Brad Penny Rumors
John Gibbons of the Blue Jays, Kirk Gibson of the Diamondbacks, and Terry Collins of the Mets are among the managers currently on the hot seat, writes FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Gibbons presided over an extremely disappointing 2013 Jays season, Gibson's Diamondbacks haven't taken a step forward, and Collins might become a victim of unfair expectations. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- Good closers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and big-name closers aren't always what they seem to be, Tyler Kepner shows in a long piece for the New York Times. That means overpaying for a closer can be a mistake. "We had a different guy for about six years in a row — Joe Borowski, Todd Jones, Armando Benitez," says Marlins director of baseball operations Dan Noffsinger. "Each one of these guys would have 30-plus saves, be successful and go get a bigger contract elsewhere. We would just move on to the next guy." The Marlins' example shows one reason why the Orioles were willing to trade Jim Johnson this offseason, for example, and the White Sox were willing to deal Addison Reed.
- The selection of Shelby Miller in the first round of the 2009 draft marked a turning point for the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. "By the time we picked Miller, I think our knowledge base in at least how to avoid the high-risk players had evolved to the point where we felt more comfortable fishing in those waters," says Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who ran the Cardinals' draft at the time. "He had the delivery. He had the pitches that we thought could develop. The size. The makeup. We had learned from our mistakes." Goold points out that before Miller, the Cardinals hadn't selected a pitcher in the first 30 picks of the draft since 1991. The Cardinals attacked the problem of which high-school pitchers were the best picks by looking at big-league pitchers and figuring out why they succeeded, and they focused on arm strength and athleticism. Later in that same 2009 draft, the Cardinals also selected Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal.
- Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester isn't concerned about his impending free agency, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. "If I use that for motivation, I’ve got problems," Lester says. "That’s not what motivates me to go out and pitch and get better. Money has never driven me." Lester and the Red Sox recently suspended negotiations on an extension.
- Free agent pitcher Brad Penny has changed agencies from to the Legacy Agency to Millennium Sports, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. In early March, the Royals released Penny from their minor-league deal with him.
12:47pm: The Royals informed Penny that there wasn't a good chance of him making the roster, and the two sides agreed to part ways so that Penny could seek out a better opportunity, according to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter links).
Kansas City did add Bruce Chen roughly two weeks after agreeing to a minor league deal with Penny, which likely diminished his chances at making the club.
Penny was signed back in January and stood to earn a $1MM base salary with another $1.5MM available via incentives if he made the team. However, the right-hander was hit hard in a pair of Spring Training appearances, yielding seven runs on 13 hits (two homers) and a walk with just one strikeout in four innings of work.
The former National League All-Star hasn't appeared in the Majors since a 28-inning stint with the Giants in 2012, and he's posted just a 5.41 ERA over his past 209 2/3 big league innings. He has a 4.26 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 1899 career innings at the Major League level between the Marlins, Dodgers, Giants, Tigers, Red Sox and Cardinals.
THURSDAY: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Penny will earn $1MM if he makes the Major League roster, and his deal has an additional $1.5MM of games started/innings pitched incentives included (Twitter link). Penny can opt out of the deal on April 2 if he is not on the Major League roster.
WEDNESDAY: The Royals have reached agreement with pitcher Brad Penny on a minor league deal that includes a Spring Training invite, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links). He will go to camp as a starter, according to Cotillo.
Penny, 35, is represented by the Legacy Agency. After sitting out the 2013 campaign, he had reportedly been impressive in workouts over the winter. As Cotillo reported in late November, Penny said he felt refreshed after taking a season off.
Penny produced mediocre results in his last two MLB seasons. In 2011, his last run as a starter, Penny put up a 5.30 ERA in 181 2/3 innings. Transitioning to the bullpen in 2012, Penny struggled to a 6.11 ERA in 28 innings for the Giants. He mustered only 3.2 K/9, nearly half his career figure, against a 2.9 BB/9 rate that matches exactly his cumulative mark. In his best season as a pro, 2007, Penny put up a stellar 208-inning, 3.03 ERA campaign for the Dodgers in which he was worth 5.9 rWAR.
The Reds are impressed with outfielder and 2013 first-round pick Phillip Ervin, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. "We were really impressed," says Reds director of player development Jeff Graupe. "Obviously, all the physical ability he has is the first thing you see. But over time, seeing the consistent quality of his at-bats was the most impressive thing for me." Ervin, 21, hit .331/.425/.564 in 2013 season split between rookie ball and Class A. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- When the Angels signed pitcher Chris Volstad to a minor-league deal in November, they knew it was possible he might decide to play overseas instead, MLBTR's Zach Links tweets. Volstad recently signed on with the Doosan Bears in Korea.
- Aubrey Huff has officially retired and accepted a job as a broadcaster with the Pac-12 Network, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports. Huff finishes his 13-year career with a .278/.342/.464 line in 6,786 plate appearances with the Rays, Astros, Orioles, Tigers and Giants.
- Free-agent infielder Jamey Carroll could soon make a decision on a new team, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. Carroll, who will be 40 next month, hit .211/.267/.251 in 249 plate appearances with the Twins and Royals last season. He would likely receive a minor-league deal.
- Brad Penny could make an "interesting no-risk signing," Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweets. Renck mentions that he has heard Penny has pitched well in offseason workouts. Penny, 35, last appeared in the big leagues in 2012 with the Giants, and he's now in the midst of a comeback attempt.
NL West teams have been busy of late tinkering with their last few 40-man roster spots. A look at MLBTR's DFA Tracker shows a disproportionate number of NL West names over the last two months. The Giants and, in particular, the Padres have been quite active in sending players to DFA limbo. As you digest this fascinating observation as a warmup for your turkey, we'll take a look at a few other relatively minor notes from out west:
- Two-time All-Star hurler Brad Penny -- who was, most recently, a reliever with the Giants in 2012 -- will look to make a MLB comeback, according to a report from Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. "I just needed a year off to get my body back," said the 35-year-old. "It wasn't anything serious, just my shoulder was tired." Penny only lasted 28 innings in San Francisco, mustering only 3.2 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 and putting up a 6.11 ERA. But, he says, he has been building strength with an aggressive weightlifting regimine. "I think if I get an opportunity to pitch in spring training, healthier, I'm pretty confident that I can make a team," said Penny.
- The Diamondbacks are talking with two-time Tommy John patient Daniel Hudson about working out a deal to avoid arbitration, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. "Hopefully we'll get something done in the next few days or over the weekend," said Hudson. "I'd like to have a long career with the Diamondbacks." Hudson has shown plenty of promise when healthy. The question, really, is how much cash Arizona wants to dole out to take a chance on the 26-year-old making the difficult comeback from a second UCL reconstruction. GM Kevin Towers has said that his front office has "tried to come up with creative ways that we can do it." MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $1.1MM arbitration award for Hudson, and the team will have until Monday to work something out or reach a decision on tendering the righty a contract.
- Meanwhile, Arizona has decided on the coaches that will guide its pitching staff next season, writes Gilbert. Mike Harkey, recently the Yankees' bullpen coach, will become the pitching coach. And one-time Diamondbacks pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. will take over the bullpen for manager Kirk Gibson. Recent D-Backs front office addition Dave Duncan, a renowned molder of arms during his decades as a member of Tony LaRussa's staff, reportedly was involved in the hirings.
SATURDAY: Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that Penny will make the pro-rated portion of a $500K salary while with the big league team (Twitter links). He says the contract language is open-ended, but the target date to have Penny on the roster is May 30th.
FRIDAY: The Giants have signed Brad Penny to a minor league contract reports John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). The Legacy Sports Group client will head to Extended Spring Training next week and is considered a bullpen candidate.
Penny, 33, threw for GM Brian Sabean, manager Bruce Bochy, and pitching coach Dave Righetti today according to Shea (on Twitter). The right-hander started the year with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks but requested his release after just one start. Penny pitched to a 5.30 ERA in 31 starts for the Tigers last season and spent the second half of 2009 with the Giants, posting a 2.59 ERA in six starts.
The Cardinals’ bullpen struggled early on in the 2011 season but recovered to help St. Louis win the World Series. This provides hope for teams with early-season bullpen issues such as the Angels, as Buster Olney explained at ESPN.com this morning. Here are some more notes from Olney:
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says the club needs to restore Jordan Walden’s confidence. "We need for Jordan to be good,” he said. “He's going to be an important part of things here."
- The Angels are struggling for many reasons in Dipoto’s view, but the bullpen remains a clear area of concern, especially with recent injuries to Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins. Dipoto acquired Ernesto Frieri from the Padres over the weekend.
- Brad Penny has offers from MLB teams to start or pitch out of the bullpen, Olney reports. Penny, who recently became a free agent, expects to choose a team soon. He had been dealing with shoulder issues while under contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have released right-hander Brad Penny at his request after just one start in Japan, according to this Sanspo article passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (Twitter link). The right-hander signed with the Hawks this past offseason, but shoulder pain sidelined him for much of the past month and he appeared to have trouble adapting to Japanese baseball.
"It was the individual's strong desire to leave," according to the team.
Penny and the SoftBank Hawks agreed to a $4MM contract with $3.5MM in performance bonuses this February. The 33-year-old Legacy Sports client posted a 5.30 ERA with 3.7 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 181 2/3 innings for the Tigers last season.
4:48pm: ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Penny's deal contains a $4.5MM mutual option that becomes a player option if he pitches 150 innings or wins 12 games.
1:32pm: Penny's contract is worth $4MM plus $3.5MM in performance bonuses, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). A source tells Rosenthal (via Twitter) that Penny's deal is the largest ever given to an American pitcher in his first year with a Japanese team.
10:34am: Brad Penny has signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to the team's website (Japanese link). Penny's deal is for one year and $3MM, plus performance bonuses, according to a report from the Yomiuri Shimbun passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker.
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick recently reported that Penny was weighing an opportunity with the Hawks. The 33-year-old posted a 5.30 ERA with 3.7 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 31 starts for the Tigers last season.
The Chunichi Dragons have also picked up a former Major Leaguer in reliever Jorge Sosa, according to Sanspo (Japanese link). Newman writes that Sosa received a $100K signing bonus in addition to his $300K salary.
Some news about players who could be playing in the Far East in 2012...
- Brad Penny is "weighing an opportunity" with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Penny, 33, missed most of the 2010 season with a shoulder injury but rebounded to pitch 181 2/3 innings in 31 starts with the Tigers last season, though he only managed a 5.30 ERA, an 11 H/9 rate and a 1.19 K/BB ratio. Crasnick hears from a source that two Major League teams were interested in Penny, but it's not clear if either team actually made Penny an offer.
- Multiple reports out of Japan say Kenshin Kawakami is close to signing a one-year deal with the Chunichi Dragons (passed on by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman). Kawakami starred for Chunichi in the first 11 years of his pro career before signing a three-year, $23MM deal with the Braves before the 2009 season. Kawakami posted a 4.32 ERA in 50 games for Atlanta (41 of them starts) and spent all of last season in the minors.