Brandon McCarthy Rumors

Athletics Notes: Drew, Nakajima, McCarthy

Athletics GM Billy Beane met with reporters today at the Winter Meetings in Nashville; here's the latest.


Diamondbacks Have Interest In McCarthy, Huff

7:49pm: The Diamondbacks have also "made contact" with Aubrey Huff, reports Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter). The 35-year-old Huff hit .192/.326/.282 in 95 plate appearances for the Giants while missing lots of time with knee with knee problems.

7:27pm: The Diamondbacks have expressed interest in Brandon McCarthy, reports Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter). Piecoro notes the D'Backs pursued the right-hander two years ago.

McCarthy, 29, pitched to a 3.24 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 111 innings for the Athletics this year. He missed time with shoulder surgery as well as a head injury after getting hit by a line drive. The D'Backs are said to be seeking a veteran starter to add to Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley, and Trevor Cahill. Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Josh Collmenter, and Trevor Bauer could also be in the rotation mix as Daniel Hudson rehabs from Tommy John surgery.


Free Agent Faceoff: Liriano vs. McCarthy

Two of the biggest (yet most intriguing) question marks available on this year's free agent pitching market are Francisco Liriano and Brandon McCarthy.  Both are 29 and were once seen as top prospects, and while both have dealt with injuries and inconsistency through their careers, it's Liriano who is struggling to regain his form while McCarthy is simply trying to get healthy enough to get back on the field.

Few pitchers are as electric as Liriano when he's on his game, though he's only really harnessed that ability over a full season in 2006 and 2010.  It seemed as if that 2010 year signalled that Liriano was all the way back from Tommy John surgery and would now become an anchor in the Twins rotation, except things went south from there.  Liriano posted a 5.23 ERA over 60 games (52 starts) in 2010-11, still striking out close to a batter per inning but also posting a 5.0 BB/9 rate.  Perhaps there was no better summation of Liriano's potential than his May 3, 2011 start against the White Sox, when he walked six batters and only struck out two — yet still managed to no-hit Chicago. 

The raw material is there for Liriano to become an ace and that's why, despite posting ERAs north of 5.00 in three of the last four seasons, it's possible that he could find a two-year contract on the open market (or at least a one-year contract with a generous option for 2014).  Being left-handed helps, but the belief still exists that the right situation or right pitching coach could flip the switch on Liriano and make him a top-of-the-rotation starter. 

McCarthy's life, let alone his baseball career, was threatened on September 5 when a line drive from Erick Aybar struck the right-hander in the head.  After undergoing surgery to relieve cranial pressure on his damaged skull and brain areas, the great news is that McCarthy is recovered (and tweeting) and has been cleared to do his regular offseason training work.  While a freak incident, the head injury was just the latest in a series of maladies that has plagued McCarthy throughout his career, such as elbow problems and a stress fracture in his throwing shoulder.

While McCarthy is not yet free of the injury bug, he at least has delivered strong results when he's been on the mound.  The righty has a 3.29 ERA and a 4:1 K:BB ratio in 43 starters in Oakland, finally delivering on the potential he showed as a prospect in the White Sox system.  McCarthy overhauled his pitching mechanics before the 2011 season and turned himself into a pitcher who relies on grounders (a 46.7% groundball rate in 2011) and command — he has a 1.6 BB/9 in 2011-12, less than half of the 3.4 BB/9 he posted over his first five seasons.  While his ERA was a run lower at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum than it was on the road, McCarthy's skillset should translate well to most ballparks.

If we were judging these two pitchers based purely on recent results, McCarthy is easily the better choice; had Aybar not hit that liner, this wouldn't even be a valid comparison, as McCarthy would've been in line for a three- or four-year contract.  That being said, McCarthy's injury history can't be ignored, which is part of the reason why MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ranked Liriano higher than McCarthy (#28 to #32) on his list of the top 50 free agents of the offseason.  A power arm will always carry that extra bit of allure, especially an arm like Liriano's that has shown occasional greatness.

Both pitchers are being courted by several teams, from big-market clubs looking for back-end rotation help to smaller-market teams hoping to find an ace at a relative bargain price. 



Passan’s Latest: Myers, Fowler, Asdrubal, McCarthy

The Royals have been shopping top prospect Wil Myers but only in exchange for starting pitching, reports Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Earlier this week, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported that Kansas City was known to be at least listening to offers for Myers and top position players like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.  The only untouchable Royals appear to be Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez due to their team-friendly contracts — "executives consider [Perez's deal] the best in the game," Passan writes.

The Royals have discussed trades with the Rays, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Athletics, Passan reports.  While Myers would be of interest to any team, he is of particular value to low-payroll teams like the Rays and A's given that Gordon and Butler have large contracts and Moustakas/Hosmer are Scott Boras clients.

Here are some more items from Passan…

  • The Rockies' asking price for Dexter Fowler is "absurd," one rival executive tells Passan.  It appears to be a buyers' market for center fielders right now, though another executive warns that "it will shake out" as the offseason progresses.
  • The Indians are shopping Asdrubal Cabrera, though "not at Black Friday prices," an executive says.  Cabrera is one of a few shortstops on the trade market, along with the Astros' Jed Lowrie and the Marlins' Yunel Escobar.
  • Teams are more worried about Brandon McCarthy's history of arm injuries than with his season-ending brain surgery.  If McCarthy's medicals are clear, however, a team executive thinks the right-hander will get a multiyear contract.
  • Anibal Sanchez's demands for a six-year, $90MM contract are "crazy, and he's probably going to get it," an executive tells Passan.

Quick Hits: Figgins, Lohse, Hamilton, Kuroda

It was on this day in 1995 that Joe Girardi first became a Yankee, as the Bronx Bombers acquired the catcher from the Rockies in exchange for right-hander Mike DeJean.  Girardi won three World Series titles in his four seasons with the team as a player and won another championship as the team's manager in 2009.  Here are some items from around the majors…


Twins Rumors: McCarthy, Blanton, Dempster, Myers

Here's the latest on the Twins from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN

  • So far, the Twins have reached out to free agents Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, and Brett Myers. They're interested in Myers as a starter. They've also reached out to Brandon Webb even though he hasn't thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2009.
  • The club continues to have regular conversations with Alan Nero, who represents right-hander Scott Baker. The two sides are working on a new contract after Baker's $9.25MM option was declined.
  • The Twins have not shown any interest in Jon Garland and were not present when the right-hander threw for teams during an audition back in September.
  • Talks with reliever Jared Burton about a contract extension are underway. Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM salary for the right-hander next season, after which he'll become a free agent.
  • The Twins have inquired about reliever Randy Messenger, though the Hanshin Tigers in Japan will not allow the right-hander out of his contract.
  • The team has not contacted Bill Bray after he hit free agency. Special assistant Wayne Krivsky acquired the left-hander during his tenure as Reds GM.

Cubs Interested In McCarthy & Marcum

The Cubs are seeking starting pitching this winter and are targeting buy-low candidates poised for rebound seasons, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of The Chicago Sun-Times. They've already expressed some interest in Brandon McCarthy and Shaun Marcum.

"I think the contracts we signed last winter are a good model," said GM Jed Hoyer. "I think we have a chance to maybe sign more of those this year with a little bit more money to spend … We might be able to sign more contracts like that or maybe even a little larger than last year, but I think it’s a good model of contract that really served us well."

The Cubs signed Paul Maholm to a one-year, $4.75MM contract with club option last winter before flipping him for prospects at the trade deadline. David DeJesus signed a two-year, $10MM deal last offseason and could be moved for more prospects at some point either this offseason or prior to the trade deadline.

Both McCarthy, 29, and Marcum, 30, have battled injuries these last two seasons but have otherwise pitched well. McCarthy owns a 3.29 ERA in 281 2/3 innings since the start of last year while Marcum is at a 3.60 ERA in 324 2/3 innings during the same time. Both right-handers could seek one-year contracts to rebuild value in hopes of landing a bigger payday next winter, which would suit Chicago well.

The Cubs tried to acquire Dan Haren last week, only to have the deal fall apart at the last minute. The Angels declined his option and made him a free agent, so the right-hander could still be a target for the Cubbies if the price is right. Last night Haren's agent declared his client healthy following speculation that the trade fell apart due to concerns about his back.


Athletics Notes: Gomes, McCarthy, Drew, Inge

The Athletics have had minimal contract talks with their free agents this winter, with the exception of Jonny Gomes, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Sources say that Oakland presented Gomes' former agency, ACES, with an offer at the end of the season.  The two sides were unable to come to terms on a deal, however, and the A's went on to trade for Chris Young.  Here's more from Slusser..

  • Brandon McCarthy has drawn immediate interest from numerous teams including the Cubs, White Sox and Blue Jays.  McCarthy was impressive when healthy but missed significant time thanks to shoulder issues and the scary line drive incident in early September.
  • Oakland hopes to continue talks with shortstop Stephen Drew, who became a free agent after the club declined their side of a $10MM mutual option.  The shortstop posted a combined batting line of .223/.309/.348 in 327 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks and A's in 2012.
  • The Athletics won't totally rule out a return for Brandon Inge, but he hasn't been considered a strong candidate to return. 
  • The A's agreed to a new one-year deal with Bartolo Colon earlier this afternoon, and GM Billy Beane told MLB.com's Jane Lee that he considers the right-hander low-risk depth (Twitter link).
  • Slusser notes (on Twitter) that the Colon deal will not impact the club's attempts to re-sign McCarthy.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Brewers Notes: Starting Rotation, Hart, Weeks

The Milwaukee Brewers experienced a roller coaster season in 2012 marked by injuries, blown saves, and being 12 games under .500 on August 20 before embarking on a 24-6 run that boosted them back into the Wild Card race until being eliminated on the final weekend of the season. Club officials say everyone feels better about the state of the franchise heading into the offseason. But, how will that shape the winter for the Brewers? Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussed that topic and other issues in a recent online chat with fans. Here are the highlights:

  • GM Doug Melvin will be looking to add a veteran to the starting rotation and Haudricourt named Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, and Kyle Lohse as possibilities. A fan suggested Brandon McCarthy and Haudricourt acknowledged the Brewers will perform their due diligence, but any addition will only be made if the pitcher is affordable, the right fit, and wants to come to Milwaukee. 
  • Haudricourt anticipates the Brewers signing a free agent starting pitcher is a more likely scenario than trading for one because the club has some payroll flexibility and they've already traded away a lot of prospects for pitching in recent years.
  • Don't look for the Brewers to deal Corey Hart or Rickie Weeks to create more payroll flexibility. Haudricourt would be surprised if Hart, entering the final year of his contract with a 2013 salary of $10 MM, is traded despite the presence of Southern League MVP Hunter Morris. Weeks, due a guaranteed $21MM over the next two seasons, should also be safe, Haudricourt theorized, because the Brewers have enough money coming off the books to not have to worry about his salary. 
  • Haudricourt expects the payroll be less in 2013 than the $100 million-plus of this year, a spending level that should put the franchise in the red for 2012.
  • Expect Nyjer Morgan to be non-tendered. It was obvious, Haudricourt opined, that Morgan was being phased out and having made $2.3MM and eligible for arbitration again, he probably will be replaced by Logan Schafer, a less expensive option who is considered a better defender. Haudricourt did praise Morgan for conducting himself professionally and never popping off or openly complaining about his decrease in playing time.
  • Haudricourt listed some minor league prospects who took a big step this year and that fans should keep an eye on next season, including the aforementioned Morris. 

A’s Notes: Gomes, McCarthy, Balfour

Athletics GM Billy Beane and manager Bob Melvin met with reporters today to discuss Oakland’s remarkable 2012 season and look ahead toward the club’s offseason plans. Here are some highlights (all links go to Twitter):

  • Melvin suggested the A’s are ready to discuss a new contract with Jonny Gomes, saying his situation is “a work in progress,” Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. Gomes' one-year, $1MM contract expires following the World Series, but it sounds as though the Bay Area native could return for another year.
  • Beane said he likes this team and wants it back in 2013, Lee reports. The A’s are interested in retaining potential free agents like Gomes and Brandon McCarthy if possible.
  • Beane hinted that the A’s will exercise Grant Balfour’s contract option, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "Some things are no-brainers," Beane said. Balfour's contract includes a $4.5MM club option for 2013 with a $350K buyout.
  • Beane said he would be "absolutely baffled" if Melvin isn't named the AL Manager of the Year, Lee reports.