Billy Wagner Rumors
The Phillies had an outside-the-box idea before signing Jonathan Papelbon this winter. The team called closer Billy Wagner after the season in hopes of coaxing him out of retirement, writes Mark Hale of the New York Post. Wagner told Hale, "It was after the regular season...just to see if I was even contemplating coming back or had an itch or anything. I just told them, 'No, I do not have an itch.'"
Wagner, 40, went out on top with a 37-save season with the Braves in 2010. He closed for the Phillies from 2004-05, after which he joined the Mets on a free agent deal. Wagner is currently coaching junior varsity baseball and has no intention of coming out of retirement.
Chuck Tanner, manager of Pittsburgh's last World Series championship team, passed away today at age 81. Tanner played eight seasons in the majors but gained more fame as a manager, compiling a 401-414 record manning the benches of the White Sox, Athletics, Pirates and Braves from 1970 to 1988. Tanner's lone postseason appearance came in 1979 when he led the "We Are Family" Bucs to victory over the Orioles in a tight, seven-game World Series. The MLBTR team sends its condolences to Tanner's friends and family.
Some news to wrap up the week...
- Arizona CEO Derrick Hall tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that the Diamondbacks' payroll for next season will be "in the low $60s, approaching $65MM." Hall says the team has lost money in each of the last three years but is still open to potential new spending if the Snakes are in contention, since the club will only draw more fans if they put a winning product on the field. The article also notes the D'Backs "are budgeting for significant costs in this year's draft," given that Arizona holds the third and seventh overall picks.
- The Pirates have both received and sent out some "feelers" about Ryan Doumit, writes Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as part of a chat with fans. Dunlap thinks teams want to make sure Doumit is healthy during Spring Training before seriously pursuing the catcher/first baseman. I recently looked at how Doumit's 2011 season is a make-or-break campaign.
- Billy Wagner is taking his time filing retirement papers, but David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that Wagner's continued presence on the Braves' 40-man roster isn't preventing the club from making any moves.
- The Marlins are comfortable with their young rotation and have no need for a veteran innings-eater like Kevin Millwood or Jarrod Washburn, writes MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com thinks that labeling either Albert Pujols or Michael Young as "greedy" is misguided.
- The Irving Picard lawsuit filed against the Mets' ownership group could result in the financial records of several, if not all, other Major League teams being examined in court, reports Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- Jayson Stark of ESPN.com recaps the offseason and lists which teams he thought made the best and worst winter moves.
- Billy Wagner is on the Braves' 40-man roster, but the lefty is going to retire as planned, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains.
- Agent Scott Boras and Yankees GM Brian Cashman had a long meeting about Andruw Jones yesterday, but the sides are still apart on money, Jack Curry of the YES Network reports (on Twitter). Jones appeared to be nearing a deal with the Yankees earlier in the week.
- Eric Chavez worked out for the Dodgers today, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. The Mariners and Blue Jays have also been linked to the six-time Gold Glover and Gurnick says the White Sox and Yankees are potential suitors for Chavez.
- B.J. Upton told Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times that he would consider signing a long-term deal in Tampa Bay if the Rays approached him about one. The center fielder signed a one-year deal earlier in the week, avoiding arbitration.
The Braves have three free agents and three option decisions; MLB.com's Mark Bowman has the latest.
- Of free agents Derrek Lee, Troy Glaus, and Eric Hinske, only Hinske has a chance of returning. Bowman expects him to survey the market first.
- Billy Wagner still hasn't changed his plan to retire.
- Bowman expects the Braves to announce later today that they've exercised their $2.5MM options on Alex Gonzalez and Omar Infante. They'll be declining on Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth.
- Scott Proctor, who is arbitration eligible, is expected to agree to a deal with a $750K base salary and incentives allowing him to approach $1MM. The Braves also have Jair Jurrjens, Eric O'Flaherty, Martin Prado, Peter Moylan, and Matt Diaz eligible for arbitration.
On this date six years ago, the Dodgers released a 20-year-old righty named Joakim Soria, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Soria was later signed by the Padres out of the Mexican League and then snagged by the Royals in the 2006 Rule 5 draft. He's now one of the game's best closers. On to today's links...
- The Astros signed Dominican righty Luis Abad for a low six figures bonus, tweets SI's Melissa Segura. Back in May, Blake Bentley ranked the new Dominican prospects for MLBTR, placing Abad in a tenth-place tie and calling him "one of the most projectable pitchers you'll see."
- I took a look at Neil Walker's fantasy baseball prospects for 2011 over at RotoAuthority.
- The Mariners are interested in Japanese middle infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima, says U.S.S. Mariner's Dave Cameron. Nakajima may be posted by the Seibu Lions and could be a bargain this winter. Patrick Newman of FanGraphs has more on Nakajima.
- Royals first baseman Billy Butler changed agents, going from Doug Rogalski to Greg Genske of Legacy Sports, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Rogalski has to feel burned, as Butler is heading to arbitration for the first time this winter.
- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts interviewed Eric Wedge for the team's managerial opening yesterday, reports ESPN's Bruce Levine. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners interviewed Bobby Valentine yesterday and have Lloyd McClendon on the docket this week.
- Billy Wagner talked to MLB.com's Mark Bowman about his retirement.
If there were any doubts about how much trade deadline acquisitions can affect the postseason, last night's Giants/Braves contest silenced them. A pair of former Royals, Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth, helped lead Atlanta to victory, while ex-Red Sox Ramon Ramirez gave up Ankiel's game-winning blast. As we prepare for another round of playoff baseball tonight, let's check out a few links....
- Casey Blake hit just .248/.320/.407 this season, but MLB.com's Sarah Morris thinks Ned Colletti has more pressing needs than finding a new third baseman.
- Meanwhile, Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times says that today's Matt Kemp-Nationals rumor won't be the last time the centerfielder's name comes up on the rumor circuit this winter.
- The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec expects the Orioles to buy out Mark Hendrickson's $1.2MM option for $200K. Hendrickson could return to the team at a lower price, according to Zrebiec.
- Carlos Matias (now known as Carlos Martinez) has received Visa approval and completed his $1.5MM deal with the Cardinals, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes (Twitter link). The Dominican right-hander agreed to terms with St. Louis in June, and has been outstanding in the Dominican Summer League (0.76 ERA, 11.9 K/9).
- The Red Sox have outrighted Rich Hill to the minors, reports Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The lefty will become a free agent five days after the World Series.
- In his latest appearance on WEEI, Peter Gammons discussed Cliff Lee, Boston's bullpen, and how the purchase of Liverpool FC affects the Red Sox.
- As David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, Billy Wagner's strained oblique will keep him out of the NLDS and, if the Braves advance, the NLCS. With the left-hander still planning to retire, Wagner may have made his final big league appearance last night.
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark debated the pros and cons of moving back the trade deadline with a number of MLB general managers. The group was divided on whether to move the deadline to August, but Stark suggests we’re not likely to see MLB make such changes any time soon. Here are some more hot stove updates from around the league:
- One source told Stark that Cliff Lee will follow the money this winter: “Cliff would go to Siberia if they offered him the biggest contract."
- Rival teams expect the Brewers to look into trading Prince Fielder this winter. One executive told Stark that the Brewers were “shocked” not to see more interest in Prince before the trade deadline.
- Braves GM Frank Wren has often jokingly told Billy Wagner that it’s too soon for him to retire. The lefty maintains that his playing days are over after 2010.
- Wren says the Braves are assuming that Chipper Jones, who is under contract next year, will be back in 2011.
- Nationals president Stan Kasten told Stark that Washington will be "more aggressive than we've ever been" this offseason. Presumably that means they’ll try to re-sign Adam Dunn and offer Carl Crawford a contract.
A pair of interesting trades went down on August 25th in years past. One year ago, the Red Sox acquired reliever Billy Wagner from the Mets for a pair of players to be named later (Chris Carter and Eddie Lora). And two years ago today, the Blue Jays completed their earlier Jose Bautista trade by sending catcher Robinzon Diaz to the Pirates.
Last year Wagner was coming back from Tommy John surgery with the Mets; he'd tossed nine pro innings on the season before Boston made the deal. The Red Sox picked up the remainder of Wagner's $10.5MM salary, so the Mets saved more than $2.2MM. Wagner waived his no-trade clause, but only if the Red Sox agreed not to pick up his 2010 club option. They did, however, offer arbitration to the Type A free agent. The Sox drafted Kolbrin Vitek and Bryce Brentz with the #20 and 36 picks this year as compensation when Wagner signed with the Braves. Wagner pitched well in 13.6 regular season innings for the Red Sox. Beyond the cost savings with Wagner, the Mets have gotten some use out of Carter.
When the Jays acquired Bautista from the Pirates two years ago, it wasn't a deal of much consequence. He wasn't particularly good that year, and was widely considered a non-tender candidate after the '08 and '09 seasons. The Pirates seemingly were clearing third base for new acquisition Andy LaRoche. This year, Bautista posted one of the most surprising 40 home run seasons in recent memory and could hit 50 by year's end. There will be no non-tender rumors this winter. Diaz seemed like a decent return for Bautista at the time, but the Pirates cut him loose in November of last year. Former GM J.P. Ricciardi deserves credit; check out this passage from a CBC Sports article from September of 2008:
Following the Blue Jays' thrilling come-from-behind 8-7 win over Baltimore on Wednesday night, a fan phoned a Toronto sports radio station and criticized J.P. Ricciardi for dealing catching prospect Robinson Diaz to Pittsburgh. The general manager, who was taking calls, defended the move, saying there were players in the team's minor-league system who had developed quicker than Diaz. He also said infielder/outfielder Jose Bautista, the player Toronto received in the trade, would be a valuable part of the team in 2009 and 2010.
Last night Billy Wagner picked up his 30th save of the season and finished his 50th game of the season, activating his 2011 option worth $6.5MM. However, the closer reiterated his desire to call it a career to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Wagner made his intentions clear once again this afternoon, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I’m retiring,” the 38-year-old lefty said to O'Brien. “I don’t know how to say it in a politically correct way, that anybody’s going to believe me.
Wagner's 2010 totals suggest that he still has plenty of baseball left in him. The lefty has a 1.68 ERA with 12.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
As Tim Dierkes recently pointed out, a guaranteed $6.5MM wouldn't mean a great deal to Wagner as he would make at least that much on the open market anyway. It also doesn't sound like Wagner, who has 415 career saves, is sweating the opportunity to eclipse John Franco's 424 saves to have the fourth most all-time. Back in April, Billy the Kid said that he wasn't concerned with the mark.
- Trever Miller, Cardinals. The lefty needs 45 appearances for his $2MM option to vest, and he's made 41 on the season. He could lock in next year's salary within a week, though a DL-worthy left arm or shoulder injury changes this to a club option.
- Darren Oliver, Rangers. Oliver needs 59 appearances for his $3.25MM option to vest, and he's got 46 so far. Barring injury, he'll get there.
- Ramon Hernandez, Reds. Hernandez needs 120 games for his $3.25MM option to vest. He's played in 65 so far. The Reds have only 50 games remaining, so we can cross this one off the list.
- An honorable mention goes to Billy Wagner, whose $6.5MM option vests with 50 games finished. Wagner has finished 46 so far. However just last month he repeated his desire to retire after the season. Having a guaranteed salary for 2011 might not sway Wagner, since he would've made at least that much on the free agent market anyway. But what if he finishes the season just shy of the fourth spot on the all-time saves leaderboard? He's currently 12 away from John Franco, who finished with 424.
- Also of note is Scott Podsednik, who needs 525 plate appearances to be able to void his $2MM club option. Pods is 41 PAs shy of that mark.