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Brandon Lyon Rumors
6:02pm: Eddy now tweets that he’s been informed by the D-Backs’ baseball operations department that they are not in agreement with League on a contract (Twitter link). League, then, remains a free agent.
5:36pm: The Diamondbacks have agreed to a minor league pact with right-hander Brandon League, reports Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (Twitter link). League was designated for assignment by the Dodgers about two weeks ago and released by the team last week. He’s represented by ACES.
Now 32 years old, League’s three-year, $22.5MM contract with the Dodgers (signed under the previous front office’s watch) was widely panned from day one. That’s not to say League had necessarily been a poor pitcher, but perhaps not one deserving of such a hefty commitment. The Dodgers picked up League in a trade with the Mariners midway through the 2012 season, and he rode a stretch of 27 1/3 solid innings (2.30 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9) to that contract.
League’s first full year with the Dodgers was a notable disappointment, as he worked to a 5.30 ERA and saw his strikeout rate plummet to 4.6 K/9. League did log 54 1/3 innings that season, but he quickly lost the closer’s role to Kenley Jansen and spent much of his time late in the year working in mop-up duty. League does deserve credit for the second year of that contract, however, as he quietly enjoyed an excellent rebound campaign. Last year, League tossed 63 innings of 2.57 ERA ball, averaging 5.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 with an outstanding 67.3 percent ground-ball rate.
A shoulder impingement prevented League from logging a single Major League inning this season, but he had very good results in a minor league rehab stint, yielding just one earned run on 10 hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. League will give the D-Backs an experienced depth piece that could factor into their bullpen in the second half. His addition could become more significant if Arizona parts with some pieces from its current bullpen in trade over the next two weeks; fill-in closer Brad Ziegler has been speculatively mentioned as a trade candidate, and Addison Reed is said to be available as well.
Right-hander Brandon Lyon, who had been pitching for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake, has elected free agency, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page.
Lyon, 34, turned in a 4.08 ERA in 17 2/3 innings, though he posted just a 9-to-8 K/BB ratio in that time and surrendered 33 hits. A lot of those hits were likely the function of poor luck, as his .429 batting average on balls in play for the Bees would almost certainly have regressed over a larger sample.
The 12-year Major League veteran spent most of the 2013 season pitching out of the Mets’ bullpen, totaling a 4.98 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 34 1/3 innings of work. Lyon has a career 4.16 ERA in 681 1/3 innings with the D’Backs, Astros, Blue Jays, Mets, Tigers and Red Sox. He’s pitched in both a setup role and a ninth-inning role, having served as the Diamondbacks’ closer for two different stints and served as Houston’s closer in 2010.
The Angels have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran reliever Brandon Lyon, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (on Twitter). The 34-year-old right-hander receives an invitation to Major League Spring Training and will compete for a slot in manager Mike Scioscia's bullpen. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Lyon, a client of Meister Sports Management, will earn a $1MM base salary if he makes the club.
Lyon spent most of the 2013 campaign in the Mets organization, posting a 4.98 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 38.7 percent ground-ball rate. He was released in July and briefly caught on with the Red Sox, yielding one earned run in 5 1/3 innings for their Triple-A affiliate before requesting his release.
Though Lyon had a tough 2013, he's one year removed from an excellent 2012 campaign in which he posted a 3.10 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 61 innings for the Astros and Blue Jays. ERA estimators such as FIP (3.23), xFIP (3.94) and SIERA (3.20) all back up his dominance from that season. While he's young enough to hope for a rebound, it's certainly troubling that his average fastball velocity dropped from 90.7 mph in 2012 all the way to 87.8 mph in 2013.
Here's the latest on free agent situations around the league:
- Bronson Arroyo's decision came down to the Diamondbacks and the Orioles, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets, with Arroyo's preference to stay in the National League playing a role in his decision to sign with Arizona. Baltimore's best offer was "competitive" with the two-year, $23.5MM guarantee that Arroyo landed, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
- Reliever Ryan Madson hit 93 mph on the radar gun during an audition today in front of 15 clubs, reports Crasnick (via Twitter). Multiple teams have expressed interest in the one-time relief ace, who is working back after missing each of the last two seasons due to elbow issues. Madson's former club, the Phillies, are one of the teams that planned to watch Madson, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported earlier today.
- Another rehabbing pitcher, former ace Johan Santana, tweeted today that he started throwing off of a mound this week. Last we heard, Twins GM Terry Ryan suggested that Santana probably would not be ready to throw competitive pitches until the summer.
- Multiple teams have shown interest in free agent reliever Brandon Lyon, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 34-year-old threw 34 1/3 innings of 4.98 ERA ball for the Mets last year, but advanced metrics (3.98 FIP, 4.48 xFIP, 4.38 SIERA) put a somewhat more positive spin on things.
- Free agent outfielder Rick Ankiel told SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (hat tip to Cotillo, on Twitter) that he is still open to playing. But having yet to hear from clubs with interest, Ankiel says he is "in a holding pattern."
The market for relievers will start to move in the next month or so as teams look to round out their bullpens with one-year deals. Some reporting on the topic today from MLBTR:
- Teams are planning to watch free agent righty Carlos Marmol, who is currently pitching for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League playoffs. Marmol has discussed a Major League deal with three teams, MLBTR has learned, and there's a good chance he signs this month. The 31-year-old posted a 4.41 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 7.3 BB/9, 1.29 HR/9, and 37.6% groundball rate in 49 innings for the Cubs and Dodgers in 2013. Marmol began 2013 as the Cubs' closer but was designated for assignment in June and eventually traded along with the club's fourth international bonus slot to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier. He wound up making two appearances in the NLCS for the Dodgers after appearing in 21 games for them in the regular season.
- Though nothing is imminent for another former Cubs closer, Kyle Farnsworth, MLBTR's Zach Links hears six to eight clubs have varying degrees of interest. Farnsworth, 38 in April, posted a 4.70 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.17 HR/9, and 45.5% groundball rate in 38 1/3 innings for the Rays and Pirates in 2013. Released by the Rays in August, he pitched well in his month with Pittsburgh. He averaged 95.5 miles per hour on his fastball in September, according to Brooks Baseball.
- Free agent relievers Brandon Lyon and Pat Neshek are also looking for big league deals, adds Links. They're joined by Luis Ayala, who we reported earlier today has drawn interest from the Tigers, Indians, and Orioles among other teams.
Brandon Lyon exercised the opt-out clause in his contract and was granted his release from the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate, the minor-league club announced. Lyon, 33, did so after learning there wasn't a spot available for him in the major league team's bullpen, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets.
Lyon logged 5 1/3 innings with 1.69 ERA for the Pawtucket Red Sox since inking a minor-league deal in July. He's already seen significant time in the majors with the Mets this season, and was excellent in his first 31 1/3 innings, posting a 3.16 ERA. However, he proceeded to give up eight runs in his next three innings, prompting the Mets to designate him for assignment shortly thereafter. In 681 1/3 major league innings, Lyon owns a 4.16 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.
As Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes, it's been 10 years since the strangest week of Brandon Lyon's life. In 2003, the then-23-year-old Lyon was dealt by the Red Sox to the Pirates as part of a pacakage for lefty Scott Sauerbeck. The Pirates decided they weren't comfortable with the state of Lyon's elbow and sent him back to the Red Sox in a trade centering around Freddy Sanchez and Jeff Suppan just nine days later. Now with the Red Sox once again, Lyon tells Britton that he hopes to be with the big league club in the near future. Here's more on the AL East…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that as of Sunday, the Yankees had yet to receive a single trade offer for struggling right-hander Phil Hughes. That's fairly surprising, given Hughes' solid production away from Yankee Stadium (3.02 ERA in 53 2/3 innings compared to 6.02 in 58 1/3 innings at home).
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman feels that there may be more offense on its way to New York via the trade market before Wednesday's deadline, writes MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
- The Red Sox are no longer in the mix for Joe Nathan, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, but they're still prioritizing right-handed relief help. The Red Sox remain in contact with the Phillies about Michael Young but find the asking price for Cliff Lee too high, according to Bradford. The same goes for Jake Peavy of the White Sox.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com takes a look at how the Red Sox stack up in terms of starting pitching, right-handed relief and third base options.
The Red Sox have signed right-handers Jose Contreras and Brandon Lyon to minor league deals and assigned each to Triple-A Pawtucket, the team announced (hat tip: Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Twitter).
Contreras, 41, was released by the Pirates just over 24 hours ago. He's spent time on the bereavement list and dealt with shoulder inflammation recently, but as Tim Dierkes noted yesterday, Contreras has excelled at Triple-A Indianapolis of late. The veteran Cuban has allowed just one earned run with 19 strikeouts against five walks in his past 16 2/3 minor league innings. Contreras is represented by agent Jaime Torres.
Lyon, 33, was released by the Mets 10 days ago. He was terrific in his first 31 1/3 innings for the Mets, posting a 3.16 ERA with 22 strikeouts against 10 walks in that time. However, he yielded eight earned runs over his next three innings of work, including a disastrous six-run meltdown against the Nationals. This will be Lyon's second stint with Boston, as he saved nine games and pitched to a 4.12 ERA in 59 innings with the Sox back in 2003. Lyon is a client of Meister Sports Management.
TUESDAY: The Mets announced they have asked for unconditional release waivers on Lyon. Assuming he goes unclaimed, he'll soon be a free agent.
THURSDAY: The Mets have designated right-handed reliever Brandon Lyon for assignment, according to the team's official Twitter feed. New York will recall fellow righty Greg Burke to take Lyon's roster spot, the team further tweets.
After a solid 2012 season in which he put up a 3.10 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 3.0 BB/9 over 61 innings for the Astros and Blue Jays, Lyon signed on with the Mets for 2013. As ESPN's game log shows, Lyon had been reasonably productive for New York until he was bombed by the Nationals last Friday and Sunday. He is currently sporting a 4.91 ERA in 33 innings thrown, though he was sitting at 3.16 earned per nine before the Nats came into town. Lyon has, however, failed to match last year's strikeout to walk ratio: he has registered 6.3 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 to date.
As ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin notes on Twitter, Lyon was one of only two free agents (the other being Shaun Marcum) to get a Major League deal from the Mets this past offseason. Rubin also tweets that Lyon was on the verge of triggering contract incentives. Sitting at 37 appearances, Lyon would have earned $100k for every five appearances beginning with his fortieth.
MONDAY: ESPN New York's Adam Rubin has the breakdown of Lyon's contract. He'll earn a $750K base salary, and his contract has incentives for appearances, games finished and time spent on the MLB roster.
Lyon will receive $100K for reaching 40, 45, 50 and 55 appearances. He'll receive $125K for reaching 60 and 65 appearances. He'll receive $50K for finishing 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 games. He will receive $100K for 1, 30, 60 and 90 days spent on the roster. Lastly, he'll receive $125K for 120 and 150 days on the roster.
All told, Lyon's contract could total $2.3MM if he hits each of his incentives. That seems unlikely, as he doesn't currently project as New York's closer.
FRIDAY: The Mets announced they have officially signed free agent right-hander Brandon Lyon to a one-year deal. Meister Sports Management represents Lyon, who will earn a base salary of between $750-$900K, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The total value of the deal will be worth $2.4MM if Lyon hits his incentive bonuses (Twitter links).
Lyon, 33, split the 2012 season between the Astros and Blue Jays. He posted a 3.10 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 37.5% ground ball rate in 61 innings of relief work. The 11-year veteran averaged 90.2 mph with his fastball. Lyon earned $5.5MM in 2012, but the terms of his deal with the Mets are not yet known.
The Mets have added a number of relief pitchers on minor league deals this winter, as MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows. Scott Atchison, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano and LaTroy Hawkins are also candidates for the New York bullpen. Frank Francisco is expected to close for the Mets (though be sure to follow @closernews in case anything changes).
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the agreement (on Twitter) and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News first reported the sides agreed to a one-year deal (on Twitter). Steve Adams also contributed to this post.