September 2011

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Quick Hits: Red Sox, Homegrown Players, GMs

Some links for Friday night, since we all need something to do now that the Yankees and Tigers have been rained out...

  • Mike Salk of 710 ESPN Seattle hears that Don Wakamatsu's name "has been floated" in Boston as a potential replacement for the departed Terry Francona (Twitter link).
  • Meanwhile, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino told WEEI.com's Alex Speier that they have not yet started the process of finding a new manager. GM Theo Epstein says they will prioritize thoroughness rather than a speedy resolution.
  • Baseball America's Ben Badler looked at how much production each of the eight playoff teams have gotten from homegrown players this season. Unsurprisingly, the Rays top the list.
  • Within his end of season awards column, SI.com's Jon Heyman says that Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers and Kevin Towers of the Diamondbacks are the GMs of the Year for the AL and NL, respectively.


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West Links: Maybin, Scioscia, Athletics

It's been a busy day for baseball's west coast teams. Angels GM Tony Reagins resigned, we learned that Dodgers star Matt Kemp won't talk about an extension until next season, and the Athletics swung a minor deal. Let's round up some other news from the two west divisions...

  • Dan Hayes of The North County Times hears that contract extension talks between Cameron Maybin and the Padres have "slowed significantly." We heard that the two sides had mututal interest in an extension earlier this month. (Twitter link)
  • "I do not believe so," said Angels president John Carpino when asked if manager Mike Scioscia could be promoted to GM after Reagins' resignation by Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). "That would probably be a question for Mike."
  • Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times lists some GM candidates for the Angels. Here is MLBTR's list of the game's top 20 GM candidates.
  • The Athletics announced in a press release that the contracts of bench coach Joel Skinner, pitching coach Ron Romanick, and hitting coach Gerald Perry will not be renewed. Interim manager Bob Melvin signed a three-year extension recently, and he'll likely be able to bring in his own people.



NL East Links: Rollins, Lowe, Heyward, Nats

The National League portion of the playoffs don't start until tomorrow, but there's plenty of news coming out of Senior Circuit. Let's round up some links from the NL East...

  • "That's a tough call, a tough call" joked Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies when asked by Newsday's David Lennon if he would play in New York (Twitter link). Rollins will become a free agent after the season, like Mets shortstop Jose Reyes.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren told Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Derek Lowe is not projected to have a spot in the rotation next year (Twitter link). The bullpen or a trade are options. Lowe is owed $15MM next year, the final one on his contract.
  • Wren also said that Jason Heyward is not guaranteed to start in right field next year, but the GM told MLB.com's Mark Bowman that the Braves have never talked about trading the 22-year-old (Twitter link).
  • Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com looked at five issues the Nationals must deal with this offseason, including settling on a manager.



The Latest On Terry Francona

As we learned last night and early this morning, the Red Sox and long-time manager Terry Francona are parting ways. Let's round up the latest on both the man and the team...

  • White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper is pushing for Francona, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Cooper recently received a contract extension despite Ozzie Guillen's departure.
  • "I'm not sure how much support there was from ownership, and I don't know that I felt real comfortable," said Francona during his press conference according to Mike Silverman of The Boston Herald (Twitter link). 
  • GM Theo Epstein acknowledged that he, John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino and Ben Cherington met with Francona today to discuss the 2011 season. "We all plan on taking some time to process the thoughts expressed in the meeting," Epstein said in a statement. "There are no immediate plans for an announcement.”
  • Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal says that Francona and owners John Henry and Tom Werner all left Fenway Park after a 10am ET meeting this morning without making a comment. The meeting was held to discuss the team's future, and no official announcement has been made about Francona.
  • Mike Lynch of WCTB TV in Boston reports that Red Sox GM Theo Epstein told management that Francona wasn't working out six weeks ago because of a "lack of urgency." Francona was voted out 3-0 a few weeks later.
  • Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe says this is a truly mutual split, however (Twitter link). Francona would have been willing to stay on if some issues were worked out.
  • There's a non-zero chance that Francona lands with the White Sox, but Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that they won't pay big money for a manager unless it's Tony LaRussa.
  • In another tweet, Knobler says that an Epstein-Francona package seemed possible for the Cubs at one point, but he doesn't think it's likely now.
  • Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun doesn't see Francona managing the Orioles next year for several reasons.



Free Agent Arbitration Primer

What does it mean when we say a free agent was offered arbitration?  When a team offers arbitration to one of its own free agents, it is offering the player a 2012 contract at a to-be-determined salary.  Last year, out of 35 such offers, only two players (Frank Francisco and Jason Frasor) accepted.

One reason "offering arbitration" to free agents is confusing is that the actual process of arbitration rarely comes into play.  Even with Francisco and Frasor last year, the sides agreed on 2010 salaries without arbitration hearings.  In an arbitration hearing, a third-party panel must choose between one salary figure submitted by the team and another submitted by the player.  These hearings only take place if the sides cannot agree on a salary.  Clearing up a common error: if a free agent accepts arbitration, the team and the player can submit any salary figure they want.

If most free agents turn down arbitration offers, why do we care?  Turning down an arbitration offer makes draft pick compensation possible for the team losing the free agent.  Free agents can be classified as Type A, B, or nothing.  Check our list to see the current designations, and click here to see the stats the Elias Sports Bureau uses to assign them.

Prince Fielder will be our example of a Type A free agent.  Say the Brewers offer him arbitration, and he turns it down, knowing that he can do better than a one-year contract if he hits the open market.  Say also that the Dodgers sign Fielder, and do not sign any other Type A free agents.  In this case, the Brewers are given Los Angeles' #18 pick in the June 2012 draft as well as a pick in a supplemental round that takes place after the first round.  It's important to note that the supplemental pick is squeezed into the draft but it does not come from the Dodgers.  Therefore, the Dodgers only surrendered one pick to sign Fielder, even though the Brewers receive two.

In the Fielder example, the Brewers were given the Dodgers' first-round draft pick.  With Type A free agent draft pick compensation, only first-round picks outside of the top 15 (plus holdovers from the previous year) are eligible to be taken by another team.  In cases where the first-round pick is protected, the team gives up its second-round pick.  For example, if the Cubs sign Fielder, the Brewers get their second-round pick rather than their protected first-round (#6) pick.

Now, if one team signs multiple Type As from other teams, draft pick compensation gets muddier.  Click here to read up on that.

We'll use left-hander Bruce Chen as our Type B example.  Say the Royals offer him arbitration and he turns it down in search of a better contract.  Say also that the Orioles sign Chen.  The Orioles do not give a draft pick to the Royals.  The Royals do gain a draft pick - it is squeezed into the supplemental round.  Therefore, signing a Type A free agent who was offered and turned down arbitration costs one draft pick, but signing such a Type B does not.  Players who were not offered arbitration do not have draft pick compensation.  Same goes for players who were designated neither A nor B.

Another cause for confusion: we have a different concept that also uses the word "arbitration."  When we say Clayton Kershaw is arbitration-eligible, we mean that he has between two-plus and five-plus years of service time, and therefore has some say in his salary.  Kershaw is under the Dodgers' control.  The only question is what they will pay him next year, and that's the one similarity with free agent compensation.  Kershaw and the Dodgers each submit salary figures, and if they can't agree an arbitration panel must choose one.

Upcoming deadlines: on November 23rd (by 11pm CST), we'll learn whether teams offer arbitration to their free agents.  By December 7th, those players must choose whether to accept.  Expect only a handful to accept.  Those who accept are no longer free agents.

The non-tender deadline is December 12th.  That is when teams decide whether to tender a contract to arbitration-eligible players.  These players have fewer than six years of service time, and are under team control for 2012 if the team wants them.  If not, the players are non-tendered and become free agents.  We'll be adding many names to the free agent list on December 12th.

This is a modified version of a post by Tim Dierkes from December, 2009.


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Athletics Receive Eliezer Mesa From Rockies

The Athletics have received outfielder Eliezer Mesa from the Rockies to complete the Mark Ellis trade, reports MLB.com's Jane Lee (on Twitter). Colorado acquired Ellis from Oakland for a player to be named later at the end of June.

Mesa, 23 in November, did not rank as one of the Rockies' top 30 prospects in the 2011 edition of Baseball America's Prospect Handbook. He hit .256/.320/.311 with eleven steals in 53 games for Colorado's High Class-A affiliate this summer, missing time with injuries. Mesa is a .287/.336/.389 career hitter in more than 1,100 minor league plate appearances. He's the nephew of former big leaguer Jose Mesa.



Tony Reagins Out As Angels GM

It's never fair to evaluate a general manager by one trade, or to judge a trade after one year, but the Mike Napoli-Vernon Wells swap didn't help Angels GM Tony Reagins' chances of keeping his job. That Napoli had back-to-back multihomer games against his former team for the playoff-bound Rangers this week as Wells sputtered to the finish line may have helped owner Arte Moreno decide it was time for change.

The Angels announced that Reagins resigned, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times (on Twitter). He'll remain with the club as a special assistant, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times (on Twitter).

The Angels won 100 games and the AL West in Reagins' first full season, 2008. They repeated as division champions the following season, but haven't been back to the playoffs since. They finished with 80 wins a year ago and wrapped up the 2011 campaign with 86 wins.

As our Transaction Tracker shows, Reagins has shaped the Angels roster since being promoted to his current role in 2007. For example, he signed Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana to extensions, traded for Dan Haren and acquired Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Scott Downs on the free agent market.

A number of current Angels, including Mike Trout, were drafted under Reagins' regime. Eddie Bane, who is now on the Tigers' scouting staff, was Reagins' scouting director until the Angels replaced him last year.

The Cubs are also looking for a general manager and it appears that the Orioles could soon be searching for one as well. Familiarize yourself with candidates around the league by checking out MLBTR's list of GM Candidates.



Red Sox, Francona Part Ways

4:21pm: The Red Sox announced that Francona won't be back.

8:38am: The Red Sox and manager Terry Francona will part ways, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (all Twitter links). Francona's three-year, $12MM deal included club options for 2012-13 worth $8.75MM in total ($750K buyout) and the Red Sox could announce their decision to decline the options today.

Francona, 52, has led the Red Sox to two World Series Championships this decade. The Red Sox won it all in 2004, their first season under Francona, and again in 2007. The Red Sox have a 744-552 record in eight seasons under Francona. They finished the 2011 season with a 90-72 record and missed the playoffs by one game after an extended late-season slump.

The White Sox are looking for a manager, but Heyman hears Francona isn't high on Chicago's list of candidates.



White Sox, Sergio Santos Agree To Multiyear Deal

Three years ago, Sergio Santos was a shortstop prospect going nowhere. Now an integral part of Chicago’s bullpen, the right-hander has agreed to sign a three-year, $8.25MM deal with the White Sox, according to the team. The contract includes three guaranteed years (2012-14) and three option years for the White Sox (2015-17).

Santos, a 2002 first round pick, emerged as Chicago's closer this year. He saved 30 games and posted a 3.55 ERA with 13.1 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 63 1/3 innings. Since he didn't start pitching professionally until he joined the White Sox organization in 2009, they're intimately familiar with his arm history.

Santos obtains $1MM in 2012, $2.75MM in 2013 and $3.75MM in 2014. The White Sox have a $6MM option for 2015, an $8MM option for 2016 and an $8.75MM option for 2017 (they will have to pay $750K to decline any of the option years). The guaranteed portion of the deal buys out one pre-arbitration season and two arbitration seasons.

The deal, which appears to be modeled on the one Joakim Soria signed with the Royals in 2008, includes club options for two of Santos' free agent years. The White Sox also limit Santos' arbitration earning power by locking him up now. Yet it's not hard to see why Santos, a converted shortstop who didn't have a job after the Twins released him three offseasons ago, accepted the offer. The Paragon Sports International client gets security in the deal instead of going year to year through the arbitration process.



Kemp Won’t Talk Extension Once Season Starts

The Dodgers’ best player is a year away from hitting free agency and if they don’t lock him up by the time the 2012 season starts, it appears that he’ll test the open market. Agent Dave Stewart told Bill Plaschke of the LA Times that he hopes to complete an extension for Matt Kemp by Opening Day 2012.

"I know it is not a good thing to negotiate a contract during the course of the year; it's just not," Stewart said. "The player needs to be clear of mind and just do his job, and the organization also doesn't need the distraction."

Timing isn’t just one consideration for the Dodgers. Kemp narrowly missed a 40-40 season and is a leading candidate for the National League MVP, so we’re “talking about some pretty heavy dollars," as Stewart points out.

"If we have a concern at all, it's going to be, are we going to be able to get paid what we're trying to get," Stewart said.

There are few statistical matches for Kemp, who led the league in home runs (39), OPS+ (171), total bases (353), runs scored (115) and RBI (126) this season. The 27-year-old can look forward to "new ground" from a contractual standpoint as well.

GM Ned Colletti says the Dodgers can afford long-term deals for Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw. MLBTR estimates a $16.3MM salary for Kemp in 2012, his final season before he’s eligible for free agency.









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