Brad Penny Rumors

AL East Notes: Cole, Penny, Davis, Vlad

A few AL East links, as the Orioles enjoy first place…

Tigers ‘Confident’ In Market For Galarraga

The Tigers believe there’s a market for Armando Galarraga, the right-handed pitcher who agreed to a $2.3MM deal one day before getting designated for assignment. Since few viable free agent starters remain and a number of teams are looking for pitching, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says he’s 'confident' the team will be able to move Galarraga.

“It’s not like I have a for sure deal, but I do have enough clubs that have asked me about him,” Dombrowski said on a conference call with reporters.

If the Tigers demote Galarraga to the minor leagues, they’re responsible for his $2.3MM salary. If they release him, they’ll be responsible for part of his contract, depending on the date of his release and whether another club signs him.

The Tigers also announced their one-year deal with Brad Penny, the pitcher who ousted Galarraga from Detroit’s rotation. Penny missed the last four months of the 2010 season with a shoulder strain, but the Tigers have put him through physicals, examined MRIs and determined that the 32-year-old is in 'tremendous shape.'

“When Brad Penny is healthy, we think he’s a good pitcher,” Dombrowski said. “And we think he’s healthy.”

Though Dombrowski acknowledged that there’s always some risk involved when signing pitchers, he said Penny has the upside to be much more than a fifth starter.

“He does not have back of the rotation stuff,” Dombrowski said, before praising the right-hander’s mid-90s fastball, breaking ball and change-up.

Now that the Tigers have added the two-time All-Star to their rotation, Dombrowski says the team’s rotation projects to be better than it was a year ago. Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello are still developing, Justin Verlander is one of the best pitchers in the game and the Tigers believe in Phil Coke’s ability to transition to the rotation.

“We’re happy,” Dombrowski said of his team’s offseason. “I think a lot of clubs say that and I’ll be a lot happier if we’re playing late into October.”

Tigers To Sign Brad Penny

The Tigers have officially agreed to sign Brad Penny to a one-year, $3MM deal, according to Jon Heyman of (Twitter link).'s Buster Olney, who first reported the agreement, says the deal includes up to $3MM in incentives for the Legacy Sports client (Twitter link).

Penny will compete with Armando Galarraga at the back of a Tigers rotation that's led by Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Phil Coke. After starting the 2010 season with nine strong starts, Penny missed four months with a right shoulder strain. The 32-year-old's season line includes a 3.23 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and a career high 52.8% ground ball rate.

Penny has spent nearly his entire career in the National League and his one stint in the American League went poorly. The Red Sox signed him before the 2009 season and he posted a 5.61 ERA in 131 2/3 innings for Boston. As MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, this isn't the first time Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has acquired Penny. He obtained him for the Marlins from the Diamondbacks in 1999.

Click here to read about the fallout from the deal.

Olney and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that Penny was nearing a deal with the Tigers after the right-hander hinted at one on his Twitter account.

Fallout From The Brad Penny Deal

There are still over 100 free agents out there, but the Tigers could pass on all of them now that they've added another arm to their rotation. GM Dave Dombrowski agreed to sign Brad Penny to a one-year deal worth $3MM plus incentives, capping a busy offseason.

Penny's agreement with the Detroit means Jeremy Bonderman loses a suitor. The longtime Tiger won't return to the Motor City, but Bonderman can take solace in the fact that Penny signed a deal worth $3MM plus incentives after missing the final four months of the season. Like Penny, Bonderman, Jeff FrancisChris Young and Justin Duchscherer have dealt with injuries in the past couple seasons, but they're drawing legitimate interest nonetheless.

PennyThe deal also impacts Armando Galarraga, who will now have to overcome serious competition to win the fifth starter's job. Before the Spring Training battle begins, Galarraga and the Tigers will determine the right-hander's 2011 salary; he's arbitration eligible for the first time.

I wonder if Jonathan Sanchez's name could come up as a comparable pitcher. Sanchez, who's one year ahead of Galarraga in terms of service time, had similar career numbers last offseason (4.81 ERA, 429 K, 214 BB in 413 1/3 innings) to the ones Galarraga has now (4.49 ERA, 301 K, 186 BB in 475 1/3 innings). The Giants paid Sanchez $2.1MM for the 2010 season. Interestingly, both pitchers even approached pitching perfection in their final pre-arbitration seasons – Sanchez with a no-hitter and Galarraga with a near-perfect game.

Penny's deal sends the Tigers' offseason spending over the $100MM mark, as MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows. The team has now committed $102.25MM to Victor MartinezJoaquin Benoit, Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta, Magglio Ordonez and Penny.

Tigers catchers will have to handle some of the hardest throwers in the game in 2011. Dombrowski has added Penny (94.1 mph fastball in 2010) and Benoit (94 mph) to a staff that already included Justin Verlander (95.4 mph), Ryan Perry (95.4 mph), Jose Valverde (95.2 mph) and Max Scherzer (93.2 mph).

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

Tigers On Verge Of Deal With Brad Penny

TUESDAY, 7:30am: The Tigers are on the verge of signing Penny to a one-year, $3MM deal, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  The hard-throwing righty will be able to earn more through incentives in his second American League stint.

MONDAY, 8:22pm: ESPN's Buster Olney hears that the Tigers are the frontrunner for Penny's services (Twitter link). He would step in as their number five starter. 

6:55pm: Brad Penny has drawn interest from a few teams this offseason, most notably the Tigers, and it appears he's close to making a decision about where he'll spend the 2011 season. The right-hander said he was "[g]etting close to finding [his] new home" on his Twitter account, and that he "[s]hould know by the end of the day."

The 32-year-old Penny missed the final four-plus months of the 2010 season with a shoulder strain, but he had pitched to a 3.23 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, and a career high 52.8% ground ball rate in 55 2/3 innings with the Cardinals before the injury. If we remove his ugly 2009 stint with the Red Sox (5.61 ERA in 131 2/3 innings), Penny has pitched to a 3.82 ERA in over 900 innings since 2004. 

Penny's injury did not require surgery, which is always good news, but the Cardinals still have "little enthusiasm" in re-signing him. Their front three was already stacked with Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Jaime Garcia, but they then added Jake Westbrook to the mix at the trade deadline and have since re-signed him. The Yankees, Mets, Orioles, Indians, Nationals, and Rockies are known to be seeking rotation help, though none have been connected to Penny in recent weeks.

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Tigers Continue Pursuit Of Brad Penny

The Tigers are still pursuing Brad Penny as they look to add depth to their starting rotation, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Morosi reported last month that the Tigers were considering Penny, who missed most of the 2010 season with a right shoulder strain. Later that day, GM Dave Dombrowski explained that the Tigers are comfortable with their pitching staff, but open to additions.

Penny posted a 3.23 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 55 2/3 innings for the Cardinals last year before going on the disabled list in May. The 32-year-old has spent nearly his entire career in the National League and his one stint in the American League went poorly. The Red Sox signed him before the 2009 season and he posted a 5.61 ERA in 131 2/3 innings for Boston.

Justin VerlanderMax ScherzerRick Porcello and Phil Coke will likely start for the Tigers, who appear interested in providing Armando Galarraga with some competition for the fifth rotation spot. Dombrowski recently told Tom Gage of the Detroit News that the Tigers are keeping an open mind about free agent starter Jeremy Bonderman.

Cards Notes: Pujols, Penny, Punto, Eckstein

In a chat with fans today, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dished out some information about the Cardinals' remaining offseason wants, some free agent rumors and the Albert Pujols extension talks.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Strauss thinks it's "feasible" that Pujols could agree to an extension that doesn't stretch over as many years (maybe a five- or six-year deal) but pays him the highest average annual salary in baseball history.  This way Pujols gets his big payout, but it doesn't leave St. Louis on the hook for a huge salary in the seventh or eighth year of a longer contract.
  • The Cardinals are looking for some infield depth at shortstop and third base, plus another starter to provide rotation depth.  They're looking for players with Major League experience to fill these roles, but on non-guaranteed contracts.
  • There is "little enthusiasm" for bringing back Brad Penny.  Strauss isn't sure Penny would be content with serving as an emergency starter out of the bullpen.
  • If the Cards sign a backup infielder, it will have to be an infielder who is "adroit" at third base in case David Freese can't handle the everyday job.  This seems to rule out a return to St. Louis for David Eckstein, but Strauss says Nick Punto "is a popular name within some quarters of the organization."  We haven't heard much about Punto since the Winter Meetings, where the former Twins infielder engaged in "meaningful negotiations" with Cleveland.
  • The Cardinals believe Mitchell Boggs and/or Jason Motte can develop into a solid closer, so there isn't much interest in Rafael Soriano.

Tigers Interested In Penny, Other Starters

The Tigers are still trying to upgrade their rotation, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The team is considering veteran starters, including Brad Penny. GM Dave Dombrowski pushed to acquire Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays before Toronto sent him to Milwaukee, Morosi reports. Carl Pavano, however, does not appear to interest the Tigers.

Penny, 32, posted a 3.23 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 55 2/3 innings for the Cardinals last year. However, the right-hander did not pitch after May 21st because of a shoulder strain.

The Tigers have addressed their needs aggressively this offseason and could field a competitive team right now. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Armando Galarraga are the team's current starters, but it sounds as though they may have some competition by the time Spring Training begins. 

Mozeliak: Cardinals’ Payroll Might Increase

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told fans at tonight's social media event that the team's payroll might increase over the next couple of seasons (Twitter link). St. Louis started the season with a payroll just north of $94MM according to Cot's, right in line with where the club has been since 2005.

Obviously the elephant in the room is Albert Pujols' upcoming contract extension. He'll earn the same $16MM next year that he's earned since 2008 once the team picks up his option, but 2011 is the last season the team will enjoy that discount. His salary is then expected to soar over $20MM, perhaps as much as $10MM more annually than he's pulling down right now.

The only significant contract coming off the Cardinals' books this offseason is Brad Penny's one-year, $7.5MM deal, but they'll also save marginal amounts thanks to the expiring contracts of Jason LaRue and Felipe Lopez. Ryan Franklin's $3.5MM salary will disappear after next season, but that money will just be redistributed to Adam Wainwright when his 2012 option ($9MM) is inevitably picked up. It's worth noting that St. Louis did save itself a nice chunk of change both this year and next when it traded Ryan Ludwick to the Padres. 

Clearly, if the Cardinals plan to retain Pujols and field a competitive team long-term they're going to have to expand the payroll. Jumping into nine-figure payroll territory seems inevitable for the foreseeable future.

Players Who Cannot Be Offered Arbitration

Being designated a Type A free agent can be a detriment if the team offers arbitration.  If the player accepts, he's off the market on a one-year deal and has a limited salary range.  If he declines, his new team must surrender a draft pick upon signing him.  Carrying around the added draft pick cost, Juan Cruz and Orlando Cabrera were among those with fewer opportunities as free agents after the '08 season.

As a result, a contractual clause prohibiting the team from offering arbitration if a player receives Type A status has been gaining in popularity.  During the 2009-10 offseason, at least four players had this clause added:

  • Orlando Hudson, Legacy Sports.  Hudson was offered and turned down arbitration from the Diamondbacks after the '08 season, and was surprised he could only find a one-year deal from the Dodgers guaranteeing $3.38MM.  The Dodgers were willing to give up the #17 overall pick to get Hudson at the reduced rate.  Hudson avoided the problem when the Dodgers chose not to offer arbitration after the '09 season.  His agent made sure it would not surface again after '10 by having a clause included in his Twins contract prohibiting the team from offering arbitration if he's a Type A.  Hudson is a Type B right now anyway.
  • Brad Penny, Legacy Sports.  Penny was well-paid by the Cardinals given his 2009 stats, but he also had the "no arbitration offer" clause included.  That might've been optimistic, since right now he's not even a Type B.
  • Justin Duchscherer, Lapa/Leventhal.  The A's offered arbitration to Duchscherer, a Type B, after the '09 season.  He declined and re-signed, and this time made sure the team cannot offer if he's a Type A.  The point is moot, as Duchscherer is below Type B and may miss the rest of the season with hip surgery.
  • Ben Sheets, CAA.  Not only did Sheets snag a huge $10MM guarantee after missing all of '09, he got this clause added just in case he has a season awesome enough to vault him to Type A status.  I'm not sure that's even possible.  Though he's been better recently, he'd need to quadruple his current Elias points (15.175) to reach Type B. 
  • Scott Boras may have been out front on this trend.  He had the clause included in Ivan Rodriguez's one-year, $10MM deal with the Marlins in '03 as well as Carlos Beltran's seven-year, $119MM deal signed in '05.  Beltran is a Type A at this time, but the Mets might not have offered arbitration after '11 anyway.