Alex Cora Rumors
The Rangers signed infielder Alex Cora and assigned him to Triple A, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported yesterday that the Rangers were considering Cora.
The Mets released Cora ten days ago, after the 34-year-old posted a .207/.265/.278 line in 187 plate appearances. At the time of his release, he needed just 18 more games for his $2MM 2011 option to vest. Cora has mostly played second base this year, but the Mets also used him at first and at short. Ian Kinsler is on the DL, so the Rangers are presumably interested in Cora as a second baseman.
Links for Monday, with just a couple hours remaining for teams to sign their 2010 draft picks...
- Bobby Valentine told Jack Curry of the YES Network that he doesn't think the Mariners are "a fit" for him (Twitter link). Seattle has a managerial opening and some have suggested that Valentine could be a target for the Mariners.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that he would be shocked if former Mariners skipper Don Wakamatsu had trouble finding a job.
- The Mariners signed former big leaguer Tug Hulett and assigned him to Triple A, according to the transactions page for the Pacific Coast League. Hulett, now 27, appeared in 15 games for the Royals last year.
- The Rangers are considering free agent Alex Cora, though they have not offered the infielder a deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- The Brockton Rox of the independent Can-Am League signed former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, according to the AP (via CBSSports.com). Lee, who last faced a major league hitter in 1982, is now 63 years old!
- The Astros announced that an arbitration panel decided that the team was within its rights to terminate Shawn Chacon’s contract without pay after the pitcher's physical confrontation with GM Ed Wade in 2008.
The Mets have released Alex Cora and demoted Jesus Feliciano to the minors, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported (via Twitter) that the team would be "bumping" Cora from the major league roster in order to make room for Ruben Tejada. Feliciano's demotion clears a spot on the roster for Fernando Martinez.
As David Lennon of Newsday points out (via Twitter), by releasing Cora, the Mets avoid seeing the 34-year-old's 2011 option vest. Cora needed to play in just 18 more games to trigger the $2MM option.
The season started with nine vesting options to watch, but we're down to just five a little beyond the season's halfway point...
- Trever Miller, Cardinals. The southpaw's $2MM option vests with 45 appearances. He's appeared in 31 of the team's 85 games, so he's on pace for 59. He should get there easily.
- Alex Cora, Mets. Cora's $2MM option vests with 80 games (not necessarily starts), and he's already appeared in 48. He's on pace for 91 games. Luis Castillo's foot and Ruben Tejada's emergence could stand in Cora's way.
- Darren Oliver, Rangers. His $3.25MM option will lock in with 59 appearances. He's already appeared in 37 games, so he should get there without a problem.
- Ramon Hernandez, Reds. Hernandez must play in 120 games for his $3.25MM option to vest. He's appeared in just 57 of Cincinnati's first 86 contests, putting him on pace for 107 games.
- Magglio Ordonez, Tigers. Ordonez's $15MM option vests with 135 starts or 540 plate appearances. He's on pace for 141 and 615, respectively, so it'll take a lengthy stint on the disabled list to knock him off track.
11:33am: ESPN's Adam Rubin explained in a chat today that Cora's option vests with 80 games rather than 80 starts. Cora is on pace to play more than 90 games this year.
8:32am: We entered the season with nine vesting options to watch, but we're already down to five. Let's take a look.
- Trever Miller, Cardinals. The lefty's $2MM option vests with 45 games. So far he's appeared in 17 of the team's 52 games, putting him on pace for 53. Miller appeared in ten games in May and is back on track.
- Alex Cora, Mets. Cora's $2MM option vests with 80 starts. He's started 19 of the team's 52 games, putting him on pace for 59 starts. Cora will need to make about 15 starts per month from here on out to reach the target. His 2011 contract may depend on Luis Castillo's foot problems and reduced playing time against righties.
- Darren Oliver, Rangers. Oliver's $3.25MM option vests with 59 appearances. He's made 24 in the team's first 50 games, putting him on pace for about 78.
- Ramon Hernandez, Reds. Hernandez's $3.25MM option vests with 120 games played. He's played in 33 of 52, putting him on pace for 103. He'll need about 22 games per month to hit the target. Ryan Hanigan's broken thumb is a factor.
- Magglio Ordonez, Tigers. His $15MM option vests with 135 starts or 540 plate appearances. He's on pace for 156 games and 658 PAs, so even a DL stint wouldn't necessarily prevent Ordonez from locking in his 2011 salary.
- As a reminder, the vesting options for Brian Fuentes, Billy Wagner, Matt Cain, and Kerry Wood have already been addressed.
We entered the season with nine 2011 vesting option situations to watch. With one month in the books, several have already been pretty much decided. Let's take a look.
- Brian Fuentes, Angels. A back strain put Fuentes on the DL for a little while, making it unlikely he reaches 55 games finished. He'd need 51 in the team's remaining 136 games to cause his $9MM option to vest.
- Billy Wagner, Braves. Wagner's $6.5MM option vests with 50 games finished. He's finished eight games so far, and would have a shot at 50. However, the 38-year-old lefty recently told Braves manager Bobby Cox he'll retire after the season.
- Trever Miller, Cardinals. His $2MM option vests with 45 games, and he's appeared in seven so far. That's behind Miller's typical pace; he's averaged 71 the last three years. It's probably random, and Miller should still reach 45 games.
- Matt Cain, Giants. The $6.25MM option probably would've vested, but the Giants decided to guarantee Cain's 2011 salary at $7MM as part of an extension.
- Kerry Wood, Indians. His $11MM option vests with 55 games finished, but a back injury has Wood just now approaching his 2010 big league debut.
- Alex Cora, Mets. His $2MM option vests with 80 starts. He's started ten games so far. With Luis Castillo and Jose Reyes in the Mets' middle infield, we can't rule this one out yet.
- Darren Oliver, Rangers. His $3.25MM option vests with 59 appearances. He's already made a dozen, so this is looking likely.
- Ramon Hernandez, Reds. His $3.25MM option vests with 120 games played. Hernandez is at 16 so far, with the red-hot Ryan Hanigan getting more playing time recently.
- Magglio Ordonez, Tigers. His $15MM option vests with 135 starts or 540 plate appearances. He's at 25 games started and 113 plate appearances, so he'll get there barring injury.
- We're down to five vesting options to monitor: Miller, Cora, Oliver, Hernandez, and Ordonez. Also keep an eye on Francisco Rodriguez, whose scary $17.5MM option for 2012 vests with 100 games finished in 2010-11, 55 games finished in '11, and a successful physical after the '11 season. K-Rod has finished nine games on the young season.
Vesting options are always fun for hot stove junkies to follow during the season. Last year we had Kevin Millwood's $12 Million Out and the Tigers allowing Magglio Ordonez's pricey option to vest. 2011 vesting options to watch this year:
- Brian Fuentes, Angels: $9MM option vests with 55 games finished. Fuentes has finished 55+ three times in his career, last year included. Fernando Rodney will be lurking.
- Billy Wagner, Braves: $6.5MM option vests with 50 games finished.
- Trever Miller, Cardinals: $2MM option vests with 45 games, but reverts to a club option with a left arm or shoulder injury.
- Matt Cain, Giants: $6.25MM option vests with 182.3 innings or 27 starts. The Giants will exercise this even if it doesn't vest, as the alternative will be going to arbitration with Cain and potentially paying him more.
- Kerry Wood, Indians: $11MM option vests with 55 games finished. A trade into a non-closing job could affect Wood's bank account. That's three closers whose GF totals we'll be monitoring.
- Alex Cora, Mets: $2MM option vests with 80 starts.
- Darren Oliver, Rangers: $3.25MM option vests with 59 appearances.
- Ramon Hernandez, Reds: $3.25MM option vests with 120 games played.
- Magglio Ordonez, Tigers: $15MM option vests with 135 starts or 540 plate appearances.
- Note that a game finished is given to the last non-starting pitcher of record. Also, thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.
We've already talked about the best move of the offseason this evening, so now let's turn the page and discuss the worst move of the winter. Here are some candidates...
- Dodgers sign Jamey Carroll to a two-year, $3.85MM contract.
- Mets sign Alex Cora to a one-year, $2MM contract.
- Adam LaRoche declines a two-year, $17MM offer from the Giants.
- Astros sign Brandon Lyon to a three-year, $15MM contract.
- Giants re-sign Bengie Molina to a one-year, $4.5MM contract.
There are plenty of more bad moves out there, but which one is the biggest head scratcher?
Let's gather up the latest Mets hot stove links...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News, and Ken Davidoff of Newsday all trashed yesterday's signing of Alex Cora for $2MM. The basic premise is that every dollar counts when you're up against a payroll limit, and uninspired signings like Cora, John Grabow, and Ramon Hernandez for $2-3MM hurt.
- In that same blog post, Davidoff says the Mets "like Matt Holliday, but it's pretty apparent that they're not going after him the way they pursued Carlos Beltran five years ago."
- The Mets are poised to add Henry Blanco and Chris Coste as backup options, but Davidoff says their top free agent target is Bengie Molina. If he's offered arbitration today and turns it down later, Molina would cost the Mets' their #40 draft pick (unless they also sign a higher-ranked Type A who turned down arb, in which case their #40 pick would go to another team and the Giants would get #71). Davidoff notes that Gerald Laird and Chris Snyder were Mets trade targets in the past, and that other free agent catchers would not cost a draft pick. Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post says the Mets are interested in Type B free agent Rod Barajas.
- Roch Kubatko of MASN talked to Orioles president Andy MacPhail about Wayne Krivsky leaving his special assistant position with the O's for a better position with the Mets. Knowing that Krivsky wants to be a GM again, does this put more pressure on Omar Minaya?
Buster Olney is reporting on his Twitter feed that the Indians' "preference might be giving their internal candidates a chance to play, instead of inking vet FAs to $800K deals."
It is fair to wonder if this will be a league-wide trend, though the Mets' decision to bring in Chris Coste and Alex Cora seems to argue against this.
Cleveland, unlike New York, also has more players at the upper levels of their farm system.