January 2011

Quick Hits: Ohlendorf, Izzy, Edmonds, Flores

On this day in 2006, Frank Thomas officially parted ways with the White Sox, signing a free agent contract with the Athletics.  The Big Hurt left Chicago after suffering through two injury-plagued years, a dispute with GM Kenny Williams and virtually no role in the team's run to the 2005 World Series title.  Thomas had a huge bounce-back year with the A's, posting a .926 OPS to help lead Oakland to the ALCS.

Some news to wrap up a busy Monday night…

  • Both Ross Ohlendorf and the Pirates would prefer to avoid an arbitration hearing, but "each party [is] hesitant to budge too much" from the $625K gap in proposed salaries, writes MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.  The Bucs don't want Ohlendorf's price driven up for future arb years, though Ohlendorf is only asking for $2.025MM in 2011.  As the Arbtracker tells us, Ohlendorf is Pittsburgh's last remaining arbitration-eligible player without a contract.
  • Jason Isringhausen had a throwing session for Reds pitching coach Bryan Price today and "threw the ball fine," Price told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.  Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty was non-committal about the chances of Isringhausen rejoining the Reds organization on a minor league deal.  "We're not sure if we will pursue it or not," Jocketty said.  "We'll discuss it in the next few days. We have quite a bit of right-handed pitching."
  • Jim Edmonds' agent tells Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter link) that Edmonds will "probably" know by early next week if he'll retire or try to come back in 2011.  Walt Jocketty recently opined that Edmonds would retire. 
  • If Jesus Flores proves he's healthy during Spring Training, MLB.com's Bill Ladson thinks the Nationals might try to trade him to a catcher-needy team.
  • The Orioles had no shortage of needs this offseason, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun points out that the O's have "at least theoretically, filled each of the roster's gaping holes that loomed in October."
  • The Twins and Royals both appear to be finished their winter additions.  MLB.com's Kelly Thesier says Minnesota is out of payroll space, and Dayton Moore tells Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star that the Royals are done shopping "unless something comes up that we’re not expecting."  Moore wouldn't comment on rumors that K.C. is looking at Kevin Millwood.

West Notes: Hamilton, Paxton, Rockies, Dodgers

Some news from baseball's western divisions….

  • Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine gives ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett an update on negotiations between the team and arbitration-eligible Josh Hamilton.  "I would characterize our communication as very open and strong….with each call we're making progress," Levine said.
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik tells The Seattle Times' Larry Stone that the team has had "a conversation or two over the course of the winter" with fourth-round draft pick James Paxton, who still remains unsigned.  Paxton was selected 37th overall by the Blue Jays in the 2009 draft but didn't reach an agreement, and then couldn't return to college ball due to his association with agent Scott Boras.
  • The Rockies may have ended their search for pitching depth, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.  Colorado was looking at Rodrigo Lopez and Mark Hendrickson, but those pursuits proved fruitless when the pitchers signed elsewhere (Lopez with the Braves, Hendrickson with the Orioles).
  • The potential sale of a minority share of the Mets "could provide a clue" as to what will happen with the Dodgers' ownership situation once the McCourts settle their divorce case, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

Yankees Reach Agreement With Freddy Garcia

The Yankees have agreed to sign Freddy Garcia to a minor league contract, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).  The deal will pay Garcia $1.5MM if he makes the Major League roster, and the total value of the contract could be worth $5.1MM if Garcia reaches all his start-based incentive plateaus, up to 30 starts.  Garcia is represented by Peter Greenberg.

Garcia, 35, expressed his preference to pitch for the Yankees earlier this week, saying it would be "an inspiration" to pitch in the pressurized environments of both New York and the AL East.  The Mets, Orioles and White Sox all showed some degree of interest in Garcia this winter, though Garcia ruled out a return to Chicago earlier today.

The veteran right-hander posted a 4.64 ERA, 1.98 K/BB ratio and a 40.7% ground ball rate in 28 starts with the White Sox last season.  Garcia threw 157 Major League innings in 2010 — he pitched in just 129 innings combined over the prior three seasons due to nagging shoulder injuries.

Garcia joins the likes of Bartolo Colon, Ivan Nova, Andrew Brackman, Sergio Mitre and even Mark Prior in the battle for the final two starting spots in the Yankee rotation.  This competition could be limited to just the number five spot, of course, should Andy Pettitte announce his return.

Phillies “Probably Not” Re-Signing Chad Durbin

Chad Durbin's time in Philadelphia may have come to a close, based on comments made by Ruben Amaro Jr. to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.  "I would say that we're probably not going to re-sign [Durbin]," Amaro said, and he also noted the club may be done with its winter shopping altogether.

Durbin and the Phillies exchanged offers a few weeks ago, but Durbin is looking for both a raise and a two-year contract.  Philadelphia already passed on offering Durbin arbitration back in November since they didn't want to risk paying him much more than the $2.125MM he earned last season, so it's probably no surprise the two sides are at an impasse.  As Zolecki notes, the Phillies' crowded rotation means that Kyle Kendrick could take over Durbin's right-handed relief spot.

In three years with Philadelphia, Durbin has a 3.62 ERA, a 7.5 K/9 rate, and a team-leading 194 games pitched.  We heard earlier this winter that Durbin had drawn some interest from teams looking at him as a starter, though Durbin's last start came in 2007.

Amaro said the Phillies aren't looking for middle relief or a right-handed hitter at this point, and don't have any outstanding offers to free agents.  The GM said the team may re-examine their needs during Spring Training, but for now, Philadelphia looks to have finished its offseason moves.

"Right now, like I've said before, I think we're pretty comfortable with where we are coming into spring," Amaro said.  "We have some decisions to make. But I think that we're — I never like to say we're pretty well set — but I think we kind of have to go with what we've got and start to make assessments as to what we may need as we go through the spring."

Mets Notes: Alderson, Reyes, Dickey, Dessens

The Mets have settled with all of their arbitration-eligible players but that isn't the only news out of Citi Field today.  The latest…

  • ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin has the transcript of GM Sandy Alderson's conference call with media today.  The Mets' payroll will be between $140-$150MM next season, a total Alderson said "is significantly higher than we'd like to be on an annual basis."
  • Alderson said he isn't troubled about the recent news that the Wilpons want to sell a minority share of the club: "I'm not surprised by this development just because the Madoff situation was a backdrop to the Mets, and well-known backdrop. My enthusiasm and energy for this position and my confidence in the future of the Mets is undiminished."
  • Along those same lines, Alderson said "perhaps naively," he doesn't think the ownership situation will impact negotiations with Jose Reyes on a contract extension.  Fangraphs' Paul Swydan figures the trade market for Reyes will be very busy this summer if the Mets decide to deal the shortstop rather than re-sign him.
  • R.A. Dickey will earn $2.25MM in 2011, $4.25MM in 2012 and received a $1MM signing bonus for his extension, reports Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (Twitter link).  The contract also includes a club option for 2013 worth $5MM.
  • Elmer Dessens wants to pitch next season but it apparently won't be for the Mets, reports Adam Rubin.  The Mets told Dessens they're "going in another direction."  The right-hander told the team he was willing to sign a minor league deal to return, a reversal of his stance from earlier this winter when Dessens implied he would retire unless he got a Major League contract.
  • Jason Bay talks to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick about his disappointing 2010 season and how he's looking to rebound next year.

Mariners Re-Sign Jamey Wright

The Mariners have re-signed right-hander Jamey Wright to a minor league contract with an invite to their Major League Spring Training camp, reports the team's Twitter feed.

Wright pitched in the Cleveland and Oakland organizations last season before signing with Seattle last July.  He posted a 3.41 ERA in 28 appearances for the club and had a 61.2% ground ball rate overall with the M's and Indians.  The 15-year veteran has pitched for eight different teams in the majors, plus his minor league stint with the A's last year.

Mets, Pagan Avoid Arbitration

The Mets announced that they agreed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal with Angel Pagan, avoiding arbitration (Twitter link). Pagan filed for $4.2MM, while the Mets offered $3.06MM, so the sides agreed to a figure that's closer to the team's submission.

Pagan responded to his first everyday job with a breakout season in 2010. The 29-year-old hit .290/.340/.425 with 37 steals in 633 plate appearances, filling in admirably for Carlos Beltran. Though Pagan spent most of his time in center field last year, he also played left and right.

Now that the Mets have agreed to terms with Pagan, R.A. Dickey and Mike Pelfrey, none of the team's arbitration eligible players remain unsigned, as MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows.

Braves Sign Rodrigo Lopez

The Braves announced that they signed Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, according to Ed Price of AOL FanHouse (Twitter link).

The Braves' rotation is already deep; Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens provide manager Fredi Gonzalez with four solid starters. Lopez will presumably battle with Mike Minor for a rotation spot and Kenshin Kawakami and Brandon Beachy provide Atlanta with even more options.

Lopez logged 200 innings for the Diamondbacks last year, posting a 5.00 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. The 35-year-old induced more fly balls than ground balls last year, posting a 37.6% ground ball rate. Lopez underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and missed time with shoulder inflammation in 2009 before recovering to start 33 games last year, the second-highest total of his career.

Brewers, Kotsay Close To Deal

The Brewers are close to a deal with Mark Kotsay, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The 35-year-old Legacy Sports client would provide the Brewers with another option in the outfield. 

Kotsay hit .239/.306/.376 in 359 plate appearances for the White Sox last year. The left-handed hitter clubbed eight homers while playing first base and right field.

The Brewers already have a number of outfield options. They recently signed Jeremy Reed to a minor league deal and outfielders Chris DickersonBrandon BoggsCaleb Gindl and Logan Schafer will also be in Brewers camp this spring. Gomez, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart are the team's starting outfielders. 

 This post was originally published February 1st, 2011.

Minor Deals: Banks, Fiorentino

Mark Hendrickson and Greg Dobbs already agreed to minor league deals today. We'll keep track of some lower-profile agreements right here:

  • The Giants signed Josh Banks to a minor league deal, according to MLB.com's Chris Haft. Banks, a former second round pick of the Blue Jays, has played in the majors every year since 2007, but his only extended taste of the big leagues came in 2008, when he posted a 4.75 ERA in 85 1/3 innings. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 5.66 ERA with 4.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 119 1/3 career innings.
  • Jeff Fiorentino is returning to the Orioles on a minor league deal after a year in Japan, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Fiorentino, 27, has appeared in parts of four big league seasons with the Orioles and A's. He made the majors the year after the Orioles selected him the third round of the '04 draft and has since compiled a .270/.341/.324 line in 173 career plate appearances. He has played all three outfield positions, but most of his big league experience has come in center.