Author Archives: Tim Dierkes

Reds Extend Devin Mesoraco

The Reds have locked up one of their core young pieces, agreeing to a four-year extension with catcher Devin Mesoraco the team has announced.  With three years and 28 days of Major League service, the 26-year-old backstop had been arbitration eligible for 2015 for the first time and had been under team control through 2017.  Mesoraco is a client of Jet Sports Management.

Devin Mesoraco

Mesoraco will receive a $28MM guarantee, MLBTR has learned. He receives a $500K signing bonus and will earn $2.4MM in 2015, $4.9MM in 2016, $7.2MM in 2017 and $13MM in 2018.  The contract also contains an additional $2MM worth of performance bonuses for a max of $30MM over the four-year term.

Mesoraco’s 2018 salary will jump by $400K each time he reaches 502 plate appearances from 2015-17, and he’ll earn $150K for each All-Star nomination, Gold Glove or Silver Slugger he picks up.  Mesoraco can also receive $200K for finishing in the top 5 of the MVP voting, $150K for finishing sixth through 10th, $100K for finishing 11th through 15th and $50K for finishing 16th through 20th.  While there are more than $2MM worth of incentives present in that breakdown, the contract places a $2MM cap on what he can earn.

A first-round pick by the Reds out of high school in ’07, Mesoraco broke out in a big way in 2014.  He hit .273/.359/.534 with 25 home runs in 440 plate appearances, making the All-Star team for the first time and earning a pair of down-ballot MVP votes.  Mesoraco led all catchers in home runs and slugging percentage, and ranked fifth in wins above replacement and on-base percentage.

The Reds cleared a path to more playing time for Mesoraco last offseason by flipping longtime backstop Ryan Hanigan to the Rays in a three-team deal that also netted them lefty David Holmberg from Arizona, and the move looks to have paid off handsomely for both team and player.  The four-year term on Mesoraco’s deal allows him to secure his first fortune by locking in a year of free agent money while still allowing him to hit the open market at the age of 30.

Mesoraco had exchanged arbitration figures with the Reds earlier this month.  The $3.025MM midpoint of those figures exceeded MLBTR’s projection of a $2.8MM salary for Mesoraco in 2015.

MLBTR was the first to report that the two sides were nearing a deal (via Twitter). C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer confirmed that there was an agreement (Twitter link), and Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith first reported the four-year term (on Twitter). MLBTR was the first to report the financial terms (on Twitter) and bonus structure of the contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


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$100K NFL Contest At DraftKings

Take your shot at a $100K prize pool in this week’s NFL playoffs contest at DraftKings! First place will take home $10K, and the top 11,500 entrants will get paid. The entry fee is just $2, or free with your first deposit. First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600, too.

The contest starts on Sunday, January 18th at 3:05pm eastern time. It’s a salary cap style contest, where you use a $50K budget to select nine players. The roster will be 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, and 1 Defense. Here’s a look at my potential roster:

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Agent: Alexi Ogando To Be Ready For Spring Training

Earlier today, a report cited an anonymous AL executive who claimed that the medical records on free agent righty Alexi Ogando‘s shoulder “didn’t look great” and that Ogando’s market would heat up once he accepted that he wouldn’t be able to land a big-league deal. Ogando’s agent, Larry Reynolds, told MLBTR on Sunday that he objected to that executive’s description of his client’s health.

Alexi Ogando was 92 to 93 and touched 94 at a bullpen session for numerous teams last week,” says Reynolds. “After an earlier examination by Dr. [James] Andrews, coupled with his promising progression, we believe Alexi should have no problem securing a job and will be pitching on Day 1 of 2015 Spring Training.”

Ogando missed much of the 2014 season with elbow inflammation, and he had shoulder trouble in 2013. The Rangers non-tendered him last month. Prior to 2014, when he pitched only 25 innings and had a 6.84 ERA, the 31-year-old had gotten good results as both a starter and a reliever when healthy.


$100K NFL Contest At DraftKings

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The contest starts on Saturday, January 10th at 4:35pm eastern time.  It’s a salary cap style contest, where you use a $50K budget to select nine players. The roster will be 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, and 1 Defense. Here’s a look at my potential roster:

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Giants Re-Sign Jake Peavy

Pitcher Jake Peavy has officially agreed to a deal to return to the Giants, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  It’s a two-year, $24MM deal with a full no-trade clause, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.  Peavy, a CAA client, will be paid a $4MM signing bonus and salaries of $7MM in 2015 and $13MM in 2016, writes Crasnick.

Jake Peavy

Peavy, 34 in May, posted a 3.73 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.02 HR/9, and 38.5% groundball rate in 202 2/3 innings for the Red Sox and Giants this year.  The Red Sox traded him to the Giants on July 26th with cash for Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree.  Peavy posted a 2.17 ERA in 78 2/3 innings for the Giants after the trade.  While his control improved with the Giants, his sharp drop in homer-to-flyball rate (3.2 percent) isn’t sustainable, even in the pitcher friendly AT&T Park.

While the level of production he showed in the season’s second half is very likely to come back down to Earth, there’s no doubt that a full-time move to AT&T Park and the NL West will be of benefit to Peavy’s numbers.  He’ll provide the Giants with some much-needed stability in the rotation, as the team currently has a great deal of uncertainty behind ace Madison Bumgarner and veteran workhorse Tim Hudson.  Matt Cain is coming off elbow surgery, Ryan Vogelsong is also a free agent, Tim Lincecum hasn’t been reliable for the past three seasons and Yusmeiro Petit, while excellent in 2014, has never held down a rotation spot for a whole season.

Peavy’s contract closely mirrors that two-year, $25MM contract extension that fellow 34-year-old NL West hurler Jorge De La Rosa signed in August, and it’s also in line with what both Hudson and Bronson Arroyo signed for last winter.  While each of the latter two pitchers is considerably older than Peavy, they signed in a free agent market with less quality pitching available.  In a free agent profile back in late October, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd correctly predicted that Peavy would top Hudson and Arroyo, though Peavy’s final deal fell a bit shy of his $28MM prediction.

This marks only the second significant move for Giants GM Brian Sabean this offseason — he agreed to terms on a two-year, $15MM deal with Sergio Romo earlier in the week — though not for lack of trying.  The Giants made a legitimate run at re-signing Pablo Sandoval and have also been connected to Jon Lester, Yasmany Tomas and Chase Headley, among others, but each has signed elsewhere, leaving the Giants to seek upgrades elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


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The contest starts on Sunday, December 21st at 1:00pm eastern time.  It’s a salary cap style contest, where you use a $50K budget to select nine players. The roster will be 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, and 1 Defense. Here’s a look at my potential roster:

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2015 Arbitration Tracker

Our 2015 arbitration tracker is now available!  The tracker displays all arbitration eligible players, with fields for team, service time, player and team submissions, the midpoint, and the settlement amount.  You can filter by team, signing status, service time, Super Two status, and whether a hearing occurred.  So far only 12 of 197 arbitration eligible players have signed, as figures do not need to be exchanged until January 16th.

You can bookmark MLBTR’s 2015 Arbitration Tracker here, or you can find it in the Tools menu at the top of the site.

MLBTR is also the only place for salary projections for every arbitration eligible player, which you can find here.


Lester, Epstein, Hoyer On Cubs Deal

“It’s not every day the best free agent goes to a team that finished in last place,” Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said today at the press conference announcing starting pitcher Jon Lester‘s new six-year contract.  Epstein later explained, “We knew early on that if we signed Jon Lester, it would be about belief. It was because he would believe in us, believe in our future, and believe that winning a World Series with the Cubs was a unique opportunity.”

LesterpostAccording to Epstein, the ability to contend for Lester’s services was a culmination of “a pretty quick rebuild” due to the hard work of the Cubs’ scouting and player development people.  The Cubs now possess a trove of young position player talent, including Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber.  Epstein considers the Lester signing a transition to a point where the team is “clearly very serious about winning a World Series.” Lester agreed, telling the crowd,“I can tell you honestly, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think they were going to win in 2015.”

Lester said the chance of winning a World Series with a team that hasn’t done so since 1908 “just adds that little extra for me.”  Questioned on the topic later, Epstein admitted the team’s long history of losing actually helped them sign Lester.  “We’re not hiding the ball. The fact that we haven’t won in so long helps define who we are. It adds meaning and resonance to what we’re trying to accomplish here, and I think it attracts players who aren’t afraid of that challenge and want to be here for the right reasons and it definitely attracted Jon Lester.”

The Cubs’ front office and ownership gave Lester the largest contract in franchise history, a reported $155MM deal with a seventh-year vesting option and a full no-trade clause.  It didn’t take long for Epstein to concede to the no-trade clause, a rarity for him.  “I don’t usually like those, but when you’re talking about a free agent of this caliber who had just gotten traded to Oakland as a result of having a team that relied on some young players and ended up with a disappointing performance, it would have been really hard to sign him without a no-trade given the unique circumstances involved here. In the spirit of the negotiation, it was something that we initially objected to but didn’t keep the fight up too long because it was outside the spirit of the connection that we were trying to make.”

Epstein went up against his and Lester’s former employer, the Red Sox, in negotiations that went down to the wire at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.  The Red Sox topped out at a reported $135MM offer, though they didn’t help their cause four months earlier by trading Lester, Jonny Gomes, and cash to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance pick.  When Bob Nightengale of USA Today asked Lester whether it would have been a lot harder to leave Boston had he not been traded, the lefty replied, “Yeah, I think so. I think there’s always that unknown when you are traded. Obviously that’s the unknown of going to a whole different coast, a whole different organization, a whole different philosophy. I think going there prepared us for this time. I think if you finish out the year in Boston and you get down to this decision, I think it would be a lot harder. Not to say it wasn’t hard as it was. But I feel like that broke that barrier of, ‘Well, I wonder if I can play for another team.’ And I think we answered those questions.”

Though Lester’s deal with the Cubs was consummated at last week’s Winter Meetings, it was the product of more than a month’s worth of courting.  The Cubs sent Lester a 15-minute video on the first day of free agency, talking about the team’s future.  Epstein and company experienced a turning point in a mid-November meeting, after which they felt “unmistakable momentum.”  That momentum never waned, even through tense late night negotiations with Lester’s agents at ACES.

For his part, Lester said he enjoyed initial meetings with teams, but the second phase of actually making a decision was not fun.  Much has been made of Lester’s long relationship with Epstein and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, dating back to the pitcher being drafted out of high school in ’02.  Both sides agreed that the comfort level and trust helped.

Does the Lester signing mean the Cubs are all-in for 2015?  As Epstein described it, “We’re very much all-in for our future, and the future starts in 2015.”  Asked whether the team is interested in trade targets with only one year of remaining control, Epstein answered, “Yeah, if they were priced accordingly. Obviously those players carry less value in our minds than players you can control going forward.”

The Cubs have already spent almost $180MM on free agents Lester, Jason Hammel, Jason Motte, and Tsuyoshi Wada, and they also traded for Tommy La Stella and well-paid catcher Miguel Montero.  I talked to Hoyer about remaining potential areas for upgrade, and he said the Cubs may attempt to add an outfield bat, given the youth of the team’s current group.  Asked if there’s room for another starting pitcher, Hoyer replied, “Potentially. We’re not going to sit here and say we’re done. I think we’re very comfortable going forward right now with what we have, but obviously the winter’s not over yet, there’s a lot of guys out there and we’ll certainly be engaged on some of those guys.”

The Epstein rebuild has taken three years to reach this point, and the team’s president said today that the Cubs’ “incredibly patient” fans “truly deserve a pitcher and a person of this caliber to call their own.”  Lofty expectations have been set for Lester, who appears ready for the challenge.


Bryce Harper, Nationals Agree To Two-Year Deal

8:02am: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that Harper and the Nats have agreed to a two-year, $7.5MM contract. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Harper will earn $2.5MM in 2015 and $5MM in 2016.

7:40am: Bryce Harper and the Nationals have avoided a grievance, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  The two sides reached a settlement Sunday evening in advance of a potential Tuesday hearing.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets the two sides have agreed to a two-year deal.

The issue at stake was whether Harper had the right to opt out of the $1.5MM salary owed to him through the Major League deal he signed upon being drafted and enter baseball’s arbitration system, which would have allowed him to earn more money.

As Kilgore explained in a previous article, Harper and the Nationals reached a verbal agreement on a five-year, $9.9MM Major League deal just minutes before the signing deadline, and when a final contract was drafted up, there was no clause for Harper to opt into arbitration.  Harper and agent Scott Boras refused to sign the deal, at which point MLB and the MLBPA stepped in, allowing a letter of agreement that stated Harper could opt for a grievance hearing to determine whether or not he qualified for arbitration, should be become eligible for arb before the deal’s final season.