April 2011

Quick Hits: Minaya, Weaver, Danks, Zimmerman

Emilio "Millito" Navarro, believed to be the oldest living professional baseball player at 105, passed away in Puerto Rico today. The former Negro Leaguer also played in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico during his career. Our condolences go out to his family.

  • Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that former Mets GM Omar Minaya has spent the past two days on a "friendly visit" with Indians GM Chris Antonetti, president Mark Shapiro, and manager Manny Acta. Cleveland interviewed former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes during the offseason, and Hoynes says Antonetti has "made [it] no secret that he'd like to add the right person to the front office."
  • While researching the impending free agency of young stars, SI's Jon Heyman (via Twitter) learned that we can count on Jered Weaver and John Danks filing after 2012.
  • It's been a bad day for star third basemen, writes Justin Sablich of the New York Times.  The Giants lost Pablo Sandoval for 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right wrist and the Nationals announced that Ryan Zimmerman, who has been on the disabled list since April 12, will miss at least an another six weeks.  If both players return within those timeframes, it's unlikely that either squad will look for an out-of-house fill-in.
  • Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs questions the Blue Jays' wisdom in demoting Travis Snider to work on his hitting after just 99 plate appearances in 2011.

Bill Shaikin Interview With Frank McCourt

Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times sat down for a lengthy interview with embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt on Friday and posted the transcript today. McCourt discussed his meeting with Tom Schieffer, MLB's appointed trustee, as well as the league's investigation into the team's finances. Officials with MLB told him as recently as May of last year that the Dodgers "were a model franchise as far as our financial performance was concerned."

McCourt reiterated that he intends to maintain control of the team and again apologized to the Dodgers' faithful. Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports offered up some more on the situation.


2012 Vesting Options Update

It's the final day of the month, so let's check the status of the various vesting options around the league…

  • Bobby Abreu, Angels: $9MM option vests with 433 plate appearances. Abreu is more than a quarter of the way there already; he has 116 PA after today's game.
  • Rafael Furcal, Dodgers: $12MM option vests with 600 plate appearances. Furcal came to the plate 28 times before breaking his thumb. He's going to miss another three to five weeks, so he's unlikely to see the option vest.
  • Jon Garland, Dodgers: $8MM option vests with 190 innings pitched. Garland started the year on the disabed list and has thrown just 20 innings so far. He should still get there if he stays healthy.
  • Francisco Rodriguez, Mets: $17.5MM option vests with 55 games finished and if doctors declare him healthy at the end of the season. K-Rod has finished eight games so far, but you have to think the club will use him in a way to prevent the option from vesting.
  • Koji Uehara, Orioles: $4MM option vests with either 55 appearances or 25 games finished. Uehara has appeared in eight games and finished four, putting him on pace for 54 and 27, respectively.
  • Arthur Rhodes, Rangers: $4MM option vests with 62 appearances and if he's not on the disabled list at the end of the season. He's appeared in eight games so far, putting him on pace for 50. Injuries to the some of his bullpen mates could increase Rhodes' workload though.
  • Joakim Soria, Royals: $6MM option vests with 55 appearances. He's already appeared in 12 games and is on pace for 75.
  • Dan Wheeler, Red Sox: $3MM option vests with 65 games; increases to $3.25MM with 70 games. Wheeler has appeared in just eight games so far, so he'll have to start seeing more time for the option to kick in.

Adam Wainwright's 2012 ($9MM) and 2013 ($12MM) options will not vest because he will finish the season on the disabled list. Aramis Ramirez's option depends on MVP Award finishes and whether or not he's traded, not plate appearances or another counting milestone.

Mark Buehrle is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2011 season and although he doesn't have a traditional option in his contract, he gets an extra year at $15MM tacked onto his current deal if he's traded at some point this season. 

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.



Orioles Acquire Hester To Complete Reynolds Trade

The Orioles have received catcher John Hester from the Diamondbacks to complete the Mark Reynolds trade, according to a team press release.    Hester, a 13th-round selection out of Stanford University by the Diamondbacks in 2006, will be assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.   

Hester, 27, played in 53 big league games for Arizona in 2009 and 2010, hitting .220/.294/.366 with three homers.  The catcher has spent the bulk of the last three seasons in Triple-A where he owns a slash line of .335/.390/.562.

The O's acquired Reynolds in December of 2010 and a player to be named later or cash considerations for relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio.


Rosenthal On Reyes, Rodriguez, Nationals, Orioles

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports brings us some interesting tidbits in this week's installment of Full Count..

  • The Mets will not sign Jose Reyes to a monster contract similar to the one given to Carl Crawford (seven-years, $142MM).  However, despite the Mets' financial troubles, keeping Reyes is not out of the question if he's willing to accept a shorter deal in the vicinity of three-years, $45-50MM.  Reyes, if healthy, will get more than that on the open market but it's still not a sure thing that the club will deal him.  They'll have to consider their position in the standings, how it would impact attendance, and what the return in a trade would be versus the high draft picks they would get if Reyes left via free agency.
  • The Mets won't have to worry about Francisco Rodriguez finishing 55 games if they deal him to a club that would use him as a set-up man as opposed to a closer.  The Rangers, for example, have Neftali Feliz (if healthy) to finish games.  K-Rod can block deals to as many as ten clubs as part of his deal but the Mets, to facilitate this deal, would gladly pick up the $3.5MM buyout to get rid of him.
  • Nationals manager Jim Riggleman is one of a handful of managers whose future is uncertain beyond this season.  The club has yet to pick up his option for '12 even though most in the game say that the Nats are on the right track.  Riggleman's agent told Rosenthal that he is hopeful that the club will either exercise the option or sign him to a multi-year deal by Father's Day.
  • The Orioles collected a number of veterans on one-year deals thinking that, at the very least, they'd have trade chips at the deadline.  General Manager Andy MacPhail & Co. may need to think again as Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero have done very little at the plate and J.J. Hardy has missed most of the year with an oblique injury.  All of this could change, but Rosenthal wonders if manager Buck Showalter and owner Peter Angelos would even approve of a sell-off.

Indians Designate Jess Todd For Assignment

The Indians have designated Jess Todd for assignment according to a team press release. The move clears a spot on the 40-man roster for Alex White, who will start today.

Todd, 25, was originally acquired from the Cardinals along with Chris Perez in the Mark DeRosa trade. The right-hander has appeared in 24 games with Cleveland since the deal, pitching to a 7.43 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Todd has allowed 11 runs and 18 hits in nine relief innings with the Indians' Triple-A affiliate this year, walking as many batters as he struck out (six).


Largest Contracts In Draft History

One year ago yesterday, we took a look at the largest contracts ever given to drafted players in MLB history. It's time for an update, just like our list of largest contracts by service time

Major League Contracts

  1. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (2009, 1st round, 1st pick): Four years, $15.1MM. His $7.5MM signing bonus is a draft record.
  2. Mark Prior, Cubs (2001, 1/2): Five years, $10.5MM. Prior exercised an opt-out clause that voided the final two years of the deal and instead filed for salary arbitration. He earned an extra $1.575MM by doing so.
  3. Bryce Harper, Nationals (2010, 1/1): Five years, $9.9MM. Includes a $6.25MM signing bonus that will be paid out in five installments.
  4. Mark Teixeira, Rangers (2001, 1/5): Four years, $9.5MM. His $4.5MM signing bonus was a draft record for six years. 
  5. David Price, Rays (2007, 1/1): Six years, $8.5MM. Price can opt-out of the contract and file for arbitration next season just like Prior did.
  6. Pat Burrell, Phillies (1998, 1/1): Five years, $8MM. The first of these mega-contracts for draftees.
  7. Dustin Ackley, Mariners (2009, 1/2): Five years, $7.5MM. There's another $2.5MM in incentives tied to how quickly he reached the majors. 
  8. Rick Porcello, Tigers (2007, 1/27): Four years, $7.285MM. There are club options for a fifth and sixth year. Porcello will actually collect just $7MM because he received the pro-rated portion of his salary after signing in 2007. The deal was designed to match but not exceed the number ten contract on this list.
  9. J.D. Drew, Cardinals (1998, 1/5): Four years, $7MM. Drew famously refused to sign with the Phillies as the second overall pick in the 1997 draft, as he and Boras stuck to their guarantee that he would not sign for less than $10MM.
  10. Josh Beckett, Marlins (1999, 1/2): Four years, $7MM. Beckett was the first high school player to receive a Major League contract since Alex Rodriguez in 1993.

Eric Munson's four-year, $6.75MM deal with the Tigers in 1999 dropped out of the top ten thanks to Harper. He received a $3.5MM signing bonus as the third overall pick.

Minor League Contracts

  1. Jameson Taillon, Pirates (2010, 1/2): $6.5MM
  2. Donavan Tate, Padres (2009, 1/3): $6.25MM
  3. Buster Posey, Giants (2008, 1/5): $6.2MM
  4. Tim Beckham, Rays (2008, 1/1): $6.15MM
  5. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (2005, 1/1): $6.1MM
  6. Matt Wieters, Orioles (2007, 1/5): $6MM
  7. Eric Hosmer, Royals (2008, 1/3): $6MM
  8. Joe Borchard, White Sox (2000, 1/12): $5.3MM
  9. Manny Machado, Orioles (2010, 1/3): $5.25MM
  10. Zach Lee, Dodgers (2010, 1/28): $5.25MM

Joe Mauer ($5.15MM as the first overall pick in 2001) and B.J. Upton ($4.6MM as the second overall pick in 2002) dropped out of the top ten thanks to Taillon, Machado, and Lee. 


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Dead Money: Paying Players To Play Elsewhere

Eating money in trades or by releasing players is far from an ideal business practice, but sometimes it's a necessary evil. The Mets believe they are better off paying Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo a combined $18MM not to be on their team this year, and released the two just last month. David Wharton of The Los Angeles Times wrote about the concept of "dead money" today, speaking to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, sports economist J.C. Bradbury, and Scott Boras.

With some help from Cot's Baseball Contracts, let's look at the teams that are paying players to be anywhere but on their roster this season…

This doesn't include money the Braves owe Kenshin Kawakami ($7.4MM) or the Yankees owe Kei Igawa ($4MM). Both Japanese imports remain in the organization, but they've since been banished to the minor leagues. It also doesn't include all the money the Mets famously owe Bobby Bonilla for the next two decades.

Yuniesky Betancourt is the only player collecting paychecks from three different big league teams at the moment, but Carlos Silva could join him if he's called up by the Yankees. Gary Matthews Jr. could also be in that mix if he catches on somewhere this summer.


AL West Notes: Barton, Angels, Wilhelmsen

Happy birthday to Rangers manager Ron Washington, who turns 59 years old today.  Let's celebrate by taking a look at some items from Washington's division…

  • Daric Barton admits that he has been thinking about his multiyear contract negotiations with the Athletics, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  "It's always in the back of your mind," Barton said. "It's not something you like to think about, but realistically, it happens."  We heard about these negotiations last month, with MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noting that Barton's walk-heavy production could make him a bargain for the A's if they choose to go to arbitration with the first baseman.
  • The Angels are integrating young players into their lineup while still remaining competitive in the AL West, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Mike Trout is having a nice season at Double-A Arkansas, but ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill predicts Trout will only reach the majors in 2011 if the Angels want to give him a few token at-bats in September.  Churchill speculates that Trout might skip Triple-A altogether and potentially make the Angels out of Spring Training next year, or at least be in the majors by May 2012 (or after next year's Super Two cutoff date).
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports profiles Mariners right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, who made his improbable Major League debut this season after spending five years away from the sport.

Astros Notes: Barmes, Crane, Berkman

After spending time on the DL with a fractured hand, Clint Barmes made his Astros debut tonight.  The shortstop went 0-for-4 as Houston dropped a 5-0 result to Milwaukee.  Here are some other items from Minute Maid Park…

  • Drayton McLane and Jim Crane have entered an "exclusive negotiating window" to arrange the club's sale to Crane, according to Houston TV station KILT.  McLane tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that Crane is only one of several potential buyers with whom he is negotiating.
  • As much as Astros fans might want to see Lance Berkman back in Houston (or as much as Berkman reportedly would like to finish his career with the team), Chip Bailey of the Houston Chronicle doesn't think Berkman fits in with the Astros' commitment to their youth movement.
  • As reported earlier tonight, the Astros released minor league right-hander Cesar Carrillo.
  • Houston fans can get all the latest news on their team by following MLBTR's Astros-centric RSS feed, Facebook page and Twitter account.