March 2013

Rangers, Elvis Andrus Nearing Deal

Shortstop Elvis Andrus and the Rangers are "close" on an eight-year deal that could be worth $120MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Andrus is a Scott Boras client, as shown in MLBTR's Agency Database.

Andrus, 24, has hit .275/.342/.353 in four big-league seasons, but he also provides significant and consistent value with his fielding and his baserunning. He had his best offensive year so far in 2012, hitting .286/.349/.378 in 711 plate appearances. Andrus is currently in the second year of a three-year, $14.4MM contract that covers all three of what would have been his arbitration-eligible seasons. He is currently set to make $4.8MM in 2013.

If Andrus were to reach agreement on a new deal with the Rangers, it would cap a span of just a few days in which Justin Verlander, Buster Posey, Adam Wainwright and Paul Goldschmidt all also signed big-money deals to remain with their current teams. An Andrus mega-contract would be somewhat novel, in that position players with his lack of offensive firepower (he has virtually no home run power and has yet to post an OPS+ higher than 91) rarely get such deals, but Andrus' youth and fielding ability make him a very valuable commodity.

An eight-year deal would put Andrus in line for free agency at the age of 33, an idea that isn't appealing to the shortstop's camp, a source tells Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram (on Twitter).  However, a deal of this magnitude could put those concerns to rest.

The Rangers also have top prospect and fellow shortstop Jurickson Profar at Triple-A, and it's unclear how an Andrus extension might affect his future. The Rangers could keep them both and use Profar at second base, with Ian Kinsler, who is signed through 2017, moving to DH or first base.

Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels worked out one other extension this winter when he inked Matt Harrison to a five-year, $55MM deal, according to MLBTR's Extension Tracker.  Texas has also shown that they aren't afraid to hammer out a contract after Opening Day as they gave Ian Kinsler his five-year, $75MM deal in early April last year.

Quick Hits: Indians, Youkilis, Walker

Over the course of 48 hours last week, teams handed out nearly a half-billion dollars in long-term deals to Justin Verlander, Buster Posey, Adam Wainwright and Paul Goldschmidt, Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes. But not all of those expensive contracts go well, which leads to, for example, last week trade of Vernon Wells from the Angels to the Yankees. "We're becoming like the NBA," says Brewers GM Doug Melvin. "Instead of old-fashioned baseball trades, we're trading contracts. I can see more of these in the future. And that's concerning." A sidebar to Nightengale's article lists how much each team will be paying other teams this year, much of it for contracts gone bad. The Angels are paying the most money, most of it going to the Yankees for Wells. The Pirates are receiving the most money, much of it coming from the Yankees (for A.J. Burnett) and Astros (for Wandy Rodriguez). Here are more notes from around the league.

  • Two bad months — a bad August 2011 for the Red Sox, and a bad August 2012 for the Indians — helped create the 2013 Indians, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Without the Red Sox's bad month, Cleveland wouldn't have been able to hire manager Terry Francona, and without the Indians' 5-24 August, the team's ownership might not have felt the need to make a splash in the offseason. That month of "zombie baseball" led to the acquisitions of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds, Hoynes argues.
  • The Red Sox will see former star Kevin Youkilis as he makes his regular-season debut with the Yankees on Monday, Peter Abraham of the Boston Glove notes. Youkilis signed a $12MM deal with the Yankees in the offseason. "It’ll be weird," says Boston's Jon Lester. "I wouldn’t never thought that it would happen. But he made that choice for him and his family. I’m sure he’s excited about it."
  • Pirates second baseman Neil Walker also says he isn't likely to discuss a long-term contract with the team during the regular season, Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). The Bucs have not made a new offer to Walker, either, Sanserino says. Walker will make $3.3MM in 2013 in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

East Notes: Marlins, Aceves, Lester, Blue Jays

The Marlins have an Opening Day, on-field payroll of just $36.1MM, about $58MM less than in 2012, Juan Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel notes. That the Marlins' team is dramatically less expensive than it was at this point last year is hardly news, but it's still startling to see a list of the team's players and their salaries, as Rodriguez provides here. After Ricky Nolasco at $11.5MM, the next-highest-paid Marlin is Placido Polanco, who will make $2.75MM.

  • "A few teams" were interested in trading for Alfredo Aceves of the Red Sox, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes (on Twitter). But injuries to Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow, along with Daniel Bard's control problems, meant it wasn't possible for the Sox to deal Aceves.
  • Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester isn't interested in discussing a contract extension during the season, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI. "If something did come up during the season I probably wouldn't listen," says Lester. "I don't want to deal with it. I think it's too much of a distraction." Lester will make $11.625MM in 2013, and the Red Sox have a $13MM option, with a $250K buyout, for Lester's services in 2014.
  • The Blue Jays added plenty of talent this offseason, adding R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and others, but bold offseasons don't necessarily lead to big results, Sean McAdam of argues. McAdam points to the 2011 Red Sox (who did finish third, although they also won 90 games) and 2012 Marlins as examples of teams that have disappointed in the years following exciting offseasons.

West Notes: Dodgers, Wells, Athletics, Angels

The nine top names to watch in Los Angeles baseball in 2013 include Chase Headley and Robinson Cano, argues Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Headley could be an in-season trade target for the Dodgers, and Cano will likely be connected to the Dodgers as a free agent next winter. Shaikin also suggests that if the Dodgers don't do well in 2013, they could try to hire Rays GM Andrew Friedman. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Mariners' decision to keep Jason Bay and designate Casper Wells for assignment doesn't make sense, Jeff Sullivan of USS Mariner says. Sullivan notes that Wells is younger, had four years of team control remaining, and has recently been the better player on both offense and defense — and the Mariners will likely lose him for virtually nothing. "Wells, probably, is going to end up getting traded to a team with a thin outfield in exchange for a non-roster barely-prospect," Sullivan says. Sullivan also points out that Wells was one of the key players in the Doug Fister deal with the Tigers. The Tigers already looked like clear winners in that trade, but it's even clearer now.
  • The Giants' signing of Buster Posey to an eight-year, $159MM contract demonstrates the inequities between the Giants and the Athletics, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The Giants have opposed the Athletics' move to San Jose. "It's more than mildly ironic that the Giants granted a single player a contract that exceeds the A's entire payroll by a factor of three," says San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo.
  • The trade of Vernon Wells to the Yankees gave the Angels additional payroll flexibility, Alden Gonzalez of writes. The deal leaves the Angels about $6MM under the luxury tax threshold, Gonzalez reports.

Week In Review: 3/24/13 – 3/30/13

Here's a look at the week that was here at MLBTR.

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MLBTR Originals

A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR this past week, as Spring Training came to a close:

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Yankees Designate Clay Rapada For Assignment

The Yankees have designated left-hander Clay Rapada for assignment to clear a spot for Lyle Overbay, tweets's Bryan Hoch. Rapada is out of options. The Yankees now have ten days to trade, release, or outright him to the minors.

Rapada has been suffering from shoulder bursitis this spring. The Yankees had intended to place Rapada on the disabled list, but changed their minds risking the possibility the 32-year-old will be claimed by another team, according to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. Rapada pitched to a 2.82 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 4.0 BB/9 in 70 games (38 1/3 innings) out of the bullpen for the Yankees in 2012.

The Yankees signed Overbay last Tuesday in an effort to boost a lineup hit hard by injuries to Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez. Overbay will man first base against left-handers with Kevin Youkilis taking over against right-handers. 

Giants Extend Contracts Of Sabean, Bochy

SUNDAY: Bochy's new contract will pay him close to $5MM per year and he could be second only to the Angels' Mike Scioscia as the highest-paid manager in baseball, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Sulia). Bochy would not comment to reporters, including Schulman, except to say Giants' ownership was "very generous."

THURSDAY, 7:40pm: The Giants have sent another release that does not include the team options for 2017, as they originally indicated. Sabean and Bochy's contracts go through 2016 and do not include team options.

7:31pm: The Giants have extended the contracts of general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy through 2016, according to a team release. Dollar figures for the two contracts have not been released.

The Giants won World Series in 2010 and 2012, so it's not surprising the team would want to keep Sabean and Bochy in the fold. Sabean took over as general manager of the Giants in 1996 and has been on the job longer than any other active GM. Bochy has managed the Giants since 2007.

The team exercised its 2014 options on both Sabean and Bochy last December. Last month, it was reported that the Giants were negotiating extensions with both of them.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.

Mariners Designate Casper Wells For Assignment

The Mariners have designated outfielder Casper Wells for assignment, tweets Greg Johns of The Mariners now have ten days to either trade, release, or outright Wells to the minors. If Wells clears waivers, he cannot elect free agency because he does not have enough service time and has not been designated for assignment before, reports the Seattle Times' Larry Stone (Twitter link). The Phillies and Tigers could have interest in the 28-year-old. Wells was a member of the Tigers until he was traded to the Mariners in the Doug Fister deal in July 2011.

The roster move means Jason Bay has made the team. The Mariners filled the open 40-man roster spot by selecting the contract of right-hander D.J. Mitchell, who was then optioned to Triple-A, according to Shannon Drayer of ESPN Radio Seattle (via Twitter).

Indians Designate David Huff For Assignment

The Indians have announced they have designated left-hander David Huff for assignment. Huff was informed on Monday he would not make the team and the Indians were trying to work out a trade because he is out of options. The Indians now have ten days to complete such a deal or they can either release or outright him to the minors.

The 28-year-old was selected in the supplemental round (39th overall) by the Indians in the 2006 draft. He has appeared in 55 games (52 starts) for the Tribe over parts of four seasons, accumulating 285 1/3 innings but posting unsightly ratios including a 5.30 ERA, 5.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. He has averaged 90.5 mph on his fastball with a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate throughout his career. Huff posted a 5.82 ERA this spring in 17 innings (nine games including one start) with 7.9/9K, 2.6 BB/9, and 2.1 HR/9.

The Indians' 40-man roster remains at 39 players because the team selected the contract of Ryan Raburn from Triple-A Columbus.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.