Aaron Cook Rumors

Quick Hits: Ortiz, Garza, Angels, Anibal, Cook, Ayala

Eight years ago today, the Cardinals and Albert Pujols avoided arbitration by agreeing to a seven-year, $100MM contract. It's the largest contract ever given to a player with between 3-4 years of service time. Here's the latest from around the league…

  • David Ortiz told Javier Maymi of ESPN Deportes that he still wants to avoid an arbitration hearing and sign a multiyear deal, but acknowledged that he's left it up "to the agents and the team to deal with it." Earlier this week we heard that he and the Red Sox were likely headed to a hearing. Ortiz filed for $16.5MM while the team countered with $12.65MM, as our Arbitration Tracker shows.
  • One executive told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he expects the Cubs to trade Matt Garza at the deadline and not before Opening Day (Twitter link). The two sides recently avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $9.5MM contract for 2012.
  • The Angels would still like to add another reliever if the price is right, reports Morosi (on Twitter). They reportedly have an offer out to Luis Ayala, though the free agent relief market is dwindling.
  • Juan C. Rodriguez of The Sun Sentinel hears that Anibal Sanchez's arbitration decision is expected to be announced on Monday (Twitter link). Sanchez filed for $8MM while the Marlins countered with $6.9MM. The hearing was yesterday.
  • Aaron Cook told WEEI.com's Alex Speier that several teams were willing to give him a Major League contract, and that two clubs even made such offers. He took a minor league deal from the Red Sox because he liked the fit better, and because he knows pitching coach Bob McClure from his days in the minors.
  • Ayala is currently pitching for Mexico in the Caribbean Series like last year, hoping it will land him a job again writes MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. "I haven't had any good offers but I'm confident that, God permits, I will get a chance to pitch for a team that will allow me to show my abilities," he said.
  • In an article for The Los Angeles Times, Mike DiGiovanna lists the best and worst free agent signings at each position this offseason.

Contract Details: Red Sox, Indians, Reds

MLB.com’s beat reporters have passed along lots of contract details today. Here they are:

Red Sox Sign Aaron Cook

The Red Sox have agreed to terms with right-hander Aaron Cook on a minor league contract. The deal is worth $1.5MM prorated if Cook is called up to the Major Leagues, according to Rob Bradford and Alex Speier of WEEI.comMichael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that Cook, who has passed his physical, could earn an additional $2MM in incentives based on games started. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com first reported the deal.

Cook, 33 next month, has spent his entire Major League career to date with the Rockies, posting a 4.53 ERA in 1,312 1/3 innings over parts of 10 seasons. His best work came during a four-year stretch from 2006-09, when he averaged 187 innings per season and recorded a 4.11 ERA. At his peak in 2008, Cook was worth as many as 4.7 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.

The groundballer (57.4% career rate) battled injuries each of the past three seasons, however, with his 97 innings in 2011 marking his fewest since 2005. With Cook falling short of expecations the past couple seasons, the Rockies unsurprisingly declined his $11MM 2012 option in October, making him a free agent for the first time.

With the Red Sox, Cook will compete for a rotation spot, according to Rosenthal. If he's healthy and inducing wormburners, he could prove to be a valuable, low-cost addition for the Sox. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes included Cook among such candidates in a post last week.

Quick Hits: La Russa, Cordero, Ayala, Oliver, Vizquel

Some links as Monday turns into Tuesday…

  • Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says (on Twitter) Tony La Russa is seriously weighing his career options and hopes to have an answer soon, perhaps before Spring Training. It's been speculated that La Russa could join a team in a front office role after retiring from managing.
  • The Angels have talked to Francisco Cordero's representatives recently according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. He says it's hard to gauge where the team is in the race for the right-hander given all the money they've already spent this offseason, among other things.
  • The Yankees maintain interest in re-signing reliever Luis Ayala according to MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith (on Twitter). Ayala posted a 2.09 ERA with a 50% ground ball rate in 56 IP for New York last season. Last month we learned that six teams were pursuing the righty.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that the Rangers didn't offer Darren Oliver anything close to the $4.5MM he got from the Blue Jays. He says they remain in the market for left-handed bullpen help, and Mike Gonzalez still fits.
  • Omar Vizquel hinted at retirement on his Twitter account today, saying "[if] there is no contract [offer] there will be no other option but to start a new career, [as a] coach," according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (link in Spanish).
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post reports that Casey Blake will have to come to the plate 550 times this season to max out the $1MM in incentives in his contract with the Rockies. He'll earn the first $350K in bonuses at 350 plate appearances.
  • Within the same piece, Renck says that Aaron Cook's minor league deal with the Red Sox will pay him $20K per month in the minors. He can make an additional $2MM by making 30 starts in the big leagues, and the escalators kick in at 15 starts. Cook can request his release if he's not on the 25-man roster on May 1st and again on June 1st.

Gammons On Fielder, Madson, Cook

The relative inactivity of the Yankees and Red Sox on the market for expensive free agents has rendered this offseason a strange one, writes Peter Gammons of MLB.com. Both clubs are concerned about the luxury tax in both the short and long terms, one GM tells Gammons. Here are some other tidbits of note …

  • Gammons wonders whether there’s a fit for free agent Prince Fielder other than the Nationals: “Where is there a team with local media rights that Fielder could impact? And local media rights is what's driving the cars these days, as Albert Pujols knows.”
  • However, if the Rangers get a deal done with Yu Darvish, the "Fielder watch will come into focus," especially if the Nationals back off and Prince doesn’t want to play for the Mariners.
  • As for Ryan Madson, the race between the Angels and Rangers for supremacy in the AL West could re-shape the market for the free agent closer. Halos GM Jerry Dipoto, in particular, is keeping an eye on the right-hander to see if his price comes down.
  • The Red Sox are looking at lefty Paul Maholm, and they might be interested in Aaron Cook if the righty is amenable to signing a minor league deal with incentives. Cook has a history with new Boston pitching coach Bob McClure.
  • The Red Sox inked right-hander Carlos Silva in hopes of making him 2012’s Freddy Garcia, who was a nice value signing for the Yankees on a one-year, $1.5MM deal last season.

Pirates Interested In Aaron Cook

The Pirates have shown preliminary interest in free agent righty Aaron Cook, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  About a half-dozen teams have checked in so far, hears Brink, and the Pirates' interest is in the early stages.  Cook is represented by Pro Star Management, Inc.

Cook, 32, posted a 6.03 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.84 HR/9, and 55.1% groundball rate in 97 innings for the Rockies this year.  Those peripherals aren't markedly different from Cook's past work, so there's hope the groundballer can post an ERA in the mid-4.00s.  Recent health issues will suppress Cook's price tag, as he's endured a sprained toe, displaced right fibula fracture, a broken ring finger, and shoulder inflammation.  The Rockies moved him to the bullpen in September.

As Brink notes, the Pirates have a need in the rotation with Paul Maholm a free agent and Charlie Morton undergoing hip surgery.  Like recent signing Clint Barmes, Cook has a relationship with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

NL West Notes: Dodgers, Cook, Bell, Hill

The Dodgers are nearing a deal with Juan Rivera and have drawn interest from a high-profile potential buyer. Here are more notes from the division…

  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt will get at least $1 billion if he agrees to sell the team, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Dodger Stadium and its surrounding parking lots will likely be included in any sale. 
  • Aaron Cook can see himself returning to Colorado under the right circumstances and Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd has some interest in bringing the right-hander back, according to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post. The Rockies declined an $11MM option for Cook yesterday, paying a $500K buyout instead. 
  • Padres GM Josh Byrnes told reporters, including Tom Krasovic of MLB.com, that he'll be happy if Heath Bell accepts arbitration and prepared in case the Type A reliever declines.
  • The Diamondbacks value Aaron Hill at about $4MM, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). They had an $8MM option for the second baseman before declining it yesterday.

Rockies Decline Option On Aaron Cook

The Rockies declined their 2012 option on righty Aaron Cook, tweets Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post.  The Rockies will pay Cook a $500K buyout as opposed to the $11MM option.  GM Dan O'Dowd says the door is open for Cook to return on a new contract.

With 72 wins, Cook is 14 ahead of Jason Jennings on the team's franchise leaderboard.  Cook posted a 6.03 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.84 HR/9, and 55.1% groundball rate in 97 innings this year.  He signed his extension after the '07 season.  Cook battled shoulder, toe, and finger injuries in the following seasons, his innings totals declining each year.

Rockies To Decline Cook’s Option; Giambi To Exercise His

As our Offseason Outlook shows, the Rockies only have two option decisions to make this winter, and Troy Renck of The Denver Post says both appear to have already been made. The team will decline their end of Aaron Cook's $11MM mutual option, and Jason Giambi seems set to exercise his end of a $1MM mutual option. We learned that the team intends to exercise their end of Giambi's option last month.

Cook, 33 in February, has thrown just 382 2/3 innings over the last three seasons due to various injuries. He's pitched to a 4.94 ERA during that time with 4.39 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, and a 56.7% ground ball rate. The team will pay him a $500K buyout, and Renck says they do have interest in bringing him back as long as it's on a low-risk contract.

Giambi, 41 in January, hit .260/.355/.603 with 13 homers in just 152 plate appearances this past season. He drew a lot of interest both before and after the trade deadline, but has talked openly about enjoying his time in Colorado. He'll return as the backup first baseman and pinch-hitter extraordinaire in 2012.

Last night we learned that all option decisions – regardless if it's team, player, or mutual – must be made by 11:59pm ET on Monday, October 31st.

NL West Links: Bauer, Broxton, Cook, Brach

It's Panda-monium at Coors Field tonight, as Pablo Sandoval hit for the cycle against the Rockies.  Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Sandoval's cycle was the 25th in Giants history and the 10th since the club moved to San Francisco.  If you had Sandoval and George Kottaras in a "who will hit for the cycle?" pool this season, you are now a multi-millionaire.

Some items from the NL West…

  • Kevin Towers hinted to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that the Diamondbacks may not call up Trevor Bauer in September.  Towers thought the young prospect could have pitched too many innings for UCLA and in the minors this year.
  • Jonathan Broxton will likely be shut down for the season after suffering a setback with his injured elbow, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. This probably also spells the end for Broxton with the Dodgers, as the right-hander is a free agent this winter.  Don Mattingly was non-committal when talking about if Broxton could be back in L.A. next season.
  • Aaron Cook isn't planning to retire and wants to pitch in the Majors next season, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post.  Cook is set to start on Wednesday in the Rockies' last home game of the season, and it will likely be his last appearance with the team — Colorado is expected to decline Cook's $11MM option for 2012 and buy him out for $500K.  MLB.com's Thomas Harding describes Cook's start as "a thank you for his long run with the organization," as Cook is the Rockies' all-time wins leader.
  • The Rockies will install a humidor at their Triple-A stadium in Colorado Springs, reports Jim Krieger of the Denver Post.  The team feels its pitching prospects can't properly develop by throwing in the thin air, and Colorado Springs' 6.41 team ERA this season is evidence.
  • Brad Brach's journey from being a 42nd-round draft pick to pitching in the Padres bullpen is detailed by MLB.com's Corey Brock.