Author Archives: Brad Johnson

Quick Hits: Duquette, Flowers, Meyer

With the 2014 free agent class thinning out behind James Shields, Francisco Rodriguez, and Rafael Soriano, the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff takes a look ahead at the 2015 free agent market. Davidoff predicts David Price will sign the richest contract of the class – if he doesn’t ink an extension first. He also predicts Matt Wieters will sneak his way into a big contract while Justin Upton could be seriously hurt by his move to San Diego.

  • If Orioles Executive VP Dan Duquette does join the Blue Jays, Baltimore should receive one or two good prospects, opines John Lott of the National Post. However, Lott also figures first round pick Jeff Hoffman is too steep a price. Historically, executives have not cost much in player talent to acquire. Randy Winn represents the best such return, with most trades featuring minor leaguers who barely sniff the majors. Baseball should enforce stiffer costs to front office poaching in Lott’s opinion. Personally, I imagine a punitive but purely financial cost would be the fairest way to approach the problem.
  • From the Orioles perspective, the club needs to definitively decide Duquette’s future before their upcoming FanFest, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Both Duquette and owner Peter Angelos do “things at [their] own pace,” so the situation could linger. For what it’s worth, the White Sox diffused the rumors quickly when Ken Williams was in the spotlight. That tells me the Orioles are genuinely open to dealing Duquette.
  • With the signing of Geovany Soto, White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers has competition, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Flowers is still penciled in as the starter behind the dish, but the club has plenty of depth with Soto, George Kottaras, Rob Brantly, and Adrian Nieto. GM Rick Hahn mentioned Kottaras as a potential platoon partner for Flowers.
  • Alex Meyer, the Twins fourth best prospect and 27th overall per MLB.com, figures to compete to become the club’s fifth starter, reports Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Candidates for the back of the rotation include Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Milone, and Trevor May. Given that he still has options, he’ll have to seriously impress to beat out his veteran counterparts and May.

Quick Hits: Shields, Yankees, Craig

Jim Bowden of ESPN (Insider required) speculates the best fits for the current top 10 free agents. At the head of the list is James Shields who Bowden thinks fits with an AL team. Specifically mentioned are the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, and Rangers. However, now that his price tag may have dropped below five years and $110MM, other teams could get involved too. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also explored nine potential suitors for Shields and turned up plenty of NL contenders like the Cardinals and Padres.


Texas Notes: Dominguez, Astros, Rangers

Here’s the latest from baseball’s two Texan clubs.



Quick Hits: Papelbon, Beachy, Olivera

Talks between the Phillies and Brewers concerning closer Jonathan Papelbon are “on life support,” reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Haudricourt reported earlier today that “there was no traction” between the two sides. GM Doug Melvin echoed that sentiment, saying there was no momentum. It is thought that Papelbon’s $13MM option for 2016 is holding up an agreement. Since Papelbon has a limited no trade clause that includes the Brewers, he may ask for the option to be guaranteed before accepting a trade. The ball may be in Philadelphia’s court to find a financial solution to the situation.

  • Brandon Beachy has “zeroed in on a new team,” tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN. Beachy and the unknown team are currently working on contractual details. Wolfson adds that the team is not the Twins. Beachy was non-tendered by the Braves earlier in the offseason after undergoing his second Tommy John procedure. If he avoids setbacks, he may return to action mid-season. It’s easy to compare Beachy’s situation with fellow former Brave Kris Medlen, who signed a two-year, $8.5MM deal with an option. Like Beachy, Medlen is also recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.
  • Cuban infielder Hector Olivera held a public workout in the Dominican Republic last week and over 200 scouts attended, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The Giants, Padres, Rangers, Braves, and Yankees are showing the strongest interest in Olivera.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Saturday

Here are the latest players to avoid arbitration:

  • The Tigers and reliever Al Alburquerque have agreed to a one-year, $1.725MM deal, reports Mike Perchick of WAPT Sports. Additionally, Alburquerque will earn $12.5K if he makes 75 appearances, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman (via Twitter). The Tigers filed at $1.375MM while Alburquerque asked for $2.05MM. The reported deal is just north of the $1.712MM midpoint. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected a $1.7MM payout. A Super Two player, this was Alburquerque’s second spin through arbitration. The 28-year-old is club controlled for two more seasons after posting a 2.51 ERA, 9.89 K/9, and 3.30 BB/9 in 57.1 innings in 2014.
  • Lefty reliever Brian Duensing and the Twins have agreed to terms for one year and $2.7MM, Phil Ervin of FOX Sports North tweets. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected that Duensing would make $2.5MM in his last year of arbitration eligibility. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, Duensing’s camp proposed a $3.1MM salary and the Twins countered with $2.4MM, so $2.7MM is near the midpoint but a bit closer to the Twins’ side. Duensing is the last of the Twins’ six arbitration-eligible players to agree to terms. He posted a 3.31 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings last season.

East Notes: Rays, Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays

The Rays have made seven trades this offseason with an eye towards cutting payroll and retooling the franchise, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s a little bit of a threading of the needle,” said GM Matt Silverman. The trades were designed to give the 2015 product a chance to contend while improving the future of the franchise with players like Steven Souza and Daniel Robertson. The team cut payroll by about $10MM and escaped $12.5MM of future commitments. A possible trade of David DeJesus could trim costs by another $5MM. Here’s more from the eastern divisions.

  • With so many bad contracts on the books, it’s hard for the Yankees to swallow a big ticket purchase like Max Scherzer, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The Bombers have about $210MM committed to the 2015 product. More importantly, there are few roster spots for available for expensive free agents. Every big contract takes away from the roster’s flexibility. Based on the argument, my own conclusion is that the Yankees have to develop at least some young, cost-controlled stars.
  • Across town, the Mets have a payroll less than half that of the Yankees, yet they’ve done nothing to solve their supposed problem at shortstop. Wilmer Flores is the expected starter, although the club also has Ruben Tejada under contract. Of the major free agents, Hanley Ramirez signed to play outfield for the Red Sox while Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Stephen Drew don’t project to be much better than Flores. Flores will play on a league minimum contract and possesses growth potential. And as Davidoff notes, Flores is projected to be roughly league average by FanGraphs. For what it’s worth, I haven’t understood the fascination with bringing in a replacement for Flores and Tejada. The club appears to be better off at the position than half the league.
  • The Blue Jays are expected to feature three Canadian born players in the everyday lineup, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. While that doesn’t really affect the 2015 product in any obvious way, it could have long reaching ripple effects. Russell Martin noted how fellow Canadian Larry Walker inspired him when he was younger. With players like Martin, Michael Saunders, and Dalton Pompey now in the fold, Canadian youngsters have more talented ballplayers to emulate.

Starting Pitcher Notes: Rangers, Scherzer, Shields, Cardinals

The Rangers hope to add another starting pitcher, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. However, the club is out on “big-name free agents” and unlikely to trade for Phillies starter Cole Hamels. The rotation remains unsettled, with Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez, and Lisalverto Bonilla currently expected to compete for the fifth starter’s role. Presently, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Ross Detwiler, and Colby Lewis are penciled in for jobs with Matt Harrison an unknown. Here’s more from the pitching marketplace.

  • Max Scherzer and James Shields are in uncharted territory, writes Benjamin Hoffman of the New York Times. Of the nine free agent pitchers who have signed nine-figure contracts, only Masahiro Tanaka agreed to terms after January 1st. Teams like to have a working idea of their roster and payroll at this point in the offseason, which is why these big deals are usually reached before the new year. Earlier tonight, we learned the Blue Jays are interested in Shields, and his price may have dropped below $100MM. Meanwhile, Scherzer and agent Scott Boras are trying to beat the $144MM extension offer Scherzer reportedly declined prior to last season.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is talking up the club’s pitching depth, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. That could mean the club will pass on Scherzer and Shields. The club has been loosely connected to Scherzer, but it seems as though Mozeliak is content to stand pat unless ownership intervenes. It may be worth noting that the Cardinals became Matt Holliday‘s eventual home after a similarly quiet spin through free agency.
  • Needless to say, the Cardinals are loathe to trade from their hoard of minor leaguers for Hamels. In my opinion, it makes sense for the club to gauge what they have in Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia, and Marco Gonzales before executing a blockbuster trade.

Minor Moves: Bard, Berry, Hand, Pastornicky

Here’s a roundup of minor moves from late this week.

  • The Cubs have signed free agent pitcher Daniel Bard to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, tweets Mike Perchick of WAPT Sports. The former Red Sox relief ace last appeared in the majors during the 2013 season when he tossed just one inning. After three solid campaigns to begin his career, the wheels fell off in 2012 with a 6.22 ERA, 5.76 K/9, and 6.52 BB/9 in 59 and one-third innings.
  • The Red Sox have signed free agent outfielder Quintin Berry to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, tweets Mike Perchick of WAPT Sports. The 30-year-old outfielder has seen infrequent action since making his major league debut with the Tigers in 2012. That year, he hit .258/.330/.354 in 330 plate appearances with 21 steals. He’s since served short stints with the Red Sox and Orioles as a defensive replacement and pinch runner.
  • Free agent righty Donovan Hand tweets that he has agreed to a deal with the Reds. The deal would presumably be of the minor league variety. Hand, 28, spent his eighth season in the Brewers organization in 2014 as a swingman for Triple-A Nashville, posting a 5.20 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. Hand had the same role in the big leagues in 2013, posting a 3.69 ERA and 2.8 BB/9 in 68 1/3 innings but with just 4.9 K/9.
  • The Braves have outrighted infielder Tyler Pastornicky, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets. The Braves designated Pastornicky for assignment last week after he hit .290/.330/.347 in 189 plate appearances last year for Triple-A Gwinnett. The 25-year-old has appeared in parts of three seasons in the Majors, most notably hitting .243/.287/.325 in 188 plate appearances in 2012.
  • The Athletics have outrighted infielder Andy Parrino, MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets. The A’s designated Parrino for assignment in the wake of the Ben Zobrist deal last weekend. The 29-year-old hit .274/.352/.384 at the Triple-A level in 2014.
  • The Mariners have outrighted lefty Anthony Fernandez, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Fernandez, 24, has never pitched in the big leagues and missed most of last season due to injury, making just five starts for Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners designated him for assignment Thursday.
  • The Orioles have outrighted catcher Ryan Lavarnway, according to MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Lavarnway, 27, was claimed three times in the past six weeks (by the Dodgers, Cubs and Orioles) before finally making it through waivers. He hit .283/.389/.370 in 257 plate appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket in the Red Sox system in 2014.
  • The Blue Jays have outrighted righty Cory Burns, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The Jays designated Burns for assignment earlier this week when they claimed Matt West. Burns, 27, pitched well in relief at Double-A and Triple-A in the Rays organization early in the season, but struggled after being claimed by the Rangers in June. The Blue Jays then claimed him in late September.
  • The Rays have signed lefty Everett Teaford, the Ballengee Group announces (via Twitter). The contract will presumably be a minor-league deal. Teaford appeared in parts of three seasons with the Royals from 2011 through 2013, but pitched for the LG Twins in the offense-heavy KBO in 2014, posting a 5.24 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 99 2/3 innings.

Morosi On The Closer Market

The market for free agent relievers continues to develop slowly, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Three free agents with over 20 saves last season remain available – Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, and Casey Janssen. Per Morosi, the Blue Jays, Indians, and Brewers are looking to add a late inning reliever. Obviously, other clubs could get involved at the right price.

Each of the three free agents come with performance concerns. Rodriguez, 33, was the best of the group with 44 saves. However, he’s allowed an above average rate of home runs in his last three seasons – all spent at homer friendly Miller Park. He’s a better fit for a pitcher friendly park, which may be why the Brewers have yet to re-engage his services.

Both Soriano and Janssen lost ninth inning privileges last season. Soriano, 35, actually had a solid season based on his peripherals, but a few costly, late season blow-ups led to Drew Storen taking over as closer. As a command and control pitcher, Janssen has always been an atypical closer.

The trio is unlikely to do much better than the two-year, $15MM deal Sergio Romo signed with the Giants. In some ways, Romo was better last year than any of the remaining free agents, and he’s younger too. Like Soriano and Janssen, Romo lost the closer role mid-season.

With Tyler Clippard moving to Oakland (presumably, GM Billy Beane won’t re-trade him before the season), the most obvious trade candidate is Philadelphia’s Jonathan Papelbon. His contract is an additional impediment to a trade – he’s owed $13MM this season with a $13MM vesting option (48 games finished). While Morosi didn’t mention it, some clubs have reportedly expressed concern about Papelbon’s clubhouse presence. He missed the end of last season after an unusual crotch grabbing incident.


Marlins Notes: Ichiro, Haren, Payroll

We learned earlier today that the Marlins are showing interest in free agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Talks between the two parties are “progressing,”reports Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The Marlins do not have an obvious fourth outfielder on the 40-man roster at this time, so Ichiro would back up the trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. Other internal candidates like Martin Prado and Michael Morse have experience in the outfield but seem unlikely to move from their primary positions. Tyler Colvin was also added earlier in the offseason on a minor league contract. A deal is not thought to be close at this time per Cotillo’s source.

  • The Marlins are “wrestling” with a decision to trade starting pitcher Dan Haren, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. According to clubs speaking with Miami, the team prefers to keep him over selling low. Regardless of where Haren plays next year, it’s been previously reported that the Marlins intend to keep most or all of the $10MM the Dodgers will send to cover his contract.
  • Miami has three arbitration eligible players who have yet to sign, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. With a combined $1.72MM discrepancy between the players and team, the club’s payroll is beginning to shape up. The club is said to be aiming at about $65MM and appears to be on pace. Including payments from the Dodgers, the Fish have $44.725MM committed to 11 players with the seven arbitration eligible players coming in at an additional $13.135MM to $14.875MM. Pending any other acquisitions (like Ichiro), the rest of the club is likely to be formed from players paid around the league minimum.