Aaron Cook Rumors

Quick Hits: 2-Sport Athletes, Carpenter, Pineiro, Cook

Two-sport stars do not always choose baseball, but those who do tend to cite the better financial prospects from the player's perspective, writes USA Today's Gabe Lacques. Diamondbacks prospect Archie Bradley, for example, says it was hard to turn down the chance to be "a legend" by playing quarterback for Oklahoma, but his awareness of the lack of guaranteed money and attrition in football led him to take a $5MM signing bonus. Billy Hamilton and Carl Crawford are other players quoted in the article who do note regret their choice. "Look, there's way more money in baseball," says Cubs president Theo Epstein. "We have to do a better job as an industry in promulgating that fact." Or, as Bradley puts things, "obviously, guaranteed money is never a bad thing."

Here are a few more stray notes from the day:

  • Longtime Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter says he is at peace with his decision to hang up his spikes, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The 38-year-old says that, after working out over the winter, he knew it was time: "It's not going to work," he realized. "No matter how hard I push it's just not going to happen." Carpenter and GM John Mozeliak are still sorting out what role he will play in the organization going forward.
  • Veteran hurler Joel Pineiro is still working on his comeback, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. He showed off his form a few days back in front of at least a dozen teams' representatives. The 35-year-old righty has played in parts of twelve MLB campaigns, posting a lifetime 4.41 ERA over 1,754 1/3 innings, but has not pitched in the bigs since 2011.
  • Another familiar arm, Aaron Cook, is now pumping the brakes on his own attempt at a return, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Though he is not retiring, Cook is reportedly unlikely to pitch in the coming season. The 35-year-old has a career stat-line not unlike that of Pineiro, with a 4.60 ERA over 1,406 1/3 frames in parts of 11 seasons. After developing into a solid innings-eater in his late twenties, Cook's production took a distinct downturn over the 2010-12 campaigns.

Cafardo On Cruz, Garza, Tanaka, Figgins

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that outside of his own representation, you won’t find a lot of legal experts who believe Alex Rodriguez will win in federal court.  “I would be surprised if the decision is reversed,” Stanford law professor William B. Gould IV said. “Since 1960, arbitration awards can only be reversed when the arbitrator decides on his own ideas of justice rather than the CBA or because of fraud, corruption or partiality. The merits are for the arbitrator, not the courts. Probably the arbitrator should have called Selig to the stand to avoid partiality, but that won’t be a basis for reversal on its own. As for the union, their obligation is to investigate A-Rod’s claim in good faith — they did so and took his case. And allowing his own counsel.”  More from today's column..

  • Teams are staying away from Nelson Cruz because salary demands still haven’t come down quite enough, according to one National League GM.  He made sense for the Orioles as a power-hitting right-handed bat, but their recent acquisition of Delmon Young may have squashed their interest.
  • Teams have been reluctant to pony up a four- or five-year deal for Matt Garza and he may have to settle for fewer years, even with the price of pitching very high. “There may be concerns about him physically,” said one AL exec. “I think most teams are thinking four or five years is just too risky, even if he’s a no-compensation guy.”
  • Cafardo hears that the bidding for Masahiro Tanaka could get as high as $120MM over six years and that he could shake hands on a deal before the January 24th deadline.
  • The Red Sox were not among the teams who watched Chone Figgins workout in Arizona as he attempts a comeback.  Figgins hopes to resurrect his career, even if it’s as a utility man.  It appears he’ll get the chance to be in camp with someone.
  • After recovering from life-threatening injuries and having his spleen removed, Carl Pavano is throwing off of flat ground in Arizona, according to his agent, Dave Pepe. “Some teams have popped in to see where he’s at. Our intention is for him to throw bullpens for teams in mid-February,” Pepe said.
  • Former Rockies and Red Sox pitcher Aaron Cook is also looking to bounce back after a tired arm ended his season in July.  He did not pitch in the majors last season, making eight starts with Triple A Colorado Springs.
  • Agent Alan Nero says he'd be surprised if any of the arbitration-eligible players went to a hearing this year.
  • Former Indians and Mariners skipper Eric Wedge will likely take a network television job soon but he'd like to get another chance in the dugout at some point.
  • Reliever Cedrick Bowers, who spent last season in the Atlantic League, is starting to catch the eye of scouts in Venezuela.

Rockies, Reds Talked Sean Marshall

1:15pm: While talks aren't dead, concerns over Marshall's health could ultimately kill the deal, tweets Renck. The Rockies were "aggressively" pursuing the lefty as recently as last night, he adds.

TUESDAY, 12:39pm: The Rockies and Reds discussed Sean Marshall at length last night, and a trade appeared close at one point, according to Renck. However, those talks have idled for the time being. It's not clear whether the Reds would have included any salary relief to help offset the remaining $12MM on Marshall's deal, Renck adds.

MONDAY: As they search for relief help, the Rockies appear to have shifted their focus from the free agent market to trade talks, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. According to Renck, Colorado is "pushing hard" to acquire a hard-throwing relief pitcher to add to the back end of its bullpen.

Renck noted earlier today that Joaquin Benoit and Grant Balfour were among the free agent power arms that interested the Rockies, but the price tags on those players and other top relievers will likely be too high for Colorado.

The Rockies' current plan is for LaTroy Hawkins to close games, so the club is looking for another arm to complement Rex Brothers in a setup role. Renck mentions Royals pitchers Wade Davis, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow and Luke Hochevar as possible fits, though Kansas City is far from the only team willing to move relievers.

Rockies Sign Aaron Cook

The Rockies have signed pitcher Aaron Cook to a minor-league contract, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. Cook is represented by Pro Star Management, Inc.

Cook, 34, was recently released by the Phillies, and the Rockies had been expected to pursue him. Cook pitched for the Rockies from 2002 through 2011. He spent last season with the Red Sox, pitching 94 innings with a 5.65 ERA, 1.9 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. Despite the extremely low strikeout rate, Saunders notes that Cook "believes he can still pitch in the major leagues if given a chance." He may have found the right organization to pursue that goal — the Rockies, who recently signed Jon Garland to be their fifth starter, don't have a strong starting rotation.

NL Notes: Garland, Cook, Puig, Brewers, Soriano

Making his first start in a Rockies uniform tonight, recently-signed Jon Garland made such an impression with his groundball-inducing ways that the club tweeted his groundout to flyout ratio (2.5:1) through five innings. 

  • Garland has substantial incentives in his contract with the Rockies that could raise its total value to $3.1MM, explains Troy Renck of the Denver Post. In addition to his base $500k deal, which will fully vest if he stays on the 25-man roster for 45 days, Garland can earn up to $1.35MM for innings pitched (the pay starts at 105 IP and increases up to 195 IP) and up to $1.25MM for starts made (with the incentives kicking in at 20 starts and continuing to 32 starts). 
  • The Rockies are expected to consider the possibility of inking righty Aaron Cook, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweeted earlier today. Cook, who was released earlier today by the Phillies, is (like Garland) known as a groundball artist.
  • In spite of being sent to Double-A today by the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig has been so impressive that he may enable the club to effectively buy even more young talent from other clubs, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. As Rosenthal explains, if L.A. is able to replace either Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier with Puig, they could then offer to pay for much of the balance of the contracts of those expensive veterans to extract quality prospects from a trade partner. According to an unnamed rival executive, "It's smart actually — the only way to really build a farm system under the new rules. And you can only do it if you've got big dollars."
  • The Kyle Lohse signing was a substantial investment for the Brewers at three years and $33MM, but owner Mark Attanasio says that it will not prevent the club from "being able to make another move," reports Rosenthal. In particular, Attanasio expects to be in a position to re-sign first-baseman Corey Hart, who falls just outside the top 10 anticipated 2014 free agents in MLBTR's TIm Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings. While the Brewers sought to add to their rotation without losing a draft pick when they made an offer to Ryan Dempster before he joined the Red Sox for two years and $26.5MM, Attanasio explained that, "at the time we made the Dempster decision, we thought Kyle would go at a higher price." Finally, Rosenthal notes that Lohse can earn three separate paydays totalling an additional $1MM for reaching 190 innings pitched over each of the next three seasons.
  • Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has been a popular topic of trade speculation, with the presumption being that Chicago would try to get whatever prospects and/or salary relief it could. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders, however, whether Soriano is now too valuable for the team to consider dealing. For his part, Soriano raves about the team's new front office and coaching staff, explaining how they changed the culture from one in which he felt singled out for the team's failings to one in which, "if we lost, we lost like a team; if we won, we won like a team."

Phillies Release Aaron Cook

The Phillies released righty Aaron Cook, according to a tweet from the team.  The team's other choices were to add him to the 25-man roster or pay a $100K retention bonus to send him to the minors.

Cook, 34, posted a 5.65 ERA, 1.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 1.44 HR/9, and 58.6% groundball rate in 94 innings for the Red Sox last year.  He signed a minor league deal with the Phillies in mid-January.  Cook still keeps the ball on the ground, but it's hard to survive with so few strikeouts.

Twins Notes: Podsednik, Sweeney, Parra, Bartlett

Despite indications to the contrary, the Twins never called to inquire about the availability of pitcher Anibal Sanchez, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500.  Sanchez, of course, re-signed with the Tigers for five years and $80MM earlier this offseason.  Here's more out of Minnesota, courtesy of Wolfson..

  • The Twins still have interest in free agent outfielder Scott Podsednik, but they're not looking to sign free agent outfielder Ryan Sweeney.  We recently learned that the Mets aren't among the teams in on Podsednik.  The club had brief talks with Sweeney's representatives earlier in the winter.
  • Minnesota had interest in signing free agent starter Freddy Garcia in December but they haven't checked in on him since.  The Twins have also cut off contact with free agent pitcher Manny Parra.  The Twins, along with the Reds and Rockies, were said to be interested in Garcia late last year.
  • The Twins have not inquired about free agent shortstop Jason Bartlett, nor free agent second baseman Kelly Johnson.
  • The Twins never made an offer to shortstop Cesar Izturis, who signed a minor league deal with the Reds on Wednesday.  General Manager Terry Ryan & Co. never had an interest in free agent starter Aaron Cook before he signed with the Phillies either.  
  • Minnesota could have free agent starter Armando Galarraga on a minor league deal but aren't interested in him.  The right-hander hooked on with the Astros on a minor league contract last year after being cut by the Orioles.

Phillies Sign Aaron Cook

The Phillies signed free agent starter Aaron Cook to a minor league deal, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The Pro Star Management, Inc. client would earn $1.625MM at the MLB level.

Cook started 18 games for the Red Sox in 2012 after signing with Boston last January. The 33-year-old posted a 5.65 ERA with 1.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 58.6% ground ball rate in 94 innings. His fastball averaged 89.8 mph, but he generated swings and misses on just 3.7% of his offerings, according to FanGraphs.

Cook, an 11-year MLB veteran, has a 4.60 ERA with 3.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 at the big league level. The Rockies also appeared to have some interest in him this winter.

Rosenthal On Padres, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies

The Orioles showed serious interest in Justin Upton before talks with the Diamondbacks sputtered, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night. Here are some more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • Rosenthal hears from one executive who expects the Padres to make another significant move. However, the Padres like their group of young starting pitchers and aren’t inclined to make a strong play for one of the remaining free agent starters. San Diego could still trade for a pitcher such as Rick Porcello, Luke Hochevar or Aaron Harang.
  • Talks about a deal involving Upton and Chase Headley didn’t progress, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Orioles continue seeking starting pitching and Joe Saunders remains a target. The Orioles also checked in on Porcello, according to Rosenthal.
  • Though the Orioles spoke with Lance Berkman before he signed with the Rangers, they weren’t interested in spending big for the switch-hitting DH.
  • Jeff Karstens, Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Jair Jurrjens are among the possibilities the Rockies are considering. The Rockies wouldn’t offer all of those pitchers Major League deals, however.
  • Rosenthal suggests free agent reliever Rafael Soriano could be a longshot for the Rockies. Colorado would have to surrender its second round draft pick to sign the Scott Boras client.
  • The Phillies continue seeking a right-handed hitting outfielder, Rosenthal reports. They’re still considering free agent Scott Hairston and trade candidates Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells. It’s possible the Phillies will go with platoons in both corner outfield positions.

Rockies Have Interest In Karstens; Open To Trades

The Rockies have expressed "mild interest" in Jeff Karstens, reports Troy Renck of The Denver Post. Renck reiterates that the team also has some interest in Brandon Webb, plus they remain open to trades for pitching. They have not had conversations about free agents Derek Lowe or Aaron Cook, however.

The Pirates non-tendered Karstens in November rather than pay the 30-year-old right-hander a projected $3.8MM salary in 2013. He pitched to a 3.97 ERA with a 36.8% ground ball rate in 90 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh last season while missing time with shoulder and hip problems. Karstens posted a 3.38 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and a 46.2% ground ball rate in 162 2/3 innings in 2011.

The Rockies have been on the hunt for pitching this offseason after their staff produced an MLB-worst 5.22 ERA in 2012. So far this offseason they've re-signed Jeff Francis while trading for Wilton Lopez, though they've been connected to a number of free agents as well. Francis, Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood, and Juan Nicasio represent Colorado's returning starters.