November 2009

Arbitration Offer Predictions For Free Agents

On October 12th, I explained what it means when a free agent is offered arbitration and also made a few loose predictions.  Tomorrow evening, those arbitration decisions will be upon us.  As far as I can tell, there are 70 Type A/B free agents.  It's time to commit to predictions on whether or not the player will be offered arbitration.  Let me know where I'm wrong in the comments.

  • Bengie Molina (A) - Yes
  • Billy Wagner (A) – Yes
  • Chone Figgins (A) – Yes
  • Darren Oliver (A) – Yes
  • Jason Bay (A) – Yes
  • Jermaine Dye (A) – No
  • John Lackey (A) – Yes
  • Johnny Damon (A) – No
  • Jose Valverde (A) – No
  • Kevin Gregg (A) – No
  • LaTroy Hawkins (A) – No
  • Marco Scutaro (A) – Yes
  • Matt Holliday (A) – Yes
  • Miguel Tejada (A) – No
  • Mike Gonzalez (A) – Yes
  • Octavio Dotel (A) – No
  • Orlando Cabrera (A) – No
  • Orlando Hudson (A) – No
  • Placido Polanco (A) – No
  • Rafael Betancourt (A) - Yes
  • Rafael Soriano (A) - Yes
  • Randy Wolf (A) – Yes
  • Adam LaRoche (B) - No
  • Adrian Beltre (B) – No
  • Andy Pettitte (B) - No
  • Bob Howry (B) – No
  • Braden Looper (B) – No
  • Brandon Lyon (B) – Yes
  • Brian Giles (B) – No
  • Brian Shouse (B) – No
  • Carl Pavano (B) – Yes
  • Carlos Delgado (B) – No
  • Chan Ho Park (B) - Yes
  • David Weathers (B) – No
  • Doug Brocail (B) – No
  • Doug Davis (B) – No
  • Erik Bedard (B) – No
  • Felipe Lopez (B) - Yes
  • Fernando Rodney (B) – Yes
  • Fernando Tatis (B) – No
  • Garret Anderson (B) – No
  • Gregg Zaun (B) – No
  • Guillermo Mota (B) – No
  • Ivan Rodriguez (B) - No
  • Jason Kendall (B) – No
  • Jason Marquis (B) – No
  • Joe Beimel (B) – No
  • Joel Pineiro (B) – Yes
  • Jon Garland (B) – No
  • Justin Duchscherer (B) - No
  • Kiko Calero (B) – No
  • Mark DeRosa (B) - Yes
  • Marlon Byrd (B) – Yes
  • Melvin Mora (B) – No
  • Miguel Olivo (B) – No
  • Mike Cameron (B) – No
  • Nick Johnson (B) – No
  • Randy Johnson (B) – No
  • Randy Winn (B) – No
  • Rich Harden (B) – No
  • Rod Barajas (B) – Yes
  • Ronnie Belliard (B) – No
  • Russ Springer (B) – No
  • Scott Eyre (B) – No
  • Troy Glaus (B) – No
  • Vicente Padilla (B) – No
  • Vladimir Guerrero (B) – No
  • Will Ohman (B) – No
  • Xavier Nady (B) – No
  • Yorvit Torrealba (B) – No

That's 21 arb offers in total, which would be down from 24 last year.  I'm on the fence on Molina, Valverde, Hawkins, and Hudson in particular.  Thanks to all the journalists and others who offered feedback on these predictions, including Mike DiGiovanna, Tom Haudricourt, Todd Zolecki, Derrick Goold, Bob Dutton, Bill Shaikin, Mark Bowman, Kelly Thesier, T.R. Sullivan, Joe Christensen, Brian McTaggart, Chris Haft, Andrew Baggarly, Tracy Ringolsby, and Jon Paul Morosi.


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Reds Expect To Maintain Payroll

MLB.com's Mark Sheldon talked to Reds GM Walt Jocketty, who offered up a few hot stove nuggets.

  • Jocketty said the Reds' 2010 payroll will be close to last year's ($73MM).  The Reds are already around $72MM committed before arbitration raises to Jared Burton, Jonny Gomes, and Nick Masset.
  • The Reds did not talk to Gomes' agents last week.  It'd be a surprise to me to see him non-tendered after a .267/.338/.541 campaign.
  • Asked if players would be moved to meet payroll, Jocketty replied, "I don't want to talk about that.  I'm still working on it."
  • The Reds would like to improve their offense and possibly add a fifth starter, but Jocketty does not want to trade young players.
  • My take: Jocketty has a tall order ahead of him, improving the team despite a complete lack of payroll space.  Committing $3MM to Ramon Hernandez was a questionable start.  At this point Jocketty can only create flexibility by trading Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Francisco Cordero, or Arthur RhodesESPN's Buster Olney heard from rival executives that the Reds prefer to trade Harang over Arroyo.

Odds & Ends: Blue Jays, Mets, Padres

The Winter Meetings motor is getting revved up…



Rangers Rumors: Oliver, Dye, Dotel

This info-packed T.R. Sullivan report for MLB.com indicates that Texas is interested in Darren Oliver, Jermaine Dye and Octavio Dotel. Sullivan points out that all three are Type A free agents.  Of course, there would only be a draft pick cost attached if the player is offered and turns down arbitration (which seems possible only for Oliver).

Sullivan added that Texas is expected to offer arbitration to Marlon Byrd, while no decision has been made about Ivan Rodriguez.  Both are Type Bs.

Oliver worked out of relief for the Angels last season, but had two tours of duty with the Rangers, most recently as a starter in 2001. Their interest in Oliver is understandable- his 8 strikeouts per nine innings was his highest total since back in 1994.  Dotel has posted back-to-back healthy seasons for the White Sox, and could solidify a shaky Texas bullpen.

Dye, meanwhile, was also mentioned as a potential Texas target by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com.


Orioles Interested In Millwood

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com are reporting that the Orioles have called the Rangers about Kevin Millwood, though talks are not serious, according to one source.

The source said the Rangers would like to move Millwood's $12MM salary for 2010 in order to sign Jermaine Dye.

MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, however, reports that the Rangers are not interested in moving Millwood.

Millwood pitched to a 3.67 ERA in 198 2/3 innings in 2009, but his strikeout rate dropped from 6.7 per nine innings in 2008 to 5.6 in 2009.

Dye, meanwhile, hit .250/.340/.453 in 2009. He's indicated a willingness to move to first base, but that kind of offensive production wouldn't be enough for the position.


Pirates Interested In Duchscherer

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates are "one of several teams" interested in Justin Duchscherer, who missed all of the 2009 season, first due to hip and elbow surgery, then as a result of clinical depression.

Duchscherer, 32, pitched to a 2.54 ERA in 22 starts with Oakland in 2008. He was described by his agent as "a happier and healthier person", suggesting that he can resume his effectiveness in 2010.

This kind of low-cost, high-reward signing is exactly what teams like the Pirates need to do to contend. It would also be a heartwarming story to see Duchscherer succeed.


Indians Will Look Within To Fill Roster

Buster Olney is reporting on his Twitter feed that the Indians' "preference might be giving their internal candidates a chance to play, instead of inking vet FAs to $800K deals."

It is fair to wonder if this will be a league-wide trend, though the Mets' decision to bring in Chris Coste and Alex Cora seems to argue against this.

Cleveland, unlike New York, also has more players at the upper levels of their farm system.


Mets Sign Chris Coste

The Fargo-Moorehead Forum's Jeff Kolpack has confirmed a report by New York Baseball Digest's Joe DeMayo that the Mets have signed Chris Coste, a Fargo native, to a contract.

Coste told the Forum that the Mets gave him a guarantee of being placed on the 40-man roster, though not a guaranteed spot on the Opening Day roster.  If the Mets are happy with Coste, they can keep him beyond 2010 as an arbitration-eligible player.

Coste struggled with the bat in 2009, hitting just .224/.301/.317 in 230 plate appearances with the Phillies and Astros.

The former 33-year-old rookie will be 37 next season.


Mets, Alex Cora Agree To Deal

4:03pm: The AP says an agreement has been reached on a $2MM deal with an additional $1MM in performance bonuses.  A $2MM option for 2011 vests with 80 starts in 2010.

12:17pm: The Mets are close to a one-year deal with a vesting option with infielder Alex Cora, reports WEEI's Rob Bradford.  Bradford believes Cora will again be guaranteed $2MM.  The agreement is pending a physical.

Cora, a Scott Boras client, had his OBP slip from .371 in '08 to .320 this year with increased playing time (308 plate appearances, 599 innings in the field).  With all of the Mets' needs this winter, I'm a little surprised they didn't fill Cora's role more cheaply.


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Offseason Outlook: Philadelphia Phillies

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

C – Carlos Ruiz – $475K+
C – Paul Hoover – $400K
1B – Ryan Howard – $19MM
2B – Chase Utley – $15MM
SS – Jimmy Rollins – $7.5MM
3B –
IF – Juan Castro – $800K (estimated)
LF – Raul Ibanez – $11.5MM
CF – Shane Victorino – $3.125MM+
RF – Jayson Werth – $7MM
OF – Ben Francisco – $421K
OF – John Mayberry Jr. – $400K
1B/3B/OF – Greg Dobbs – $1.35MM

SP – Cliff Lee – $9MM
SP – Cole Hamels – $6.65MM
SP – Joe Blanton – $5.475MM+
SP – J.A. Happ – $405K
SP – Jamie Moyer – $8MM

RP – Brad Lidge – $11.5MM
RP – J.C. Romero – $4MM
RP – Ryan Madson – $4.5MM
RP – Chad Durbin – $1.635MM+
RP – Clay Condrey – $650K+
RP – Sergio Escalona – $400K
RP – Kyle Kendrick – $475K

Non-tender candidates: Durbin, Condrey

Other commitments: Adam Eaton – $500K, Pedro Feliz – $500K, Geoff Jenkins – $1.25MM

The Phillies have about $121.5MM committed before arbitration raises to Ruiz, Victorino, Blanton, Durbin, and Condrey.  Those raises should put the Phils in the $130MM range after beginning 2009 at $132.5MM.  The Phillies would have about $10MM to spend with a $140MM payroll, although Scott Lauber of The News Journal believes they have closer to $120MM committed (and $20MM to spend).

The Phillies' needs are clear: a starting third baseman, a late-inning reliever or two, and perhaps a backup catcher and cheap starting pitcher.  With Romero recovering from a flexor tendon surgery, one of the relievers will probably be a lefty.

At third base, Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, and Placido Polanco are the free agent targets.  Beltre, 31 in April, would likely be an improvement on Pedro Feliz both offensively and defensively.  Will Ruben Amaro Jr. tangle with Scott Boras?  He extended Madson in January and signed Rodrigo Lopez in March, so relations seem fine.

Re-signing relievers Chan Ho Park and Scott Eyre appears unlikely, based on recent reports.  We have seen the Phils named as speculative suitors for Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon, with the latter a better fit since the team isn't quite ready to hand over Lidge's ninth-inning role.  Guys like Kevin Gregg, Rafael Betancourt, Octavio Dotel, LaTroy Hawkins, and J.J. Putz may also be willing to accept uncertainty between an eighth or ninth-inning role.  The Phillies could also take the Mets-Putz approach – if you trade for someone, he has no say in his role.  If the Phils were willing to offer up the closer job, they could look at free agents Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Jose Valverde, Billy Wagner.

A significant starting pitching acquisition seems unlikely, as the Phillies will be right up against that $140MM limit after filling the third base and bullpen needs.  Barring unforeseen injuries, the Phillies should be one of the NL's top teams again next year.  Their biggest move was acquiring Lee on July 29th; they'll enjoy him for all of 2010.