January 2013

Indians Sign Matt Capps

The Indians announced that they signed Matt Capps to a minor league deal with an invitation to MLB Spring Training. Kelly Kinzer of Kinzer Management Group represents the right-handed reliever.

Capps opened the 2012 season as the Twins' closer and posted a 3.68 ERA with 5.5 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and 13 saves in 29 1/3 innings. However, shoulder inflammation led to two trips to the disabled list in the second half of the season and limited the 29-year-old to just three appearances after June 23rd.

Before the 2012 season Capps had established himself as a closer who was durable if not dominant. He averaged 68 innings with a 3.50 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 from 2006-11 while pitching for the Pirates, Nationals and Twins. In eight MLB seasons, he has a 39.5% ground ball rate. His fastball averaged 92.4 mph last year, not far off his career mark of 93 mph.

Mets To Sign LaTroy Hawkins

3:34pm: Hawkins would earn just about $1MM plus incentives if he makes the Mets, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports (on Twitter).

2:29am: The Mets have signed LaTroy Hawkins to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale (on Twitter).

The 40-year-old Hawkins was effective in 42 innings for the Angels last season, pitching to a 3.64 ERA, 4.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. His fastball still averaged 92.3 mph, according to FanGraphs, though his 5.4% swinging strike rate was the lowest of his lengthy career.

If Hawkins makes the roster, the Mets will become the tenth team for which he's pitched at the Major League level. The Reynolds Sports Management client has a career 4.45 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and 47.8 percent ground-ball rate in 1303 2/3 innings. He's been significantly better as a reliever (3.36 ERA in 518 1/3 innings) than he was a starter early on in his career (6.11 ERA in 785 1/3 innings).

Hawkins is the second veteran right-handed bullpen option that general manager Sandy Alderson has added in the past 24 hours, as the Mets signed Scott Atchison to a minor league deal on Wednesday morning.

Rodriguez Intends To Continue Playing

3:18pm: Rodriguez intends to recover from his hip operation and play out the remaining five years on his contract, Yahoo's Tim Brown reports. "Alex is working diligently on his rehabilitation and looks forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible," one source close to Rodriguez told Brown. The third baseman has not heard from MLB or from the Yankees since this week's news broke. Rodriguez doesn't have interest in a discounted buyout and probably wouldn't approve a trade away from the Yankees.

8:14am: Alex Rodriguez’s Yankees career could be over. The third baseman is unlikely to play for the Yankees again, no matter what happens with allegations linking him to a supplier of performance enhancing drugs, Bill Madden, Christian Red and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News report.

The hip surgery that Rodriguez is recovering from “will likely derail his playing career,” according to the Daily News reporters. This would force the 37-year-old into a diminished role and could lead him to consider retirement or a settlement. Even before this week’s news, Yankees officials had already begun preparing for the probability that Rodriguez would not finish the five years remaining on his contract.

Rodriguez could retire as a result of the injury if it's as serious as expected. This could allow the Yankees to be reimbursed for up to 85% of the $114MM remaining on his contract with insurance companies covering the bulk of the commitment. It’s also possible Rodriguez could return in a diminished role and decide to retire. Under this scenario the Yankees would discuss settlement options with him, the Daily News reports.

Mets Continue Seeking Bullpen Help

Even after signing LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison to minor league deals the Mets are looking for bullpen help, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Many free agents remain unsigned at a time that the Mets are looking to replace the innings of R.A. Dickey.

The Mets signed relievers Atchison, Hawkins and Pedro Feliciano this winter, but lost Manny Acosta, Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch to free agency. They have been linked to a number of free agent relievers this winter, including Brian Wilson, who's now rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Matt Capps, Mark Lowe and Brandon Lyon are among the other right-handed relievers available in free agency, as MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows.

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D’Backs Agree To Four-Year Deal With Martin Prado

The Diamondbacks announced they have agreed to a four-year contract through 2016 with infielder/outfielder Martin Prado.  The deal will pay Prado $40MM in total, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  The 29-year-old is represented by the Legacy Agency.

Prado was in his third and final winter of arbitration eligibility and was set to hit the open market after the 2013 season.  Arizona acquired Prado and four other players from the Braves for Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson earlier this month.  We heard last week that General Manager Kevin Towers & Co. were optimistic about agreeing to a new three or four-year deal with the veteran.

In 2012, Prado posted a .301/.359/.438 slash line with ten homers in 690 plate appearances for Atlanta.  For his career, Prado has hit .295/.345/.435 across seven seasons for the Braves.  

The Braves reportedly had a strong sense that 2012 would be his final season with them as he was pushing for a new contract with a $12MM average annual value.  This four-year pact with the Diamondbacks gives him a considerable raise over his $4.75MM salary and comes a lot closer to the type of salary he had in mind.

Reds Avoid Arbitration With Simon, Heisey

We'll track the day's arbitration agreements under $3MM right here…

Quick Hits: Headley, Wells, Lowe, A-Rod, Mariners

Earlier tonight, the Padres avoided arbitration with Chase Headley by agreeing to a one-year, $8.575MM deal.  The third baseman is under team control through 2015 and General Manager Josh Byrnes started dialogue with Headley's representatives about a contract extension earlier this winter, writes MLB.com's Corey Brock.  However, those talks have been tabled for now.  "We couldn't frame it up where it made sense for both sides," Byrnes said.  In today's poll, nearly 70% of MLBTR readers said that it would make sense to lock Headley up long-term.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • The Dodgers, Blue Jays, Angels, Tigers, Orioles, Brewers, and Athletics were in Peoria, Arizona today to watch Kip Wells, Mark Lowe, and Ryan Rowland-Smith throw, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter).  Wells, 35, made seven starts for the Padres last season and posted a 4.58 ERA with 20 walks and 19 strikeouts.
  • The Yankees can dream about getting out from under Alex Rodriguez's contract, but there is very little chance of it happening, writes David Waldstein of the New York Times.  Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted that the Yankees could pay just 15% of the $114MM owed to A-Rod if his hip injury is diagnosed as career-ending and he misses the entire season.
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (video link) has a gut feeling that aces Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander will work out new contracts with their respective clubs before they get the chance to hit the open market.
  • The Mariners need to add a dependable starting pitcher, opines Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  Baker suggests that the M's should try and swing a trade for the Dodgers' Chris Capuano by sending Franklin Gutierrez back to the club where he started his pro baseball career.

Yankees Talking To Travis Hafner

9:21pm: The Yankees are considering Hafner as a left-handed designated hitter but no deal is imminent, a source tells David Waldstein of the New York Times.  

11:00am: The Yankees are talking to Hafner and others, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com notes (on Twitter).

10:47am: The Yankees might be close to a deal with free agent designated hitter Travis Hafner, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (on Twitter). The Legacy Agency represents Hafner.

Hafner hit free agency after the Indians chose a $2.75MM buyout over a $13MM option earlier in the offseason. The 35-year-old hit .228/.346/.438 with 12 home runs in 263 plate appearances for Cleveland last year. Hafner, a left-handed hitter, has a career batting line of .287/.391/.534 against right-handed pitching. He also drew interest from the Indians this winter.  

Hafner has averaged only 85 games a season over the past five years due of injuries.

Padres Avoid Arbitration With Chase Headley

The Padres and Chase Headley have agreed to a one-year, $8.575MM to avoid arbitration, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Headley is represented by Jim Murray of Excel Sports Management.

The third baseman filed for $10.3MM while the Padres countered with $7.075MM.  Their agreed upon figure is just shy of the $8.688MM midpoint.  Headley, who earned Super Two status following the 2010 season, will be arbitration eligible for the final time next winter.  Beyond that, Headley is set to hit the open market after the 2014 season.

Headley enjoyed his best season to date in 2012, hitting .286/.376/.498 with a career-high 31 homers in 699 plate appearances.  As MLBTR's Transactions Tracker shows, the Padres have just one arb eligible player remaining in Clayton Richard.

Mariners Avoid Arbitration With Shawn Kelley

We'll keep track of tonight's sub-$3MM deals to avoid arbitration right here in this post..

  • Mariners reliever Shawn Kelley agreed to a $935K deal to avoid arbitration, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  The 28-year-old Kelley will receive sequential bonuses for 60, 90, 120, and 150 days on #mariners roster that could boost the total value to $1.1M.  The M's offered Kelley $750K while he filed for $1.2MM.