Andrew Miller Rumors

Quick Hits: Maeda, Headley, Miller, Phils

26-year-old Kenta Maeda of Japan’s Hiroshima Carp is expected to become available through the posting system, making him an intriguing potential addition to the upcoming free agent market. Ben Badler of Baseball America has a report on Maeda’s last outing in the Nippon League, writing that he “flash[ed] three average or better pitches with good fastball command.” Though slight in build, Maeda steadily worked in the 90-94 mph range. Ultimately, Badler indicates that, while the righty is not viewed as a top-of-the-rotation arm at the MLB level, he should draw plenty of interest if he is made available.

Here are a few more stray notes from around the game:

  • The Yankees may be interested in re-signing mid-season acquisition Chase Headley, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. A move to bring back the third baseman would appear to be a strong indication that Alex Rodriguez is not expected to be an option there, Heyman explains.
  • The Tigers thought they were going to acquire then-Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller at the trade deadline after meeting Boston’s asking price, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But the Sox gave the Orioles one last chance, resulting in Eduardo Rodriguez heading north to a division rival. As Sherman notes, the eleven outs that Miller recorded in the ALDS for the O’s, rather than the Tigers, had an undeniable impact on Baltimore’s three-game sweep.
  • Looking ahead to Miller’s free agency, one executive tells Sherman that three years and $21MM is probably just the starting point for the southpaw’s market. The ability to deploy Miller in the way that the Yankees used Dellin Betances in his breakout year — often throwing multiple innings in winnable games — greatly increases his value, says Sherman.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “there’s nothing that’s really off the table” for the team as it enters the offseason, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Though he said he does not believe “this organization needs a philosophical overhaul as far as how we evaluate players,” Amaro said the team needs to get younger and more athletic while “looking for more long-term solutions” in the player market. Ultimately, the organization could put added emphasis on “speed and contact” given the lack of power bats available.

Tigers Notes: Price, Miller, V-Mart, Martin

In the wake of another postseason disappointment for the Tigers, “there’s the underlying question whether this could be the end of an era,” MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes.  Several key members of the roster will hit free agency, including Max Scherzer, though the 2013 Cy Young Award winner said “I do hope I’m back. I love this clubhouse, love everybody in here, been to battle with these guys for five years. It would mean a lot to me.”

Here’s the latest from the Motor City…

  • If Scherzer doesn’t return, the natural next step for the Tigers would be to pursue an extension with David Price, though the southpaw naturally wasn’t concerned with his contract in the wake of the painful ALDS sweep.  “That’s out of my control. That’s the last thing that’s on my mind right now. I’m not worried about that,” Price told reporters, including Mlive.com’s Chris Iott.  Price has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining before hitting the free agent market after the 2015 season.
  • The Tigers’ failure to acquire Andrew Miller at the trade deadline may have been the turning point of their season, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes.  Miller could’ve been prevented the bullpen meltdowns that plagued the Tigers in the ALDS, but instead, he ended up stifling Detroit in two late-game appearances for the Orioles.  The Tigers came very close to closing a deal Miller at the deadline but the Red Sox instead sent the lefty to Baltimore in exchange for top pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez.
  • A rival official recently told ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) that he thinks the Tigers will do whatever it takes to re-sign Victor Martinez, as “considering the Tigers’ win-at-all-costs approach and Martinez’s importance in the Detroit lineup, he cannot see them being outbid.”  Olney lists five other teams as possible fits for Martinez in free agency, and three are from the AL Central.
  • Also from Olney’s piece, he lists the Tigers as a potential suitor for Russell Martin.  The free agent catcher could be “a plan B” if the Tigers are concerned about Alex Avila‘s concussion history and want a change behind the plate.

Cafardo On A-Rod, Miller, Iglesias, Jaso

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo is everybody’s bridesmaid right now.  He has a strong resume that has prepared him for managing, but he hasn’t gotten his big break yet.  There are others in the same boat, including Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach and Athletics bench coach Chip Hale.  Lovullo hopes that like Bo Porter, he can break through it eventually.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • Manager Joe Girardi says otherwise, but Cafardo writes that the Yankees are viewing Alex Rodriguez are more of a DH than a third baseman possibility in 2015.  A-Rod’s ability to play third could have an impact on the Yankees’ offseason plans, including whether to re-sign Chase Headley.
  • Orioles lefty Andrew Miller is a strong union man who will seek the best contract for himself when he reaches free agency.  Miller wants to return to the Red Sox, if they’re not close on money, but he’ll ultimately go to the highest bidder.  Major league sources tell Cafardo that they believe the bidding will start at three years, $21MM.
  • There was some trade buzz around shortstop Jose Iglesias but it now looks like he may be back in the driver’s seat as the Tigers‘ future shortstop.  Eugenio Suarez and Andrew Romine both showed promise at times, but they’ve each had their runs and fizzled out.  Iglesias has recovered fully from stress fractures in both shins and is expected to pick up where he left off as one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball.
  • The A’s are open to trading anyone, the Red Sox are looking for a backup left-handed hitter, and John Jaso seems to fit the profile for what Boston wants.  Jaso started 47 games this season for the A’s, who also used him at DH.


AL Notes: Tigers, Yankees, Indians

Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers is a top general manager, but his struggles to assemble a good bullpen have been on display in his team’s ALDS series against the Orioles, Joel Sherman of the New York post writes. Notably, Sherman writes that the Tigers nearly completed a trade with the Red Sox for Andrew Miller in July. The Red Sox had asked for a package of players, and the Tigers agreed to that request. By that point, though, the Orioles had agreed to give up starting pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, so the Red Sox sent Miller to Baltimore. Here’s more from throughout the American League.

  • The Yankees are looking to get more from their minor league system rather than spending on outside talent. While there isn’t much impact talent on the immediate horizon, they might be able to fill several roster spots next season with talent from their system, Chad Jennings of the Journal News writes. Those include backup catcher (which could feature John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine), lefty reliever (Tyler Webb, James Pazos or top 2014 draft pick Jacob Lindgren) and second base (Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela).
  • The Indians could consider trading from their depth at shortstop, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Not only do they have top prospect Francisco Lindor, they also have 22-year-old Jose Ramirez (who made a good impression defensively at the big-league level this season) and 23-year-old Erik Gonzalez, who hit well at Class A+ Carolina and Double-A Akron. Pluto writes that Gonzalez makes the best trade candidate for the Indians, since he is older than the other two players and can play a variety of other positions.

The Most Improved Free Agents

Behind the scenes at MLBTR, we’re busy discussing and polishing our Top 50 Free Agents list for the 2015 offseason. While we’ll wait until the appropriate time to officially release the list, it’s not too soon to talk about a few of the players who have done the best to improve their free agent stock. In general, I’m looking at players who weren’t even on the radar when Steve Adams kicked off our 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings series on April 15. Today, we’ll take a look at a pure hitter, a starting pitcher, and an elite reliever.

1. Victor Martinez. I’m sure Martinez’s appearance on this list is of no surprise. When we compiled our initial power rankings post, 25 players were named. Martinez was not one of them. The 35-year-old designated hitter is limited in defensive versatility, but his bat is clearly elite. He is enjoying a fantastic offensive season with a .335/.404/.566 line and 31 home runs. All are career bests. He’s even stolen three bases (also a career best). The exceptional performance comes with a 10.5% walk rate and 6.6% strikeout rate, making him one of just two players with more walks than strikeouts (Jose Bautista is the other).

Martinez, who earned $12MM this season, will receive a qualifying offer, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. It’s difficult to handicap how the slugger will perform on the free agent market. The only recent comparable player is David Ortiz, although the short contracts he signed with the Red Sox do not appear to be directly applicable to Martinez’s situation.

The Tigers will have some leverage in retaining Martinez, where he can continue to hit with Miguel Cabrera. The White Sox are also said to be interested, per Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com. Chicago appears to be an ideal fit with its extremely hitter friendly stadium (Detroit’s Comerica Park is a neutral stadium), and he would make a good tandem with Jose Abreu. We seem to have the basic ingredients for a bidding war, and other teams will likely enter the fray.

2. Brandon McCarthy. What a fascinating season it’s been for McCarthy. His fastball gained two mph over previous seasons, and he’s posted the highest ground ball rate of his career at 52.7%. While his 3.93 ERA is merely decent, advanced ERA estimators like xFIP (2.90) and SIERA (3.03) expect better things to come. He’s also buffed his strikeout rate to 7.72 K/9 while maintaining an elite walk rate of 1.53 BB/9.

McCarthy was easy to overlook entering the season. His command and control profile made him a steady but uninspired rotation option. His first 18 starts came with the Diamondbacks, where he flashed excellent peripherals with an unseemly 5.01 ERA. He was dealt to the Yankees prior to the July trade deadline. In 13 starts, he’s pitched to a 2.54 ERA that is supported by his peripherals. Many pundits (including this one) worried about the influence of Yankee Stadium on the homer prone starter, but his HR/FB ratio has regressed to league average in New York.

Prior to this season, he never managed more than 170 and two-thirds major league innings in a single season. That came in 2011. He’s frequently dealt with injuries including recurring “stress reactions” in his pitching shoulder. His most recent shoulder injury occurred in 2012. This season, he’s managed a career high 194 and two-thirds innings with a chance to eclipse the 200 inning threshold.

A sabermetrically inclined front office – especially one with a large ballpark – could justifiably view McCarthy as the fourth best free agent starter, after the triumvirate of Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and James Shields. McCarthy’s history of shoulder problems will likely temper enthusiasm for a large contract offer. That might serve to increase demand by making him an affordable, second-tier option. McCarthy, who is entering his age 31 season, could top the four-year, $49 million contract signed by Ricky Nolasco last offseason. However, a smart club would include language to mitigate risk from future shoulder flare-ups.

3. Andrew Miller. If Miller was on anybody’s radar entering the season, it was as a moderately interesting LOOGY. By halving his walk rate and proving he’s no platoon pitcher, Miller will enter the offseason as an untested but possibly elite closing option. Due to his inexperience recording saves, clubs may still look at him as a setup reliever.

Split between the Red Sox and Orioles, the 30-year-old southpaw has posted a 1.93 ERA in 60 and two-thirds innings. His 14.84 K/9 is impressive, especially in light of his 2.37 BB/9. He’s allowed just 32 hits on the season and is one of three relievers to cross the 100 strikeout threshold – four others appear poised to do so by the end of the season.

No recent left-handed reliever has entered free agency coming off of such a strong season, which puts Miller in uncharted waters. Jeremy Affeldt, who signed a three-year, $18MM contract with the Giants following the 2012 season is a distant comparable. Joaquin Benoit is probably the best example among recent right-handed pitchers. He signed a two-year, $15.5MM contract with an option after emerging as the Tigers closer. However, he was also entering his age 36 season, so he was considerably older than Miller. Per the MLBTR Transaction Tracker, no non-closing reliever has signed a contract with over a $20MM guarantee. Miller has a chance to be the first. Prior to the 2007 season, Justin Speier signed a four-year, $18MM contract that could serve as a barometer of sorts once inflation is included.


AL East Notes: Miller, Robertson, Pearce

Michael Jordan’s presence at Derek Jeter‘s home celebration made the day extra special for the Yankees legend, writes Marty Noble of MLB.com.  Derek Jeter Day would have been an extraordinary event without MJ, of course, but No. 23’s appearance served as the most powerful exclamation point available.  Here’s today’s look at the AL East..

  • Even though the Red Sox traded him away, Andrew Miller would be open to a Boston return, writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal.  “I certainly have relationships with a lot of people here,” he said. “I loved my time here. There’s no secret to that. My wife and I loved it here. It’s a great place to play, the way you get treated by the organization. It’s a great place to live. It’s a hard situation to leave. “If I could script it, I’d say, certainly, I’d love to be back.”  In 65 games between the Red Sox and Orioles this season, Miller has pitched to a 2.09 ERA with 14.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.
  • The Yankees have a decision to make with closer David Robertson with his one-year, $5.215MM deal expiring at season’s end, writes Brendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger.  The most likely scenario, he says, would be for the Yanks to extend him a one-year, ~$15MM qualifying offer.   While that’s a lot of money to give to a reliever, it would buy the Yankees time before making a long-term commitment.  Kuty sees an extension as less likely and says there’s no chance of the Bombers letting him walk for nothing.
  • Steve Pearce, who has bounced around baseball quite a bit, may have finally found a home with the Orioles, writes Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com.  Pearce has had his ups and downs in 2014, but he now finds himself as a regular at first base for a first-place team.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Melky, Ortiz

Miguel Gonzalez‘s name was mentioned in trade rumors this summer (most notably as part of a possible Jon Lester package) and yet as MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko points out, Gonzalez’s recent success could be another example of “how sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.”  The Orioles right-hander has a 2.00 ERA over his last nine starts, including a complete game shutout of the Reds last Wednesday.  Gonzalez has been a solid piece of the O’s rotation for the last three years and has a 3.38 ERA over 136 IP this season, which I suspect will earn him a nice salary bump this winter when he is arbitration-eligible for the first time.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Also from Kubatko, the Orioles are “hesitant” about making a long-term commitment to Nelson Cruz.  Though the O’s have recently had some light negotiations with Cruz’s representation about a new contract, it isn’t hard to see why the club would be wary of guaranteeing multiple years to a 34-year-old who is a defensive liability and has a PED history.  Of course, Cruz’s bat looks as potent as ever, given his .862 OPS and a league-high 39 homers this season.  As you would expect, a one-year “qualifying offer appeals to the Orioles,” Kubatko writes, though surely Cruz feels his production merits a longer deal.
  • Melky Cabrera has been scouted by at least one NL team for the last three weeks, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair reports.  One of those scouts tells Blair that his team could be willing to offer Cabrera something in the neighborhood of a four-year, $53MM contract in free agency this winter, a deal akin to what Jhonny Peralta received from the Cardinals last offseason.  Peralta’s deal was front-loaded, and Blair opines that a similarly-structured deal could await Cabrera given that both players have a PED suspension on their records.
  • Blair also can’t figure out why the Blue Jays haven’t already re-signed Cabrera for 2015 and beyond, given how well the outfielder has hit this year.  Cabrera, who is done for the season after fracturing his pinky finger on Friday night, has expressed an interest in staying in Toronto.
  • It’s been a tiring season for David Ortiz, as the Red Sox slugger tells ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald that “it wears you out more than when you know you’re going to the playoffs — believe it or not. It wears you out more than when you know you have more games to play.”  Ortiz isn’t sure how much longer he’ll play beyond 2015 (the end of his current contract), though when he does he hang it up, he said he’ll do it in the offseason rather than announce his retirement a year in advance like Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera.
  • Red Sox righty Joe Kelly and the OriolesAndrew Miller were two trade deadline acquisitions that have worked out very well for their teams, Peter Gammons writes in his latest piece for Gammons Daily.  Boston hopes Kelly can be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in their 2015 rotation while Miller has continued his superb season since joining Baltimore’s pen.
  • Also from Gammons, if the Orioles don’t bring back Nick Markakis, one possible replacement could be prospect Mike Yastrzemski.  A 14th-round draft pick in 2013, Yastrzemski (Carl’s grandson) hit .288/.346/.490 with 14 homers, 34 doubles and 16 triples in 594 PA over three minor league levels this season, though he has yet to reach Triple-A.

AL East Notes: Miller, Beltran, Lester, Pompey

Andrew Miller‘s transition from the Red Sox to the Orioles has gone smoothly, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. “There’s a ton of differences. Things in general match up,” says Miller, for whom the Orioles traded at last month’s deadline. “The winning teams I’ve been on have a nice, loose clubhouse that expects to win.” Miller has pitched brilliantly in his first 7 1/3 innings with the Orioles, striking out 11 and walking three while allowing just two hits and one run. Here’s more from around the AL East.

  • Carlos Beltran will see a doctor after feeling something wrong with his elbow while swinging last night, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets. The Yankees scratched Beltran from their lineup tonight. It’s been a rough season for Beltran, who’s hit .233/.291/.416 (weak numbers for a DH/OF with little defensive value) while battling injury in the first year of a $45MM deal.
  • Jon Lester is not likely to return to the Red Sox this offseason, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Instead, the Yankees and Cubs could emerge as possible suitors. It is, perhaps, no surprise that the Red Sox aren’t considered the favorites to sign him — they just traded him, and reportedly weren’t close in extension negotiations before that. Lester should be able to get a six- or seven-year deal in free agency, Heyman writes, and the Red Sox are likely to consider that to be too risky. Heyman does note, however, that the Red Sox may have been prepared to offer Lester five years and $100MM last month.
  • The Blue Jays have promoted top outfield prospect Dalton Pompey to Triple-A Buffalo. Pompey, 21, hit .295/.378/.473 in 127 plate appearances at Double-A New Hampshire. MLB.com ranks Pompey the No. 3 prospect in the Jays’ system (behind Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez), praising his plate discipline and speed.

Cafardo On Blue Jays, Kemp, Red Sox, Stanton

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the waiver deadline period could produce some significant deals around baseball. The Phillies probably won’t find deals for Jonathan Papelbon (contract) and Cliff Lee (health concerns plus contract) but A.J. Burnett could conceivably be moved.  Meanwhile, the Blue Jays continue to, as one executive said to Cafardo, “kick the tires on just about everything but never seem to do anything.”  More from today’s column..

  • The Red Sox may have been scouting Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, but their dialogue with the Dodgers was virtually nonexistent despite the constant rumors connecting the two.  The Dodgers, Cafardo writes, were never going to deal Kemp, who has been one of their best right-handed hitters.
  • The Dodgers were also never really in on Red Sox hurlers Jon Lester or John Lackey but really wanted Andrew Miller and came close to giving Boston one of their best pitching prospects for him.
  • It seems as if the Red Sox and other teams have finally come to the realization that Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton isn’t going anywhere and that could be a reason why the Red Sox obtained Yoenis Cespedes, who obviously isn’t as good but has the power and athleticism to improve. For now, he seems to feel that Miami is moving in the right direction and appears to be all in on staying with the Marlins.
  • The buzz around baseball is that the Cubs will be all in on Jon Lester.  Cubs president Theo Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod were in Boston with Lester during his trying times.  Also, the Cubs will have to rebuild their rotation at some point and adding Lester would be a major, major step in that direction.

NL West Links: Miller, Sabean, Rockies

Here’s the latest from around the NL West…

  • The Dodgers were the runner-up for Andrew Miller, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.  This seems to run counter to an item from earlier today when Ken Rosenthal reported that it was the Brewers and Tigers who were the other finalists to obtain Miller from the Red Sox.  The Orioles, of course, were the ones who actually landed the left-hander.
  • Giants GM Brian Sabean didn’t make any last moves before the deadline and felt good about keeping his team’s prospects, Sabean told reporters (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle).  The Giants felt it didn’t make sense to meet the high asking prices of some teams, though Sabean said he was pleased that a number of clubs were interested in his pitching prospects.
  • Sabean said he was “homing in on two” second basemen in possible deals, though a source says that these weren’t necessarily Asdrubal Cabrera or Emilio Bonifacio, two middle infielders who changed teams yesterday.
  • The Rockies also had a quiet deadline day, which assistant GM Bill Geivett told reporters (including Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post) was due to a lack of offers that would’ve helped Colorado reload for next year.  I think the big thing was — our posture — is probably one that we would entertain a deal as far as making us better in 2015.  Although we were active and had some talks, we really weren’t moved to the point where we had anything that would significantly affect us next season,” Geivett said.
  • Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson drew some trade interest, and though De La Rosa is a free agent and Anderson has a $12MM club option to be exercised, it seems as if the Rockies have an interest in retaining both.  If we didn’t feel like they would potentially be part of our future, we would have traded them,” Geivett said.
  • In other NL West news from earlier today, Matt Cain seems likely to undergo elbow surgery and the Giants designated Dan Uggla and Tyler Colvin for assignment.