Author Archives: Zach Links

NL West Notes: Cruz, Giants, Tomas

James Shields didn’t have his best performance today, but the Padres were still able to top the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday, as Corey Brock of MLB.com writes.  “I didn’t have the greatest stuff today. I wasn’t locating as well as I wanted to; I was behind in the count all day,” Shields said.  In the end, San Diego managed to win 5-4 anyway, thanks to Wil Myers‘ three-run homer in the seventh inning.  More from the National League West..

  • The Giants offered Nelson Cruz a deal worth upwards of $40MM this offseason, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).  The Mariners, meanwhile, landed Cruz on a four-year, $57MM contract.  Cruz, 35 in July, led the Majors in home runs in 2014 (40) while putting together an excellent .271/.333/.525 batting line.
  • Craig Edwards of Fangraphs looked at the Diamondbacks‘ decision to promote Yasmany Tomas to the varsity squad this week.  Arizona generated a good amount of excitement by promoting Tomas, but their $68MM investment was apparently brought aboard to sit on the bench.  As Edwards shows, a difficult numbers crunch led Arizona to promote Tomas rather than Double-A prospects like Brandon Drury and Socrates Brito who are not quite ready for primetime.
  • The Dodgers have been kept afloat by young relievers Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez, as Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes.  The previous regime put emphasis on experience in building the bullpen, but the new front office gave jobs to Baez and Garcia rather than the veterans they had in camp.  The Dodgers bounced Dustin McGowan, told Mike Adams (who later retired) that he wouldn’t make the team, and sent Sergio Santos and David Aardsma to Triple-A.

Minor Moves: White Sox, Indians

Here’s a look at today’s minor moves..

  • The White Sox signed right-hander Euclides Leyer, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter).  The White Sox had Leyer in their system for five years before losing him to the Reds in this year’s Rule 5 Draft.  In 34 appearances for the team’s Advanced-A team, Leyer pitched to a 4.53 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9.
  • The Indians signed minor league pitcher Perci Garner, according to Eddy (link).  Garner, 26, was a former second-round choice of the Phillies but was never able to produce consistently in their farm system.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: A’s, Tanaka, Norris, Kluber

On this date in 1972 (as can be seen on Leo Panetta’s NationalPastime.com), salary arbitration was born, as the owners agreed to add the arbitration process to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, ending a 13-day strike in which 86 games were missed. The arbitration process has become an integral part of the MLB offseason, influencing many trades and roster decisions in addition to providing many players with their first opportunity at nine-figure paydays. Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere…

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.



Indians, Carlos Carrasco Agree To Extension

The Indians have announced yet another extension, this one with righty Carlos Carrasco. The contract guarantees him $22MM over the next four years and includes two club options.

Carrasco will earn $4.5MM next year, $6.5MM in 2017, and $8MM in 2018. The option years are for $9MM and $9.5MM, respectively, and can each be escalated by $4MM based on top-ten Cy Young finishes, bringing the total max value of the contract to $48MM. Those options come with $662.5K in total buyouts. Carrasco was already set to earn $2.337MM in his first of three arbitration years, which the new deal leaves in place — meaning that Carrasco nets just under $20MM in new money.

Carlos Carrasco (featured)

Carrasco, who just recently celebrated his 28th birthday, posted a 5.29 ERA over his first four seasons (238 1/3 IP) with the Tribe and struggled last April, losing his starting job and even getting designated for assignment last summer. However, he started to turn things around after a stint in the bullpen. As a reliever, he posted a 2.30 ERA with 43 relief innings.

When Carrasco came back to the starting five, he closed out 2014 and in a small sample size of ten games he looked like an absolute superstar.  During that span, the hurler posted a 1.30 ERA and 78 strikeouts (against just 11 walks) over 69 innings.

Carrasco, an ACES client, now has financial security going forward despite a rocky career which included a lost 2012 season thanks to Tommy John surgery.  Now, with Carrasco and Corey Kluber both under contract, the Indians could have a potent No. 1 and No. 2 locked in for years to come.  The Cy Young winner’s deal looks different however as he’ll earn a reported $38.5MM across his guaranteed five seasons while Carrasco will get $22MM across his additional three years.  Kluber receives additional years on his deal, but the difference in average annual value is a modest $400K.

Carrasco, in theory, could have rolled the dice with another solid season of pitching.  Even though he could have secured a sizable arbitration raise and even more leverage in extension talks by building on his close to 2014, he understandably opted for security.

On Saturday night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the two sides were discussing a deal. Rosenthal tweeted that the deal was done. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links) reported contract details, as did MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter) and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rick Porcello, GM Ben Cherington On Extension

What a difference a year makes. In April 2014, many doubted that Rick Porcello could ever meet the lofty expectations set for him roughly twelve years ago when he was mowing down every high school batter in Central Jersey.  Today, Porcello inked an extension with the Red Sox that will net him a guaranteed $82.5MM over four seasons.  That’s big bucks any way you slice it, but as Steve Adams noted earlier tonight, Porcello is sacrificing some earning potential by signing a deal at this juncture.  On a conference call with reporters, I asked the right-hander if he was hesitant to sign a deal just months away from being able to hit the open market at the age of 27.

I mean obviously I knew the opportunity that was ahead of me in entering free agency, but when I first got to camp and I saw the way the team was run from the ownership to Ben [Cherington] to the coaching staff and the players that were there, I saw that it was run very well from top to bottom,” Porcello said. “The devotion to win was here and it was something that I wanted to be a part of.  It wasn’t a very difficult decision for me.

Porcello went on to explain that he wasn’t thinking about signing an extension upon his arrival to Boston but he was board once that possibility presented itself.  As for the Red Sox, Cherington said that he was impressed with Porcello from the get-go.  One might think that a deal of this magnitude was hammered out over months of late nights at the office and bad takeout, but the GM explained that the deal actually came together rather quickly.  Cherington had “informal” conversations with agent Jim Murray towards the end of Spring Training and negotiations actually didn’t pick up until the last few days.

When we made the trade we had interest in at least having a conversation about [an extension], but as Rick alluded to, we respected that he was new to the Red Sox and we wanted to give him an opportunity to get to know us a little more and vice versa,” Cherington said. “It gave us a chance to get to know him too…Aside from the pitcher that he is, which we obviously like, getting to know Rick more over the winter and spring we came to learn that he just has a lot of qualities that we really admire and we felt that he was type of guy that we wanted here and we see him as a very important part of our team going forward for many years.”

There’s already plenty of discussion about the deal, with some believing that Porcello wisely locked in after a career year and others feeling that the Red Sox ace should have tried to build off of his 2014 effort and land an even bigger deal next winter.  Porcello, for his part, could do without any of the attention.

If we could have signed it without announcing it, that would have been fine with me. Today was about our season opener and the Red Sox winning.”


AL East Notes: Orioles, Swihart, Rays, Yankees

After covering five postseason games in St. Petersburg, Florida and two exhibition games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com is convinced there is a greater passion for the game in Montreal than in Tampa Bay. The Rays aren’t heading north of the border anytime soon; but, in Morosi’s view, this weekend’s big turnout in the Expos’ former home showed that Montrealers feel a greater connection to the team they lost than Tampa Bay fans do for the team they still have.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • The Orioles are still trying to make a trade to give them some flexibility, writes Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette confirmed to reporters, including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko (via Twitter), submitting the Opening Day roster does not prevent him from making moves. “Once you submit your roster it’s like the regular season,” said Duquette. “You can make moves anytime after you get your roster submitted.” Baltimore will need to make a roster move after its first contest, as Chris Davis will have completed his 25-game suspension for Adderall use.
  • The Red Sox didn’t trade Lars Anderson or Ryan Lavarnway at the peak of their value and they have rebuffed whatever advances the Phillies have made toward Blake Swihart in a Cole Hamels deal. Despite outside pressure from some fans, GM Ben Cherington has always erred on the side of patience, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. “The reason that you fight back against trading a young player you believe in,” Cherington said, “is that, when it does happen, when it works the way you hope it works and the way you think it might work at the major-league level, it’s really impactful. If we think a guy has a good shot to be successful in Boston, we are going to have a presumption to try to keep them.”
  • The Rays appeared to be in learn-now, win-later mode early in the offseason, but they also made several present-day improvements to put themselves in position to win in 2014, opines Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays now believe they have put together a team that is deeper offensively, more athletic, and improved defensively. The pitching situation also appeared to be improved, though the Rays currently have three starters on the shelf.
  • The New York Post’s Joel Sherman posits the Yankees coud miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season and finish with a losing record for the first time since 1992, but their long-term future looks more encouraging that it has in a decade.

Indians Extend Corey Kluber

The Indians have announced signing reigning CY Young Award winner Corey Kluber to a five-year contract, which runs through the 2019 season and contains club options for 2020 and 2021. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets Kluber’s guaranteed five-year portion is worth $38.5MM while Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets the contract, plus its unique escalators and trade language, is the largest guarantee ever for a pre-arbitration pitcher. Kluber is represented by B.B. Abbott of Jet Sports Management.

This is an exciting day for our organization, Corey and his family,” said Indians GM Chris Antonetti. “In his time with us, Corey has grown into a leader in our clubhouse and an exemplary teammate. His tireless work ethic, consistent preparation and fierce competitiveness set an example for our younger players, and his presence on our team is a key reason that we are prepared to compete for a championship in 2015 and beyond.

Kluber can earn $77MM across the life of the deal if all escalators, which are based on where he finishes in the Cy Young race, are met, according to Rosenthal (Twitter links). Starting in 2015, Kluber will earn salaries of $1MM, $4.5MM, $7.5MM, $10.5MM, and $13MM. His fifth year can go from $13MM to $17MM with escalators (link). The 2020 option will be worth $13.5MM and can go to $17.5MM with escalators. In 2021, the option will be worth $14MM and can be as large as $18MM with escalators. That second option can be instead bought out for $1MM.

If traded, Kluber’s new club will have to decide on the 2020 and 2021 options within three days after the 2019 World Series. If the new club declines that option, Kluber must be given a $1MM buyout (link). He’ll also receive a $1MM bonus if traded and his 2021 club option will convert to a vesting option if he is traded in 2020 (link). The vesting option would call for him to pitch 160 innings and not finish the year on the DL, according to Rosenthal.

Corey  Kluber (vertical)

Kluber is coming off a Cy Young season in which he posted 18 wins, a 2.44 ERA, 10.27 K/9, and 1.95 BB/9 in 235 innings. As a Super Two player, he would have been eligible for arbitration from 2016 through 2019 and, with a similar performance to last season, would have been in store for strong earnings via arbitration. As such, he was in a position to earn more than Yordano Ventura netted from his similar extension.

The advanced metrics were also quite fond of Kluber in 2014. The right-hander pitched to a 2.57 xFIP, a figure that’s more or less in line with his 2.44 ERA on the season. That figure put him only second to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who pitched to an eye popping 2.08 xFIP last year.

Last week, Antonetti explained the team had “a clear preference” to conclude any contract talks before Opening Day in order to “minimize distractions” for the players. For a while, it seemed like an extension wouldn’t come together at all prior to the start of the 2015 season. Cleveland owner Paul Dolan, president Mark Shapiro, Antonetti and Abbott had a face-to-face meeting last month, but it seemed like the two sides were at an impasse due to the pitcher’s unique situation.

Kluber, who turns 29 on April 10th (the date of Cleveland’s home opener), was still under the Tribe’s control for four more seasons. While he ostensibly wanted some financial security ahead of free agency going into his age-33 season, the Indians weren’t necessarily under the gun to give him a long-term pact. Ultimately, the two sides appear to have found some middle ground: Kluber gets his security and the Indians gain cost certainty at a reasonable price.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the two sides were nearing agreement on a long-term deal and it could be finalized before Opening Day (Twitter links). Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports first tweeted the length of the deal while Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first tweeted a deal had been reached pending a physical. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL Notes: Duda, Cueto, Tomas, Braves, Diamondbacks

The Mets and Lucas Duda have failed to reach an extension prior to the first baseman’s Opening Day deadline and have shelved negotiations, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. “No agreement was reached, so talks have concluded and Lucas will focus on the upcoming season,” agent Dan Horwits told Rubin. Duda will make $4.2MM in 2015 and will be eligible for arbitration two more times before becoming a free agent following the 2017 season.

In other National League news and notes:


NL East Notes: Utley, Stanton, Marlins

Washington hasn’t had a baseball all-star game since the Senators hosted the game at RFK Stadium in 1969, but that’s about to change.  An announcement naming Nationals Park the host of the 2018 All-Star Game is expected to come on Monday, a source tells James Wagner of the Washington Post.  The Montreal Expos, the franchise that was moved to the District by MLB, hosted the game in 1982, but this will be the first game hosted by the Nationals.  Here’s more out of the NL East..

  • The feeling among some baseball executives is that Phillies star second baseman Chase Utley will eventually give in to a deal as the losing escalates in Philly, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  Cafardo adds that Utley, who has a no-trade clause, could be attracted to West Coast teams such as the Dodgers, Giants, Angels, or A’s.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently wrote that the Padres, Angels, and possibly the Giants could be among the teams with interest in the California native.
  • The Marlins‘ first order of business was signing Giancarlo Stanton to a long-term deal, but president of baseball operations Michael Hill knew that there was much more to be done beyond that, as Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald writes.  Hill and GM Dan Jennings spoke to Spencer about the inner workings of some of the club’s biggest offseason moves, including the signing of Michael Morse and the Martin Prado deal.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald spoke former GMs Jim Bowden and Dan O’Dowd plus Hall Of Fame journalist Peter Gammons to get their thoughts on the Marlins.  While going through each unit on the roster, they also touched on the new contracts given to outfielders Stanton and Christian Yelich.

Marlins Exploring Trade Market For Pitching

The Marlins are exploring possible trade options to bolster their pitching, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Miami is concerned about the rotation and, ideally, they’d like to add another starter. However, they could also use a bit more help in the bullpen and they wouldn’t be opposed to an upgrade there either.

Miami has seen some rocky performances from its starters this spring and the front office is starting to worry about the durability of the rotation.  No. 2 starter Mat Latos dealt with a left knee injury last season and had his elbow scoped in mid-October, so Miami is concerned about how he will hold up.  Meanwhile, Henderson Alvarez (left knee) and Jarred Cosart (blister) dealt with some less serious issues in March.

As for the bullpen, the Marlins’ depth took a hit this week when they learned that Aaron Crow will likely need season-ending Tommy John surgery.  Preston Claiborne will also be out for at least a month with a right shoulder injury.  Even if the bullpen is not as high of a priority for the Marlins at this time, it sounds like they’re very much open to adding some reinforcements there.

If the Marlins choose to stand pat, Frisaro notes that they have some viable in-house options.  Miami hopes that right-handed reliever Nick Masset, who was cut recently, agrees to join the club’s Triple-A affiliate, according to the MLB.com scribe.   For starting depth, the Marlins could turn to long relievers David Phelps and Brad Hand, though that would likely weaken the pen.