October 2009

Noah Lowry To Become A Free Agent

According to Henry Schulman of The SF Chronicle, Giants lefthander Noah Lowry will become a free agent today after he is removed from the 40-man roster. Schulman said Lowry's agent was informed of the move today, who added that he is "completely healthy throwing three days a week on his normal offseason program without any restrictions."

Lowry hasn't appeared in a game since August of 2007 due to an arm injury, and Lowry's camp believes the Giants misdiagnosed and mistreated the injury. The 29-year-old was in the final year of his four-year, $9.25MM in 2009, and still has one more year of arbitration eligibility ahead of him.

Giants Re-Sign Freddy Sanchez

5:31pm: Henry Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the contract is worth $6MM a year, so $12MM total. Sanchez takes a $2.1MM pay cut in 2010, but ends up with more guaranteed money in the long run.

5:17pm: The Giants have re-signed second baseman Freddy Sanchez to a two-year deal, according to CSNBayArea.com. The terms of the contract have not been released.

The 31-year-old Sanchez hit .284/.295/.324 in just 107 plate appearances for the Giants after coming over from the Pirates at the trade deadline, missing time with a strained shoulder and a torn meniscus in his left knee. His $8.1MM option for 2010 did not vest, and the team decided that instead of picking it up or buying Sanchez out for $600K, they're better off renegotiating a new deal.

Astros Re-Sign Geoff Blum

The Astros re-signed infielder Geoff Blum to a one-year deal, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. The deal is worth $1.5MM in 2010 and has a $1.65MM mutual option for '11.  Blum, 37 in April, hit .247/.314/.367 this year in 427 plate appearances while playing mostly third base.  Hopefully the Astros envision more of a utility role for Blum next year, though he does appear solid defensively at the hot corner.

In other team news, McTaggart says the Astros hired Brad Arnsberg, formerly of the Blue Jays, as their new pitching coach.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Red Sox, Rays, Doumit, Gonzalez, Cubs

On this date two years ago, the Yankees signed Joe Girardi to a three-year deal worth $7.5MM. Two years later, Girardi has the Yankees in the World Series. With the offseason now just days away, many players will be looking for their own new deals. Let's take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere…

  • The Bottom Line projects the Red Sox 2010 payroll and what they need to do to get back on top.
  • Fire Brand of the American League looks at shortstop options for the Red Sox. 
  • Dodgers Rumors breaks down the Dodgers' 2010 roster and how they may approach free agency.
  • Rays Index projects the Rays 25-man and 40-man rosters as well as the 2010 payroll.
  • New Bucs says it is time for the Pirates to trade Ryan Doumit.
  • Mets Fans Forever speculates on what it might take for the Mets to land Adrian Gonzalez.
  • The Cub Reporter suggests some players for the Cubs to target this offseason, including Kelvim Escobar and Akinori Iwamura.
  • World Series Dreaming doesn't see any major changes coming to the Cubs this off-season.
  • Around the Majors breaks down the free agents at third base.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com. If you have a suggestion for this feature, Cork can be reached here, and followed on Twitter here.

Trade Market: Shortstops

Another entry in our Trade Market series: shortstops.  We covered free agents here.  As always, it's one of baseball's scarcest positions.

  • J.J. Hardy, Brewers.  GM Doug Melvin admitted to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that it would be "very difficult" to keep both Hardy and Alcides Escobar on the roster.  Due to an August demotion, Hardy is under team control for two more years (he earned $4.65MM in '09).  He was very valuable in 2007-08, and the 27-year-old is easily the prize among all available shortstops (considering both trade targets and free agents).  Despite Hardy's off year, expect Melvin to demand a quality starting pitcher in return.
  • Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks.  Drew popped up in one Tweet/rumor a month ago, but beat writer Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic heard a trade is very unlikely.
  • Cristian Guzman, Nationals.  Guzman had shoulder surgery this month, and the Nats intend to shift him to second base in 2010.  Given the $8MM remaining on an extension Jim Bowden engineered, you have to think GM Mike Rizzo would listen to offers.  UZR/150 says Guzman hasn't been a positive defensively since '04, but he hasn't been bad either.
  • Maicer Izturis, Angels.  There is no indication Izturis is available, but the Halos might be able to spare him or Brandon Wood given the emergence of Erick Aybar.  Izturis could start at shortstop for several clubs.  He will be eligible for free agency after the 2010 season.
  • Brandon Wood, Angels.  With 236 career plate appearances and 574 innings in the field, Wood is obviously less proven than Izturis.  2009 marked his third Triple A stint.  Wood, 25 in March, remains an interesting trade target.  The Angels, however, may be less inclined to let Izturis or Wood go if they fail to re-sign Chone Figgins.
  • Reid Brignac, Rays.  Brignac hasn't excelled offensively in the high minors, but Baseball America likes the 23-year-old's defense.  Regarding his availability, MLB.com's Bill Chastain suggested in September that Brignac could have an expanded role with the Rays next year.
  • Mike Aviles, Royals.  Aviles had Tommy John surgery in August and hopes to be ready for Spring Training.  The Royals currently have Yuniesky Betancourt and Alberto Callaspo in the middle infield, but Aviles is just a year removed from a .325/.354/.480 rookie performance.  Perhaps he can be pried loose.

Full Story | Comments | Categories: Trade Market

Heyman On Pedro, Bay, Matsui

The latest from SI's Jon Heyman

  • The only teams interested in Pedro Martinez this summer were the Rangers, Rays, Cubs, and Phillies (the Brewers bowed out when Pedro was late to a throwing session).  Heyman believes interest will pick up this time around, but Martinez may retire if the Phillies win the World Series.
  • Heyman believes the Red Sox are willing to offer Jason Bay four years and $60MM; the SI writer finds that "a bit short."  We know that geography won't be a factor for Bay, he'd prefer to sign early, and the Red Sox will have a contingency plan in case they can't sign him.  Click here to read Bay's comments from yesterday's WEEI chat.
  • Hideki Matsui admitted he's comfortable with the Yankees, but said, "I have no idea" when asked if he expects to be back next year.  The 35-year-old Matsui hit .274/.367/.509 in 526 plate appearances this year, but did not play in the field.  A few weeks ago, Newsday's David Lennon suggested Matsui was eager to get back to left field and would even consider trying first base next year.

Astros Decline Option On Doug Brocail

The Astros declined their $2.85MM option on reliever Doug Brocail, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.  Instead they'll pay the $250K buyout on the righty, who turns 43 in May.  Brocail pitched only 17.6 big league innings this year due to shoulder and hamstring injuries.  Astros GM Ed Wade told McTaggart he respects Brocail but won't try to re-sign him.  Instead, the Astros have interest in keeping Brocail on for a player development role.

McTaggart learned a month ago that retirement is a consideration for Brocail, but he'll play again if his shoulder is OK. 

Odds & Ends: D’Backs, Iglesias, Moeller

Links for Friday…

Angels Yet To Call On Aroldis Chapman

The Angels have been linked to free agent lefty Aroldis Chapman via scouting director Eddie Bane.  Given Chapman's friendship with Kendry Morales and interest in Southern California, the Halos could be a decent fit.  However, our source says the team has yet to call to express interest.

Chapman is also friendly with Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox.  We reported Chicago's interest on October 22nd, but we've since learned that their involvement has been limited.

Chapman visited with the Red Sox on Wednesday.  A meeting with the Orioles will take place today.  He's yet to throw for teams, so the process still appears to be in the early stages.  You can check out our review of all his suitors here.  One other new piece of information – Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported yesterday that the Indians have no interest.

Offseason Outlook: Atlanta Braves

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Braves.  Their likely commitments for 2010:

C – Brian McCann – $5.5MM
C – Dave Ross – $1.6MM
1B –
2B – Martin Prado – $415K
SS – Yunel Escobar – $425K
3B – Chipper Jones – $13MM
IF – Kelly Johnson – $2.825MM+
IF – Diory Hernandez – $400K
IF/OF – Omar Infante – $2.225MM
LF – Matt Diaz – $1.2375MM+
CF – Nate McLouth – $4.5MM
RF – Ryan Church – $2.8MM+
OF – Jordan Schafer – $400K

SP – Javier Vazquez – $11.5MM
SP – Jair Jurrjens – $450K
SP – Tommy Hanson – $400K
SP – Tim Hudson – $9MM (est.)
SP – Derek Lowe – $15MM

RP – Peter Moylan – $410K+
RP – Kenshin Kawakami – $6.667MM
RP – Kris Medlen – $400K
RP – Eric O'Flaherty – $400K
RP – Boone Logan – $428K+
RP – Manny Acosta – $413K
RP – James Parr – $400K

The Braves have about $81MM committed before arbitration raises to Johnson, Diaz, Church, Moylan, and Logan.  Johnson and Logan are potential trade/non-tender candidates.  Regardless, the Braves should fall under $90MM (and that includes an estimated $9MM for Hudson).  According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Braves began 2009 with a $96.7MM payroll.  Ultimately I can see Braves GM Frank Wren having close to $15MM to spend without raising payroll.

First base and left field are two positions Wren must address this winter.  The Braves intend to add a right-handed power bat; we ran through options here.  At the time, I didn't realize Jason Bay and Matt Holliday might be considerations.  The plan for first base might be to re-sign Adam LaRoche, though there are respectable free agent alternatives.

Wren will probably sign a reliever, as closers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez are up for free agency.  Both project as Type A free agents; will the Braves offer arbitration?  If either player accepts, the Braves can offer any salary they want and have that figure pitted against the submission from the player's agent.  Still, Soriano earning $6.1MM this year against $3.45MM for Gonzalez might lead to an arbitration offer only for the latter.  The argument against Moylan closing is that lefties handle him well.  Pairing him with O'Flaherty in the ninth has potential if the Braves want to save money in the bullpen.  And don't forget that Medlen had 53 strikeouts in 49.3 relief innings this year.

So the Braves have needs at first base, left field, and possibly the bullpen.  Considering the inflated price of free agent power hitters, how can Wren fill all these holes on a $12-15MM budget?  The Braves' pitching surplus could be the answer.  Kawakami's contract isn't unreasonable.  Lowe's is, given his declining peripherals.  Lowe is still useful, though, so the Braves could still trade him and shed 2010 payroll even if they can't find a taker for all $15MM. 

My suggestion: retain the starting pitching depth.  In all likelihood Kawakami will still be needed for 20+ starts next year.  The Braves could instead bump payroll to $100MM, dump Johnson and Logan, go cheap on the bullpen, perhaps backload Hudson's deal, and spend $9-10MM each for the first base and left field spots.  Perhaps Johnson could even be used to acquire a decent late-inning reliever.