Brandon McCarthy Rumors

Heyman On McCarthy, Morales, Fujikawa, Morgan

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com ran through some final details on several transactions this morning. Rather than bumping all of those posts to the top of the page at once, I have added the new information and will round up the changes here. (All links to Twitter.)

  • Brandon McCarthy‘s four-year contract with the Dodgers includes a conditional club option that reflects, but is not entirely synonymous with, the one that led to John Lackey playing the upcoming season at league minimum. As Heyman tweets, the Dodgers would hold a 2019 option for $5MM if McCarthy has spent more than 179 days on the DL due to a specific injury, or an $8MM option if he has missed between 119-179 days.
  • In his new deal with the Royals, Kendrys Morales will earn $6.5MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016, says Heyman. He also has a $1.5MM buyout on a $11MM option for 2017.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa will actually receive a $1.1MM total guarantee from the Rangers, Heyman tweets. His deal comes with a $2MM club option and $100K buyout, and that option could rise to as much as $3.5MM if Fujikawa meets certain games-finished thresholds.
  • Outfielder Nyjer Morgan received a $700K deal with the KBO’s Hanwha Eagles, Heyman tweets. That includes a $150K signing bonus and $550K salary.

Dodgers GM Talks Brandon McCarthy, Brian Wilson

The Dodgers’ major overhaul continued today when they officially signed right-hander Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal worth a reported $48MM.  Few doubt McCarthy’s ability and those who put a great deal of faith in his sabermetric numbers are excited about what he can do in 2015 and beyond.  However, the length of the 31-year-old’s pact gave pause to some people due to his injury history.  Not only did the Dodgers take a risk with McCarthy – they doubled down by agreeing to sign Brett Anderson to a one-year, $10MM contract.  Earlier today I asked Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi about the club’s willingness to roll the dice on those pitchers.

There’s a risk-reward calculation that all teams make.  Teams always have to consider these things with pitchers and [Dodgers head trainer] Stan Conte has been very involved in our process as far as histories and health risks go,” said Zaidi, who did not mention Anderson by name as his deal is not yet official.  “Going forward with any pitcher now, it’s part of the cost-benefit analysis.  You could have a guy who pitched 200-plus innings in the last four years that has a really bad elbow and that could go at any moment. Conversely, you could have a guy who has an injury history that you feel may be over the hump,”

With Brandon and the other pitcher we’re evaluating, we’re trying to figure out how they’ll perform in 2015 and beyond.”

Zaidi, of course, is familiar with McCarthy and Anderson thanks to their time together with the A’s. He had nothing but praise for McCarthy, saying that there was no other pitcher in Oakland that he felt more comfortable with on the mound.  Zaidi had a tremendous amount of confidence in the right-hander, he said, due to his “intelligence and attention to detail and game planning” as well as his command.

The Dodgers GM sounds equally confident in the status of McCarthy’s shoulder.  Zaidi believes that those issues will be in the past thanks to a new offseason routine that calls for additional upper body work.  The “proof is in the pudding” when it comes to McCarthy, who managed to add an extra 2 miles per hour to his fastball late in his career.

Midway through the conference call, reporters were informed that Brian Wilson was designated for assignment to make room for McCarthy on the roster.  I asked Zaidi if Wilson was struggling this winter in his effort to get back to his old form.

We’ve been keeping tabs on him in the offseason and this was not a move we made out of any medical concern.  It was more related to performance and it’s a position where we had to make a move because we had a surplus,” Zaidi explained.

It appears that recent bullpen additions like Joel Peralta, Juan Nicasio, and Chris Hatcher have leapfrogged Wilson, leaving him without much of a role to play in Los Angeles in 2015.  Their newest addition, meanwhile, will be counted on to serve as the fourth starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu.


Dodgers Sign Brandon McCarthy

The Dodgers have officially signed a four-year contract with Brandon McCarthy, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported (Twitter link). The four-year deal will pay McCarthy $48MM, Rosenthal tweets. McCarthy receives a $6MM signing bonus, $11MM per year in 2015-16, and $10MM annually in the final two years of the deal, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

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The contract also gives the Dodgers a conditional club option for 2019, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. If he has spent more than 179 days on the DL due to a specific injury, McCarthy would be subject to a $5MM club option. If he has missed between 119-179 days, it would be a $8MM club option.

A four-year guarantee would’ve seemed like a fantasy for McCarthy as recently as last summer when he had a 5.01 ERA through 18 starts with Arizona.  Advanced metrics revealed that McCarthy pitched much better than his ERA indicated, however, and he ended the year on a dominant run after being traded to the Yankees.  In 90 1/3 IP in New York, McCarthy posted a 2.89 ERA, 6.31 K/BB rate and 8.2 K/9.

MLBTR’s Steve Adams projected McCarthy would receive a three-year deal this winter, though a four-year deal wasn’t out of the question given the amount of interest the veteran righty was likely to generate.  The wait for Jon Lester to sign likely held up McCarthy’s market, as only the Royals and Yankees had been linked to him, and New York was hesitant to give McCarthy even a three-year contract given his injury history.  Needless to say, the fourth year was a nice get for McCarthy and agent Ryan Ware.

If the deal is finalized, McCarthy joins Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu in what should be a very strong top four in the Dodgers rotation, with lefty Brett Anderson now reportedly also on board to fill the fifth slot.  Los Angeles had been linked to high-profile aces like Cole Hamels or James Shields, and though you can never say never with the Dodgers, McCarthy’s signing could mean the team is done with its rotation shopping this winter.

There is no denying the risk that the Dodgers are taking on with this deal. While any long-term pitching contract comes with it, McCarthy has a particularly spotty injury history. And while the conditional club option included in the deal offers some measure of protection, it is not as clear cut a benefit as was the John Lackey option. Then, of course, there is the fact that McCarthy greatly improved his stock with a strong second half and will need to maintain it for a full season. All of that is not to say, of course, that McCarthy is not capable of meeting and exceeding the value of the deal; the price tag obviously reflects his ceiling.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported on Twitter that the deal was completed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Minor Moves: Teahen, Pridie, Kelly, Worth, Francisco

Former Royals infielder/outfielder Mark Teahen has retired from baseball, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Now 33 years old, Teahen last appeared in the Majors in 2011 and most recently split the 2013 season between the D-Backs’ minor league system and indy ball. Teahen had an outstanding 2006 season in which he batted .290/.357/.517 with 18 homers and 10 steals, but he was never able to repeat that success. Teahen eventually found himself the recipient of a three-year, $14MM extension with the White Sox that provided the bulk of his $21MM career earnings. All told, he will finish his career as a .264/.327/.409 hitter in 3171 plate appearances.

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Outfielder Jason Pridie and right-hander Merrill Kelly have signed with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The 31-year-old Pridie has received cups of coffee in each of the past three seasons but accrued most of his big league service time with the 2011 Mets when he batted .231/.309/.370 in 236 PA. He’s perhaps best known for being part of the trade that sent Delmon Young to Minnesota and Matt Garza to Tampa. Kelly, on the other hand, has spent his entire career with the Rays organization. He’s posted a career 3.40 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 527 1/3 innings and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2014.
  • Former Tigers infielder Danny Worth has signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks, reports MLive.com’s Chris Iott. Worth received offers from multiple clubs, including one who had interest in him as a pitcher, Iott adds (Worth pitched twice in 2014 and actually throws a decent knuckleball). The 29-year-old Worth is a career .230/.293/.295 hitter with Detroit and a .242/.320/.350 hitter at the Triple-A level.
  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports (via Twitter) that the D-Backs have also signed former big league outfielder Ben Francisco to a minor league deal. Francisco, now 33 years of age, didn’t see big league action in 2014 but has a career .253/.323/.418 batting line in parts of seven big league seasons.
  • Eddy also tweets that the Red Sox have signed right-hander Nestor Molina and catcher Luke Montz to minor league deals. Molina struggled in parts of three seasons in the White Sox’ minor league system after being acquired in the Sergio Santos trade. Montz is a 31-year-old veteran with 56 big league plate appearances and a .232/.318/.456 batting line in parts of four seasons at the Triple-A level.
  • The Royals have signed infielder Gabriel Noriega, tweets Eddy. Noriega is described by Eddy as a slick fielder who made a couple of Royals Top 30 prospects lists. The 27-year-old hit .275/.299/.360 between Double-A and Triple-A in the Mariners organization last year.
  • The Marlins have acquired righty Craig Stem from the Dodgers to complete the Kyle Jensen trade, Miami announced. Stem reached Double-A last year at age 24, but struggled mightily upon his promotion. The Dodgers are now expected to designate Jensen for assignment to clear room for the signing of Brandon McCarthy, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • First baseman Clint Robinson has joined the Nationals on a minor league pact, Ryan Walton reported on Twitter (and Robinson himself confirmed through a tweet). The 29-year-old has scant MLB experience, but torched the PCL with a .312/.401/.534 line over 499 plate appearances last year.
  • Dan Johnson is set to reach a minor league deal with the Astros, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. Johnson is 35 and has not reached triple-digit MLB plate appearances since 2010 (and 2007 before that), but owns a lifetime .281/.401/.509 slash at the Triple-A level.
  • The White Sox have added lefty Zach Phillips on a minor league deal, Eddy reports on Twitter. As Eddy notes, the South Siders have been loading up on LOOGY depth this offseason. The 28-year-old has seen sporadic big league action, with 15 2/3 innings to his credit over 2011-13, and spent some time last year playing in Japan.
  • The Indians have added catcher Brett Hayes and corner outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands on minor league deals, Eddy tweets. Hayes has appeared in six-straight big league seasons, though he’s never seen more than 144 plate appearances in a season. Sands, 27, has mostly played at the Triple-A level in recent seasons, but did get 227 plate appearances in 2011 (.253/.338/.389).
  • After being non-tendered, Jose Campos (Yankees) and Gus Schlosser (Braves) have returned to their prior organizations, Eddy reports on Twitter. Both righties have moved into swingman roles in their organizations, though Campos has yet even to reach High-A while Schlosser saw 15 games in the big leagues last year.

AL East Notes: Yanks, Detwiler, McLouth, Melky, Sox

The Yankees came away from the Winter Meetings without completing any deals, though it wasn’t for lack of trying, GM Brian Cashman told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch“We threw a lot of ideas a lot of different ways, but we’ve got a long way between now and Opening Day,” said Cashman as he left the meetings. We’ll keep our conversations that still are ongoing alive, and just wait and see.” Hoch writes that the Yankees never made proposals to David Robertson or Brandon McCarthy, the latter of whom “went to a level we couldn’t play on,” in Cashman’s words.

More from the AL East…

  • The Orioles had definite interest in Ross Detwiler before the Nats traded him to the Rangers, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. That he ended up in Texas may be best for the player himself, however, as Kubatko notes that Baltimore would’ve kept Detwiler in the ‘pen. The Rangers plan to use him as a starter, which is his preference.
  • Also from Kubatko, the Orioles have interest in bringing back old friend Nate McLouth, though not at his current $5MM (plus a $750K buyout of a 2016 option) price tag. The Nationals are willing to eat part of that salary to move McLouth, Kubatko adds, but the Orioles will wait to see if he is released for the time being.
  • The Orioles have some interest in Melky Cabrera, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, but only on a two- or three-year deal (Twitter link). Cabrera is said to be eyeing a five-year deal, however, and the Mariners’ previously reported interest appears to be stronger than that of the Orioles, based on Encina’s tweet.
  • Though the Red Sox have five starters (or will have five, once the Wade Miley trade is completed), Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that they’re still a match for Cole Hamels. He speculates that an arm like Joe Kelly could be a part of a trade with the Phillies, thereby opening a spot in the Boston rotation.
  • Peter Gammons looks at the reconstructed Red Sox rotation, noting a heavy emphasis on ground-ball pitchers that places some pressure on Xander Bogaerts and Pablo Sandoval. Gammons notes that the Red Sox brass is aware of its lack of a front-line starter. They’d like to add James Shields, but “exit polls” at the Winter Meetings had him going to the Giants, according to Gammons. Johnny Cueto is of interest, but the “timing and price isn’t there right now,” and Hamels negotiations with the Phillies have been difficult for all teams involved.

NL Central Notes: Lester, McCarthy, Cozart, Reds

The trust that Jon Lester has in Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer from their days together in Boston is singled out by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan as the key reason why the lefty chose Wrigley Field as his next home.  Here’s some news from around the NL Central…

  • The Pirates were one of the finalists for Brandon McCarthy, MLB.com’s Tom Singer writes.  The Bucs weren’t known to be connected to McCarthy in the offseason rumor mill, though they fit as a logical contender for his services.  Even with Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett signed, Singer thinks the Pirates could still look to add starting pitching, such as re-signing Edinson Volquez.
  • Other teams feel that the Reds will look to trade Zack Cozart now that they’ve acquired Eugenio Suarez, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (Twitter link).
  • With Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon respectively traded to the Marlins and Tigers, Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon) that the team can start to explore other upgrades now that they’ve addressed their payroll concerns.  “We’re in a better position to start looking at some other possibilities to improve our club — the hitter we’re looking for and some bullpen depth,” Jocketty said.  “We’re close to where we need to be, [payroll-wise]. Now we can concentrate on filling some of the needs.”
  • In an Insider-only post, ESPN’s Keith Law looks at the Reds‘ two pitching trades and feels the team got more from Detroit than they did from Miami.  Law thinks Suarez is an improvement over Cozart and Jonathon Crawford could potentially be the Reds’ closer of the future.
  • Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo are two of several prominent Brewers entering the last year of their contracts, and MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy opines that the Crew could explore trading the two starters if they think Mike Fiers or Jimmy Nelson can be viable rotation options.

Yankees Balancing Needs, Budget In Pursuit Of Headley

The Yankees are still working to address several needs, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the team is working to allocate limited budget space in so doing. Should New York go to a fourth year for Headley, the team’s interest would likely not go beyond $44MM to $48MM, Sherman says.

Were the team to strike a multi-year deal with third baseman Chase Headley, it may need to “bottom fish” to add a starter, says Sherman. Alternatively, then, the team could look to rely on Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela in the infield while looking to make a more significant addition for the rotation.

As for the rotation, the Yankees are disinclined to give even a third year to Brandon McCarthy, given his injury history, per Sherman. That could be a non-starter, of course. Otherwise, short-term options like Edinson Volquez are more likely. There remains a possibility of bringing back Hiroki Kuroda, Sherman adds.

 


Reactions To And Fallout From The Jon Lester Deal

Here’s a roundup of reactions from around the web on the Cubs’ $155MM deal with Jon Lester:

  • Adding Lester is huge for the Cubs, but they’re at least one more good starter away from contention, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Brandon McCarthy would be a good fit, Law suggests, or they could trade young hitting for another starter. Even if the Cubs’ core of young hitting needs another year to develop before the team can contend, though, Lester figures to age well and should still be pitching at a high level in 2016.
  • The Lester deal gives the Cubs more credibility, new manager Joe Maddon told reporters, including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. “It definitely makes it more believable to everybody else in that [clubhouse],” Maddon said. “I’ll stand up and make the same speech regardless, but when you have it backed up by that particular kind of presence, it adds to it. … Having people like that in the room definitely helps other guys believe this is possible.”
  • The deal is an awkward one for the Red Sox, tweets Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. They could have offered Lester far less last spring than their losing bid this time around, and he would have accepted.
  • The Red Sox still have to upgrade their rotation, and their missing out on Lester by $20MM is a bad sign, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes writes. It will be hard, Edes writes, for the Red Sox to have a rotation without Lester as good as the one they could have had if they had signed him.
  • Lester becoming a Cub shifts the balance of power in the NL Central, and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman wonders (via Twitter) if it will be what causes the Reds to begin rebuilding.
  • On a related note, Lester’s contract sets the standard for extension talks between the Reds and Johnny Cueto, who is eligible for free agency after 2015, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Rosecrans also notes that, with Lester heading to Chicago, the Red Sox figure to be clearly in the market for starting pitching, and there might be a match between the Red Sox and Reds, who could offer Mat Latos or Mike Leake.

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays

The action today was in the AL East, with the Red Sox reportedly reaching terms with both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. The day’s moves could well set up a series of others in a division that is setting the early pace in spending. Here’s the latest:

  • With the Red Sox taking on gobs of new salary obligations and seemingly prepared to add more, attention has naturally turned to the question of how much the team could be willing to spend. Owner John Henry mentioned last year that going over the luxury tax line is not necessarily a devastating event, notes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston has relatively little committed in the future, but is already well north of $100MM in obligations for 2015 even before accounting for Sandoval and Ramirez.
  • WEEI.com’s Alex Speier takes a closer look at the team’s possible methods for freeing salary to devote to pitching. He notes that the cap may not be a hard ceiling for the Sox, though the roster will need to be trimmed regardless of financial considerations. Speier’s colleague, Rob Bradford, evaluates the expected addition of Ramirez in terms of the many moving parts that the organization must account for.
  • Boston’s moves will test the Yankees‘ restraint, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. New York is still putting out the vibe that it will not play in the top of the free agent market, but the temptation is obvious. As Sherman rightly notes, also, the bidding for return targets like Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy, and David Robertson could well shoot up rather quickly.
  • Sources also tell Sherman that the Bombers are pushing harder to acquire a shortstop than a third baseman. The club has made “a series of trade offers” to land one, per Sherman.
  • The Blue Jays are “talking about” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. While the report is not entirely clear, it seems to refer to internal discussion among the Toronto brass, rather than trade chatter between the clubs. While a recent report indicated that Cincinnati would listen on Bruce, it is difficult to imagine a trade scenario that would entice the Reds and a team looking to add the talented 27-year-old at a discount.

Royals Notes: Butler, Rotation, Hunter, Peguero

The Royals have now officially waved goodbye to long-time DH Billy Butler, who signed a three-year pact with the A’s that was announced this morning. Kansas City had its chance to keep him, of course, but declined a $12.5MM club option on the right-handed hitter, preferring instead to pay him a $1MM buyout.

Here’s the latest out of Kansas City:

  • In a piece discussing the anticipated loss of Butler, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star indicates that the team remains intent on making impact additions to its roster, particularly to the rotation. The club has had at least opening discussions with agents for Ervin Santana, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Jason Hammel, and Jon Lester, writes McCullough.
  • Francisco Liriano is also a consideration for the Royals, as are many other arms in the mid-tier of free agents, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. And trade possibilities are also being explored. The team is still dabbling in the markets for Lester and Shields, Heyman notes, but seemingly has eyes for Liriano and Santana
  • Torii Hunter is a definite target, says Heyman. The team believes that he is still a reliable bat and sees him as a quality fit.
  • Kansas City is considering utilizing Carlos Peguero in a time-share in right field and at DH, tweets Jeffrey Flanagan of FOX Sports Kansas City. That plan would be particularly interesting if the team could pair the left-handed-hitting Peguero with a veteran right-handed bat of Hunter’s ilk.