2013 Contract Issues Rumors

2013 Contract Issues: Kansas City Royals

The Royals are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

  • Jonathan Sanchez - The Royals were hoping for more from Sanchez, who struggled on the mound before hitting the disabled list earlier this month. However, they are short on MLB-ready starting pitching depth.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt - The Royals appear to value Betancourt's ability to play multiple infield positions. He'll likely be in line for another one-year deal next offseason.
  • Jonathan Broxton - Broxton has pitched effectively for the Royals, even though he doesn't have the swing-and-miss stuff he once did. It's not hard to imagine a reunion, but Broxton will have other offseason suitors. 
  • Humberto Quintero - Assuming Salvador Perez recovers from his knee injury, and Brayan Pena returns, the Royals would be set behind the plate. None of Kansas City's free agents should expect offseason qualifying offers from the team.

Contract Options (1)

  • Joakim Soria: $8MM club option with a $750K buyout. This won't be an easy decision for the Royals, since their longtime closer will miss the 2012 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. For what it's worth, Soria has said he would like to stay in Kansas City.

Arbitration Eligible (8)

The Royals have worked aggressively to extend some of their young position players and others aren't yet arbitration eligible, so next offseason's class should be relatively manageable. Hochevar and Paulino are getting expensive, but Mijares could be traded. Bourgeois could miss the cutoff for eligibility, depending on how long he remains in the minor leagues. Wood will be eligible even though he's missing the entire season to undergo Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Royals have committed just shy of $35MM to next year's team, not counting Soria's option or arb-eligible players going year to year. If ownership is willing to maintain a payroll in the $65MM range, GM Dayton Moore should be well-positioned to pursue some second-tier free agents this coming offseason.


2013 Contract Issues: Minnesota Twins

The Twins are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

  • Carl Pavano - Pavano has already been traded three times in his career and it won't be a surprise if the Twins deal the right-hander for a fourth time this summer. He doesn't strike many hitters out, but he limits walks and makes his starts, so contending teams could have interest.
  • Francisco Liriano - Liriano has already lost his status as an elite pitcher and his place in the starting rotation. His spot on the Twins' roster could be next if the club lets him go after the season.
  • Ryan Doumit - Doumit, 31, is hitting well enough to set himself up for another Major League deal next offseason. None of the Twins' free agents should expect offseason qualifying offers from the team.
  • Jason Marquis – Marquis lost his spot on the Twins' roster when they designated him for assignment earlier today.

Contract Options (2)

  • Scott Baker: $9.25MM club option. Baker is out for the season after undergoing elbow surgery and the Twins can be expected to decline this option.
  • Matt Capps: $6MM club option with a $250K buyout. The Twins should decline this option if Capps is still on the team when decisions are due. There's also a chance the Twins deal the right-hander to a team seeking midseason relief help.

Arbitration Eligible (5)

The Twins' arbitration class will be relatively light next offseason. Casilla is the lone player here with a shot at a salary of $3MM-plus in 2013. Burnett is on track for super two status, but not by much. He'd lose eligibility if the Twins send him to the minors at some point this year.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Twins' payroll has risen to the $100MM range in recent years, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. They've already committed $65MM to next year's team, which leaves lots of breathing room if ownership holds payroll steady. But attendance has dropped by 5,000 fans per game so far this year, so GM Terry Ryan could be working with sub-$100MM payroll.


2013 Contract Issues: Los Angeles Angels

The Angels are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • Torii Hunter - Hunter has said he would like to play for the Angels or another contending team once his contract expires. He'll be looking at a short-term deal and a major pay cut from his current $18MM salary. None of the Angels' free agents should expect qualifying offers after the season.
  • Hisanori Takahashi - The 37-year-old Takahashi has seen his stock drop since signing a two-year, $8MM contract with the Angels two offseasons ago.
  • Maicer Izturis - Mike Scioscia continues to find playing time for the versatile 31-year-old. It's not as though the team's offseason plans will hinge on Izturis, however.
  • LaTroy Hawkins - Hawkins has been on the disabled list for most of this month, but he was pitching reasonably well before getting hurt.
  • Jason Isringhausen - The 39-year-old seriously considered retirement this spring, so it won't be surprising if he retires this offseason.
  • Ryan Langerhans - Langerhans, now on the disabled list, could return, but it would presumably be on another minor league deal.

Contract Options (3)

  • Dan Haren: $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout. Despite his unsightly ERA and lopsided record, Haren's past successes are too compelling to ignore. I expect the Angels to exercise this option.
  • Ervin Santana: $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout. A net price of $12MM for the age-30 season of an established 200-inning pitcher seems reasonable, especially for a high-revenue team.
  • Chris Iannetta: $5MM club option with a $250K buyout. Player can void option. At his best, Iannetta's worth considerably more than $5MM per season, so he figures to void the option if he puts together a strong year. If he struggles to hit and/or stay healthy, the Angels might not value him at $5MM (he has been on the disabled list since May 9th because of a wrist injury). It would likely take a solid but unspectacular season for both sides to OK the option.

Arbitration Eligible (5)

Callaspo and Morales are off to slow starts at the plate and given that they'll both be in line for raises from the $3MM range this offseason, trades or non-tenders aren't out of the question. The three other arb-eligible players will remain affordable in 2013.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Angels have committed $92MM to next year's payroll, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. If Haren and Santana return, the team will already have $116MM in commitments for 2013. Yet owner Arte Moreno boosted payroll to $150MM for the 2012 season with a spending spree at last year's Winter Meetings, so generous payrolls are nothing new in Anaheim. GM Jerry Dipoto won't have too many positions to fill this coming winter, though the bullpen figures to be an area of concern.



2013 Contract Issues: Oakland Athletics

The Athletics are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

  • Brandon McCarthy - McCarthy, now on the disabled list, figures to be in high demand this offseason. If the right-hander returns from the DL on schedule and the A's are out of contention by the end of July, he could be traded.
  • Brandon Inge - Scott Sizemore should return in 2013, eliminating the Athletics' need for a second everyday third baseman. Note that Inge signed a new one-year contract with the Athletics and that the 2013 option on his previous deal with the Tigers is no longer in play.
  • Bartolo Colon - In theory, Colon could also be available this summer. He has pitched well for the A's and they might have interest in re-signing him to a similar low-risk deal in 2013.
  • Jonny Gomes - Bob Melvin has maximized Gomes' exposure to left-handed pitching and the early results are excellent. Perhaps the Bay Area native will re-sign and complement the likes of Seth Smith for another year.
  • Manny Ramirez – Let's see what Ramirez does in 2012 before speculating about his role on the 2013 team.

Contract Options (2)

  • Grant Balfour: $4.5MM club option with a $350K buyout. It's been a rough ten-game stretch for Balfour, who could be a summer trade candidate if he recovers from his current slump.
  • Brian Fuentes: $6.5MM club option with a $500K option. Fuentes would be among the top left-handed relievers available this summer if the A's are willing to listen to trade offers for him. It would seem un-Athletics-like for the team to exercise this option and commit 10% of its payroll to a 37-year-old pitcher who won't pitch more than 5% of the team's innings. But if he puts together a strong season, the club could pick up the option and trade him.

Arbitration Eligible (7)

Injuries and poor performance have created considerable uncertainty for some of Oakland's arbitration eligible players. Devine could be non-tendered, depending on his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Barton, off to another slow start at the plate, could be cut loose as well. As long as Braden's recovery from shoulder surgery progresses well, he figures to be retained this December. If not, he'll be non-tendered, too.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The A's have committed nearly $29MM to next year's team, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. The franchise typically spends $50-65MM on its players, so GM Billy Beane should have some money at his disposal this offseason. However, the team's uncertain long-term future will presumably have some effect on Beane's ability to pursue free agents.


2013 Contract Issues: Seattle Mariners

The Mariners are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (5)

  • Ichiro Suzuki - Sentimentality only goes so far, as the Mariners know from Ken Griffey Jr.'s return to Seattle. Yet it's hard to imagine Ichiro in another team's uniform and he appears to prefer Seattle to other potential suitors. He won't be earning $17MM per season, no matter where he plays.
  • Brandon League - Nothing screams 'trade candidate' like established relievers nearing free agency on non-contenders. It won't be surprising if the Mariners trade League this summer. Hopefully for Seattle, potential suitors aren't put off by the right-hander's declining peripherals.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma - Manager Eric Wedge hasn't used Iwakuma much (four appearances in the team's first 43 games). That in itself could be an indication that he's not part of the Mariners' long-term plans.
  • George Sherrill - The left-hander will miss the remainder of the season to recover from Tommy John surgery.
  • Kevin Millwood - GM Jack Zduriencik did well to add Millwood to the rotation on a low-risk deal. The right-hander figures to sign another short-term, low-risk contract this coming offseason whether he's back in Seattle or pitching elsewhere.
  • Munenori Kawasaki - The infielder has the right to elect free agency for the purposes of going back to Japan but not to explore other opportunities in MLB.

Contract Options (1)

  • Miguel Olivo: $3MM club option. If at the end of the season the Mariners don't believe Jesus Montero is a future catcher, there could be a role for Olivo on next year's team. He has his shortcomings on offense and on defense, but he hits lefties, which makes him a suitable complement to the left-handed hitting John Jaso.

Arbitration Eligible (4)

This relatively small arbitration class doesn't figure to generate many headlines, but Vargas could be an exception. He's building a case for another substantial raise via arbitration and it's hard not to wonder if the Mariners might cash in on him soon, while his salary's just $4.85MM, and obtain a couple of controllable players in a trade. Contenders will be looking for pitching help before long and Vargas' durability should generate interest.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Mariners have committed $40MM to next year's team, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Ownership has been lowering payroll in recent years, and the 2012 team will cost approximately $85MM. GM Jack Zduriencik should have financial flexibility this coming offseason when he looks to round out his pitching staff and add some offense.


2013 Contract Issues: Texas Rangers

The Rangers are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (7)

  • Josh Hamilton - Hamilton will be the best and most discussed position player available in free agency this offseason. He's a superstar when healthy, but his injury issues will deter some suitors and his past off-field troubles may scare others. Even so, Hamilton figures to sign for at least $20MM per season on a long-term deal. The Rangers will make him a qualifying offer if they don't lock him up first.
  • Mike Adams - It's early, but Adams' strikeout rate, swinging strike rate and average fastball velocity are down so far in 2012. He still limits walks and generates ground balls, so he adds value out of the bullpen even when he's not striking out a batter per inning.
  • Mike Napoli -  Napoli appears to seek a contract in the $50-75MM range and the Rangers haven't met his asking price so far. However, they'll presumably be comfortable making him a qualifying offer after the season.
  • Colby Lewis - Lewis has been an effective starter despite his league-leading 13 home runs allowed. The Rangers need someone to eat innings at the back of their rotation, and the right-hander has been up to the task these past two-plus seasons.
  • Yorvit Torrealba - The Rangers are an exceptional team in many ways, but like everyone else they need a backup catcher.
  • Koji Uehara - Uehara has struck out 7.56 times as many hitters as he has walked in his career, and no pitcher in MLB history can match that ratio (minimum 150 career innings per Baseball-Reference).
  • Mark Lowe - Lowe is off to an excellent start in 2012. As with Adams and Uehara, it's too early to say whether he'll re-sign this offseason.

Contract Options (2)

  • Scott Feldman: $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout. Feldman has become a spot starter for the Rangers, so it's safe to assume they'll decline this option.
  • Yoshinori Tateyama: club option for an unknown amount (his 2012 option was valued at $1MM). Tateyama is pitching effectively at Triple-A, and appears to be on his way up to join the big league team. He could earn a spot on the '13 team with a strong finish.

Arbitration Eligible (4)

The Rangers face a relatively small arbitration class, partly because they already extended Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz. Feliz, the converted reliever, will have an unusual arbitration case given his change in roles. Harrison and Murphy are on track for raises as second and third-time eligible players.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Rangers have increased payroll steadily in recent years and the 2012 club will cost more than $120MM. They've already committed $84MM to next year's team, so another payroll increase could be forthcoming.


2013 Contract Issues: National League

Here's MLBTR's look at the 2013 contract issues facing National League teams:

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Cot's Baseball Contracts was instrumental in the creation of these posts. The American League is up next.


2013 Contract Issues: Atlanta Braves

The Braves are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (7)

  • Michael Bourn - The 29-year-old headlines a strong class of free agent center fielders that also includes Shane Victorino and B.J. Upton. Bourn is hitting .320/.376/.403 with 13 stolen bases and The Fielding Bible considered him an elite defender as recently as 2010. He'd be a fit on the 2013 Braves, but others will also come calling for the Boras Corporation client. Atlanta figures to make one qualifying offer after the season, and it'll go to Bourn.
  • Matt Diaz - Diaz can still hit lefties, so there's a role for him on a team that includes its share of left-handed hitting starters.
  • David Ross - Ross could be a fit again in 2013, though powerful catching prospect Evan Gattis continues to hit in the minors.
  • Jack Wilson - Wilson hasn't done much of anything at the plate since the Braves traded for him last summer, so if the front office wants a little more offense from their backup shortstop, Wilson will be out of a job.
  • Chad Durbin - Unless Durbin can limit the longball, he'll be removed from the roster before the offseason arrives.
  • Eric Hinske - Hinske continues to add value as a backup corner player. It won't be surprising if there's room for him on next year's Braves team.
  • Livan Hernandez - The innings eater figures to sign a one-year or minor league deal this offseason. It's too soon to know whether Atlanta will want him back.

Contract Options (3)

  • Chipper Jones: $7MM club/vesting option. Jones has already decided to retire following the 2012 season.
  • Tim Hudson: $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout. It will be hard to do better than Hudson for a net cost of $8MM. Plus, the Braves' pitching staff doesn't seem quite as deep as it did a few months ago.
  • Brian McCann: $12MM club option with a $500K buyout. The Braves will exercise this option following the season and they could look to lock McCann up to a Yadier Molina-like extension.

Arbitration Eligible (8)

The Braves' arbitration eligible players will earn a significant percentage of the team's 2013 payroll. Heyward and Venters will see their salaries spike and Hanson could join some exclusive company with a salary of $4MM-plus for his first year of eligibility. Prado's salary could approach $7MM in his last season before free agency. Jurrjens is a trade and non-tender candidate following his struggles with the Braves and at Triple-A.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Braves have committed just $14.7MM to next year's team — there's Dan Uggla's contract, a couple of option buyouts and not much else. Given that the Braves have typically spent $90MM or so on payroll in recent years, GM Frank Wren should have considerable financial flexibility. However, he will have lots to address between the team's arbitration class, its outfield and its bench.


2013 Contract Issues: Miami Marlins

The Marlins are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (5)

  • Anibal Sanchez - Sanchez will be in high demand this offseason. He's just 28 and he continues to pitch like a top-of-the-rotation starter. The Marlins figure to make the right-hander a qualifying offer to be eligible for draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
  • Juan Carlos Oviedo - Oviedo, the pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez, is not part of the Marlins' long-term plans. He hasn't pitched in 2012 because of issues surrounding his age and identity.
  • Randy Choate - Most modern bullpens employ lefty specialists and Choate remains effective in that role at age 36.
  • Chad Gaudin - There's no reason to believe the journeyman right-hander figures into the team's 2013 plans just yet.
  • Austin Kearns - Kearns has been useful as a lefty masher this year, even batting cleanup seven times. Perhaps the Marlins will want him back as a platoon bat/extra outfielder.

Contract Options (1)

  • Carlos Zambrano: $19.25MM vesting option. The option vests if Zambrano places in the top four in this year's Cy Young voting and finishes the season healthy. As well as he has pitched, it seems unlikely the option will vest.

Arbitration Eligible (7)

The Marlins face a mid-sized arbitration class that could diminish in the coming months. Coghlan could be non-tendered if the Marlins feel a gap has developed between the former Rookie of the Year's resume and his current skills. Murphy could also be non-tendered. Sanchez is now in the minors and unless he returns to Miami, his arbitration eligibility will be delayed. The Marlins saved themselves millions by delaying Giancarlo Stanton's MLB debut in 2010; he will miss the cutoff for super two eligibility by a couple of weeks. Even if the team retains all seven players, the cost should stay in the $10-15MM range.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Marlins have already committed $85MM to next year's team, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Revenue from their new stadium should provide ownership with the opportunity to boost payroll in 2013 and exceed their current $101.6MM tab.


2013 Contract Issues: New York Mets

The Mets are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • D.J. Carrasco - Carrasco, currently in DFA limbo, has no reason to expect a roster spot in 2013, since he's no longer a member of this year's team.
  • Jon Rauch - Rauch has seen his strikeout rate dip to 4.9 K/9 so far this year, and he's generating fewer swings and misses than before. It would be understandable if the Mets' confidence in Rauch were diminishing.
  • Ramon Ramirez - A one-year, Major League contract seems like the most probable outcome for Ramirez this offseason.
  • Ronny Cedeno - The addition of Cedeno has been a success so far, and he's still just 29. Presumably he'd prefer a starting job if one's available to him as a free agent.
  • Scott Hairston - Hairston remains a capable extra outfielder, though it's too early to know what the Mets' outfield needs will be this winter. Alternatively, the Mets could stick with internal options like Mike Baxter.
  • Tim Byrdak - Byrdak has been effective as a Met and could be a fit again in 2013. He won't obtain a qualifying offer from the front office, nor will any of the team's other free agents.

Contract Options (2)

  • David Wright: $16MM club option with a $1MM buyout. Wright can void option if traded. The Mets will exercise Wright's option and they're expected to try to work out an extension with the hot-hitting third baseman. Wright leads the NL in batting average (.411) and on-base percentage (.513), so he'll be paid like a superstar on his next contract.
  • R.A. Dickey: $5MM club option with a $300K buyout. Dickey will be a bargain for this price, and I expect the Mets to exercise the option.

Arbitration Eligible (8)

Pelfrey will presumably be non-tendered, and Acosta will have to pitch better to avoid a similar fate this December. It's possible Torres could be non-tendered despite his defense and .352 on-base percentage. His salary ($2.7MM this year) is on the rise and the Mets have outfielders Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jason Bay. Though four of the Mets' key players will head to arbitration for the first time this winter, this doesn't figure to be a prohibitively expensive class, assuming Pelfrey obtains his release.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Mets have committed $54.5MM to next year's payroll, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Their 2012 payroll is below $100MM for the first time since 2004, but they may be able to spend more freely now that the team's owners have reached a settlement to resolve their involvement in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.