Billy Wagner Rumors
You'd think it would be a good thing to be identified as a premium player at your position, but Type A status is more of a curse than a blessing for some free agents. Teams have to give up a top pick to sign Type A free agents who turn down arbitration, and that scares some clubs away. GMs covet high draft picks since they can become cheap, young contributors within a couple years, so there's a league-wide reluctance to hand over top picks for Type A free agents who aren't elite players.
- Matt Holliday signed a seven-year $120MM deal.
- John Lackey signed a five-year $82.5MM deal.
- Jason Bay signed a four-year $66MM deal.
- Chone Figgins signed a four-year $36MM deal.
- Jose Valverde signed a two-year $14MM deal.
- Marco Scutaro signed a two-year $12.5MM deal.
- Mike Gonzalez signed a two-year $12MM deal.
- Billy Wagner signed a one-year $7MM deal.
12:40pm: MLB.com's Mark Bowman says Soriano's agent Peter Greenberg will make the rounds today, talking to as many teams as possible before making the arbitration decision.
11:29am: Heyman notes that Soriano has attracted interest from the Yankees, Orioles, and Astros. The Yankees would give up their #32 pick, the Orioles #37, or the Astros #43.
9:54am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that if he accepts arbitration, Soriano cannot be traded before June 1st without his permission. I imagine he'd approve a deal in order to get a better role, though. Can Soriano find a two-year deal on the open market, given his health history and the draft pick cost?
MONDAY, 8:56am: David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Mark Bowman of MLB.com are throwing out slightly lower estimates of $6.5-7.5MM for Soriano if he accepts arbitration. Both seem to believe Soriano should or will turn down arbitration. But keep it mind that it is certainly in the Braves' best interest for stories to pop up explaining why Soriano should test the open market.
SUNDAY, 9:09pm: SI.com's Jon Heyman tweets that Soriano is "now leaning toward accepting arbitration." That would make for a pretty pricey end-game trio in Atlanta, and suggests that maybe there isn't as much interest in his services as expected.
SATURDAY, 5:30pm: After it was reported earlier this week that Braves reliever Rafael Soriano would look for employment elsewhere, his agent tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that his client is giving serious consideration to accepting arbitration.
This would leave Atlanta with a rather pricey bullpen as they recently inked both Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito to a combined guaranteed $10.2MM in 2010. Earlier this week, a high-ranking executive told Buster Olney that Soriano could net roughly $8MM in arbitration. Furthermore, this would likely mean that the soon-to-be 30-year-old would have to accept a role as a set-up man rather than close for Atlanta.
Soriano's agent Peter Greenberg told Crasnick that Soriano would take the decision "down to the wire." One has to think that the Braves will be less than pleased if the Type A free agent chooses to accept arbitration at this stage. Did Atlanta jump the gun by signing Wagner and Saito? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments section.
George A. King III of the New York Post talked to an official from a team interested in Yankees reliever Brian Bruney, and was told, "We asked about him but hear he is going to the Braves." The Braves would seem an odd match for Bruney, who is arbitration-eligible and due a raise on last year's $1.25MM salary. The Braves already signed Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito and might be saddled with Rafael Soriano if he accepts arbitration. Honestly, I'm not buying this rumor.
Let's check out some Wednesday evening links....
- Red Sox scouting director Jason McLeod is leaving Boston to become the Padres' assistant GM under Jed Hoyer, according to Peter Gammons of ESPN (via Twitter). This news prompted a slew of baseball writers across Twitter to praise the move, including Keith Law, Amalie Benjamin, Ian Browne, and Kevin Goldstein.
- Joe Girardi discusses the Yankees' 2010 roster in an article by MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. Girardi's quotes aren't overly juicy, but he mentions that he likes having some flexibility at DH to periodically give players like Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter a rest.
- Carrie Muskat of MLB.com talks to Cubs GM Jim Hendry about the offseason and the upcoming winter meetings. Hendry opines that "it'll be a good offseason of trades" and that plenty will be made throughout the winter.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution passes on some quotes from Billy Wagner, following the lefty's signing with the Braves.
- ESPN.com's Keith Law thinks Wagner's price was too high for Atlanta. Law also shares his opinions on some of the more notable arbitration decisions from around the majors.
- In a piece for River Ave. Blues, MLBTR's Mike Axisa warns the Yankees against signing Brandon Lyon, arguing that he's a "fringe reliever" in the AL East. We heard yesterday that the Yanks are interested.
- Speaking of Lyon, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports (via Twitter) that the Phillies are also interested in the right-hander.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thinks that the Brewers are one of the teams Randy Wolf described as aggressively pursuing him in an earlier story.
- John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle provides an interesting read about where revenue-sharing checks end up.
Links for Wednesday...
- The Reds signed pitcher Jon Adkins to a minor league deal, according to the pitcher's Twitter (hat tip to The Hall Of Very Good). Adkins spent 2009 pitching in Korea.
- The Giants were right not to offer arbitration to Bengie Molina, writes Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles.
- Chris Pummer as well as our own Howard Megdal from The Perpetual Post weigh in on Andruw Jones, who recently signed with the White Sox for $500K.
- Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News discusses the chances of the Giants signing Miguel Tejada, Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, or Hudson.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times says the Mariners are interested in Orlando Hudson, at the right price. The lack of an arbitration offer helps.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs looks at Ned Colletti's claim that the Dodgers' decision not to offer arbitration to Type A free agent Randy Wolf "was made strictly from a baseball perspective."
- No surprise here: Astros GM Ed Wade indicated that a reunion with Wolf is unlikely (MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reporting). Wade also downplayed the reports linking the Astros to Brett Myers and J.J. Putz, saying, "We've made contact with agents for about every player out there as a matter of course. I would not read anymore into it than that."
- ESPN's Buster Olney believes Rafael Betancourt "could be the player whose market is most affected" among the ten Type As offered arbitration.
- Ken Davidoff of Newsday questions the Mets' Billy Wagner trade from August.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wonders if the Braves might now pursue a setup man such as Octavio Dotel or Fernando Rodney.
- Corey Brock and Steve Gilbert have Winter Meetings previews at MLB.com for the Padres and Diamondbacks, respectively.
- Diamond Leung links to stories indicating the Chiba Lotte Marines "are interested in purchasing the contract of Dodgers left-hander Eric Stults." Stults posted a 4.86 ERA in ten starts for the Dodgers last year, making another 13 starts in the minors.
11:36am: The Braves officially announced the Wagner signing, tweets MLB.com's Mark Bowman. That implies he passed his physical.
1:28am: The Braves have agreed to sign Billy Wagner, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is worth $7MM and includes a $6.5MM option for 2011 that vests if Wagner finishes 50 games.
The Red Sox offered the lefty arbitration tonight, so they stand to gain the Braves' first round pick in next year's draft (#20), plus a supplemental rounder. The move is pending a physical, which could be more than a formality in this case. The 38-year-old returned from Tommy John surgery last year to strike out 15 batters per nine innings in 17 appearances with the Mets and Red Sox.
The Elias numbers rank John Lackey, Matt Holliday, Marco Scutaro and Jose Valverde ahead of Wagner, so if the Braves sign one of those players, the Red Sox would get the Braves' 52nd overall selection.
8:58 PM CST: The Red Sox just sent a press release officially announcing the arbitration offers.
7:22 PM CST: Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe confirms (via Twitter) that the offers to Bay and Wagner have been made.
6:09 PM CST: Red Sox president Larry Lucchino told The Providence Journal's Dan Barbarisi that the club will be offering arbitration to Type A free agents Billy Wagner and Jason Bay. Lucchino said the offers would be officially sent out by tonight's 11:59 PM deadline, if they hadn't been sent already.
Neither move is a surprise, given that Boston stands to recoup as many as four extra draft picks should both players sign with other teams.
Orioles president Andy MacPhail tells ESPN.com's Buster Olney that he sees a "critical mass" of talented young players ready to contribute to Baltimore's next great team.
"The improvement in the standings, like Tampa Bay showed, can come overnight," MacPhail said.
The O's expect to supplement their young core with some free agents. The team has uncertainty at the corner infield positions, but MacPhail expects to be able to find answers on the market, since there are lots of options at first and third. Miguel Tejada and the Astros have interest in extending the infielder's stay in Houston, but in theory, Tejada could return to the O's.
MacPhail, who values shut-down relievers, expects the relief market to develop slowly and sounds confident that the O's will find a late-inning arm. Billy Wagner is one of the relievers the Orioles have some interest in. His Type A status won't scare the O's off, since they're prepared to surrender a draft pick for the right free agent.
Bean Stringfellow, agent for free agent reliever Billy Wagner, said that a few interested clubs will be presenting his client with offers "sometime next week," according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Eight clubs have shown interest in Wagner, and all eight have the intention of using him as their closer according to his agent.
Stringfellow also indicated that Wagner is open to going back to Boston, even though he wouldn't be closing. He has “no doubt” the club will offer the Type-A free agent arbitration, and feels "Wagner will have enough offers in hand prior to that date that an informed decision can be made by the pitcher in regards to a possible return to the Red Sox."
In his ESPN.com column today, Buster Olney notes that many teams are waiting to get involved in the free agent market, meaning there might not be many moves made in the next couple weeks. Here are a few other highlights from Olney's blog:
- One executive tells Olney that the Blue Jays' chances of moving Roy Halladay are no better than 50/50. Another source suggests that the Jays could have had three top prospects for Halladay last summer, whereas now they could probably only land one star prospect and a second with some major-league potential.
- Billy Wagner's Type A status could make him undesirable to clubs not wanting to give up any draft picks to sign him. However, Wagner could make himself more attractive by lowering his contract demands. If a team thought they were getting a potentially elite closer at a discount, they'd be more willing to part with a draft pick.
- Olney hears from a pair of execs that the Red Sox will continue to take the Jason Bay negotiations slowly, and that the team would ultimately prefer to sign Matt Holliday.
- The Padres likely won't want to pay Kevin Correia a raise through arbitration. The team will try to work out a "moderate-sized deal" with him, and if they can't do it, the right-hander could be non-tendered.
- Olney reiterates what he wrote in yesterday's blog: it doesn't seem like Adrian Gonzalez is going anywhere.
- Randy Wolf has received plenty of interest from teams looking at starting pitching.