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Adam Wainwright Rumors
Links from around baseball as Wednesday turns into Thursday..
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak sounded upbeat about the club's contract talks with Adam Wainwright in an interview earlier today with Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin of SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio. "Right now, I feel pretty optimistic that we’re going to find a way to get things done, but there are still challenges. But from my end of things, the fact that Steve Hammond and I are speaking is a good thing," said the GM.
- Tigers manager Jim Leyland recently floated the idea that using Rick Porcello as a closer could be an option, but he walked it back earlier today and said that it would be "highly unlikely", writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Porcello is a trade candidate for Detroit due to their strong rotation depth.
- Jane Lee of MLB.com doesn't see the A's carrying two true first baseman this season, which would mean Daric Barton being left on the outside looking in. Barton re-signed with the A's this winter on a one-year, non-guaranteed $1.1MM deal.
The Cardinals and Adam Wainwright hope to come to an agreement this spring on a long-term contract extension that will keep the right-hander in St. Louis. His agent Steve Hammond will play a large part in determining whether or not that happens. Wainwright sat down with B.J. Rains for MLB Trade Rumors to discuss his personal relationship with Hammond, the man that holds his future in his hands:
“When I was drafted out of high school I went through the draft with my brother as my council. He’s a lawyer and he handled negotiations for me in that right so I didn’t per se have an agent at that time, but I didn’t want to mix family and business and I don’t think my brother did either. The first time that I kind of opened the door for agencies to come interview me or me interview them I should say was in the instructional league or the Gulf Coast League or maybe even Spring Training of 2001. I had all the agencies come in, I had the Boras group come in and the Hendricks brothers came in and some big agencies came in from up north. I really liked all of them to be honest with you but then I had Steve Hammond come in and visit me.
“The first time Steve called to interview I had never heard of him. It was around Valentine’s Day and my girlfriend at the time who I am married to now was coming to visit me and I needed a Valentine’s Day present so I went to the mall to get her something and I completely big leagued him – I forgot to show up for our meeting. He had his feelings hurt a little bit but he came back around the second time and I said I completely forgot, I was getting something for Jenny, please forgive me, let’s go out and meet again. We went to a Cuban or Dominican place to eat dinner and just talked about what he brought to a player’s career and what he’s looking for in a client and I really liked that. He didn’t sit there and tell me how great I was for an hour straight. He just shot me straight and told me about him and we talked about golf and baseball and instantly I thought this is the guy I want to go with but logically you sit down and say but do I need to go with one of these more established, bigger agencies? Looking at his career he had represented a lot of people that I knew. He represented Chipper Jones for a time and Orel Hershiser and some big guys so I knew he had the ability to be a great agent and he was a great agent but he brought the intangibles to that I was looking for.
“What I got from Steve was more than just an agent. He was a guy that I just got a great feeling about. All things being equal, I looked at all the agents and I realized they were all great agents so I said well what is the one thing that is different that is somebody that I need to pick and Steve Hammond had that. I looked at him as somebody I respected as a father. I looked at his family life. He and I had a lot of similar interests. He’s a former player but he loves golf and tennis and ping pong and doing all those kinds of things with his boys. I just got to interact with him a little bit and I really felt like I was part of the family and I felt like he was part of my family and since that time I feel like he is part of my family. Steve has become one of my biggest spiritual mentors in my life. He’s more than an agent. He gets mad when I introduce him as my agent to other people. He’s almost more than a friend too. I really do think of him as family. He’s almost like a father figure to me or an uncle figure or a brother figure – one of those family figures. He’s just a guy that I can look to. I trust him completely. I trust him with anything I bring to the table. I trust his advice and that was something that really caught my eye. You can get a feeling of someone’s character and integrity right away when you talk to someone a lot of times and he and I just clicked.”
One year ago today, the Orioles' signing of Miguel Gonzalez to a minor league contract became official. The move drew little notice at the time, but Gonzalez would go on to become a key cog in Baltimore's unlikely playoff berth. Gonzalez pitched to a 3.25 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 105 1/3 innings for manager Buck Showalter's team. Here's more news from around the league…
- Scott Miller of CBS Sports spoke with MLBPA director Michael Weiner about the increasing amount of players calling for harsher penalties for first-time PED offenders. Recently, Dustin Pedroia, Matt Holliday, Michael Cuddyer and Ryan Zimmerman spoke out, with Cuddyer calling for first-time offenders to receive 100-game suspensions. Weiner said the issue will be tackled this coming offseason.
- Adam Wainwright's agent Steve Hammond has returned from a ten-day trip to Israel, so negotiations with the Cardinals could resume soon, tweets B.J. Rains of 1380 AM. Rains spoke with Wainwright about his relationship with Hammond for a forthcoming installment of MLBTR's "Why I Chose My Agency" series.
- MLB.com's Ken Gurnick looks at the nine Dodgers will be free agents following the 2013 season. As Gurnick notes, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Nick Punto, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston, Matt Guerrier, J.P. Howell and Juan Uribe will all be eligible for free agents. They're not all guarantees to depart, however, as Capuano, Ellis and Harang all have options on their contracts. This is also the final season that the Dodgers will owe $8.3MM in deferred money to Manny Ramirez, meaning they'll have $54.2MM coming off the books.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs explains that the disparity in salaries between experienced players and inexperienced players works in favor of low revenue teams and has a positive impact on competitive balance in MLB.
Steve Adams and Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
Three NL Central teams had winning records in 2012, but the Reds, Cardinals and Brewers won't get the chance to play the Astros regularly anymore. The Pirates narrowly missed a .500 record in 2012, and the Cubs' pitching staff looks much deeper following a busy offseason for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, so it now looks like the division will be tougher in 2013. Here are some NL Central notes, starting with the Cardinals’ top starter…
- The Cardinals will be able to afford an extension for Adam Wainwright if they truly want to retain the right-hander long-term, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. With TV revenue on its way to St. Louis and a strong player development system in place, the Cardinals could likely afford Wainwright. They must now determine whether they value him at $20MM-plus per season for four or five years.
- The Cubs haven't shied away from veterans of Tommy John surgery, since pitchers like Arodys Vizcaino have considerable upside, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
- The Pirates took a similar approach to their division rivals, signing Jose Contreras to a minor league deal even though he's still recovering from the Tommy John operation that he underwent last June. GM Neal Huntington said the Pirates' scouts have always been impressed with Contreras, Tom Singer of MLB.com reports. "We felt this was a low-risk acquisition that can help this team at some point this summer," Huntington said. Contreras threw off a mound in front of Pirates personnel before completing his deal.
It was on this day in 1986 that Rollie Fingers chose his mustache over the Reds. The veteran closer was offered a Spring Training invite by the Reds on the condition that Fingers shave his famous handlebar in order to meet with the team's facial hair policies. Fingers turned the deal down and instead retired, ending his 17-year Major League career and paving the way for his eventual induction into the Hall of Fame.
Here's the latest from around the NL Central…
- The Cardinals exchanged figures with Alex Gonzalez this offseason but couldn't come to terms, and the veteran shortstop instead signed with the Brewers, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. The Cards' best offer was a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $1MM plus another $1MM if Gonzalez made the roster, which couldn't top Gonzalez's deal with Milwaukee. A dozen teams scouted Gonzalez's offseason workout sessions, with the Red Sox and Dodgers showing particular interest in the 36-year-old.
- Steve Hammond, Adam Wainwright's agent, is out of the country for the next 10 days so there won't be any immediate extension talks between Wainwright and the Cardinals, B.J. Rains of St. Louis 1380 AM Radio reports (via Twitter). We heard on Monday that both sides were keeping the lines of communication open about a new contract for the ace right-hander.
- Dontrelle Willis talks to CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney about his career, his short-lived retirement, his controversial exit from the Orioles organization and his return to the Cubs on a minor league contract.
- The Pirates are desperate for success but ESPN's Buster Olney notes that the team must weigh the short-term benefit of a winning season against the long-term costs (both developmentally and financially) of calling up young starters Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith noted earlier today that the Pirates could prevent Cole from gaining Super Two eligibility by delaying his callup until mid-June.
While both the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright have advertised a pause in contract talks, the lines of communication are open and conversations continue to occur between both parties, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The pitcher had said that talks were on hold as recently as last week.
While Albert Pujols' relationship with the Cards front office became strained during the negotiation process, things remain solid between the club and Wainwright. When asked if Wainwright’s talks had assumed an edge similar to Pujols’ in 2011, one party familiar with the process told Strauss, “Not even close. And I’d bet anything it won’t.”
The supposed break from talks allowed both sides to get out of giving daily progress reports to the press while also allowing the Cardinals to reevaluate their position. The Cards will either have to raise the average annual value of their offer or give in to Wainwright's request for a longer pact with a lower AAV. The 31-year-old, who has finished top three Cy Young Award balloting in two of his last three available seasons, is said to be seeking more than five years guaranteed.
Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio predicts Kyle Lohse will sign with either the Brewers or Rangers as one of five moves which will happen this spring (Insider subscription required). Bowden also sees extensions for Adam Wainwright and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Here's the other Senior Circuit news and notes from the first Sunday of Spring Training:
- Count the Phillies out as suitors for Lohse as GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is prepared to go with the staff he has in camp, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
- Lohse will only become of interest to the Cardinals if their rotation candidates aren't panning out during Spring Training, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman in a piece outlining six reasons why the Redbirds remain playoff contenders.
- One reason for the Cardinals making the postseason in three of the last four years is being ranked as one of the NL's top four teams in terms of innings pitched by the starting rotation, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goold notes this year’s rotation is set to include four starters, beyond Wainwright, who combined have just one 190-inning season.
- The Mets could use catcher John Buck as trade bait once they promote Travis d'Arnaud in the opinion of ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin, who cites the precedent of when David Wright took over at third base.
- Bill Madden of the New York Daily News cautions the Mets to be prudent with their newfound financial flexibility if they dive into next year's free agent outfield pool. Madden lists Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, and Hunter Pence (all ranked in the top ten of MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings) as possible targets.
Here's a look at players and a manager who aren't looking to rush into a contract extension just yet…
- Jeff Samardzija turned down a five-year contract extension from the Cubs this offseason as he hopes to continue prove himself as a pitcher before focusing on financials, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "We were talking, and we both have the same interest in mind,” Samardzija said. "We both want me to be here and both want me to be part of this team for a long time. When we feel like we’re on the same page with that, we’ll get it done." The 2012 season marked Samardzija's first season in the starting rotation as he pitched to the tune of a 3.81 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.
- Adam Wainwright has put contract negotiations on hold after holding court with the Cardinals for the past week, but that doesn't mean talks can't resume in the future, says Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It doesn’t mean that it’s over," Wainwright said. "The door is still open. It just didn’t work out right now."
- Robin Ventura turned down a one-year contract extension from the White Sox this offseason as he wants to take managing one year at a time, writes Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com. The former third baseman, who guided his squad to 85 wins in his first season as a manager, is entering the second year of a three-year contract.
The Tigers are showing a lot of faith in 22-year-old Bruce Rondon by making him the frontrunner for the closer role, but Detroit would be better served by having legitimate closing options to choose from, opines Dave Cameron of Fangraphs in a piece for ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). Developing your own closer rather than paying free agent prices for one is a good idea, but Cameron believes that the Tigers should probably have someone to hold down the fort while Rondon gains some big league experience. Here's more from the AL and NL Central..
- The Twins haven't completely ruled out free agent outfielder Scott Podsednik, but nothing is close to being imminent, writes Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. So far this offseason, the Twins have appeared to be the only club with serious interest in the veteran.
- A Twins official told Wolfson that there isn't much to the news of 41-year-old free-agent pitcher Jose Contreras was working out at the Twins' Fort Myers facility. When asked if it was meaningful or random, the official simply said, "Random."
- Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright says that extension talks won't derail him during spring training as they did five years ago, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. General Manager John Mozeliak hopes to work out a new contract with Wainwright by Opening Day while Wainwright says that he isn't setting a deadline for talks.
- Edwin Jackson is considered an important piece in the Cubs' rebuilding process, both as an experienced starter under contract through the projected turnaround years and in the short-term as support for the rotation in the event of a likely Matt Garza trade this year, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Angels' Vernon Wells has been a trade candidate for quite some time but a source tells Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter) that it is now "very likely" that he will start the season with the Halos. Those odds have increased even more now that Delmon Young landed in Philadelphia. Here's more from around baseball..
- Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro told reporters that they plan to use Young as their starting right fielder, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Young, who may not be available to start the season as he recovers from ankle surgery, has not played the position in six years.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says that he hopes to work out a new contract with Adam Wainwright by Opening Day, tweets ESPN.com's Jim Bowden. For his part, the pitcher says that he isn't setting a deadline for talks.
- The acquisition of Rafael Soriano caught Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard by surprise, but he isn't in a rut over not getting the chance to close in 2013, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.