Brandon McCarthy Rumors

AL West Notes: McCarthy, Maddon, Profar, Mariners

The Rangers are the only AL West club in action tonight, as a win over the Royals can stretch Texas' lead in the division to six games over the A's.  Here's the latest from the AL West…

  • Athletics right-hander Brandon McCarthy underwent surgery last night to stabilize a skull fracture and remove an epidural hemorrhage, according to a team press release.  A CT scan taken today revealed that McCarthy's condition improved, and A's GM Billy Beane is quoted as saying McCarthy is "stable, awake and alert."  McCarthy was struck in the head yesterday by a line drive off the bat of Erick Aybar.
  • Scott Miller of CBS Sports relates how, in 1996, then-Angels GM Bill Bavasi tried to hire Sparky Anderson as the Halos' manager, with the idea that Joe Maddon (then a coach with the team) would take over from Anderson after two years.  The idea didn't come to fruition but Maddon remained on the staff and served as Mike Scioscia's bench coach when the Angels won the 2002 World Series, before eventually moving on to manage the Rays.
  • Jurickson Profar tops MLB.com's latest ranking of the 100 best prospects in baseball.  The Rangers shortstop made his Major League debut on Sunday and homered in his first plate appearance.  From that same list, the Mariners have the highest overall ranking for their multiple prospects, led by starters Taijuan Walker (fifth) and Danny Hultzen (ninth).

Olney On Dempster, Athletics, Lee, Castro

At least one baseball person wonders if Ryan Dempster hurt his free agent stock by agreeing to join the Rangers, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. The American League, referred to by one general manager as "the big boy league," features some high-powered offenses that could have impact Dempster’s numbers and diminish his leverage in offseason contract talks. Here are more notes from Olney…

  • The Dodgers were interested in Dempster, but they never pushed for him, Olney reports. The Dodgers didn’t want to trade from their core of good prospects and they didn’t waver when the Cubs asked about their top minor leaguers.
  • Olney suggests teams like the Red Sox and Orioles could have interest in Brandon McCarthy if the Athletics place him on waivers when he returns from the disabled list.
  • Before the trade deadline, the Phillies made it clear that they would not pick up any of Cliff Lee’s salary in a trade and would also want prospects in return for the left-hander. Olney suggests it’s highly unlikely Lee will be moved in a waiver deal this month.
  • Starlin Castro’s name came up in conversations between the Cubs and Diamondbacks leading up to the trade deadline, Olney writes. However, both sides moved on quickly and a deal was never close.
  • Olney wonders if the Nationals could pursue in Derek Lowe given their interest in adding pitching leading up to the trade deadline.

Stark On Rays, Volquez, Butler, Phillies

The chances of Cole Hamels getting traded are diminishing, but they haven't disappeared, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. The Phillies are trying to sign the left-hander to a long-term deal, but will weigh trade offers if they can’t agree on an extension. Here are Stark’s latest rumors…

  • The Rays would be looking for a combination of high-end young pitchers, a young catcher and a controllable hitter if they discuss trades involving James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. Wade Davis is drawing as much interest as Shields, now that he’s pitching well out of the Tampa Bay bullpen, Stark reports.
  • The Astros have told rival teams that they’d absorb a substantial percentage of Wandy Rodriguez’s salary in a trade if it allows them to get “the best value back.” 
  • The Padres aren’t shopping Edinson Volquez, but they haven’t made him untouchable.
  • Teams don’t expect the Marlins will trade Josh Johnson, who’s under contract for 2013.
  • Brandon McCarthy’s history of shoulder problems diminishes his trade value. “He's not going anywhere," one executive predicted to Stark.
  • The Nationals haven’t been focused on finding a center fielder.
  • Hunter Pence is attracting as much interest as anyone on the Phillies, including Hamels. However, the Phillies have downplayed their interest in trading the right fielder. Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco and Kyle Kendrick would be available if the Phillies decide to sell this month, Stark reports. Rollins can veto any trade and would only accept deals to West Coast contenders.
  • The Pirates have asked about tons of hitters, including Billy Butler, but they’re still in a “buy-low frame of mind.” The Royals have told clubs they’d have to be overwhelmed to part with Butler, Stark reports.
  • The Rockies are trying to move Marco Scutaro and Jason Giambi, but they’d have to be “bowled over” to deal relievers such as Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle and Matt Reynolds.


Knobler On Tigers, Hamels, Upton, Royals

Rival executives are divided on what the Tigers need to acquire for the second half of the season, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. Some say the Tigers need a pitcher, others say they should acquire a second baseman and others believe they don’t need to make a major addition. Here are more of Knobler’s notes, starting with the Tigers:

  • Detroit has shown some interest in Matt Garza, but Tigers people suggest a deal is fairly unlikely, according to Knobler. The Tigers don’t seem enthused about the possibility of trading for Marco Scutaro, though they’ve shown some interest in him.
  • The Phillies have identified about four teams that would be a fit for Cole Hamels and they’re saying they'd want players who are close to contributing in the Major Leagues. However, the Phillies aren’t ready to deal the left-hander yet.
  • Scouts believe the Diamondbacks are serious about listening to offers for Justin Upton.
  • The Royals had been considering the possibility of becoming midseason buyers this year. They don’t intend to give Jonathan Broxton or other players away because they “badly want” to win games in the second half, Knobler writes.
  • The 43-43 Athletics see themselves as sellers, rather than contenders, Knobler reports. A’s people are hoping Brandon McCarthy pitches well and increases his trade value when he returns from the disabled list.
  • Scouts are unimpressed by Cubs pitching prospect Gerardo Concepcion, Knobler notes.

Quick Hits: Howard, Prospects, McCarthy, Rodriguez

The Phillies are likely to activate Ryan Howard in time for tomorrow’s game according to multiple reports. Howard has yet to play this season after injuring his Achilles on the final play of last year’s NLDS. As Philadelphia awaits the return of its slugging first baseman, here are some links from around the league…

  • Right-hander Dylan Bundy of the Orioles tops Baseball America’s updated list of the game’s 50 best prospects. Shortstop Jurickson Profar of the Rangers and outfielder Wil Myers of the Royals round out the top three.
  • “It’s something I’m not at all opposed to,” said Brandon McCarthy to Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle when asked about the possibility of signing a long-term deal with the Athletics. “But it’s got to be something that makes sense for both sides.”
  • The Dodgers have signed second round pick Paco Rodriguez for a straight slot $611K bonus, reports Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). He says the left-hander out of Florida eats hitters up with his cut-fastball.

Olney On Red Sox, Mariners, Smith, Rangers

Most of the top available starting pitchers currently play in the National League, but there’s still lots of trade talk in the AL this summer. Buster Olney provides updates on the junior circuit trade market in today’s column at ESPN.com. Here are some highlights:

  • The Mariners won’t trade Felix Hernandez, but Kevin Millwood, Chone Figgins, Jason Vargas and Brandon League could be dealt.
  • The Red Sox have focused on adding starting pitching. Some executives believe the Rangers will make a big play for the best starting pitchers available.
  • Meanwhile, the White Sox have been asking around about relievers.
  • Teams have called about Seth Smith, but the Athletics will keep him. However, Kurt Suzuki could be available and the A’s will listen to offers for Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour.
  • The Indians figure to pursue right-handed bats and Carlos Quentin could be an option in Cleveland, Olney writes.
  • The Blue Jays plan to assess their chances at the All-Star break, and some rival officials expect Toronto to sell.
  • The Orioles need pitching, but Olney doesn’t expect the team to make a major addition. Similarly, the Twins figure to seek pitching in any midseason trades they consider.
  • Here’s MLBTR’s recap of Olney’s look at the NL trade market.

Athletics Notes: McCarthy, Balfour, Smith, Fuentes

The A's could be gearing up for a sale closer to the deadline, but for now Oakland sits at 37-40 as they enter tonight's game in Texas and may look to see how things play out.  In the interim, the club would like to move left-hander Brian Fuentes.  Here's the latest out of Oakland..

  • In addition to Fuentes, the A's will also be willing to move Brandon McCarthy once he is healthy, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The right-hander has a 2.54 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 through 12 starts this season.  However, Rosenthal notes that his injury concerns could require extra rest from which ever team may acquire him.  Sources add that the A's are under no financial pressure to make moves.
  • The A’s also are open to moving right-hander Grant Balfour, but will seek more in return than they would for McCarthy, Rosenthal writes.  Balfour is under control for 2013 with a $4.5MM club option.
  • A source also tells Rosenthal that outfielder/DH Seth Smith is unlikely to be traded.  Smith makes just $2.415MM this season and is and under club control through 2014.
  • Fuentes politely declined to comment when asked about trade rumors or whether he has requested a trade, tweets Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group.

Quick Hits: Hamels, Athletics, McCarthy, Rockies

Stephen Strasburg looked almost human tonight, allowing two runs in six innings against the Astros to raise his ERA all the way up to 0.95 for the season.  Strasburg still picked up the win in a 6-3 Nationals victory and, as a bonus, got a hilarious new nickname for his curveball, courtesy of MLB Network's Jerry Manuel.

Here are a few odds and ends from around the Majors…

  • Matt Cain figures Cole Hamels' next contract (whether with the Phillies or on the free agent market) will earn the southpaw more than Cain's recent extension with the Giants, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.  "History-wise, lefties have always brought more than a righty," Cain said. "It's just the nature of the game."  Cain said he was happy to sign his extension and remain in San Francisco for the long-term as free agency is "not always a beautiful thing."
  • The Athletics' stadium issue and possible move to San Jose will not be on the agenda at the next owners meetings, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Earlier today, Slusser reported that the A's were pushing to have the issue subjected to a vote of other owners so they could have the issue settled once and for all.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter) thinks the A's could explore a multiyear contract with Brandon McCarthy.  The right-hander has pitched very well in his time in Oakland, posting a 3.24 ERA and a 4.59 K/BB ratio in 28 starts.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes considered McCarthy as an extension candidate in February.
  • The Rockies' starting pitching woes could be solved by three southpaw prospects — Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich and Tyler Matzek, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
  • Also from Renck, he notes that Troy Tulowitzki's six-year extension from the Rockies in 2010 drew criticism at the time, but now could be seen as a bargain in the wake of the mega-deals given to Albert Pujols and Joey Votto.
  • The Reds are one of several preseason contenders off to a slow start, but Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News says it's far too early for fans to panic.

Extension Candidate: Brandon McCarthy

The Athletics' one-year, $1MM base salary deal with righty Brandon McCarthy turned out to be one of the best contracts of the 2010-11 offseason, as the 28-year-old went on to rank 13th in the American League with a 3.32 ERA.  McCarthy showed an ability to go deep into games, ranking 10th in the league with 6.83 innings per start.  Despite having fewer than 550 career big league innings on his resume, McCarthy will reach six years of service this season.  It's been a long road to traditional free agency.  

McCarthyPrior to the 2005 season, Baseball America ranked McCarthy the 49th-best prospect in the game, though on the White Sox he was outranked by Brian Anderson and Ryan Sweeney.  In February of that year, manager Ozzie Guillen compared McCarthy to Jack McDowell, adding, "He's going to be something special."  By May, McCarthy made his big league debut, replacing an injured Orlando Hernandez to face Mark Prior.  McCarthy continued to fill in for El Duque periodically as a rookie, but the Sox went with Hernandez on the playoff roster and he came up big as a reliever in the team's World Championship run.

McCarthy spent most of '06 in Chicago's bullpen, and GM Kenny Williams noted he was "very much a part of our future" when July trade rumors swirled.  It seemed McCarthy finally had his full-time rotation spot when Williams traded Freddy Garcia to the Phillies in December of that year, but then the GM shipped McCarthy to the Rangers for John Danks and others in a bold trade a few weeks later.

A blister problem affected McCarthy for much of '07, but a bigger concern was revealed in August when he hit the DL for a stress fracture in his right shoulder.  The injury seemed minor at first, but then elbow soreness surfaced the following spring.  He pitched only 53 2/3 innings in '08 and was sidelined again in each of the '09 and '10 seasons due to the stress fracture in his shoulder.  By November of 2010, Rangers GM Jon Daniels decided to remove McCarthy from the 40-man roster, making him a free agent.

Toward the end of '09, McCarthy began to consider major changes to his repertoire and mechanics, he told Ryan Campbell of FanGraphs.  By the time he was pitching in Winter Ball in what amounted to a free agent audition in 2010, McCarthy had fine-tuned his new approach.  He scored a Major League contract with the A's and won their fifth starter job out of spring training.  That same shoulder stress reaction came back in May, leading to a six-week DL stint.  McCarthy stayed healthy and effective thereafter, earning a total of $1.95MM with incentives.  He received a $4.275MM contract for 2012, an arbitration raise of more than $2.3MM on his '11 earnings.

McCarthy has been a free agent before, but if he impresses again in 2012, this time will be different.  To date, it does not appear the A's have had extension talks with McCarthy.  Their hesitation is understandable, with McCarthy having totaled 229 pro innings from 2008-10.  He hasn't had an injury-free campaign since '06, and the same shoulder problem continues to affect him.

Still, there's a ton to like about McCarthy, who in 25 starts provided over $20MM worth of value last year according to FanGraphs.  Even with the DL stint last year, he tossed 170 2/3 innings over 25 starts.  He's 28 and comes with the pedigree of a top prospect.  He's got excellent command and posted a career-best 46.7% groundball rate last year, suppressing career-long home run concerns.  And for those thinking his success is owed to the Oakland Coliseum, consider McCarthy's 3.40 xFIP away from home last year.

In terms of starting pitchers extended entering walk years, Ryan Vogelsong, R.A. Dickey, Wandy Rodriguez, and Joe Blanton could be comparables, as our extension tracker shows.  Vogelsong and Dickey were feel-good stories who had unexpected success in one season, and both signed two-year deals in the $8MM range with club options attached.  Both, however, were coming off seasons in which they earned under a million bucks.  McCarthy earned almost $2MM last year, and makes $4.275MM this year.  Short of a completely lost 2012 season, he could at least replicate that salary on the free agent market.  He may not feel the urgency to cash in that Vogelsong and Dickey did.  

Blanton and Rodriguez had provided innings and made decent money going year-to-year through arbitration.  Blanton, the lesser of the two, had his free agent years valued at $8.5MM apiece.  I don't think McCarthy can get to that level right now, but he's probably worth more than Vogelsong, who gave up a free agent year for $5MM.  $12-13MM over two years would be a reasonable risk for the A's on McCarthy, if they're OK with the condition of his shoulder.  Otherwise, McCarthy will be pitching with free agency on the horizon and the possibility of becoming one of several solid options for teams unable to afford what's left of Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, and Anibal Sanchez.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Tuesday

Dozens of arbitration eligible players have agreed to deals with their respective teams today and we've been tracking all of the developments right here.  Several teams, including the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, and perhaps Astros, are known for committing to going to hearings if they get to the point of filing.  Keep track of all the madness with MLBTR's arbitration tracker, which shows settlement amounts, filing figures, and midpoints.  Today's players to avoid arbitration on deals worth less than $4MM:

(more…)