Andy Sonnanstine Rumors

Andy Sonnanstine Elects Free Agency

Cubs right-hander Andy Sonnanstine is now a free agent after declining an outright assignment to Triple-A, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter).  Chicago outrighted the veteran to their Iowa affiliate on Thursday.

Sonnanstine, who turned 29 last Saturday, signed a non-guaranteed split contract with the club in December.  The longtime Rays hurler posted a 5.55 ERA with 12 walks and 12 strikeouts in 35.3 innings of work for Tampa Bay last year.

The 6'3" pitcher made 72 starts for the Rays from 2007-2009 but worked mostly out of the bullpen in '10 and '11.

Outrighted To Triple-A: Sonnanstine, Jimenez

Keeping track of the latest outright assignments…

  • The Cubs announced that they outrighted right-hander Andy Sonnanstine to Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs now have 39 players on their 40-man roster. Sonnanstine signed with the Cubs in December after posting a 5.55 ERA with as many walks as strikeouts (12) in 35 2/3 innings for the Rays in 2011.
  • The Mariners announced that they outrighted left-hander Cesar Jimenez to Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners, who had placed the reliever on waivers earlier this week, now have three open spots on their 40-man roster. Jimenez, 27, pitched briefly with the Mariners last year and spent most of the season in the bullpen at Tacoma. He has missed considerable time with injuries in recent years.

Cubs Agree To Sign Andy Sonnanstine

The Cubs have agreed to sign Andy Sonnanstine to a non-guaranteed split contract for the 2012 season, the team announced. The Rays non-tendered the Beverly Hills Sports Council client earlier this month rather than give him a raise his second time through arbitration.

Sonnanstine, 29 in March, has worked mostly in relief over the last two seasons, pitching to a 4.78 ERA in 116 2/3 innings. He's made 80 starts and 52 relief appearances during his five seasons with Tampa, though his career strikeout (5.7 K/9) and walk (2.3 BB/9) rates are identical in the two roles. Sonnanstine is a fly ball pitcher and is very homer prone (career 1.3 HR/9), though his ERA is a full run lower when coming out of the bullpen (5.43 vs. 4.40).

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein recently said the team's goal is to "build more depth on the starting pitching front, both in the big leagues and minor leagues," and Sonnanstine helps them accomplish that. He becomes the second pitcher the Cubbies have acquired in the last week, joining Travis Wood (acquired in the Sean Marshall trade). Chicago can retain Sonnanstine as an arbitration-eligible player in 2013.

American League Non-Tenders

Today's American League non-tenders are below, but you can keep track of all teams in our non-tender tracker.

  • The Mariners announced that they non-tendered Dan Cortes and Chris Gimenez.
  • The Orioles announced that they non-tendered Willie Eyre, the right-handed reliever who was designated for assignment last week. They non-tendered Jo-Jo Reyes, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). The Orioles also non-tendered Luke Scotttweets Connolly. Scott, who battled a shoulder injury in 2011 and underwent surgery this summer, projected to earn $6MM through arbitration. 
  • The Rays non-tendered Andy Sonnanstine, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (Twitter link).
  • The Rangers non-tendered right-hander Fabio Castillo, according to Anthony Andro of (Twitter link).
  • The Red Sox announced that they non-tendered Rich Hill.
  • The Royals announced that they will non-tender left-hander Aaron Laffey.
  • The Twins announced that they've non-tendered left-hander Jose Mijares (Twitter link).
  • The Tigers non-tendered second baseman Will Rhymes, announced the team.  Rhymes is not yet close to being arbitration eligible, as he has less than one year of big league service time.  Rhymes, 28, hit .306/.377/.390 at Triple-A this year.

Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. The sides will then settle on a salary between the team's proposed number and the player's proposed number or go to an arbitration hearing. Arbitration eligible players are under team control, so the clubs don't risk losing them – it's a question of how much the players will earn.

Yesterday, 11 players avoided arbitration. We could see just as many agreements trickle in today and we'll keep you posted on them right here and with our Arb Tracker. The latest updates will be at the top of the post:


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Olney’s Latest: Oswalt, Mariners, Jays, Sonnanstine

In today's blog post at ESPN, Buster Olney wrote about the major hurdles the Astros will face in trying to trade Roy Oswalt. The biggest obstacles are Oswalt's salary (owed $29MM through 2011), his history of back trouble, his full-no trade clause, and the fact that teams are coveting young players more than ever and might not be willing to give up a package good enough to convince owner Drayton McLane to move one of his star players.

As one GM put it, "a no-trade clause doesn't become a must-trade clause." Another believes they won't "just give the guy away." Here's the rest of Olney's rumors…

  • The Mariners continue to search for a hitter.
  • Toronto's asking for one or two prospects for relievers Jason Frasor and Scott Downs, but rival executives believe that asking price to be very high.
  • Some executives believe that the Rays will make Andy Sonnanstine available at some point this summer. Olney suggests the Mets as a potential fit, noting that there were brief talks between the two teams about a trade this offseason.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Jays, Bell, Davis, Dunn

On this date in 2002, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network launched. Although the regional network barely broke even that year, YES has gone on to generate millions in revenue, much of which goes right into the Yankees' pockets. As recently as 2008, there was talk that the network was worth more than the team itself.

After you wrap your head around that, here are some links to check out from around the baseball blogosphere…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.

Odds & Ends: Guzman, Sonnanstine, Jukich

Links for Wednesday…

Discussion: Andy Sonnanstine

No teams have formally inquired about trading for Andy Sonnanstine, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. However, the right-hander could become the topic of a few trade rumors before the season begins, given Tampa Bay's surplus of starting pitching.

Morosi tweets a few teams that could use another starting pitcher: the Diamondbacks, Mariners, Mets, Twins, Dodgers and Nationals. That list could easily double by Opening Day, with spring performances and injuries potentially raising depth concerns for a few more clubs.

The Rays shouldn't feel any pressure to deal Sonnanstine though. Even if there's no room for him in their rotation, their starting pitching depth is a luxury. As the FOX report suggests, the Rays could use Sonnanstine out of the bullpen as a long reliever, or even send him to Triple-A to start the year, since he has options remaining.

If you were running the Rays, what's your move here? Would you start shopping Sonnanstine, hoping to get some value in return? Or would you keep the right-hander around, providing insurance in case youngsters like Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson struggle?

Cafardo’s Latest: Mauer, Beckett, Wood, Sonnanstine

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo has his usual Sunday column up, kicking it off by entertaining the unlikely possibility of Joe Mauer playing in Boston. If the Twins and Mauer can't work out a long-term deal, Cafardo thinks the Red Sox would be one of a handful of teams that could afford the superstar backstop. Here are a few other highlights from Cafardo's piece:

  • One possible roadblock in the Josh Beckett negotiations is the Red Sox' desire to incorporate injury protection into the contract. If Beckett has a good year in 2010, he will likely have suitors that won't include health clauses in their offers, which could appeal to the right-hander.
  • The Cubs have some interest in Kerry Wood. Cafardo notes that the Indians closer would also be a good fit for the Twins, but that the Tribe would have to pick up a significant chunk of the $10.5MM Wood will earn this season.
  • The Rays may entertain trade offers for Andy Sonnanstine, who is having a solid spring.
  • Billy Wagner says that returning to Boston was "tempting" but that with Jonathan Papelbon firmly entrenched as the ninth-inning guy, the lefty went where he'd have a better chance to close.