Brandon Beachy Rumors
Is there a more feared name in the sports world than Dr. James Andrews? This time it's the Braves and their fans' turn to be worried -- the club tweeted that Brandon Beachy will miss his next start due to a sore right elbow and visit the famed sports surgeon on Monday. Beachy underwent Tommy John surgery on that same right arm in June 2012 and has made just five starts since returning from the injury.
Here's the latest from around the majors...
- Rafael Betancourt left Thursday's game with an elbow injury and the Rockies are concerned the veteran reliever has a torn UCL, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. That injury would require Tommy John surgery and could threaten the 38-year-old's career. Betancourt will make his third trip to the DL this season, effectively ending any chance that the righty will switch teams. The Rockies placed Betancourt on revocable waivers earlier today.
- Dariel Alvarez has already advanced to the Orioles' high A-ball affiliate, though Baseball America's Ben Badler tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that scouts have questions about Alvarez's potential. "I don't think he was a very high-profile player for a lot of teams," Badler said. "I don't think there was a high level of interest in him. There are a lot of concerns about his hitting translating to game situations....He does have some occasional power, but there is a lot of question among scouts as to whether the hitting will translate against more advanced pitching." Badler felt that Alvarez's $800K bonus was surprisingly high and that Henry Urrutia (another up-and-coming Cuban outfielder in the O's system) is the much better prospect of the two.
- Signing relievers to multiyear deals continues to be a risky proposition, as Fangraphs' Dave Cameron breaks down how only four (arguably five) of the 13 relievers who signed such deals last winter have delivered good value to their teams.
- Jayson Werth's surprising age-34 season has been one of the few bright spots for the Nationals this year, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post writes. Werth hit .256/.349/.407 and battled injuries in the first two years of his seven-year, $126MM deal with the Nats, but the veteran has lived up this salary this season by posting a .938 OPS with 18 homers through 385 PA.
- If Beachy requires Tommy John surgery, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks the Braves may be forced to acquire another starter, and thus boost payroll or deal a valued prospect to do so. The team could also go with internal options like Kris Medlen or Jair Jurrjens, the latter of whom is scheduled to take Beachy's spot in the rotation.
- The Braves could still look to upgrade the rotation even if Jurrjens pitches well, but manager Fredi Gonzalez tells O'Brien that other teams would lower their trade demands since the Braves wouldn't be as desperate for pitching help.
- Matt Garza's most recent start was watched by Braves' top advance scout Jim Fregosi, according to ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine. "Six or seven other teams" besides Atlanta are also interested in Garza.
- In addition to a starter, Fangraphs' Michael Barr suggests the Braves could augment their lineup by adding Kevin Youkilis, who would add depth at first and third behind the injury-plagued Freddie Freeman and Chipper Jones. I'm not sure I see Atlanta getting in on the Youkilis sweepstakes given his salary and the fact that he'd be an expensive redundancy if Freeman and Jones were to remain healthy and productive.
- From earlier today, the Braves officially released Livan Hernandez.
It's not easy for potential stars to arrive in the Major Leagues with less fanfare than Brandon Beachy in the present day media environment. Beachy, who originally signed as a non-drafted free agent, has followed up a standout debut season with three strong starts this April. It could be time for the Braves to consider an extension.
Beachy has an impressive 3.27 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 35.9% ground ball rate at the Major League level. His leverage in contract talks will be limited by his relative inexperience, however. He has just 31 starts and 176 innings in one-plus years with the Braves (one year and 14 days of service time through 2011).
Madison Bumgarner recently established a record for pitchers with one-plus years of service time, obtaining a six-year, $35MM guarantee from the Giants. In my view, Beachy doesn’t have a case for a similar deal. The 25-year-old right-hander has 176 career innings -- approximately 50% of Bumgarner's total. He also trails Bumgarner in wins, starts and ERA, so it’s hard to imagine a compelling case for anything in the $35MM range.
But Bumgarner's deal was exceptional. Most starting pitchers who sign extensions after one-plus MLB seasons obtain four-year contracts in the $10-13MM range that tend to include multiple club options. The extensions ensure that the pitchers are paid handsomely through their second arbitration seasons and provide the teams with options on two additional seasons.
In recent years, James Shields, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Anderson, Wade Davis and Cory Luebke have signed four-year deals in the $10-13MM range. Beachy's current numbers are reasonably similar to the ones Anderson and Davis had at the time of their extensions. Beachy trails Jimenez and Shields in all-important bulk stats like innings, starts and wins, but boasts more impressive rate stats. Luebke, who signed most recently, compares especially well with Beachy. They have similar year to year totals and career stats, so the Braves could argue convincingly that Beachy should be in line for a similar four-year deal in the $12MM range. It would be difficult for Icon Sports Management to argue that much separation exists between Beachy and Luebke.
Unlike many top MLB players, Beachy didn’t obtain a life-changing bonus when he signed his first professional contract (the Braves offered $20K). The security of an extension might appeal to the one-time non-drafted free agent.
Meanwhile, the Braves haven’t signed Boras Corporation clients Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens to extensions. It’s unclear whether this reflects hesitation from a front office with reservations about the pitchers’ health or resistance from an agency that typically eschews extensions that delay players' free agency. Either way, Braves GM Frank Wren could turn to Beachy should he want to lock at least one young starter up long-term.
The cost -- likely $12MM or so -- is significant. But it’s not the kind of contract that’s going to set a franchise back long-term. I would consider a four-year deal in the $12MM range a team-friendly one as long as the Braves obtained multiple club options in the process. Beachy’s only going to get more expensive -- a five-year deal in the $30MM range might be attainable within six months -- so this is Atlanta’s best chance to sign Beachy at this rate. If they believe in his ability to sustain his success and stay on the field, they should make him an offer now.
Photo by Daniel Shirey courtesy of US Presswire.
The Braves and Orioles discussed a possible Adam Jones trade recently, but talks didn’t progress far, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (all Twitter links). The Orioles wanted Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado and at least two of Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Randall Delgado. The Braves weren’t interested at that price, Crasnick writes.
Conflicting reports about the Braves’ interest level in Jones emerged yesterday, but it appears some preliminary discussions occurred. Orioles GM Dan Duquette joined Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio this week and explained that the Orioles are trying to "build around" Jones. "When you have some good players, other teams are interested," he said. "We're not marketing Adam Jones." However, he stopped short of guaranteeing that Jones would stay put.
The Phillies made one of the first notable signings of the offseason the other day, inking Jim Thome to a one-year deal. Here's some more on Thome and the rest of the game's Eastern division teams...
- Thome's deal with the Phillies allows him to earn an additional $250K based on his plate appearances, according to this tweet from ESPN's Jerry Cracnick. Thome will earn $50K for reaching 175, 200, 225, 250, and 275 plate appearances, making his contract potentially worth $1.5MM.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Braves would be open to trading anyone for the right price, following their late season collapse. Rosenthal also notes that Atlanta tried to acquire Lorenzo Cain from both the Brewers and Royals last offseason, offering up Brandon Beachy. They also tried for a swap of Jair Jurrjens and Brett Lawrie with Milwaukee, but were unsuccessful.
- WEEI.com's Arielle Aronson wonders if the Red Sox will pursue Martin Prado as an alternative if Michael Cuddyer signs elsewhere. The Phillies are thought to be big players in the Cuddyer sweepstakes.
- Steve Gould of the Baltimore Sun offers up his thoughts on how free agents Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt, and Carlos Pena could or couldn't fit the Orioles.
The Braves blew a late-inning lead before losing a painful game to the Phillies tonight, but if Atlanta goes on to win in the playoffs this year, their bullpen will probably be a major reason for their success. The Braves’ late inning trio of Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel is as good as it gets.
Health permitting, the three relievers figure to return to Atlanta in 2012, but the same can’t necessarily be said for the Braves’ starting corps. Every one of the eight pitchers who has started a game for the Braves in 2011 is under team control next year and with a trio of MLB-ready arms entering the discussion for big league rotation spots, it won’t be surprising if the Braves hear an offer or two for their surplus arms.
Before we get too carried away with assumptions about health, it’s important to note that two Braves starters are on the disabled list and another one is dealing with an injury. Kris Medlen hasn’t pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery last August and won’t be ready before 2012. Tommy Hanson is also on the disabled list (shoulder) and Jair Jurrjens (knee) is banged up as well.
Despite those injuries, the Braves have a full rotation: Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Brandon Beachy (pictured), Mike Minor and Randall Delgado. Top prospects Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran (who will start one of tomorrow’s games) also represent viable rotation options for manager Fredi Gonzalez.
All told, the Braves have nine options. Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens, Hanson, Beachy and Minor have all had extended looks in the rotation this year, Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino spent most of the 2011 season in the minors and Medlen, a wild card heading into 2012, hasn’t pitched at all.
Not only do the Braves have nine pitchers around in 2012, most of them are under team control in 2013 (Lowe’s contract expires after next season and the Braves have a $9MM club option for Hudson in ’13). This group isn’t going anywhere.
As unusual as it is for a team to have too much pitching, this Braves team may find themselves with extra arms over the winter. Unlike most teams, however, the Braves already have the main components of their roster in place for 2012. They won’t have many obvious holes to address over the winter.
Yet the Braves aren’t set at every position - shortstop Alex Gonzalez hits free agency and Martin Prado hasn't shown the on-base skills or power you'd expect from a left fielder. If the Braves decide not to retain the slick-fielding Gonzalez and opt to move Prado back into a utility role, they could have holes at shortstop and left field (assuming they don’t view Jose Constanza as a permanent solution).
The Braves are a playoff-caliber team and they seem poised to contend in 2012, but significant needs could emerge within a month or two. Wren avoided last year's free agent frenzy and if he hopes to do the same this offseason without ignoring possible weaknesses, he could make the organization's pitching depth available in trades.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
1:10pm: The Braves are trying to see whether the Pirates or Orioles will pick up more of Kawakami's salary, tweets Biertempfel.
WEDNESDAY, 11:39am: The Pirates and Braves are still discussing a Kawakami trade, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
TUESDAY, 2:41pm: A Braves-Orioles Kawakami deal won't happen, tweets Connolly.
12:54pm: The Braves appear destined to unload righty Kenshin Kawakami, picking up much of the $6.67MM tab. The Pirates were linked to Kawakami yesterday, but Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review feels they may have cooled on him given the deals for Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen. Biertempfel says the Orioles are in the mix; Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the two teams have talked several times.