Brad Lidge Rumors

Rockies Talking To Brad Lidge

10:58pm: “It’s no secret that Brad would be comfortable in Colorado if something can be worked out,” agent Rex Gary tells Troy Renck. “He has no timetable. A lot of things are important to him. Colorado is home and geography is certainly a factor he will weigh heavily.”  Gary reiterated that Lidge isn't insisting on a closing job with his new club and is open to other bullpen roles.

6:42pm: The Rockies have had discussions with Brad Lidge's representatives, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link).  The Rockies have been mentioned as a natural landing spot for Lidge, given that Lidge grew up in nearby Englewood, Colorado and (according to Renck) still has a home in the state.  The Rockies are also in the market for bullpen help after trading Huston Street.  An experienced closer like Lidge would either be a nice complement to Rafael Betancourt or could supplant Betancourt entirely as the club's preferred ninth-inning option.

Lidge, who turns 35 next week, had his contract bought out by $1.5MM in October by the Phillies, who preferred the buyout to picking up Lidge's $12.5MM option for 2012.  The Phils also declined to offer Lidge salary arbitration, so Philadelphia won't get a compensatory draft pick should Lidge (a Type B free agent) sign elsewhere.  The veteran right-hander posted a 1.40 ERA last season but was limited to just 19 1/3 innings due to a rotator cuff injury. 

In addition to the Rockies, the Red Sox and Mets have also been connected to Lidge this winter. 

Rockies Express Interest In Jair Jurrjens

The Rockies contacted the Braves to express interest in righty Jair Jurrjens, tweets's Thomas Harding.  With today's Huston Street trade, the Rockies freed up the better part of $8MM to pursue a starting pitcher.  MLBTR projects Jurrjens to earn $5.1MM in 2012; the 25-year-old is under team control through 2013 as an arbitration eligible player.  Eight to ten teams have shown real interest in Jurrjens this winter, reported Danny Knobler of CBS Sports last night.

The Rockies' unloading of Street is also expected to kickstart their pursuit of free agent reliever Brad Lidge, a Denver-area native, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Red Sox Rumors: Wakefield, Varitek, Trade Talks

We heard earlier this evening that David Ortiz plans to return to Boston next season, either through arbitration or a multiyear deal. Now let's check in on some other Red Sox news:

Mets Interested In Rauch, Lidge, Bailey

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is searching for a closer, but that’s by no means his team's lone offseason need. Here’s the latest, as the Mets work to build their first playoff team since 2006…

  • Free agent relievers Jon Rauch and Brad Lidge are “strong” on the Mets’ radar, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter).
  • The Mets inquired on Andrew Bailey, but they don’t seem to be willing to meet Oakland’s asking price, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). The Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners and Reds are also interested in the former AL Rookie of the Year. 
  • Though previous Mets administrations liked Orlando Hudson and he’s now “very available,” the Mets aren’t currently interested, according to Sherman (Twitter link). The Padres owe Hudson $5.5MM in 2012 and the team has an $8MM option for 2013 ($2MM buyout).

National League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make today, and we'll update them in this post in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.  

Updated team decisions:

Teams with automatic decisions only:

Quick Hits: Wood, Red Sox, Angels, Lidge, Astros

Let's round up some links left over from Day Two of the GM meetings in Milwaukee….

  • David Kaplan of CSNChicago reports that Kerry Wood is likely to return to the Cubs rather than retire, and may even sign a multiyear deal.
  • Echoing Larry Lucchino's sentiment from earlier this evening, GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes (Twitter link), that there's "an expectation" the Red Sox will expand their managerial search. Dale Sveum, the only candidate the Sox have interviewed twice, has reportedly been offered the Cubs' position.
  • The Angels promoted Justin Hollander, previously the player development and scouting assistant, to director of baseball operations, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Brad Lidge's agent, Rex Gary, declined to comment to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald about which clubs had contacted him about the right-hander. However, Gary continues to say his client is open to any role: "He's listening. We’ll listen to whatever clubs want to outline. He certainly can close, but he's open to any other circumstances that presents an opportunity for him to succeed."
  • The Angels are among the clubs who seem lukewarm about the idea of the Astros' move to the AL West, writes DiGiovanna.

East Notes: Sizemore, Mets, Phillies

Some notes to pass along from the AL and NL East …

  • The Red Sox have contacted free agent outfielder Grady Sizemore, tweets Mike Silverman of the Boston Herald, and they are not thought to have spoken to free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. Both players remain a long shot for Boston, according to Silverman, until the Red Sox figure out whether they want to re-sign David Ortiz.
  • The Mets will likely seek an affordable closer this offseason, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, who spoke to three stoppers who might fit that bill: Jonathan Broxton, Brad Lidge and Joe Nathan. Broxton's agent told Martino that Brox is seeking an incentive-laden one-year deal with perhaps a vesting option, and he's willing to pitch as a setup man or a closer. Lidge's agent said Lidge, too, is flexible with respect to his role, and Nathan said he is receptive to either a short- or long-term contract.
  • Now that the Phillies' agreement on a four-year contract with Ryan Madson has either fallen through or never actually materialized in the first place, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines that Jonathan Papelbon, like Madson, is unlikely to secure a contract of four or more years from Philly. Just reading the tea leaves, it looks like the fourth year will be the primary haggling point for Madson and Papelbon in their respective negotiations.

Phillies Decline Options On Lidge, Oswalt

The Phillies announced that they have officially declined the 2012 options for right-handers Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt. Lidge obtains a $1.5MM buyout instead of a $12.5MM salary and Oswalt obtains a $2MM buyout instead of a $16MM salary. The team hasn't ruled out a new deal with either Lidge or Oswalt.

"We will remain in contact with representatives for both players about the possibility of bringing them back for the 2012 season,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement.

Lidge, 34, appeared in just 25 games in 2011 because of a rotator cuff injury. He posted a 1.40 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 6.1 BB/9 in 19 1/3 regular season innings before pitching two scoreless frames in the Division Series. Though he's a Type B free agent, an offer of arbitration seems highly unlikely given his extended DL stint and 2011 salary of $12MM.  For fantasy analysis on Lidge, check out Dan Mennella's latest at CloserNews.

Oswalt, also 34, posted a 3.69 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 139 innings in 2011. He made just 23 starts, as lower back issues landed him on the DL twice. A Type A free agent, Oswalt almost certainly won't receive an offer of arbitration.

Free Agent Closers’ Usage

The upcoming class of free agents figures to present an interesting study in the way teams are evaluating relievers these days. After Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, many of the most recognizable names are closers or relievers who have previously closed.

Modern analysis suggests it's foolish to invest heavily in relief pitchers due to their limited contributions and volatility in year-to-year production. But someone has to get those crucial late-inning outs, and the temptation for a team that thinks it's a contender to throw a lot of money at a guy who's coming off a year in which he posted a minuscule ERA or eye-popping strikeout rate is often too great.

Undoubtedly, suitors will use a variety of criteria to evaluate free-agent closers, one of which will be usage. Because usage can encompass so many things — innings, appearances, pitches, "high-stress" pitches, and so on — it's tough to say which is the most accurate reflection of a pitcher's workload; of course, this debate continues on for starters, too.

During the season, with the launch of, we began keeping an eye on relievers who had pitched on three (and four) consecutive days, as that seems to be the breaking point for when most relievers must be rested. We've tallied that up here in a spreadsheet, along with a few other measures (standard and otherwise) of reliever usage, for the upcoming class of free-agent closers.

The objective here isn't to make any bold proclamations based on who threw the most innings; I may as well pen the inevitable mea culpa right now if it were. Rather, there are some interesting tidbits of note here, a few things to file away as these relievers ready themselves for free agency and teams prepare to bid.

  • Heath Bell and Francisco Cordero were the only two of this group to pitch on four consecutive days in 2011. Bell is the only one to do it twice.
  • Bell's abundance of pitches certainly seems to correspond with his dip in strikeout rate (7.32 K/9 in 2011 vs. 9.22 for career). Looks like he was having trouble putting away hitters, at least relative to his past performances.
  • Francisco Rodriguez paced the group by pitching on three consecutive days six times. 
  • Heavy usage is not unusual for K-Rod, though. He's pitched fewer than 65 innings only once in his nine full big league seasons, the red herring due to an off-field incident in 2010.
  • Info was culled from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.

Stark On CBA, Rays, Lidge, Rockies's Jayson Stark makes the case that Justin Verlander is the MVP of the American League before providing a new set of rumblings from around baseball. Here they are…

  • MLB and the players' association hope to announce the details of a new labor deal before the World Series ends, but they have some major issues to work out before then. Stark hears that the draft, including spending and compensation, could be an ongoing source of tension this month.
  • The sides have discussed a reverse luxury tax that would penalize teams that spend well under the average payroll.
  • MLB executives are impressed by the way the Rays have resisted rushing young pitchers to the Major Leagues to ensure they're prepared for a full season of work once they arrive. Tampa Bay executive Gerry Hunsicker says it's "not rocket science."
  • One rival executive thinks James Shields is staying put this winter. It won't be surprising if the Rays listen on Shields, since he would have through-the-roof value as a trade chip.
  • Brad Lidge, who has pitched well since returning from the disabled list, will listen to offers from teams that are interested in him as a setup man this offseason, according to agent Rex Gary. There's no indication that the Phillies have discussed a new deal with Lidge, though he is open to returning to Philadelphia (the team will decline its $12.5MM option for 2012). 
  • The Rockies will try to lower payroll by $4MM or so to the $83-84MM range this offseason and they may get partway there by dealing Chris Iannetta.
  • Stark heard from rival executives who expect Albert Pujols to stay in St. Louis, Prince Fielder to join the Nationals and Jose Reyes to sign in San Francisco.