Bartolo Colon Rumors

West Notes: Angels, Rockies, Johnson

After the signing of reliever Joe Smith and their recent trade for David Freese and Fernando Salas, the Angels will only have about $8MM more they can spend before hitting the luxury tax threshold, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports. The Angels will likely continue to look for starting pitching, and they could trade Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar or Mark Trumbo in order to acquire pitching and clear salary. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Angels are interested in signing Bronson Arroyo and/or Bartolo Colon, but a deal is not close with either player, ESPN's Jim Bowden tweets.
  • With Brian McCann (Yankees) and Carlos Ruiz (Phillies) now off the market, the Rockies are likely through looking for a catcher, Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post guesses (via Twitter). Those two, along with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, were the big names on the free agent market, and with McCann and Ruiz gone, Renck suggests that the Rockies will try to upgrade at other positions instead.
  • With Josh Johnson in the fold, the Padres have the makings of a good rotation in place, and Matt Calkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune argues that should empower them to be bold for the rest of the offseason. With Johnson, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy and Tyson Ross at the big-league level, and Max Fried, Matt Wisler and Burch Smith behind them, the Padres can use their pitching depth to acquire a power hitter, Calkins argues. Of course, Padres starters had the worst WAR of any team last season, and Johnson is coming off an injury-plagued year, so it's questionable how much depth they really have.
  • Padres GM Josh Byrnes tells MLB Network Radio, in fact, that Johnson hasn't even thrown since having surgery on his elbow in October. Byrnes also suggests that "if this year doesn't go well, we'd like to get a discounted look at next year" (Twitter links). Johnson is signed to a one-year deal, but the Padres will receive a $4MM option for 2015 if Johnson doesn't start at least seven games in 2014.

Stark’s Latest: Cano, Price, Ruiz, Red Sox, Wilson, Nathan

For his latest Rumblings & Grumblings piece, ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with several executives about the ultimate destination of Robinson Cano. One NL executive said: "I keep hearing there's no interest. I don't believe it." Stark agrees and hypothesizes that the lack of a market for Cano has been well-crafted by the Yankees leaking their own seven-year, $168MM offer in reaction to Cano's $310MM demand. One AL exec told Stark: "If you had a situation where everyone remained objective and everyone played it smart and you had teams that thought they could sign Robinson Cano for $120 million, you'd probably have five or six teams in on it. Then you'd set $120 million as the starting point and start the bidding, and see how much higher it gets." Stark feels that by starting the bar high, the Yankees have set the early market to a market of one. The same NL exec who didn't buy the lack of interest said that eventually teams who are chasing Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann will say, "Wait a second. Cano's a much better player than those guys," and change direction. Stark runs down some possible late-emerging suitors. Here's more from his excellent piece…

  • Stark reports an unknown wrinkle in the David Price trade saga. Price signed a one-year, $10.1125MM contract to avoid arbitration last January, but $5MM of that sum comes in the form of a signing bonus that is deferred to next year. While it was presented as a tax-related issue at the time, Stark notes that the Rays can use it as leverage in a trade, agreeing to take a slightly lesser package if the acquiring team pays that additional $5MM.
  • The Phillies upped the ante and guaranteed Carlos Ruiz a third year because they were convinced that he would sign with the Red Sox if they didn't. The Phils looked hard at alternatives but were highly uncomfortable with the prices on other targets. For that reason, other teams haven't been as critical of the deal, though they've all offered high praise to Ruiz's agent, Marc Kligman.
  • The Ruiz contract helps both McCann and particularly Jarrod Saltalamacchia, agents and an AL executive told Stark. Stark has heard that one reason the Red Sox were so interested in Ruiz was that they don't want to commit more than two years to a catcher, suggesting that Saltalamacchia is a goner in Boston.
  • The Tigers' search for a closer has begun to lean more in favor of Brian Wilson than Joe Nathan, but Wilson's agent, Dan Lozano, may want to wait out the market, which isn't GM Dave Dombrowski's style, Stark points out.
  • Bartolo Colon and agent Adam Katz aren't rushing into one-year contracts as they wait to see if someone will tack on a second guaranteed year in the wake of Tim Hudson's two-year, $23MM deal.

Pitching Notes: Johnson, Arroyo, Hudson, Colon

Now that Tim Hudson has signed with the Giants, executives around baseball think the pitching market will begin to open up, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan tweets.  One GM predicts Josh Johnson will be the next hurler to sign, and there has been no shortage of interest in the right-hander, as agent Matt Sosnick claimed that he'd spoken to nearly every team about his client.  The Rangers and Royals have both been linked to Johnson, and the pitcher himself reached out to the Padres and Giants to express his interest.

Here's the latest about some of the offseason's available starters…

  • One team that doesn't appear to be in the mix for Johnson are the Blue Jays, his most recent club.  The Jays haven't made any progress with Johnson, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports, and there aren't any signs that they're even continuing negotiations.  Johnson was open to returning to Toronto though his contract demands seem to be higher than the Jays are willing to pay.
  • Bronson Arroyo listed the Giants, Twins, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers and "maybe" the Orioles as teams he thinks have called to express their interest in his services, the veteran righty said during an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.  Arroyo discussed what he's looking for in a team and what his contract expectations are during the interview; MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript and an audio link to the full interview.
  • The Braves offered Hudson a two-year contract earlier this week but it wasn't enough, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.  The Braves' previous offer to Hudson was a one-year deal worth less than $9MM (his annual salary in each of the previous four seasons) which clearly wasn't enough with so many other teams in the mix.  O'Brien says the Braves could add another veteran to replace Hudson.
  • The Athletics were second in the Hudson race behind the Giants, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link).  That's a bit of a surprise for the low-payroll A's but Hudson would've made sense on a short-term deal, plus he has long-time ties to the franchise.
  • If the A's had signed Hudson, they would've ended their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links).  Hudson would "probably more trustworthy" an option than Colon in the Oakland rotation, though the A's still have interest in re-signing Colon at a "price they deem reasonable."
  • In an interview with Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Scott Feldman said his agent had heard from "15 teams or so" but "it's been a slow-developing market so far" (Twitter links).
  • The Twins still haven't made a formal offer to Ricky Nolasco, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson tweets.  This is no change from the last update about Nolasco and the Twins, though the club is definitely interested in the free agent righty.


Bay Area Notes: Callaspo, Colon, Arroyo, Vogelsong

Here's the latest from both the Athletics and Giants…


Los Angeles Notes: Kershaw, Payroll, Nolasco, Dipoto

Clayton Kershaw told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (on Twitter) his contract negotiations with the Dodgers aren't on hold, but they've haven't resumed since the season ended.  Kershaw reportedly turned down a $300MM extension offer from the Dodgers earlier this year due to concerns about the length and size of the deal.  While it has been assumed that Kershaw will extend his deal with the Dodgers, the baseball world will surely be paying attention to what will likely be the largest contract ever issued to a pitcher.

Here's the latest from both Los Angeles teams…

  • "I think, for us, it wouldn't surprise me if we went [through] the winter without a huge move; not that it couldn't happen," Dodgers president Stan Kasten tells MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.  "We are looking more at deepening the organization, to fine-tune it and get into the season and see what we need. Having said that, I'm not ruling anything out. But those people who attach us to every free agent out there are making it up."  With Kasten prioritizing the Dodgers' farm system, Gurnick finds it unlikely that the club would move what few top prospects it has in a trade for David Price.
  • Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers "are kicking the tires" on such free agent pitchers as Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bartolo Colon and Bronson Arroyo.  Given the big salaries some of these pitchers are demanding, you wonder if L.A. would really make a move to sign any given Kasten's earlier comments, though Kuroda, Colon and Arroyo could be had on less expensive, shorter-term deals.
  • The Angels aren't one of the teams who have made an offer to Ricky Nolasco, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (via Twitter).  Nolasco is reportedly juggling several three- or four-year contracts offers.
  • The rumored discord between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia could have led to one or both men being fired following the Angels' disappointing season, but Dipoto tells FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi and he and the long-time Halos manager have improved their communication and are on the same page. 
  • From that same piece, Dipoto reiterated that pitching will be the central focus of the Angels' offseason: "Frankly, we’ve been focused on [pitching] for a couple years and it’s eluded us. We plan on putting our resources toward improving those areas. On the field, that’s where our biggest changes are going to come.”
  • The Angels' defense took a sharp decline from 2012 to 2013, and ESPN's David Schoenfeld thinks that the club should hold onto Peter Bourjos as a way of improving their fielding.  Schoenfeld also suggests signing Jhonny Peralta, trading Mark Trumbo and acquiring Felix Doubront from the Red Sox.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post


Olney On Price, Relievers, Colon, Salaries, Red Sox

David Price's trade value may never be higher than it is right now, ESPN's Buster Olney argues, so the Rays may have to quell their competitive instincts and deal the ace southpaw even if they "aren't completely sold" on offers they receive before the year is out.  Olney covers several other topics in his Insider-only piece, such as how quality relievers such as Joe Smith or J.P. Howell could command three-year contracts worth $12MM-$18MM this winter.  Here's more from Olney…

  • Despite Bartolo Colon's good numbers in 2013, Olney says (in a video blog) that there isn't a strong market for his services since executives simply don't know what to expect from the soft-tossing 40-year-old.  Olney thinks Colon will find a one-year, $10MM-$12MM deal for 2014, similar to what MLBTR's Steve Adams predicts.  Despite the mutual interest between Colon and the Athletics, however, Olney predicts Colon will sign with a big-market team.  
  • Some agents believe there will be "a notable spike in salaries this winter," Olney tweets.
  • In an appearance on WEEI Radio's Mut & Merloni Show on Wednesday (WEEI.com's Jackson Alexander has a partial transcript), Olney said that if the Red Sox make Brian McCann a competitive offer, McCann would consider taking slightly less money since he's a good fit in their clubhouse atmosphere.
  • Also from the radio interview, Olney thinks "the smart play" for Stephen Drew would be to accept Boston's $14.1MM qualifying offer.  I'm not sure I agree with Olney, as while Drew couldn't find a $14.1MM average annual salary on the open market, he'd surely find a multiyear contract.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes thinks Drew can find a four-year, $48MM deal this winter.
  • Olney also thinks the Mariners will try "to change the conversation" about their franchise by making a major offer to Jacoby Ellsbury.

Free Agent Profile: Bartolo Colon

A stem cell injection into Bartolo Colon's right shoulder helped to reinvigorate his career with the Yankees in 2011, but the merits of that procedure were called into question a bit by a 50-game suspension for elevated testosterone levels last August. Colon will turn 41 next May, but he still feels that he can pitch another three years, and his 2013 results suggest that it's certainly possible.

Strengths/Pros

Colon's ERA has dropped in each season since his 2011 comeback, and while critics will instantly leap to make PED allegations, he didn't have a positive test in 2013 — a season in which he was better than he was in 2012 when he failed a drug test.Colon-Bartolo

Colon's strikeouts and 93 mph heater seem to be a thing of the past (though he saw a notable uptick toward season's end), but he now boasts some of the best command among all Major League starters. Only Cliff Lee, David Price and Adam Wainwright averaged fewer walks per nine innings this season, and no free agent starter was able to match his precision. In fact, over the past two seasons — a span in which he's thrown 342 2/3 innings — Lee is the only starter in all of baseball with a lower BB/9 rate than Colon.

A great deal of Colon's success comes from the fact that he pounds the strike zone to get ahead in the count. Ervin Santana, Dan Haren and Bronson Arroyo are the only free agents that threw a first-pitch strike more often than Colon this season. As such, he's able to keep his pitch count down and work deep into games; he's averaged more than 6 1/3 innings per start since Opening Day 2012.

Many will assume that the spacious O.Co Coliseum is the reason for his success, but Colon's 2.95 road ERA since 2012 is actually better than his 3.03 ERA at home. Colon comes with quite a bit of postseason experience, having pitched to a 3.70 ERA over 58 1/3 innings in 10 career playoff starts.

Colon didn't receive a qualifying offer from the A's, so adding his veteran presence and postseason experience to a team won't cost a draft pick.

Weaknesses/Cons

Colon's fastball averaged just 89.9 mph this season, and he's managed just 5.5 K/9 in his two years with the A's. Would he be so effective if his heater continued its current downward trajectory? Loss of velocity on his fastball would seem to be particularly damaging to Colon, as he throws roughly 85 percent fastballs. PITCHf/x tells us that 47 percent of those fastballs are two-seamers, so perhaps it's deliberate, as his four-seamer has remained constant at 91.2 mph.

Colon's conditioning will likely be called into question. He's listed at 5'11" and 265 pounds, which will certainly be a red flag for some teams. Whether or not the two are related, Colon has had a 15-day DL stint in each of the past two seasons, and he hasn't topped 200 innings since 2005.

Colon's ERA has been outstanding, but it's also been propped up by a 7.4% HR/FB ratio over the past two seasons. His xFIP — FIP adjusted with a league-average HR/FB — over that same time is a more pedestrian 4.04. Colon's career 10.2% HR/FB is roughly league average, so it's fair to wonder if he can continue limiting homers at such a high rate.

Personal

Colon comes with a bit of baggage in the form of his PED suspension, but that hasn't changed how he's viewed by teammates, managers and front office officials. Colon is very well-regarded and well-liked in clubhouses, as evidenced by the fact that Oakland welcomed him back with open arms following last year's suspension.

Colon is married with three sons and is active in the community. He's made contributions to the American Red Cross to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina and also has funded the construction of baseball fields in his hometown of Altamira in the Dominican Republic, per the A's media guide. Baseball runs in his family, as his brother, Jose, pitched in the Indians system but didn't reach the Majors.

Market

There's mutual interest between the A's and Colon in a reunion for the 2014 season, and he's recently gone on record as stating that he feels he can pitch as many as three more years at the big league level. If he's open to another one-year deal, Colon and agent Adam Katz of the Wasserman Media Group will have no shortage of teams calling up this winter.

Most players coming off brilliant seasons in the late stages of their careers prefer to sign with a contender, and there's no reason to expect anything different from Colon. In addition to the A's, the Pirates, Nationals, Yankees, Orioles, Indians and Royals could all show interest.

Expected Contract

Colon may think he can pitch for three more seasons, but at this point it seems that he'd be hard-pressed to find a team willing to guarantee him multiple years. Multiyear deals for starters on the wrong side of 40 are of the utmost rarity. R.A. Dickey managed a multiyear pact that guaranteed him $12MM in his age-40 season with an identical option for his age-41 campaign, but he did so as a knuckleballer coming off an improbable Cy Young Award, so he doesn't compare that well to Colon.

The previous contract negotiated by Katz contained a $3MM base salary plus $200K for 10, 15, 17, 20, 22 and 25 starts as well as $200K for 140, 150, 160, 170, 180 and 190 innings. Colon hit each of those levels in 2013, totaling a $5.4MM salary.

Coming off a brilliant season without the doubt of a suspension tied to his name, Colon figures to receive a significantly larger salary. He should be compensated more handsomely than reclamation projects like Phil Hughes and Josh Johnson, even if each is significantly younger. My expectation is that Colon can find a one-year, $10MM contract with incentives that can push the total value into the $12MM range.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


A’s Won’t Extend Any Qualifying Offers

The Athletics have announced that they will not extend qualifying offers to free agents Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour. Neither player will require a new team to sacrifice a draft pick this winter. The move isn't surprising, given the $14.1MM value of a qualifying offer.

Colon would've been more likely to earn a qualifying offer than Balfour. The 40-year-old enjoyed a dominant season in which he pitched to a 2.65 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 190 1/3 innings for the A's. Colon earned a $3MM base salary and totaled another $2.4MM via incentives for games started and innings pitched, so the $14.1MM value would've been a substantial increase over his 2013 salary. Still, he projects to earn a healthy increase from that $5.4MM total on the open market. Colon and the A's have expressed mutual interest, and Colon feels that he can pitch for another three seasons.

Balfour, 36 in December, saved 38 games for the A's in 2013 en route to a sparkling 2.59 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9, earning his first All-Star berth in the process. I pegged his open-market value at $18MM over two years in my free agent profile of Balfour, though that should come with the caveat that there are more closers than jobs availble this winter. If he's left standing in January, Balfour won't be able to land that type of cash, so it would behoove him and agent Keith Miller of ACES to find a deal early on in the free agent process.


AL West Notes: Astros, Colon, Farquhar

United States Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur is considering an order to allow the Astros (and the Houston Rockets) to negotiate with other parties to see if another business model with a new partner could make a Houston sports network profitable, according to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle. Those partners include FOX Sports, and Astros owner Jim Crane disclosed in the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings for CSN Houston that he spoke with FOX executives earlier in the year about returning to FOX Sports Southwest. Crane has previously expressed concern about CSN Houston's impact on his team's ability to compete within the division. Here's more out of the AL West…

  • There's mutual interest between the Athletics and Bartolo Colon, agent Adam Katz told Joe Stiglich of CSN California. Colon "loved his time" with the A's and would be open should they wish to make an offer, Stiglich elaborates (Twitter links). Colon recently told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he thinks he can pitch three more seasons.
  • Speaking of Slusser, her latest column has a host of info on the decisions facing the A's early in the offseason. A qualifying offer seems too steep a price for Oakland to offer Colon, though she feels that he's likely to seek a deal similar to the one-year, $15MM contract Hiroki Kuroda signed this past offseason. Echoing earlier reports, Slusser feels that Grant Balfour is likely to leave as a free agent.
  • MLB.com's Greg Johns looks at the unlikely path that right-hander Danny Farquhar took to become the Mariners closer. The 26-year-old went from the Blue Jays to the A's to the Yankees to the Mariners in a span of 12 months and entered 2013 as an afterthought before finishing the regular season with one of the most dominant stretches of any AL reliever this year.

Athletics Notes: Colon, Balfour, Crisp, Anderson

Earlier today, Bartolo Colon told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he'd like to return to the A's next season and feels that he could pitch another three years in the Majors. At the time, it wasn't known if the A's were interested in a reunion, but in their postseason address to the media, both manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane said they are interested in bringing Colon back for a third season (via Slusser and John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group on Twitter). Beane went so far as to say it'd be "foolish" for the team not to be interested. Here's more from on the A's…

  • Closer Grant Balfour isn't satisfied with only making the playoffs, he told reporters, including MLB.com's Jane Lee. Balfour said he intends to keep playing until he can win a World Series (Twitter link).
  • Balfour also acknowledged to CSNBayArea.com's Casey Pratt that he wanted to make sure the inning he pitched in Game 5 last night was a good one, because he knew it may have been his last frame with the team (also on Twitter).
  • Melvin said today that the A's are well-equipped to handle the potential loss of Balfour, as internal options Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle could take over as closer (via CSN California's Joe Stiglich on Twitter). As Stiglich goes on to caution, that comment doesn't mean Doolittle or Cook will close in 2014. The A's would likely explore the free agent relief market in that scenario for an additional arm to plug into the mix.
  • Beane said that the A's will exercise Coco Crisp's $7.5MM option following the season and implied that they will do the same with Brett Anderson's $8MM option (via Slusser).
  • Crisp said that he'd like to think the A's would want to discuss retaining him beyond the 2014 season (via Hickey).
  • Top prospect Addison Russell will open 2014 at Double-A "at the lowest," according to Beane, who then added that "anything can happen" once a player reaches Double-A (Stiglich reporting).
  • Beane feels that if Chris Young, whose contract contains an $11MM club option, doesn't return to the team, Michael Choice can serve as a right-handed outfielder for the team (Lee reporting). It seems logical that the A's would decline the option after Young batted just .200/.280/.379 this season.