition of Howie Kendrick from the Angels for top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney might not work out unless the Dodgers can sign Kendrick to an extension, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times writes. If Heaney becomes a reliable starter for the Angels, the Dodgers will need to sign Kendrick to get good value from the deal. Both Kendrick and the Dodgers say the two sides have not yet discussed an extension, although Friedman suggests they could at some point.

Minor Moves: Lindblom, Rowen, Minicozzi

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Pirates have released pitcher Josh Lindblom, per the MLB.com transactions page. The Bucs claimed Lindblom earlier this month, then designated him days later. He’ll reportedly head to the Lotte Giants in Korea. Lindblom posted a 5.79 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in the rotation of the Athletics’ Triple-A Sacramento affiliate in 2014.
  • The Rangers have released pitcher Ben Rowen after designating him for assignment last week, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The 26-year-old Rowen posted a 3.45 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 47 innings of relief for Triple-A Round Rock in 2014, also appearing in eight big-league games. The Dallas Morning News’ Gerry Fraley explains that the Rangers were forced to place Rowen on release waivers, rather than outright waivers, due to an obscure rule that came into play due to an injury Rowen suffered early in the season and his time in the big leagues later on. The Rangers could re-sign him if he clears release waivers.
  • The Nationals have signed 1B/OF Mark Minicozzi to a minor-league deal, tweets CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly, noting that Minicozzi announced the news on his Facebook page. The 31-year-old independent league veteran posted an impressive .298/.400/.470 line at Triple-A Fresno in the Giants’ system in 2014, but he’s never played in the Majors.

East Notes: Phillies, McGehee, Eovaldi, Mets, Yankees

The Phillies could get involved in the bidding for infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, but they would need to clear some payroll first, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. The Phillies, of course, recently traded Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, and they currently have Freddy Galvis atop their depth chart at shortstop, so there’s a clear opening for Cabrera if they feel he can handle the position defensively. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • Telling Casey McGehee he had been traded to the Giants was a difficult task for Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel writes. “Extremely difficult decision because he did mean so much on the field and in the clubhouse, a true pro in every sense in the word,” says Hill. The Marlins were able to deal McGehee for two young pitchers because they acquired Martin Prado from the Yankees to play third base.
  • Speaking of the Martin Prado trade, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues writes that the Yankees have acquired an interesting project in Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi has excellent velocity but hasn’t yet gotten great results, and Axisa (who cites Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris) wonders if Eovaldi might get better results by dropping his weak changeup and focusing on his fastball, slider and curveball. Axisa considers Garrett Jones more of a throw-in, but one who fits well with the Yankees given their veteran hitters’ struggles to stay healthy.
  • The Metstrade of reliever Gonzalez Germen to the Yankees on Friday was only the 16th transaction between the two clubs, the New York Daily News’ Anthony McCarron reports. It was also the only trade between the cross-town rivals in 10 years — in 2004, the Mets sent Mike Stanton to the Bronx for Felix Heredia.

AL East Notes: Duquette, Hundley, Rays

Orioles executive Dan Duquette is a great fit to replace Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston, but if the Jays want him, they should be willing to pay a significant price, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (subscription required). The right executive can make a huge difference for a franchise, but Duquette is under contract with the Orioles through 2018, so if the Blue Jays want him, the Orioles should ask for top young players (as in one or more of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, Jeff Hoffman, Max Pentecost or Richard Urena) in return. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • The Orioles had hoped they could re-sign catcher Nick Hundley, but it appears he has found a two-year offer with another team, so he likely won’t be returning, MASNsports’ Roch Kubatko tweets. Hundley, 31, posted a .243/.273/.358 line in 233 plate appearances with the Padres and Orioles last season, but he has a solid defensive reputation. The O’s declined their $5MM option on Hundley in October.
  • After trading Wil Myers to San Diego, the Rays remain optimistic about contending in 2015, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “While there’s been a lot of change, the talent level at the major-league level remains very high, and we should be a formidable club,” says president of baseball operations Matt Silverman. Silverman adds that although the Rays could continue making moves (Topkin mentions the possibility of a Ben Zobrist trade), they’re not likely to make “seismic changes.”

Indians Sign Scott Downs

The Indians have announced that they’ve signed lefty reliever Scott Downs to a minor league deal with a spring training invite. Downs will make $800K plus incentives if he makes the team, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets.

Downs pitched 38 innings last season for the White Sox and Royals, posting a 4.97 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 while suffering through diminished velocity — Downs was never a hard thrower, but his average fastball fell to 86.9 MPH in 2014. Downs had success as recently as the previous year, when he had a 2.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 for the Angels and Braves. In his 13-year career, the 38-year-old has also pitched for the Cubs, Expos and Blue Jays.


NL East Notes: Howard, Turner, Tulowitzki

GM Ruben Amaro says he’s told first baseman Ryan Howard the Phillies feel the team would be better off if he were elsewhere, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com writes (via Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic). “I told [Howard] that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him,” says Amaro. “With that said, if he’s with us, then we’ll work around him. We’ll hope he puts up the kind of numbers that we hope he can and we’ll see where it goes from there.” Amaro notes that the Phillies are not willing to release Howard. A trade, obviously, will be tricky, given the $60MM remaining on Howard’s contract. Here’s more from the NL East.

  • FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote Friday night that Trea Turner‘s agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, is incensed that his client must remain with the Padres until June even though San Diego has agreed to trade him to the Nationals. Turner is stuck with the Padres for now because of a rule that a drafted player can’t be traded until a year after he signs his first contract. Rosenthal’s colleague Rob Neyer notes that Turner’s situation actually isn’t that unique, and players to be named later subject to the one-year rule have stayed in their original organizations until their trades can officially be completed, typically with few ill effects. (One example is 2013 draftee Blake Taylor, who stayed in the Pirates organization for two months after the Ike Davis deal earlier this year before eventually heading to the Mets.) One aspect of Turner’s situation that is unique, though, is that it’s widely known that he’s the player to be named. The one-year rule is in place because, for better or for worse, teams aren’t supposed to trade draft picks. If MLB were to allow Turner to head to the Nationals early just because his name had been leaked, the league would be getting close to simply allowing picks to be traded.
  • It would be a mistake for the Mets to trade for Troy Tulowitzki, Newsday’s David Lennon writes. Tulowitzki is a superstar when healthy, but his injury issues are a major concern for a player with six years left on his contract. The Mets have reportedly talked with the Rockies about Tulowitzki, but a deal appears unlikely right now.

West Notes: Beachy, Padres, Dodgers

The Rangers are one of several teams to have expressed interest in talented but injured former Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes. “Several teams are still reviewing his medicals,” agent Robert Martin says of Beachy, who is nine months removed from his second Tommy John surgery. “I do not think a decision is imminent, but he does have multiple offers.” Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Padres are “no longer boring” after all the work A.J. Preller has done to remake them, Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown writes. After Preller’s trades to acquire Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks and Derek Norris, it’s possible that Jedd Gyorko could be the only position player who started for the club on Opening Day last season who will start again next year.
  • All the Padres’ moves have come at a price, and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo ranks the prospects San Diego has dealt to other clubs. Injured lefty Max Fried (who headed to Atlanta in the Upton deal) tops the list, followed by shortstop Trea Turner (who’s set to go to the Nationals as the player to be named in the Myers trade).
  • The Dodgers have officially passed the Yankees for baseball’s highest payroll, writes MLB.com’s Paul Hagen. The Dodgers’ 2014 payroll was a record at over $257MM, and the team’s luxury tax figure of $26.6MM was also a record.

Giants Acquire Casey McGehee

SATURDAY: The Giants have officially announced the deal.

FRIDAY: The Giants have found their replacement for Pablo Sandoval, at least for the time being. San Francisco has added third baseman Casey McGehee from the Marlins in a trade that sends young righties Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo to the Fish.

Miami was said to be quite high on McGehee after he turned in a nice rebound campaign with the team last year. But the organization jumped on the chance to add Martin Prado in a deal with the Yankees, and wasted no time in moving McGehee to another team with a need at third.

McGehee had a solid return season last year for Miami, after playing one year in Japan. He slashed .287/.355/.357 over 691 plate appearances, though a .335 BABIP certainly helped with his batting average and on-base numbers. Indeed, a drastic fall in his batting average on balls in play in last season’s second half contributed to a much less productive tail end of the season for the National League Comeback Player of the Year. He ultimately checked in at about one or two wins above replacement, depending upon one’s formula of choice.

Of course, San Francisco will not expect McGehee to fully replace the production of Sandoval, who will take the field for the Red Sox next year (and for several years thereafter). McGehee will presumably be expected to hold down the position for 2015 while the team looks for longer-term solutions. And he will do so at a fairly palatable price, as he is projected by MLBTR and Matt Swartz to earn $3.5MM through arbitration this year, his final season of eligibility before reaching free agency.

Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel first reported on Twitter that the deal was close. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted that the deal was done. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter) and Rodriguez (likewise) reported the return. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that the deal is “official.”


Nexen Accepts Jung-ho Kang Posting Fee From Unknown MLB Team

SATURDAY: The team that posted the winning bid isn’t yet known, but it isn’t the Mets, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes. It also isn’t the Padres, tweets CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, or the Dodgers, tweets the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez. The Orioles aren’t the team, either, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets, and it’s not the Blue Jays, according to Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner (on Twitter), or the Yankees or Braves, via ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Twitter links). It also was not the Giants, tweets the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea. Add the A’s to the list of clubs who did not win the bidding, says John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com is “led to believe” the Twins did not win (also Twitter). The Rays are also out, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Barring any surprises, it appears that 11 teams have been eliminated as potential landing spots for Kang.

FRIDAY 11:59pm: In an English-language article, Yonhap reports (h/t to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, on Twitter) that the club has in fact announced the acceptance of the bid. The article indicates that even Nexen is not sure which MLB club subitted the winning offer.

Per the article, Kang is seeking between $5MM and $6MM per season on a multi-year deal of up to four years in duration.

10:31pm: With the posting fee bids submitted for infielder Jung-ho Kang, the KBO’s Nexen Heroes are expected to accept an approximately $5MM bid for the right to negotiate a contract with the Korean star, as the Yonhap News Agency reports (Twitter link via Jeeho Yoo; Korean-language article, via Sun-Min Kim, on Twitter).

The MLB team with the winning bid has yet to be reported. If that club is unable to work out a deal with Kang, it would be refunded the amount of the posting fee. Otherwise, the team would owe that $5MM on top of whatever contractual terms it reaches with Kang.

Kang, 27, raised eyebrows with a 40 home run/1.198 OPS campaign last year. The star shortstop has been a productive hitter for some time now, but that impressive power display certainly raised his profile. The KBO has turned into a fairly drastic hitter’s league, though Kang’s numbers still look outstanding against league average.

Just how his tools translate to the big leagues remains to be seen, of course, and questions remain whether he can play up the middle at the game’s highest level. Be sure to give a listen to this week’s podcast for great insight on Kang from former MLB and KBO pitcher Ryan Sadowski of Global Sporting Integration.


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Jung-ho Kang | Newsstand

Week In Review: 12/13/14 – 12/19/14

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

Key Moves

Signed / Agreed To Terms

Trades

Avoided Arbitration

Claimed

Designated For Assignment

Outrighted

Released


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Week In Review

NL Notes: Friedman, Utley, Turner, Gattis, Kang, Furcal

Discussing his wide-ranging moves since taking over as the Dodgers president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman said today that he sees the club as a “highly functional baseball team, instead of a collection of talent.” As MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports, Friedman says the club will remain “open-minded” about dealing away from its stock of outfielders.

  • Looking ahead after the Jimmy Rollins trade, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the team will continue to try to “get younger and more athletic,” as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. In addition to discussing various trade scenarios, the Phils have “had some dialogue with some free agents to try to increase some of our depth pitching-wise,” said Amaro. As for Chase Utley, though, Amaro said he has not had any discussions with Rollins’s long-time double-play partner about a change of scenery. “I haven’t had enough of a discussion with Chase,”  said Amaro. “The only discussions I’ve had with Chase and his agent about any of that is that Chase wants to be in Philadelphia.” While Amaro did not close the door on a deal, neither did he indicate it was particularly likely. He concluded: “[Utley] has no desire to go anywhere. … [H]e wants to honor his contract and that’s how we have to perceive it.”
  • The agent for reportedly soon-to-be Nationals shortstop prospect Trea Turner, Jeff Berry of CAA, expressed his frustration with the fact that Turner will be required to stay in the Padres system for six months until he is technically eligible to be named as the PTBNL in the recent three-team swap, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. Expressing concern with Turner playing in an organization that lacks a direct interest in his future well-being, Berry said that he “will vigorously pursue all available courses of action to remedy this situation,” up to and potentially including the filing of a grievance action.
  • The Braves are still listening on Evan Gattis, but expect to deploy him in left field unless a big offer comes through the door, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
  • The Mets did not place a bid on Jung-ho Kang, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted earlier today. That would, of course, appear to eliminate the Mets as the possible mystery team that has won the posting.
  • The Phillies are taking a look at veteran middle infielder Rafael Furcal as he plays in the Venezuelan winter league, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Furcal signed last year with the Marlins, but was never really able to get healthy. He could potentially fill a hole for the Phils at short.