Alex Cobb Rumors

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
  • The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
  • Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
  • Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
  • The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
  • Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
  • Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
  • Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
  • Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
  • Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
  • Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.

(more…)


Cafardo’s Latest: Cobb, Hamels, Red Sox

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe shares some news and opinions in his latest reader mailbag piece

  • The Rays aren’t looking to trade Alex Cobb, as they see the right-hander as a building block piece.  Cobb is under team control through the 2017 season and is only arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter; as Cafardo notes, Tampa only tends to move its stars when they get too expensive.
  • Cafardo believes the Red Sox will acquire an ace-level pitcher before Opening Day.  Given all of Boston’s other winter moves, “it makes no sense to do all they’ve done…and not go after the ace” to top everything off, Cafardo writes, especially since the Sox have the prospect depth to make a trade happen and already might be over the luxury tax threshold.
  • One of those potentially available aces is Cole Hamels, who the Red Sox have been connected to in rumors but “there haven’t been substantiative talks lately.”  Cafardo speculates that Boston could be waiting for the Phillies‘ asking price to drop, and the Sox have already turned down one offer that would’ve cost them both Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart.
  • Besides getting an ace pitcher, Cafardo also predicts the Red Sox will add another reliever (possibly a hard-throwing lefty) and trade one of Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava or Allen Craig before the season begins.  In Craig’s case, Cafardo believes the Sox won’t deal him until they see if he’s productive in Spring Training, as Craig is a valuable bat if healthy.

Arbitration Breakdown: Lance Lynn, Chris Tillman, Alex Cobb

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.

Way back in 2006, Dontrelle Willis set a record for first-time eligible starting pitchers by earning a $4.35MM salary. Arbitration records rarely last eight years, but Willis’ record has. This year, however, three pitchers emerged as possible contenders to top this record. There have been a number of pitchers who looked destined to break this record before. Notably, Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw had cases that were far stronger than Willis. But each signed a multi-year deal, which does not count towards arbitration records. As a result, there have been a number of pitchers who have crept closely up to Willis’ record but failed to top it. Had Lincecum or Kershaw signed a one-year deal to avoid arbitration, it is likely that other pitchers would have ended up earning more than the $4.35MM that Willis earned in 2006.

This type of situation is one that can break a model of arbitration salaries. My model sees Lance Lynn earning $5.5MM, Chris Tillman earning $5.4MM, and Alex Cobb earning $4.5MM. Of course, “The Kimbrel Rule” would cap Lynn and Tillman at $5.35MM, letting them only eclipse the previous record by $1MM. But these are all sort of path-dependent. Only Lynn looks likely to break the arbitration record on his own, but if he does that it is likely to affect what Tillman and Cobb earn. The effect that records have for a given service class and role can make the model look bad in that respect. There have been nine different pitchers in the last five years who have gotten within $50K of Willis’ record, but in each case something led the players to earn just less than him.

The lower run-scoring environment in the league in recent years has certainly helped Lynn, Tillman, and Cobb put together better cases than some of the other nine guys. Last year, Lynn had a 2.74 ERA while Cobb allowed 2.87 earned per nine. The only two starting pitchers in recent years to reach their first year of arbitration eligibility with ERAs under 3.00 have actually been Lincecum and Kershaw. Stephen Strasburg had an ERA of 3.00 exactly and earned $3.97MM last year, but he struggled with run support and only had an 8-9 record. Travis Wood and Mike Minor earned $3.90MM and $3.85MM last year with low ERAs of 3.11 and 3.21, but their records were 9-12 and 13-9. Lance Lynn had a 15-10 record, which should help him put together a better case than any of them. Cobb only mustered a 10-9 record despite his 2.87 ERA. Tillman went 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA, so his ERA is more in line with these other pitchers, but he had a better record than many of them. Tillman also has a lot of innings under his belt for a first-time eligible pitcher. He not only threw 207.1 innings in 2014, but logged 473 innings in his pre-platform years, which is basically as many as any of the nine pitchers who earned within that $3.85-4.35MM range that I mentioned earlier.

David Price actually matched Willis’ record with a 12-13 record in 2011 and a 3.49 ERA in 224.1 innings, so he might be that person that would be considered if any of these pitchers try to set a new high mark. Lance Lynn seems the most likely to do so, and his case actually compares pretty favorably to Price’s. Lynn had a better record and ERA (15-10, 2.74) than Price (12-13, 3.49) in his platform year. Although Price threw 224.1 innings, Lynn did throw 203.2. Lynn also had a 34-18 record with a 3.82 ERA in 412.1 innings in his pre-platform seasons, while Price had a 29-13 record with a 3.31 ERA in 351 innings. Lynn’s case also is pretty good compared to the next highest case in recent years. In 2010, Jered Weaver went 16-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 211 innings, after having a 35-19 record with a 3.71 ERA in 460.2 innings in his pre-platform years. Lynn’s pre-platform numbers are very similar to Weaver’s but his platform year ERA is a run better. Putting Lynn’s case up against Price and Weaver makes it look likely that he could set the record.

That being said, I doubt that Lynn will crush the record and end up with the $5.5MM the model projects without applying the Kimbrel Rule, or even the $5.35MM that he would earn once the Kimbrel Rule was applied. But it does seem likely that he will find himself earning north of $4.35MM.

If Lynn established the record, then he may be used as a comparable for Tillman and/or Cobb. But I suspect that they will still not be able to top $4.35MM despite what the model says. Cobb’s 10-9 record will hurt him, although his 2.87 ERA is obviously outstanding. Price’s numbers look better when you consider the fact that he threw 58 more innings than Cobb in his platform year and won two more games. He also had 80 more pre-platform innings and four more pre-platform wins with a similar pre-platform ERA. I suspect Price will be seen as a ceiling for Cobb unless his ERA matters more than I suspect. I could see Doug Fister’s 2013 case, which earned him $4.00MM, serving as a floor for Cobb though. Fister also struggled with run support and only went 10-10, so he had the same number of wins as Cobb. Fister only had 161.2 innings, too, which is almost equal to Cobb’s 161.1. But Fister had a 3.45 ERA, which is more than half a run higher than Cobb. Fister also had only a 20-31 record pre-platform with a 3.49 ERA in 448.1 innings, while Cobb had a 25-14 record and a 3.39 ERA in 332.1 pre-platform innings. Obviously Fister has the edge in pre-platform innings, but I suspect the superior ERA will make Cobb’s case look better. I think somewhere between $4-4.35MM is likely for Cobb, falling somewhat short of his $4.5MM projection but still in the same ballpark.

Chris Tillman’s projection looks less likely to be close. Tillman went 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 207.1 innings last year and 32-25 with a 4.28 ERA in 473 pre-platform innings. His case actually looks a lot like Price—he has one more win with an ERA 0.15 lower in his platform season, but with 17 fewer innings. He also won 29 games pre-platform, shy of Price’s 32, but had a 4.28 ERA. Price’s ERA was nearly a run better at 3.31. At the same time, Tillman had 473 pre-platform innings to Price’s 351. So depending on whether pre-platform ERA or pre-platform innings are more important, Tillman could beat Price or fall short of him. Mike Minor from last year might serve as a solid comparable for Tillman too. He won 13 games like Tillman did, with a 3.21 ERA and 204.2 innings. However, he had only 19 pre-platform wins in 302.2 pre-platform innings and an ERA even higher than Tillman at 4.37. So Minor would actually be more of a floor at $3.85MM. I suspect Tillman will probably match Price, but if not I doubt that he will fall below Minor’s numbers.

Overall, I think the model is going to be high on all three of these pitchers. They will probably move together, so if one of them ends up hitting the model, then the others are more likely to do so as well, but if they fall short, they will probably do so together. I think that Tillman and Cobb are probably not going to top the $4.35MM record, although I suspect Lynn will. If any of them do—and without signing multi-year deals—then they may make it easier for future starters to do so as well.



AL Notes: Rays, Indians, Buehrle, Rangers

In the wake of yesterday’s report Rays ownership has discussed relocating the franchise to Montreal, Commissioner Bud Selig paused and then declined to answer whether Tampa Bay is a viable major league market, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Selig did say, however, the team needs a replacement for Tropicana Field. “The team has to have a ballpark that makes them competitive,” the commissioner said before Game Four of the World Series. “It doesn’t produce the kind of revenue they need.

In other news involving the Rays and the American League:

  • Change is coming to the Rays and the front office and players alike don’t see it as a negative, writes the Tampa Tribune’s Roger Mooney. “Whoever we bring in here, they’re going to set the scheme and how they want to win games and be a successful organization,” said pitcher Alex Cobb. “When that trickles down to the players, all that is is us playing up to our capabilities, and that doesn’t matter who is in the dugout or the front office.” Mooney notes all coaches are under contract for 2015; but, if the new manager is from outside the organization, there may be changes to the staff.
  • In today’s mailbag, a reader proposed his Indians offseason plan to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer: trade Jason Kipnis and David Murphy for prospects to free up money, then use that money on Victor Martinez. Hoynes doesn’t see the Tribe trading Kipnis so soon after giving him a $50MM+ extension, despite his bad year. The reader’s ambitious plan also calls for Cleveland to have one of their young outfielders form a platoon with Nick Swisher and, given his $15MM salary, Hoynes believes the team wants to see him in the lineup every day.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe identified Mark Buehrle as a trade candidate earlier today and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets the Twins have long been admirers of the Blue Jays hurler. Still, his $19MM salary is too high.
  • If the Jon Daniels-Jeff Banister partnership works in Texas, it will continue a trend in the game of a college educated GM with no professional playing experience working with a baseball lifer as manager, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

AL East Notes: Archer, Rays, Nunez, Blue Jays

The Rays officially announced their six-year, $25.5MM extension with Chris Archer in a press conference today.  The right-hander told reporters (including MLB.com's Bill Chastain) that the recent spate of pitching injuries around baseball influenced his decision to sign the contract.  "I don't know if all the injuries — the head injuries, the concussions, the elbow injuries, some shoulder injuries — that have happened of late, I don't know if they've happened as a sign for me, but I took them as a sign for me, a sign of what's unknown," Archer said.  "I sat down with my financial advisor. With this contract, I'm financially secure multiple times over again, through many generations. For me, that's all I ever wanted out of this game — to be personally secure and have my family members secure as well."

Here's some more from around the AL East…

  • Alex Cobb and Wil Myers would seem to be the next logical extension candidates for the Rays, MLB.com's Adam Berry writes.  Cobb said he would "plead the fifth" when asked if he'd been approached by the team about a multiyear deal, while Myers said that he's just focused on playing and will let his agent handle any contractual business.  Berry's piece also contains several quotes from Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman about his team's strategy of locking up its young stars.
  • The Rays have had nine players suspended for PED usage and 14 players suspended for drug-related offenses overall since 2012 , Baseball Prospectus' Ben Lindbergh notes.  Tampa Bay leads all teams in both categories, and the recently-suspended Alex Colome is the only the latest of several of the Rays' top prospects to be hit with a suspension.  Lindbergh, however, believes this current spate of issues is only a matter of "chance," as the franchise doesn't have a glaring suspension record before 2012.
  • The Mets haven't discussed making a move for Eduardo Nunez, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets, and it's "too early to say if they will have interest" in signing the infielder to bolster their shortstop depth.  The Yankees designated Nunez for assignment yesterday.
  • Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters (including Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star) that he isn't looking for external shortstop help with Jose Reyes on the DL.  Jonathan Diaz is currently filling in at short, and Anthopoulos doesn't think Reyes' injury will keep him out for too long.
  • ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required) doesn't think the Blue Jays will contend this season and the club should deal some top stars in order to restock the farm system.  Edwin Encarnacion headlines Bowden's list of Toronto's ten best trade candidates, which also includes possible trade suitors.
  • In other AL East news, we posted a collection of Red Sox Notes earlier tonight.

AL East Notes: Shields, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles

Several teams, including the Tigers and Angels, had scouts in attendance for Rays right-hander James Shields' start against Seattle today, write Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Red Sox, Yankees, Pirates, Giants, and Blue Jays also had scouts on hand, indicating that Shields could be a hot commodity as the deadline approaches.  As for Detroit, sources say that the Tigers have had interest in Shields for years and could ply him away with catching prospects Rob Brantly and James McCann.  The Rays aren't necessarily shopping Shields but GM Andrew Friedman will listen to offers on him as well as Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb, and Wade Davis, sources say.  Here's more out of the AL East..

  • As you might imagine, the ten-player deal between the Blue Jays and Astros wasn't exactly easy to put together.  Houston GM Jeff Luhnow told Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter) that he had 20 conversations with Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos last night alone.
  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette told reporters, including Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun that he's on the lookout for high on-base percentage hitters.  “Hopefully, [Omar Quintanilla] is a good on-base man. Take a look at his OBP capabilities with the Mets. He was good. We hope he brings the same [thing] with us. … "[But] we are looking at our on-base capabilities. No question. We need to do a better job with that," Duquette said.
  • Anthopoulos told reporters that the two teams will work out the player to be named later in the trade by the end of August, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.

Rosenthal On Rays, Colon, Angels, Dempster

James Shields isn’t the only member of the Tampa Bay pitching staff who could be traded this summer. The Rays are open to moving any of their right-handed starters, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Right-handers Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer would all appeal to teams in need of pitching. Here are more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • The Rays probably won’t sell if it appears Evan Longoria will be able to return before long, but the third baseman’s timeline remains unclear.
  • It’s highly unlikely that the Athletics will trade Bartolo Colon, Rosenthal reports. The A’s value Colon more than the mid-level prospects they’d be able to acquire for him in a trade.
  • Executives say the Angels have enough young talent to trade for a pitcher of Zack Greinke’s caliber. Though GM Jerry Dipoto is reluctant to trade Peter Bourjos and Garrett Richards, both would appeal to other teams. One executive noted that prospects Jean Segura and Kaleb Cowart are also appealing trade chips.
  • The Angels are looking for a left-handed reliever, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Cubs are exchanging names with teams interested in Ryan Dempster. The Dodgers, Tigers, Braves and Red Sox are in the mix. A friend of Dempster’s said the right-hander would probably approve a trade to Boston but considers the Dodgers a better fit. The Dodgers have enough prospects to build a package for Dempster, rival executives tell Rosenthal.
  • The Red Sox are still interested in Matt Garza, another potential trade chip. 
  • The prospect-rich Blue Jays are interested in Justin Upton. GM Alex Anthopoulos is pursuing numerous players and willing to listen on all of his own players, Rosenthal writes. The Pirates have shown considerable interest in Upton, but the Diamondbacks don’t view Pittsburgh as a fit.
  • The Rangers are almost certain to bolster their bench. One option: upgrade over catcher Yorvit Torrealba.
  • It’s not surprising to see the Giants pursuing relief help, Rosenthal writes.

Eight-Player Deal Sending Rasmus To Jays For Jackson Imminent

12:08pm: The Cardinals will send Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to the Blue Jays for Jackson, Rzepczynski, Dotel, and Corey Patterson, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.  Olney adds that Miller is then expected to be traded to the White Sox.

12:01pm: This trade is not yet official because of the money involved, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  He says that aspect may need to be reworked before it's approved.

11:35am: A trade of Rasmus to the Blue Jays for Jackson, Dotel, and Rzepczynski is imminent, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  He says an announcement could come early this afternoon.

11:22am: Edwin Jackson is definitely going to be traded by the Blue Jays, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.  Heyman heard it's going to be for Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus.  Rasmus being under team control through 2014 and still highly-regarded, the Cards will require more than just two months of Jackson.  The two teams have talked about Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel, notes Olney, and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Cards asked about outfielder Eric Thames.

Rasmus is a popular trade target.  ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Rays offered one of Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, and Alex Cobb, and the young center fielder is very much available.  The Indians have interest as well.