Brandon McCarthy Rumors

D’Backs Preparing To Sell; McCarthy Drawing Interest

Though his ERA and win-loss record aren’t much to look at (5.38 and 1-10), Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy is drawing trade interest, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). A free agent at season’s end, McCarthy has about $4.72MM remaining on this year’s $9MM salary — the second year of a two-year, $15.5MM pact he inked in the 2012-13 offseason. Rosenthal notes that Arizona is likely to make multiple trades before this year’s deadline.

While McCarthy’s season looks rough on the surface, there are a lot of factors suggesting that he could quickly turn things around. McCarthy’s .339 batting average on balls in play is 44 points higher than the league average, and he’s sporting the best ground-ball and K/9 rates of his career (55.9 percent and 7.4, respectively). His fastball velocity has soared from an average of 90.8 mph over the past two seasons to 93 mph, and he’s sporting his best swinging-strike rate since 2006 as a result. McCarthy has mostly been plagued by home runs this season, but his fluky 21.7 percent homer-to-flyball ratio figures to come down.

There’s not much question that McCarthy will be available in trades. As Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports, the Snakes are said to be preparing to put a “for sale” sign on their roster and are weighing trades of multiple veteran players. GM Kevin Towers — who, despite the hiring of Tony La Russa, calls this July business as usual — told Piecoro: “[W]e have to look at being more open-minded of moving some contracts and some veteran players for younger players.”

A fire sale may not be as easy for the D’Backs as it would for most teams, however, Piecoro cautions. McCarthy and fellow veterans Cody Ross and Aaron Hill are underperforming this season, which will hurt Arizona’s potential return in trades. Other movable veterans such as Eric Chavez, Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo are all currently on the disabled list.

One scout told Piecoro that the left-handers in Arizona’s bullpen — Joe Thatcher and Oliver Perez — figure to be of interest to other clubs. Both have enjoyed strong seasons to this point. Thatcher is a free agent at season’s end, while Perez, who signed a two-year deal this winter, is controlled through 2015. That same scout said he is intrigued by Gerardo Parra, but noted that the outfielder’s declining speed is a concern.

Towers noted to Piecoro that he would be reluctant to move young, controllable players such as Didi Gregorius and Triple-A shortstop Nick Ahmed (presumably, Chris Owings falls into that category as well).


Diamondbacks To Sign Brandon McCarthy

TUESDAY, 6:06pm: The Diamondbacks confirmed the agreement via press release.

FRIDAY, 4:25pm: The Diamondbacks have agreed to sign right-hander Brandon McCarthy, John Gambadoro of 620 KTAR in Phoenix reports (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com confirmed that the LSW Baseball client has agreed to terms on a two-year deal pending a physical (all Twitter links). The deal is worth $15.5MM, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports (on Twitter), and ESPN's Jerry Crasnick adds that the contract breaks down as a $2.5MM signing bonus, $4MM in 2013 and $9MM in 2014.

Brandon McCarthy - Athletics (PW)McCarthy missed time with a shoulder injury this past season, but the scariest moment of his season occured when he was hit in the head with a line drive in a game against the Angels on September 5th. The 29-year-old didn't pitch again and had to undergo surgery to treat a skull fracture. 

When healthy, McCarthy pitched well, posting a 3.24 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 111 innings. He ranked 32nd on MLBTR's list of top 50 free agents.

Arizona now has enviable pitching depth. McCarthy joins a rotation that includes Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley. Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin represent high-upside options for the number five spot in manager Kirk Gibson’s starting rotation. The Diamondbacks are said to be considering trades involving their young arms as their search for a shortstop continues.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


Afternoon Rumors: Hairston, Royals, Yanks, M’s

Jeff Keppinger, Eric Chavez, Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, and Wil Nieves have all reached contract agreements this afternon in Nashville. Which moves might be coming next? Let's round up a few of the latest rumors from the Winter Meetings….

  • The Mets are reluctant to commit to a two-year deal for Scott Hairston, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal adds that the Mets could net a catcher in a trade involving R.A. Dickey or other players. Given the context, I assume he means an outfielder, though the Mets are seeking a backstop as well.
  • Like the Brewers, the Royals may not be able to afford an arm like Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse unless the team clears some salary, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Kansas City has remained in touch with both pitchers though.
  • The Yankees have been exchanging trade proposals with other teams for a variety of players, including Curtis Granderson, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney, who cautions that that's "standard procedure."
  • Seattle's payroll is expected to rise above $90MM, so the Mariners could afford to add one big-money player, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Josh Hamilton would be a tight fit though, Heyman adds.
  • Although the Angels are interested in Brandon McCarthy, they've yet to speak to his people in Nashville, says ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter).


Free Agent Rumors: Rolen, Bourn, McCarthy, Drew

A number of free agents have found deals in Nashville this week, but there are still a ton available, including 29 of our top 50. Here's the latest on a few of the remaining options:

  • Scott Rolen remains undecided on whether he'll retire or continue his playing career, his agent tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. If Rolen decides he wants to play, Fay believes the Reds could be interested in bringing him back in some role.
  • Former Rockie Ryan Spilborghs is drawing serious interest in Japan, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link).

Earlier updates:

  • The Mariners like Michael Bourn "very much," though the Phillies and Rangers remain in on the speedy outfielder, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • A couple reasons the Angels' interest in Brandon McCarthy has picked up in Nashville are his age (29) and the fact that he likely won't command more than a two-year deal, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Stephen Drew figures to land at least a two-year deal, which would probably take the Tigers out of the running, says MLB.com's Jason Beck. The Red Sox continue to be in on Drew, however, according to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
  • In their hunt for left-handed relief help, the Cardinals have inquired on Manny Parra and explored what it would take to sign Sean Burnett, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cards are expected to find their man fairly soon, says Goold.
  • Dan Johnson, who was non-tendered by the White Sox last week, is interested in returning to the Rays, but may end up in Japan, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Twins Made Offers To Saunders, Liriano

10:42am: In addition to the pitchers listed below, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) identifies Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Jair Jurrjens, and Carl Pavano as potential targets for the Twins. Pavano is said to be drawing interest from five teams, including the Red Sox, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

9:52am: As they look to shore up their starting rotation, the Twins have offers out to Joe Saunders and Francisco Liriano, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Twins are waiting to hear back from the two left-handers and may have offers out to other pitchers, says Neal.

Joe Blanton, Kevin Correia, Brett Myers, Vicente Padilla, Mike Pelfrey, and John Lannan were said to be among the Twins' pitching targets earlier this week.

According to Neal, there are seven other teams that also have interest in Liriano.


Angels Rumors: Haren, Greinke, Pitching

4:45pm: The Angels' once-tepid interest in Brandon McCarthy has picked up in Nashville, tweets DiGiovanna.    

1:52pm: Dan Haren's agreement with the Nationals takes another starting pitching option off the board for the Angels, who made an effort to bring back the right-hander after not tendering him a qualifying offer. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter), the Angels made a one-year offer to Haren with a very achievable option year.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that there was at least one other team in on Haren at around $13MM, suggesting that the price tag for free agent starters will be high this offseason. That isn't great news for the Angels, since the team appears to have a finite amount of money to spend on pitching, according to DiGiovanna (Twitter link). If the Angels go big on a starter, they'll have to scrimp on relievers, and vice versa, says DiGiovanna.

Although the Angels have checked in on virtually every free agent starting pitcher, including Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster, and Joe Saunders, Zack Greinke remains their first choice, tweets DiGiovanna.


A’s Discussing Escobar With Marlins

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A's are indeed engaged in ongoing discussions with the Marlins regarding Yunel Escobar, as was previously speculated. Slusser's piece contains plenty of A's material, so here's the latest on the reigning AL West Champs…

  • Not surprisingly the Escobar discusssions aren't believed to be centered around anyone on the Athletics' Major League roster.
  • Slusser reports that the A's have heavy competition for Brandon McCarthy, as the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Royals, Red SoxWhite Sox and Twins have already met with the right-hander, and the Angels and Rangers are expected to join the fray.
  • McCarthy would consider a one-year deal to prove that he has successfully recovered from his frightening head injury and brain surgery late in the 2012 season.
  • Hiroyuki Nakajima is more concerned with playing time than salary, according to Slusser, which could increase Oakland's appeal to the Japanese shortstop.

D’Backs Notes: Starting Pitching, Backup Catcher

Whatever is going on with Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton today at the Winter Meetings, it's being kept fairly under-wraps.  You can check out our Upton post here, but let's get to other D'Backs chatter from the day.

  • The Diamondbacks remain interested in free agent starter Brandon McCarthy, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  GM Kevin Towers said the team seeks "at least a solid number two" starter.  He elaborated, "To me, it seems like some of the second-tier guys are kind of starting to be viewed as first-tier-type guys and being paid like first-tier guys, and I don't think we're willing to go there.  That's why we're not talking to a lot of free agents in the way of pitching." (MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reporting).
  • Towers seeks a right-handed-hitting backup catcher known more for defense, though the line of communication is open with Henry Blanco, writes Piecoro.
  • Upton wasn't the player most inquired about during Towers' eight or nine meetings with other teams today, writes Gilbert.  

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.