February 2012

Rangers Sign Jairo Beras

3:38pm: MLB and competing executives believe Beras is 16, Passan writes.  Beras has been presenting himself as a 16-year-old, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports.  If he's using a new date of birth, he could be in trouble beyond MLB, according to Badler.

12:56pm: MLB was under the impression Beras is 16 and therefore ineligible to be signed, tweets Passan, and will immediately investigate the signing.

10:57am: Teams will be furious if MLB approves the Rangers' reported contract with Beras, tweets Badler.  Still, a source who has spoken with the Rangers told Yahoo's Jeff Passan the team thinks MLB will approve the signing, because other clubs knew of Beras' revised age.

9:09am: The Rangers signed 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Jairo Beras for $4.5MM, tweets Dionisio Soldevila.  For more on Beras, check out this article from Yahoo's Tim Brown and this brief Twitter scouting report from ESPN's Keith Law.  

Law notes that a lot of team executives are unhappy with the signing, because they were under the impression Beras was not eligible until July 2nd.  With a listed birth date of December 25th, 1995, Beras wasn't thought to be 17 yet, adds Baseball America's Ben Badler.  

The Rangers are known for spending big internationally, an opportunity that will end with a $2.9MM cap for each team this summer.  GM Jon Daniels indicated yesterday he isn't a fan of that part of the new collective bargaining agreement.


MLBTR Chat Transcript

Click below to read a transcript of today's chat with Tim Dierkes.

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D’Backs, Montero Shelve Extension Talks Until After Season

Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers and catcher Miguel Montero announced today they'll shelve contract extension talks until after the season, with no hard feelings.  The two sides were unable to find common ground, explained the GM.  Montero said the D'Backs will be his offseason priority.

Montero, 28, will be eligible for free agency after the season.  Last month, Montero and the D'Backs narrowly avoided an arbitration hearing, settling below the midpoint at $5.9MM.  Given the difficulty in hammering out a 2012 contract, it's no surprise a long-term agreement could not be reached.  Even with another strong offensive year it's unlikely Montero can approach Yadier Molina's new five-year, $75MM deal, but it may at least become a point of reference despite claims to the contrary.  Montero will still have decent competition if he reaches free agency, with Mike Napoli, Russell Martin, and Chris Iannetta expected to be eligible.  Montero is the youngest of the four.



2014 MLB Free Agents

MLBTR’s up-to-date list of 2014 MLB free agents is below. These are players who are currently available to be signed as free agents during the 2014 season (and accumulated at least 50 plate appearances or 20 innings pitched either this season or in 2013).

If you have any corrections or omissions, please contact us. To see who represents these players, check out our agency database.

Updated 07-17-14

Catchers

Miguel Olivo (35)
Kelly Shoppach (34)

First Basemen

Casey Kotchman (31)
Xavier Nady (35)

Second Basemen

Alberto Gonzalez (31)
Brendan Harris (33)
Jeff Keppinger (34)
Donnie Murphy (31)

Shortstops

Alberto Gonzalez (31)
Alex Gonzalez (37)
Nick Green (35)
Brendan Harris (33)

Third Basemen

Brandon Inge (37)
Alberto Gonzalez (31)
Brendan Harris (33)
Jeff Keppinger (34)
Donnie Murphy (31)
Placido Polanco (38)

Left Fielders

Jason Kubel (32)
Xavier Nady (35)
Laynce Nix (33)
Juan Pierre (36)
Derrick Robinson (26)
Alfonso Soriano (38)

Center Fielders

Casper Wells (29)
Dewayne Wise (36)

Right Fielders

Jason Kubel (32)
Vernon Wells (35)

Designated Hitters

Jason Kubel (32)
Xavier Nady (35)
Alfonso Soriano (38)
Vernon Wells (35)

Starting Pitchers

Joe Blanton (33)
Jon Garland (34)
Jeff Karstens (31)
Jeff Niemann (31)
Wandy Rodriguez (35)
Randy Wolf (37)
Barry Zito (36)

Closers

Heath Bell (36)
Ryan Madson (33)
J.J. Putz (37)
Jose Valverde (36)

Right-Handed Relievers

Luis Ayala (36)
Manny Corpas (31)
Octavio Dotel (40)
Kyle Farnsworth (38)
Frank Francisco (34)
Brandon Lyon (34)
Cristhian Martinez (32)
Zach Miner (32)
Brett Myers (33)
J.J. Putz (37)

Left-Handed Relievers

Mike Gonzalez (36)
David Purcey (32)
Ryan Rowland-Smith (31)

Cot’s Baseball Contracts was used in the creation of this list.


Leap Day In Transaction History

Like the rest of you, I resent leap years. An extra day of winter, an extra day of waiting for Opening Day, an extra day before I can start wearing my "It's March!" shirts without getting strange looks… the whole idea is infuriating.

That must be why, when it comes to baseball transactions on this day, the results are so unimpressive. Sure, many of the marquee free agents have signed by this point in the offseason, but that alone cannot explain the black hole February 29 has been for adding useful talent.

Just within the past few years, teams have added valuable players like Pedro Feliciano and Chan Ho Park on February 28 and Bruce Chen and Chad Durbin on March 1. By contrast, consider: just two players signed on Leap Day since 1980 have provided positive value to their new teams that season.

Infielder Ramon Martinez signed with the Dodgers on February 29, 2008, but he didn't get into a single game before Los Angeles released him in July. He ultimately played a few games with the Mets, but the only addition last Leap Day did not prove fruitful for his team.

No one at all signed on February 29, 2004. Can you blame them?

Back on February 29, 2000, San Diego signed the left-handed reliever Alberto Castillo. Just a month later, the Padres released him. Castillo didn't reach the Major Leagues until 2008.

But back in 1996, Don Slaught broke the mold of failure, as he broke so many molds as a player. Sold by the Angels to the Reds, Slaught didn't let the curse of 29 stop him, posting a .313/.355/.428 line and catching 71 games, first for the Angels, then for the White Sox.

However, it was Alan Mills who truly holds the record for most productive player acquired on February 29, a record that stands alongside accomplishments like Cy Young's 511 wins Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, and Matt Franco's single-season record for pinch-hit walks. The New York Yankees sent Mills to Baltimore for pitchers Francisco de la Rosa and Mark Carper.

What did Mills do in Baltimore? He pitched so well, you'd swear he was acquired on February 28. A 10-4 record, 2.61 ERA and a pair of saves in a swingman role makes Alan Mills the king of the February 29s.

Interestingly, Mills tried to recreate this magic by signing with Tampa Bay in February 2004- a leap year. But he did so on the 16th and, unsurprisingly, failed to make the club.

Sadly, recent reports indicate that Ivan Rodriguez will not become the latest high-profile member of this exclusive club. But pay close attention to today's MLBTR stories. Like Haley's Comet, you'll be seeing something that doesn't happen very often in our lifetimes, and works out even less of the time.


Miguel Tejada Hopes To Return To Athletics

"Tell Billy to give me a call," free agent infielder Miguel Tejada implored Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, campaigning for a job with his old team.  Aware of third baseman's Scott Sizemore's season-ending injury, Tejada said he'd love to return to the A's and he doesn't want big money.  Tejada began his career with the A's, winning an MVP award with them in 2002.

Tejada told Slusser he wasn't happy in San Francisco last year, where he posted a .239/.270/.326 line in 343 plate appearances before being cut loose.  The infielder feels he can still play, and friend Yoenis Cespedes would benefit from his presence.  Cespedes is likely to arrive in to A's camp in Phoenix this weekend, reports Slusser.

Slusser considers a even a minor league deal with the A's a longshot for Tejada.  The A's are giving Josh Donaldson a chance to replace Sizemore this year.


Quick Hits: Rendon, Astros, Royals

On this date last year, Adam Wainwright underwent Tommy John surgery, but it didn't stop the Cardinals from winning the 2011 World Series. Earlier today Tyler Kepner of the New York Times looked back at the moment Wainwright struck Carlos Beltran out to end the 2006 NLCS and the present-day relationship between the new teammates. Here are more of today's links…

  • Third base prospect Anthony Rendon is impressing Nationals scouts and front office personnel this spring, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Rendon, a first round pick in 2011, doesn't appear to be far removed from the Major Leagues. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman just signed a long-term deal, but Rendon says he is comfortable at second base.
  • In a chat with fans at MLB.com, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said the club still needs to "add to [their] depth" and land an impact prospect with the first overall pick in June's draft.
  • The Royals' Opening Day payroll figures to be in the $57MM range, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweets. Dutton has the full breakdown here.

Stark On Blue Jays, Victorino, Braves

ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark asked five GMs how many teams have a shot at winning the World Series and each executive said 13-16 clubs could win it all. The Mets, Astros, Pirates, Cubs, Padres, Orioles, White Sox, Twins, Mariners and Athletics didn’t receive any nominations. Here are the rest of Stark’s rumors…

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Stark he would take a look at a bat if one were to fall into the team’s lap. That is to say, he’d welcome players willing to accept minor league deals and hit their way onto the 25-man roster. “In terms of adding a free agent on a guaranteed contract, we won't be doing that," Anthopoulos said.
  • Stark had heard a rumor that the Blue Jays may have interest in right-handed bats such as Magglio Ordonez or Vladimir Guerrero.
  • Shane Victorino, who is on track to hit free agency after the 2012 season, told Stark he’d like to stay in Philadelphia, even if that means signing an extension that delays his arrival on the free agent market. Click here for the latest on extension talks around MLB.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren told Stark he isn’t worried about locking Brian McCann up just yet, since he's under team control through 2013. “I think it's probably premature for those discussions,” Wren said. “But we love him. And we know he's a big part of our club.”

AL East Notes: Varitek, Ramirez, Hughes

The AL East included four of the junior circuit's eight 80-win teams a year ago, and you could make the argument that the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Blue Jays are just as strong entering the 2012 campaign. The latest links from the division…

  • As Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains, the Red Sox didn't realize they had obtained two future All-Stars when they sent reliever Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe in 1997. Speier passes along quotes from Dan Duquette, scout Gary Rajsich and Lowe in this look back at the franchise-altering deal. Rajsich considered Lowe a future above-average setup man at the time.  Even then, the scout thought Varitek could be a frontline starting catcher. 
  • Duquette explained to Speier that Manny Ramirez wasn't a fit for the Orioles this winter. "I thought since I was so generous with Manny last time around, he should have paid me this time around. He didn’t quite see it that way," Duquette quipped, making reference to the slugger's eight-year, $160MM contract with the Red Sox.
  • Duquette also discussed the Varitek-Lowe deal in detail.
  • The Yankees say there's a competition between Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia for the final spot in their rotation, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the competition is essentially rigged. Hughes will win if the competition is close, and Garcia will head to the bullpen unless a starter gets injured.

Examining Salvador Perez’s Extension

The sixth-youngest player to appear in an MLB game in 2011 signed a multiyear deal yesterday. 21-year-old Salvador Perez is now the youngest player in the sport with a long-term contract (not counting amateur signing bonuses). The Royals made a historic investment by guaranteeing $7MM to someone with just a handful of games in the Major leagues. But if Perez turns into an MLB regular behind the plate, there’s an excellent chance this deal will save the club money long-term.

Let’s set aside the year-to-year breakdown of the five-year deal and determine how the sides are valuing Perez’s first two seasons of arbitration eligibility. He’ll earn $7MM for his first five MLB seasons — essentially the league minimum for three years plus a total of $5.5MM for two arb years. 

How much do catchers have to produce to earn $5.5MM for their first two seasons of arbitration eligibility? To give you an idea, John Buck, Carlos Ruiz, Rod Barajas, Mike Napoli and Yadier Molina earned $4.5-6MM for that chunk of their careers. If Perez produces like those catchers, adding value on offense while playing capable defense on a regular basis, he and the Royals will basically have broken even through five years.

If Perez breaks out and produces like Joe Mauer, Brian McCann or Geovany Soto, the Royals will save money, even for the guaranteed portion of the deal. If he struggles to produce or stay healthy, the deal will cost the Royals more through 2016 than going year to year would have.

The contract includes three team options which were presumably essential for the Royals. They can retain him for $3.75MM in 2017 and lock up two free agent years for a total of $11MM in 2018-19. In other words, the Royals will have the chance to lock Perez’s prime age 27-29 seasons up at a well-below-market rate.

He obtained significant security just 39 games into his MLB career, and there's no guarantee he'll establish himself as the long-term solution behind the plate, but $7MM isn’t the kind of commitment that sets a franchise back significantly. Like Perez himself, this deal offers a whole lot of upside.