Atlanta Braves Rumors
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark is out with a Winter Meetings preview, noting that the frenzy of signings and trades this week threatens to overshadow an event that's traditionally one of the hot stove's busiest periods. Twenty teams either swapped a player or agreed to terms with a free agent between Monday afternoon and Tuesday night, according to ESPN's count. "I don't ever remember a day like Tuesday ever," an AL official commented. "Not just [during] the week before the Winter Meetings. Ever." Nevertheless, with several top names remaining unsigned and rumors of a David Price trade hanging in the air, Stark notes that there's plenty of hot stove left. Here's a run-through of his Winter Meetings preview, which includes a survey of 17 big league executives (conducted before the Carlos Beltran and Robinson Cano signings):
- Some believe Scott Boras will bide his time with Shin-Soo Choo following how quickly a deal for Jacoby Ellsbury came together with the Yankees, but there's another group that believes the superagent wants to show new rival Jay Z that he can be decisive. Around half of execs polled said they think Choo could sign during the Winter Meetings, or immediately afterward. All speculated he'll land with either the Rangers, Mariners or Tigers, though Detroit is indicating they're not involved.
- The market for starting pitching has been slow to develop because of uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka, as well as slow-developing rumors for Price and Jeff Samardzija, leaving Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez still on the board. Officials polled varied widely in their predictions for when the two will sign, though many see Garza heading to the Yankees or the Orioles. Draft pick compensation is an issue with Jimenez, who doesn't have a consistent track record.
- Kendrys Morales isn't expected to sign soon, with many NL clubs passing on the slugger because there's a perception that he'll need to DH. "I think he has all the makings of this year's Kyle Lohse," one exec commented. Draft pick compensation is also an issue. "You should never forget how many teams don't want to give up those draft picks," one exec commented.
- Samardzija was seen as the player most likely to be traded during the Meetings among players who are still on the market, though his three votes only slightly surpassed Mark Trumbo's two. Many believe, however, that Samardzija could remain a Cub until later in the winter, or even until the summer trade deadline in July. One exec said he thinks the Angels were more willing to move Trumbo a month ago than they are currently.
- Carlos Beltran was by far seen as the most likely player to sign during the Meetings, though as that's already happened, the title is now held by Choo.
- While the Dodgers, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, Braves, Diamondbacks and Padres all appear to be interested in trading for Price, the group of teams that are actually able to consummate a deal could be much smaller. Rays GM Andrew Friedman appears to be taking his time allowing the market to develop. "Andrew is looking to make the Herschel Walker trade," a source tells Stark, referring to the 1989 NFL trade that involved 18 players and draft picks.
Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison is drawing serious interest from clubs around baseball and a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that roughly ten teams have checked in. Miami is reportedly willing to listen and the Red Sox and Braves are among the clubs that have called. Here's more out of the NL East..
- The Marlins are fans of Rays third baseman Sean Rodriguez and have discussed him internally, a league source tells Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Frisaro wonders aloud if Morrison for Rodriguez and a pitcher could be enough to get a deal done. Miami may be looking for a stop gap solution at third base until Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in last year's draft, is ready, which could be in 2015.
- Braves GM Frank Wren says he has had plenty of talks with agents and teams so far this winter, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "[We're] putting ourselves in position to add pieces we feel like would help us best," the GM said.
- Wren added that he's targeting starting pitching, bullpen help, and some bench upgrades, but wont' look past anything that can help the team, O'Brien tweets.
- The Braves might be willing to trade some prospects in right deal, but not their premium prospects such as Lucas Sims and Jason Hursh, O'Brien tweets.
- Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News wonders if there's a realistic chance of the Phillies trading Jonathan Papelbon.
Frisaro runs down multiple reasons why the Marlins are likely to trade Morrison.
After the departures of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, the Braves have needs, and may not have much money available to meet them, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in a long essay about what to expect from the Braves in the coming weeks. They could try to trade for a pitcher like Jeff Samardzija, John Lackey or Kyle Lohse, or they could sign Bartolo Colon. Colon is an appealing option for the Braves, O'Brien says, because his age makes him unlikely to receive a huge contract. The Braves also hope to trade Dan Uggla to clear salary. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Cuban shortstop Erisbel Barbaro Arruebarruena will put on a showcase for clubs this weekend and the Mets will be among the teams in attendance, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Post. The 23-year-old, ranked as the tenth-best prospect in the World Baseball Classic not signed to an MLB club by Baseball America, defected from Cuba in November.
- It appears the Cubs will cede their top pick in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft to resolve a dispute involving former Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. The Cubs picked Castillo from the Phillies in 2011, and Castillo missed 91 days of the following season due to injury, then spent the entire 2013 season in the minors. In case of injury, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must stick on their new teams' active rosters for at least 90 days. The Phillies will receive the Cubs' pick after they filed a grievance regarding Castillo. The Cubs don't plan to select a player this year anyway. The Rule 5 Draft will be held next Thursday.
- A recent report listed a number of teams as possible landing spots for David Price, but it would be easy to overpay for Price, FanGraphs' Dave Cameron argues. Price is a great pitcher, but he's only under control for two more years, and will cost a total of about $30MM for those two seasons. Cameron's back-of-the-envelope math suggests Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco, for example, could be worth about $91MM of surplus value over his six cost-controlled seasons, about three times as valuable as Price. The Royals' trade of Wil Myers and other youngsters for James Shields and Wade Davis was an overpay and should not determine the market for Price, Cameron argues.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of National League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.
- The Reds non-tendered outfielders Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson, according to the AP. Robinson had been designated for assignment last Thursday to open a roster spot for Skip Schumaker.
- The Rockies have non-tendered reliever Mitchell Boggs, tweets Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
- The Dodgers have non-tendered Ronald Belisario, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Marlins have non-tendered outfielder Chris Coghlan and reliever Ryan Webb, the club announced via press release.
- The Pirates have non-tendered Garrett Jones, Michael McKenry, and Kyle McPherson, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Giants have non-tendered Sandy Rosario and Francisco Peguero, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The Cubs have non-tendered Mat Gamel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The club has also non-tendered Chang-Yong Lim, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com.
- The Mets officially announced their slate of non-tenders, which includes a few new names in Jeremy Hefner and Justin Turner (via tweet from Andy Martino of the New York Daily News).
- The Braves announced that they have non-tendered infielders Elliot Johnson and Paul Janish as well as right-hander Cristhian Martinez (Twitter link). Johnson, 29, batted .209/.255/.283 in 275 plate appearances between the Royals and Braves last season. Janish was less productive in 45 PAs, batting .171/.222/.220. Martinez, 31, missed nearly the entire season due to shoulder surgery. However, he posted a 3.63 ERA in 151 1/3 innings for Atlanta from 2011-12, making him a potential buy-low candidate for another club.
- The Mets have non-tendered Jordany Valdespin, Rubin reports. Valdespin has been a persistent source of drama for the Mets, lashing out at manager Terry Collins after being demoted and also being slapped with a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. The soon-to-be 26-year-old is a career .219/.271/.380 hitter in 350 big league plate appearances. Valdespin's non-tender comes despite him not yet being arbitration eligible, illustrating the Mets' frustration with the second baseman/outfielder.
- The Cubs will non-tender right-hander Daniel Bard, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Bard was claimed off waivers in September and never threw a pitch for the Cubs organization. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford notes that Bard was pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League but walked nine batters while recording just one out. The Cubs could still agree to a non-roster deal with Bard, he adds. Bard's control has vanished into thin air, as the formerly dominant setup man has also walked 56 batters over his past 47 1/3 minor league frames.
- The Mets have informed shortstop Omar Quintanilla that he will be non-tendered, Quintanilla told Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. Quintanilla projected to earn $900K this offseason after batting .222/.306/.283 in a career-high 359 plate appearances last season.
- ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets that the Mets will also non-tender Scott Atchison. The right-hander projected to earn $1.3MM coming off a 4.37 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 45 1/3 innings. Atchison will turn 38 in late March.
With tonight's non-tender deadline looming, several players figure to not only be tendered contracts but agree to their 2014 salaries prior to 11pm CT. We'll run down the players to avoid arbitration with their respective clubs in this post, and remember that you can track the progress on all arbitration eligible players by using MLBTR's 2014 Arbitration Tracker. For a reminder on the projected salaries for each of these players, check out Matt Swartz's projections in MLBTR's Arbitration Eligibles series.
- The Nationals announced they've avoided arbitration with righty Ross Ohlendorf, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Ohlendorf's deal will guarantee him $1.25MM and can reach $3MM via incentives that can be achieved as a starter or reliever, per the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with utility infielder Donnie Murphy, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com (via Twitter), agreeing to a one-year, $825K pact that includes incentives.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Steve Pearce for $700K, tweets Rosenthal.
- The Padres have reached terms with pitcher Eric Stults on a $2.75MM deal to avoid arbitration, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He had been projected by Swartz to earn $3MM through arbitration. Unlike most arbitration deals, tweets Rosenthal, this one will be guaranteed. Also getting a guaranteed deal from the Padres, per Rosenthal, is righty Tim Stauffer at $1.6MM.
- The White Sox have avoided arbitration with catcher Tyler Flowers with a $950k contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Athletics have avoided arbitration with righty Fernando Rodriguez, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Rodriguez, who is represented by Metis Sports Management, LLC, will earn $600K plus award bonuses, MLBTR has learned. The A's will tender contracts to its remaining arb-eligible players, Slusser notes via Twitter.
- The Indians have avoided arbitration with relievers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood, the club announced. Each player will earn $560k, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, which falls below their respective projections from MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- Newly-acquired catcher George Kottaras has reached agreement on a one-year, $1.075MM deal to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The contract includes incentives, according to Heyman. A left-handed batter, Kottaras managed only a .180 batting average last year, but got on base at a .349 clip in addition to posting a .370 slugging mark in his 126 plate appearances.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nolan Reimold, sources tell Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (link to Twitter). The 30-year-old will get a one-year, $1.025MM deal that includes incentives. Reimold lost most of the last two seasons to injury, but has a career .252/.327/.439 slash in 1,056 plate appearances dating back to 2009. His salary will be guaranteed, tweets Connolly.
- The Phillies have avoided arbitration with infielder Kevin Frandsen, the club announced. Frandsen will receive a one-year, $900k deal that includes performance incentives. Last year, Frandsen had a .234/.296/.341 slash line in 278 plate appearances. The deal is guaranteed, Rosenthal tweets.
- The Braves announced that they have avoided arbitration with infielder Ramiro Pena and left-hander Jonny Venters (Twitter link). Pena, 28, batted a solid .278/.330/.443 in 107 PAs this season before shoulder surgery ended his season. Venters' contract was first reported two weeks ago and is said to be worth $1.625MM.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with Don Kelly by agreeing to a one-year, $1MM contract for 2014. Kelly will turn 34 in February and batted .222/.309/.343 in 2013 -- all numbers that are nearly mirrored by his career .229/.290/.344 batting line. He is represented by LSW Baseball.
- The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal (on Twitter). Barbarisi reports that the trade sending Stewart to Pittsburgh was actually in place on Friday but was also contingent on Stewart agreeing to a new contract with the Pirates. Stewart, a client of James A. Kuzmich, PLLC, agreed to his new contract today, thereby finalizing the trade. He projected to earn $1MM, per Swartz.
Here's today's look at the various coaching hirings from around the league...
- The Mariners announced nearly their entire coaching staff today. Former big league slugger and Mets coach Howard Johnson will serve as the team's hitting coach. Former Tigers bullpen coach Mike Rojas will reprise that role with the 2014 Mariners. Former big league catcher John Stearns will serve as the team's third base coach -- a role he's filled with the Mets in the past. Andy Van Slyke, the former Tigers first base coach and a three-time All-Star as a player, will serve as the first base coach. Rick Waits, who has served as the team's minor league pitching coordinator for three seasons and enjoyed a 12-year playing career, will be the pitching coach. Lastly, recently retired infielder Chris Woodward will serve as an infield coach after spending 2013 as a minor league infield coordinator for the Mariners.
- The Tigers announced today that Darnell Coles will serve as their assistant hitting coach. Coles was originally slated to manage the Brewers' Triple-A affiliate in Nashville before accepting the position. Coles served as a manager at the Double-A level from 2012-13 and has eight years of minor league coaching experience.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have hired former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee as their minor league pitching coordinator. He also reports that former Reds assistant hitting coach Ronnie Ortegon will become the Braves' minor league hitting coordinator (Twitter links).
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweets that the Rockies were "very aggressive" in angling for McCann but weren't prepared to offer $100MM to a player that will probably be DHing by the contract's end.
- While the Rangers lost out on McCann, there are still players available that would boost the team's offense, Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News writes. Texas continues to seriously consider Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran for their left field job, while Jacoby Ellsbury and re-signing Nelson Cruz are also possibilities.
- With McCann off the board, the Rangers could also target a catcher who bats from the left side on a short-term deal, then platoon him with Geovany Soto, Grant writes. As a switch hitter, Dioner Navarro would appear to fit that bill.
- The Red Sox were interested in McCann, but their offer wasn't close to what he ended up getting, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe tweets.
- In a post for ESPN Insiders (sub. req'd.), Keith Law writes that the signing addresses the Yankees' most pressing need and projects that the deal will ultimately be "one of the most sensible" agreements of the offseason. While Law admits that five years is a lot to commit to a catcher, McCann should be able to take advantage of Yankee Stadium's short right porch to boost his power numbers. His article also suggests that McCann's strong framing skills add value in a way that isn't reflected in current defensive metrics.
- The Braves remained in discussions with McCann's agent, B.B. Abbott, as recently as Friday, David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says (Twitter link). However, they weren't invovled in the multi-year bidding for the catcher. The Braves will receive a draft pick after the first round becuase of the signing, O'Brien notes.
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves here:
- The Royals announced a series of minor league signings, including for third baseman Brandon Laird, outfielder Paulo Orlando and right-hander Wilking Rodriguez. Laird, 26, is the younger brother of Gerald Laird and joins the Royals from the Astros, where he received major league playing time in 2013. Orlando, 28, is re-upping with the Royals after six seasons in the organization. The 23-year-old Rodriguez will transition to the Royals after seven seasons in the Rays' farm system. He has a career 3.90 ERA, mostly as a starter, but has never reached Double-A.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Rockies will return Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, and have added righty Greg Burke. Headed to the Tigers is righty Jhan Marinez, while Gorkys Hernandez and Edinson Rincon will stick with the Royals organization. The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco. And the Dodgers inked utility infielder Brendan Harris. Other clubs with new signings include the Orioles, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and Athletics.
- The Cubs have signed outfielder Casper Wells, according to a tweet from Eddy. The team also added righties Paolo Espino and Carlos Pimentel, along with shortstop Jeudy Valdez. Wells got 102 plate appearances with three different clubs last year, posting a meager .126/.186/.147 line that is perhaps understandable given his constant movement and scant playing time. In 2012, over 316 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wells was good for a .228/.302/.396 slash.
- In addition to bringing back righty Benino Pruneda and catcher Jose Yepez on minor league deals, the Braves have added former Phillies backstop Steven Lerud, tweets Eddy. Lerud appeared in nine games for the Phils between 2012-13. At Triple-A last year, he had an interesting .217/.353/.311 line over 219 plate appearances, as he drew nearly as many walks (35) as he had hits (39).
- Cutting ties with a major international acquisition, the Nationals have released righty Yunesky Maya, Eddy tweets. Washington saw little return on its $6MM investment in Maya, who had been outrighted off of the club's major league roster early in the 2013 season. After struggling in two brief call-ups in 2011-12, Maya's last stint with the Nats was even more regrettable. In his only MLB appearance of the 2013 season, Maya retired one batter in the bottom of the tenth before surrendering a walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Dave Sappelt, tweets Eddy. As Eddy notes, Sappelt was one of the pieces -- along with lefty Travis Wood and second baseman Ronald Torreyes -- picked up by Chicago in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The 26-year-old Sappelt has a .251/.301/.343 slash line in 274 plate appearances spread over the 2011-13 seasons. He has spent most of his time in Triple-A over that time frame, and posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of his two years at Iowa.
The Braves announced today that former Rangers and Indians GM John Hart has joined their front office in the role of Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations (Twitter link).
Hart has spent the previous eight seasons as a senior advisor to Rangers GM Jon Daniels and spent the previous four seasons serving as the club's GM. He also served as the Indians' GM from 1991-2001 -- a period of time in which they won six division titles and played in two World Series. He won Executive of the Year honors in 1994-95 with the Indians and has also served as a TV analyst for the MLB Network.
Thursday: Hawkins has passed his physical, and the deal is now official, Hawkins himself tweets.
Monday: The Rockies have agreed to terms with right-hander LaTroy Hawkins on a one-year, $2.25MM deal, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter links) The contract also carries a $2.25MM option for 2015 with a $250K buyout and will be official if Hawkins passes a physical on Thursday. Hawkins is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.
Hawkins will serve as the Rockies' closer, Nightengale reports. The club was known to be looking for back-end relief help, and though Rex Brothers pitched well as a replacement close for Rafael Betancourt, Colorado will instead use Brothers as a setup man with an eye towards slowly easing him towards the closer's job (according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post). Since Hawkins is a righty and Brothers is a lefty, it's possible manager Walt Weiss could platoon his two closing options depending on the situation.
This is the well-traveled Hawkins' second stint in Colorado, as the veteran righty threw 55 1/3 relief innings for the Rockies' pennant-winning team in 2007. Hawkins turns 41 in December but is coming off one of his stronger seasons --- he posted a 2.93 ERA, 5.50 K/BB and 7.0 K/9 in 70 2/3 IP with the Mets in 2013. Hawkins has done a good job of keeping the ball on the ground over his career, with a 47.8% grounder rate and an 8.6% HR/FB rate over his 19 Major League seasons, so he projects well at Coors Field.
There was solid demand for Hawkins, as Nightengale reports that the Mets, Braves and Indians were all interested in his services and 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson notes that the Twins "had [a] brief talk" of signing the veteran as well.