Brandon McCarthy Rumors

Athletics Rumors: Crisp, DeJesus, Harden

The Athletics currently project for the ninth pick in next year's draft, though that could change by the end of Wednesday.  The latest A's info, courtesy of Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • Coco Crisp's agent Steve Comte agreed with Matt Sosnick's comments about the Athletics' offseason spending hinging on MLB's decision on the team's new stadium.  Comte hasn't spoken to A's GM Billy Beane recently, but noted the long-term impact of the stadium issue was apparent back in Spring Training.  Nonetheless, Crisp and his agent will keep an open mind and "see what the market brings."  Crisp, 31, has a .267/.317/.384 line in 575 plate appearances, with 48 steals in 57 tries.  It's been Crisp's healthiest year since '07, but he's posted his worst walk rate since '06.  UZR suggests his defense was slightly below-average this year, but Crisp's ability to simply play a passable center field regularly makes him valuable.  Given the state of the free agent market at the position, I think a two-year deal is probable.  Slusser's sources expect the Giants to be interested.
  • Signing Brandon McCarthy for a $1MM base salary was one of the best moves of the offseason, and the 28-year-old righty considers his season a successful comeback.  For less than $2MM in total, he's provided a 3.32 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9, and 46.7% groundball rate in 170 2/3 innings.  His ERA ranks 13th in the American League and his five complete games tie him for second.  The cherry on top: McCarthy is arbitration eligible for 2012 and should be affordable again.
  • Slusser talked to A's outfielder David DeJesus, who said, "This year wasn't me.  I want to break things down and understand what went wrong."  DeJesus, 31, slipped to .237/.321/.374 in 502 plate appearances and may have been affected by losing his status as an everyday player.  Slusser expects the Padres to be in the mix for the bounceback candidate, who will become a free agent shortly.
  • Righty Rich Harden said he'd "definitely be open" to returning to the A's in 2012.  The 29-year-old made all his starts since his July 1st season debut, posting a 5.12 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.85 HR/9, and 31.5% groundball rate in 82 2/3 innings.
  • Hideki Matsui is not really proud of his numbers this year, the designated hitter told Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News through a translator.  Matsui, 37, hit .251/.321/.376 in 576 plate appearances.
  • In our latest Elias Rankings projections, Crisp, Harden, and Matsui projected for neither Type A nor B status, while DeJesus projected for Type B.

Starting Pitchers Among Best Low-Risk Pickups

Bartolo Colon didn’t pitch an inning in the Major Leagues last year. Neither did Erik Bedard, or Brandon McCarthy, or Ryan Vogelsong. Halfway through the 2011 season, each one of them has already made a difference at the highest level. The quartet of reclamation projects has combined for 309 2/3 innings of 2.88 ERA baseball this year with three times as many strikeouts (257) as walks (77).

Vogelsong

A year after splitting his time between two Triple-A teams, Vogelsong (pictured) is a key contributor on one of baseball’s most effective pitching staffs. His 2.09 ERA leads a San Francisco rotation that includes the likes of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

Yet there’s no denying that the same issue that kept the others off of MLB mounds in 2010 – health – persists. Colon could return from the disabled list this weekend; the Mariners placed Bedard on the DL today; McCarthy has been on Oakland’s disabled list for more than a month.  

But before their respective teams placed them on the disabled list, their contributions surpassed all expectations. It’s been six weeks since McCarthy toed the rubber, yet A’s fans probably haven’t forgotten the 3.39 ERA and 37K/10BB ratio he posted through 63 2/3 innings.

The Yankees will be hoping for more of the same from Colon when he returns from the DL. The former Cy Young Award winner has tremendous numbers in 2011: a 3.10 ERA with a 72K/18BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.

Two years after Colon won his Cy Young, Bedard posted a 3.16 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 en route to a top-five finish for the award. If the lefty’s 2011 numbers look familiar, it’s probably because Bedard was pitching as well as ever before hitting the DL. He has a 3.00 ERA with an 85K/26BB ratio 90 innings into the season.

Don’t forget that the Mariners signed Bedard for just $1MM. McCarthy signed with Oakland for the same amount and the Yankees’ deal with Colon is worth just $900K in base salary. Like Colon, Vogelsong signed a minor league contract in January.

The pursuit of high-risk, high-reward arms does not guarantee success by any means. Brandon Webb ($3MM) and Rich Harden ($1.5MM) signed for more than any of the pitchers above and neither has thrown a pitch in the majors this year.  

Naturally, that won’t stop teams looking to gamble on seemingly injury-prone pitchers this offseason. Someone – Ben Sheets, Jeremy Bonderman or 48-year-old Jamie Moyer perhaps? – will return from the discard pile after a year-long absence and make an impact, whether it's for a handful of starts or an entire season season. It’s just a question of who will resurface and which team will sign him.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


Should They Have Been Non-Tendered?

On November 2nd of last year I listed 85 non-tender candidates, most of whom were indeed cut loose.  Almost five months have passed since the December non-tender deadline, and I'd like to revisit five of those decisions.

  • Kevin Kouzmanoff, tendered a contract by the Athletics.  The A's certainly shopped around for third base alternatives after tendering a contract to Kouzmanoff, which ended up being for $4.75MM.  So far the third baseman has again been part of the problem, though he's not alone as the team ranks 11th in the AL with 3.63 runs scored per game.  There weren't many alternatives for the A's this offseason, but they probably should have saved Kouzmanoff's money for a trade deadline addition.  They'll still be able to pursue someone, though.
  • James Loney, tendered a contract by the Dodgers.  Loney is already on notice with the Dodgers given the arrival of Jerry Sands.  Loney settled for a predictable $4.875MM salary for 2011.  Sands doesn't actually project to do any better than Loney, but the two are close enough that the Dodgers probably should have traded Loney and used the money elsewhere.
  • Russell Martin, non-tendered by the Dodgers.  According to Yahoo's Steve Henson, Martin wanted a guaranteed $5.5MM rather than the Dodgers' offer of $4.2MM.  GM Ned Colletti made the difficult decision to non-tender Martin, but kept the offer on the table while suggesting a possible super-utility role.  Martin ended up taking less guaranteed money to start at catcher for the Yankees, and he's off to a great start.  The Dodgers could have forced Martin's hand by tendering a contract and arguing for a pay cut through arbitration.  That would have been a risky choice, and Martin's health was a concern at the time, so I can't fault the Dodgers for non-tendering him.
  • Bobby Jenks, non-tendered by the White Sox.  Non-tendering Jenks was the right move given his $7.5MM salary, and the pitcher understood that decision according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin.  However, Jenks and the Sox were not on the same page about the team's desire to retain him and confidence in his abilities, so he signed with Boston.  The White Sox lead baseball with six blown saves, but it was still best for them to part ways with Jenks.
  • Brandon McCarthy, outrighted by the Rangers in November.  If they had retained McCarthy, the Rangers probably would have had to pay him something similar to last year's $1.3MM salary rather than the $1MM he received from the A's.  McCarthy has looked good so far, though it's only been three starts.  The Rangers are second in the AL in starter ERA without McCarthy.  Still, given the strong offseason interest in him I think it would have been best to tender a contract and shop him around.


Odds & Ends: Pavano, Red Sox, McCarthy, Lawrie

More links for Monday night, as we wonder when and where Cliff Lee will sign…


A’s Agree To Sign Brandon McCarthy

The A's agreed to sign Brandon McCarthy to a one-year deal, the team announced. The contract guarantees McCarthy $1MM, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) and the deal includes $1.6MM in incentives, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). LSW baseball represents the right-hander.

McCarthy, 27, could be valuable in 2011 if he's healthy. He tossed 97 1/3 of 4.62 ERA ball for the 2009 Rangers, but the shoulder injuries have continued to slow the former top prospect's progress. McCarthy made three trips to the disabled list at Triple-A Oklahoma City this year, as he battled shoulder problems. When healthy, he was effective, posting a 3.36 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 56 1/3 innings (nine starts). He then made four starts in the Dominican Winter League, so his arm appears to be responding well.

McCarthy became a free agent after the Rangers outrighted him off of their 40-man roster last month. The Astros, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, and Tigers also had interest after he became a free agent. Since McCarthy will have less than six years of service time after 2011, Oakland will be able to retain him for 2012.


Athletics Close To Deal With Brandon McCarthy

The Athletics are close to a deal with righty Brandon McCarthy, reports ESPN's Buster OlneyOn Tuesday, Olney reported that McCarthy was considering a serious offer from Oakland.  Olney also notes that the A's are close with Hideki Matsui, which we've read previously.

McCarthy, 27, posted a 3.36 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and 1.3 HR/9 in 56 1/3 Triple-A innings this year.  He tossed 119 innings between the Majors and minors in 2009.  He has a history of shoulder injuries, but the A's, Astros, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, and Tigers showed interest after he became a free agent.  McCarthy was reportedly scouted heavily in the Dominican Winter League.

 


McCarthy Considering Serious Offer From Athletics

Free agent righty Brandon McCarthy is considering a serious proposal from the Athletics, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.  The Astros, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, and Tigers have also been linked to McCarthy, who was scouted heavily in the Dominican Winter League.


At Least Seven Teams Interested In Brandon McCarthy

The Athletics, Astros, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, and Tigers are among the teams interested in free agent righty Brandon McCarthy, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  The Rangers acquired McCarthy four years ago mainly for John Danks and Nick Masset in what I described at the time as an offer Kenny Williams couldn't refuse.  McCarthy's Rangers career was ruined by injuries, and he was outrighted and elected free agency earlier this month.

Morosi notes that McCarthy has thrown well in the Dominican Winter League, and teams have been scouting him heavily.  McCarthy has a history of shoulder injuries, but Morosi says he's subject to a "buy-low frenzy."  Since the 6'7" righty has less than five years of big league service time, he could be controlled by his new team through 2012 as an arbitration eligible player.

McCarthy, 27, posted a 3.36 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and 1.3 HR/9 in 56 1/3 Triple-A innings this year.  He tossed 119 innings between the Majors and minors in 2009.


Five More Potential Free Agents

SATURDAY, 10:47am: CBSSports.com reports that German, Mathis, and McCarthy all refused the minor league assignments and elected to become free agents. 

FRIDAY, 3:54pm: Two White Sox will soon hit free agency and a trio of Rangers could join them before long. Left-hander Randy Williams and catcher Donny Lucy were outrighted and will soon become free agents, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin (on Twitter).

Meanwhile, the Rangers outrighted Esteban German, Doug Mathis and Brandon McCarthy off of the 40-man roster and all three can become free agents, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. McCarthy was a non-tender candidate, though he's just 27, made 17 useful starts for the Rangers last year and posted a 3.36 ERA at Triple-A in 2010.


Rangers Notes: Francisco, Wilson, Feldman, Mendoza

Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News discussed a number of Rangers topics in a webchat this afternoon…

  • Grant predicts Texas will let Frank Francisco and C.J. Wilson leave when they reach free agency after the 2010 and 2011 seasons, respectively. 
  • If Scott Feldman (who has two more arbitration years left) pitches well this season, Grant thinks the Rangers will try to negotiate a long-term deal with the starter.
  • The out-of-options Luis Mendoza wouldn't be attractive trade bait to other teams, Grant says, though "a bad team might claim him on waivers. If so, the Rangers will be happy to pay his taxi fare to another camp.  He's done nothing but go backwards."
  • In regards to Brandon McCarthy, Grant thinks the right-hander will probably end up in the minors "unless somebody wants to make a deal based on projecting continued improvement with [his] sinker."  Grant noted that a Nationals scout attended McCarthy's spring start on Wednesday.
  • Grant doesn't think the Rangers will have any interest in the newly-released Chad Gaudin since they have plenty of starting options already.