Brad Penny Rumors
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.
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 Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Links for Tuesday, as J.J. Hardy hits the disabled list...
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told MLB.com's Ken Gurnick that he's sticking with Garret Anderson despite the former slugger's struggles as a pinch hitter and occasional outfielder this year.
- As Danny Knobler of CBS Sports points out, Barry Zito is making that $126MM contract look a little more tolerable to Giants fans these days.
- The White Sox named Jerry Krause their director of international scouting. The former Chicago Bulls GM had been overseeing the team's scouting in the Dominican Republic.
- If you have experience designing databases, MLBTR has a project for you. We’re interested in finding someone to design a searchable database for the site, so send an email to email@example.com if you are the right person for the job.
- The Mets released Shawn Riggans, who had been in the minors, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter).
- Check out Tim's appearance on 590 KFNS in St. Louis right here.
- The Reds released outfielder Josh Anderson from their Triple A club, reports Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal.
- Brad Penny told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he'd like to re-sign with the Cardinals, but if he doesn't he appreciates the opportunity they've given him. Penny ranks eighth in the NL with a 1.99 ERA, a figure he'll look to improve upon against the Astros tonight. The Cardinals also have Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia in the NL's top ten.
- The Mariners were choosing between Brandon Morrow and Daniel Bard for the fifth overall pick in the '06 draft, learned WEEI's Alex Speier.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan looks at ten popular phenoms making waves this year.
- Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News solves the mystery of the new delivery Barry Zito busted out in his first Giants bullpen session a few years ago.
- Chuck Hixson of PhillyBaseballNews.com looks at a few closers who might be available should the Phillies start looking.
MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports that St. Louis has between $6MM and $7MM worth of "wiggle room" in their payroll that may have to last the club through the rest of the season. But, as Leach notes, "the Cardinals aren't holding onto money for a midseason trade as much as they are for an acquisition during camp."
St. Louis GM John Mozeliak hinted that he may make another move during Spring Training if none of the team's young players step up to adequately fill the Cards' problem areas: "As we move forward and get into spring, we should have a better idea of what that [greatest need] might be. It may be nothing. But it usually is always something and more than something."
Matt Holliday dominated the headlines in St. Louis over the winter, but aside from that major re-signing, the Cardinals were fairly quiet in the offseason; only Brad Penny and possibly Rich Hill could be considered major additions to the club. As Leach pointed out, however, the Cards have signed two free agents over the last two springs (Kyle Lohse and Dennys Reyes) and are still looking for backup outfielders, a left-handed pinch-hitting option and possibly another reliever or two.
More Saturday linkage..
- Ty Wigginton of the Orioles will likely see his number of at-bats decrease after the team's signing of Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com says that the 32-year-old could be a trade candidate in Spring Training.
- The sale of the Rangers to Chuck Greenberg's group is complete and an announcement is forthcoming, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- Phil Wood of MASNSports.com understands the Nats' pursuit of Orlando Hudson, but not their reported interest in Orlando Cabrera. Hudson is reportedly seeking $9MM per season whereas Mike Axisa estimates that Cabrera can be had for $3MM.
- Veteran infielder Mark Loretta is expected to retire this week and take a job with an unspecified major league club, writes Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. The 38-year-old, who spent 2009 with the Dodgers, has a career .754 OPS.
- Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes that signing Hunter Pence to one-year, $3.5MM deal makes sense for Houston. McTaggart senses that there is some kind of a groundswell of support by Astros fans to lock up the 26-year-old, but the club still has three years of contractual control to make such a deal happen.
- Signing Brad Penny saved money for the Cardinals, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. While it may seem as though Penny's $7.5MM deal is similar to Joel Pineiro's two-year deal that will pay him an average of $8MM per season, the extra year on Pineiro's contract didn't fit into the Cards' budget.
- Due in part to the team's overload of left field options, top Reds prospect Todd Frazier could see some time at shortstop this season, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Frazier played shortstop in his time at Rutgers University but was moved to the outfield as he was considered to be "too big for the spot." GM Walt Jocketty said that there will be open competition for the role of starting shortstop, though Fay says that it will likely go to the light-hitting Paul Janish.
Metsblog's Matthew Cerrone reports that the Mets are interested in signing John Smoltz and one of either Joel Pineiro or Ben Sheets. Cerrone notes that "all three have legit interest in pitching for the Mets on short-term deals," and that signing Pineiro or Sheets would indicate that Smoltz's role in New York would be as a reliever.
The Mets have been linked to this trio and several other starters this winter, but they have yet to make any significant additions to their starting rotation. It's possible that pressure from fans and the New York media might be starting to take a toll on the club. Cerrone cites a report from SI.com's Jon Heyman on The MLB Network in relation to Sheets, where Heyman said the Mets would like to make a "positive" signing in the wake of missing out on free agent catcher Bengie Molina.
Cerrone passed on more info from Heyman and Tom Verducci's discussion of Sheets' throwing session today. More than one scout told Heyman the pitcher looked like "the old Ben Sheets," and both Heyman and Verducci agreed that Sheets will sign a contract similar to Brad Penny's one-year, $7.5MM pact with the Cardinals. Heyman named the Mets, Cubs and Rangers as interested suitors, while Verducci named St. Louis and Seattle as "a likely destination."