Atlanta Braves Rumors
The Blue Jays have inquired on Braves shortstop Tyler Pastornicky, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Blue Jays are apparently looking out-of-house for some reinforcements after learning that Jose Reyes will be sidelined for three months with a severely sprained left ankle.
Toronto traded Pastornicky to Atlanta in July of 2010 along with Alex Gonzalez and Tim Collins in the deal that brought back Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes. Last year was the 23-year-old's first season in the majors and he posted a .243/.287/.325 slash line in 76 games.
Matt Harvey has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball this season, and the Mets hurler appeared on the Baseball Tonight podcast with ESPN's Buster Olney to discuss how he could have signed with the Angels out of high school (Harvey appears near the 28:50 mark of this audio link). Here's more from the Eastern divisions...
- Tim Wakefield is joining the Red Sox as a special instructor and the honorary chairman of the Red Sox Foundation, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
- We're less than two weeks into the season, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times points out that's long enough for the Rays to delay Wil Myers' free agency by a season if they wish to call him up. The team will need to wait until June to prevent him from reaching Super Two status, however.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that Ben Zobrist is one of the two best players in the game, dating back to 2009, according to WAR. Rosenthal spoke with Baseball-Reference.com founder Sean Forman and Zobrist himself about the statistic.
- The Marlins TV ratings are at an all-time low, according to Clark Spencer and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Spencer writes that the ratings may see an uptick every five days when rookie Jose Fernandez starts, but the fans are simply too bored with the team to care most days.
- Denard Span and B.J. Upton of the Nationals and Braves, respectively, will be on the same field for the first of many times in the coming seasons on Friday, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Comak writes that there's a chance that this outcome could've come about with the pair's jerseys being flipped, had the offseason played out a bit differently.
Braves right fielder Jason Heyward is one of few star-caliber players currently going year-to-year. Just 23 years old, Heyward is under the Braves' control as an arbitration eligible player through 2015. What would a fair extension look like for the Excel Sports Management client?
One comparable could be the Orioles' Adam Jones. Jones signed a six-year, $85.5MM extension in May of last year, about three months after the salary for his second arbitration year was determined. A Heyward extension, if it were done during this season, would include that second arb year. Jones was closer to free agency than Heyward is, which generally gets the player more money. Since Heyward has less service time than Jones did, perhaps the Braves could replace the fifth guaranteed free agent year with a club option. That would put us around $75MM over six years (2014-19). Even if the 2020 club option is exercised, Heyward would be able to enter free agency at age 31 and get another big contract.
The Braves, perhaps, could point to an older but more evenly matched Orioles outfielder extension, the one Baltimore did with Nick Markakis prior to the 2009 season. At the three-year service point, Markakis compared favorably to Heyward in terms of OBP and SLG. Both players had exactly 59 career home runs, but Markakis had 33% more RBIs and a superior platform year, one in which he posted a .406 OBP. So even though that contract is four years old, the Braves could make a case against guaranteeing much more than the $63.1MM Markakis received covering his second arbitration year through his third free agent year (five years in total for that slice). The Orioles did not get a club option on Markakis or Jones, however, so that will be a tough sell for Heyward.
One thing to note about Heyward, of which the Braves are surely aware, is that last year he derived a lot of value through defense, and that generally doesn't pay in arbitration. Last year's high-water marks of 27 home runs and 82 RBIs are decent, but Heyward would have to take his offensive counting stats to another level to break the bank in arbitration. In February there was talk of the Braves trying to buy out Heyward's arbitration years, but I don't see much reason for the club to do a two-year deal. They haven't done a long arbitration year extension in general since Brian McCann in March 2007, according to our extension tracker, and Heyward has significantly more service time than McCann did. If the Braves want to secure some of Heyward's free agent years, now might be the ideal time. A five or six-year offer in the $63-75MM range would be fair.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Ayala, 35, returned to baseball in 2011 after not pitching in the Major Leagues in 2010. Since his comeback, he's reinvented himself, compiling a 2.50 ERA, 6.2 K/0 and 2.3 BB/9 in 133 innings of work. While he's not a left-handed reliever, Ayala gives Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez another late-inning option with Jonny Venters currently on the shelf.
The 24-year-old Jones has a 3.58 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 356 2/3 minor league innings. He's yet to pitch higher than the Double-A level, where he's maintained his solid strikeout numbers but owns a 4.11 ERA. He will report to Double-A Bowie for the Orioles.
Here are your minor moves for Friday (all links courtesy of Baseball America's Matt Eddy on Twitter)...
- Long-time Orioles farmhand Mike Flacco -- the brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco -- has retired, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (Twitter link). The 26-year-old first baseman hit .253/.335/.378 in 353 minor league games. Flacco had been with the High-A Salem Red Sox.
- The Mariners released minor league Rule 5 pick Eric Farris, and the second baseman quickly latched on with the Twins, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The M's plucked Farris off of the Brewers' roster in December.
- The Tigers released defensive wizard Cale Iorg. The shortstop hit just .199/.240/.313 in parts of three seasons at Double-A. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy points out (via Twitter) that Iorg is the son of Brewers first base coach Garth Iorg.
- The Pirates acquired catcher Troy Snitker from the Braves in a trade. The 24-year-old was taken by Atlanta in the 19th round of the 2011 draft and has spent the bulk of the last two seasons in rookie ball.
- Also within that link, Eddy reports that the Phillies acquired shortstop Jose Mojica from theYankees. Mojica hit just .226/.265/.305 for the Bombers' Advanced-A affiliate in 2012.
- The Braves released Dimasther Delgado, who appeared on three organization top 30 lists. The 24-year-old left-hander has a 3.93 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in two years of Advanced-A ball.
- The Rays have released right-hander Jason McEachern, who was a 13th-round selection in the 2008 draft. Eddy notes that McEachern was a projectable high school arm that made it to Class-A but never took a step forward in his fastball velocity. The 22-year-old has a 4.96 ERA in 201 Class-A innings.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
7:55am: Right-handed relievers Anthony Varvaro and Cristhian Martinez were a couple of solid waiver claims by the Braves, as both have made contributions to the team's Major League bullpen. However, since both pitchers are out of options, one of them could be traded if Jordan Walden is ready for Opening Day on Monday, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
Walden was injured earlier this spring, and the Braves could retain Varvaro and Martinez for now by putting Walden on the disabled list to start the season. Otherwise, it would make sense to trade Varvaro or Martinez rather than expose one to waivers.
Varvaro, 28, was claimed off waivers from the Mariners in January 2011. He's got some control issues, and has spent much of the last two seasons at Triple-A. He seems the more expendable of the two for the Braves.
Martinez, 31, joined the Braves via waivers from the Marlins in April 2010. Since then he has a 3.81 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, and 0.86 HR/9 in 177 1/3 innings.
Links from the NL East...
- There's little question within the Mets organization that Travis d'Arnaud will become the team's starting catcher at some point this year, Mike Puma of the New York Post writes. However, d'Arnaud will start the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, barring an injury. By keeping d'Arnaud in big league camp, the Mets are running the risk that he'll get injured and start picking up MLB service time while on the disabled list, Michael Baron of MetsBlog.com notes.
- The Braves front office doesn't seem concerned about the possibility that their lineup will strike out often in 2013, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Martino also discusses the re-branding of the Braves in the post-Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox era. “We like talent,” one Braves person said.
- Don't be surprised if Mike Minor of the Braves and Domonic Brown of the Phillies are among the players who break out in 2013. ESPN.com's Keith Law includes these players on his list of former top prospects poised for big performances in the coming season.
St. Patrick's Day is as much of a baseball holiday as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or Labor Day thanks to former Reds GM Dick Wagner. Tom Singer of MLB.com chronicles how the baseball tradition of wearing the green came about 35 years ago. Elsewhere from the Reds and the rest of the National League:
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty expects a decision in the next few days on whether Aroldis Chapman will pitch out of the bullpen or be moved into the starting rotatation, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Chapman stated publicly he wants to close, which didn't sit well with Jocketty. "We don’t let every player tell us how they want to be used," the GM told MLB.com.
- Ian Stewart's lingering left quad injury could affect his chances at making the roster and how the Cubs build their bench, writes MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Brent Lillibridge, Luis Valbuena, Edwin Maysonet, and Alberto Gonzalez are competing to fill that void while manager Dale Sveum mentioned Steve Clevenger could be an interesting option and added the team is watching all the waiver wires.
- The Rockies are giving serious consideration to making Nolan Arenado their starting third baseman with one club official telling Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com "it’s a tough call." If Arenado receives the nod, Rosenthal believes incumbent third baseman Chris Nelson could be used to acquire a veteran starting pitcher.
- Within the same piece, sources tell Rosenthal the Rockies want to move Ramon Hernandez and are willing to assume some of his $3.2MM salary to facilitate a trade.
- Don't expect the Braves to have any interest in the recently released Matt Diaz because there isn't a need right now, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- The Marlins have returned Rule 5 selection Braulio Lara to the Rays, reports Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post. The left-hander appeared in four games for the Marlins this spring throwing four innings allowing two earned runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Braves second baseman Dan Uggla went to arbitration with the Florida Marlins in 2009 after hitting 90 home runs and accumulating 270 RBI during his first three seasons in the big leagues. The Marlins filed at $4.4MM while Uggla requested $5.35MM. Uggla won his case, earning one of the biggest salary jumps ever for a player going through the arbitration process for the first time. Uggla, now a Gaylord Sports Management client, was a Beverly Hills Sports Council client at the time he won his arbitration hearing. He spent a few minutes reflecting on his case with B.J. Rains for MLB Trade Rumors:
“Obviously it’s a very long process. Negotiations are usually never quick. We negotiated all the way up until the time we had to give each other the numbers. My case was a little bit different because with the Marlins, once you submit your number, there’s no more negotiations. Usually in arbitration you can submit your numbers and still come to an agreement but with the Marlins, if you don’t come to an agreement before that then you're going into the room and going to the hearing, so mine was different.
“It made sense for me to go ahead and take that chance and go into the room because there was such a big difference and we were so far apart. I didn’t know it until they put their number in, but they put in $4.4MM and they were offering me $4.5MM or something like that, that was their highest offer, so it made sense for me to go into the room. Plus I believed that I was supposed to earn what I put in for.
“When I was as confident as I was in my case, it was worth every penny to go into the hearing. Say if I thought I was worth $5.35MM and they were coming in offering me $5.1MM, then you have to start weighing your options. If they are offering you $5.1MM and then they drop it down and put their number at $4.4MM, you have to weigh your options and say, ‘Hey, I don’t know if $200K is worth the chance of losing a million,’ but we were never close. We were never close. I had a chance to lose $100K from where they offered me because we never got within $800K or $900K.
“Inside the room, it’s not them truly trying to put you down. It’s a business thing. My side is business and their side is business. They are trying to get me for a certain price and I’m trying to get my salary to a certain price. It’s not necessarily them telling you how bad you are, they are just trying to present a case to where they believe you should earn X instead of Y. I knew that going in. It didn’t bother me at all. It’s just a process, the business side of it. A lot of people would say, ‘Man, I didn’t know I was that bad’ or ‘I can’t believe they would say that about me,’ but you better prepare yourself to hear it because they will say it. It’s not to demise your character or not to put you down in any way, it’s just for them to present a case to win their case, just like we’re presenting a case to say I’m a little better than I actually am.
“I talked to my agents and they’ve been in many cases before and they prepared me the best they could. They have booklets and stuff and I had a book real thick of comparisons and charts and stuff. My agents did a great job of going over everything. Anything and everything you could find it was documented.
“It’s a crapshoot. There’s no guarantee. You can present the best case you can and still get beat. I still have a great relationship with the front office of the Marlins to this day. You have to understand as a player, they aren’t trying to personally attack you. They are trying to get their payroll at a certain point and that’s one of the ways they are trying to do it. It’s the business side of baseball.”
On this date two years ago, Chuck Greenberg resigned as the Rangers' CEO after encountering philosophical differences with others in the team's ownership group. The Rangers' leadership structure is again making headlines, as ownership looks to determine what Nolan Ryan's role will be going forward. Here are some links from around MLB, starting in Texas...
- Dan Szymborski of ESPN Insider explains why the Cardinals are a perfect fit for Elvis Andrus of the Rangers. St. Louis needs a shortstop after losing Rafael Furcal to injury and the Rangers could part with Andrus to create space for Jurickson Profar. The Rangers could look to acquire a pitching prospect such as Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller or Carlos Martinez from the Cardinals' top-ranked farm system.
- Atlanta GM Frank Wren told James Wagner of the Washington Post that most of the Braves' offseason moves revolved around their own needs, rather than the Nationals' roster. Wren explained that he wanted to add right-handed balance to a lineup that had become too left-handed. "I can’t say that anything we did this offseason was reactionary,” he said.
- FanGraphs' David Laurila spoke with Sig Mejdal, the Astros' director of decision sciences, about his role in Houston and the place of analytics in baseball.