Brandon Morrow Rumors

Blue Jays Extend Brandon Morrow

11:20am: Morrow will earn $4MM in 2012 and $8MM in 2013 and 2014, Mike Wilner of Sportsnet Radio FAN 590 in Toronto tweets. There's a $10MM option with a $1MM buyout in 2015 for a total guarantee of $21MM.

7:30am: The Blue Jays have signed right-hander Brandon Morrow to a three-year, $20MM extension, the team announced. The deal includes a 2015 option for $10MM. The Blue Jays and the Wasserman Media Group client were known to be nearing an agreement last night.

Brandon Morrow - Blue Jays

Morrow, who is arbitration eligible for the second time, had filed for a 2012 salary of $4.2MM, while the Blue Jays had countered at $3.9MM. The contract buys out both of his remaining seasons of arbitration eligibility and at least one free agent season.

The Blue Jays moved Morrow (pictured) to the rotation full time in 2010, soon after acquiring him from the Mariners for for Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez. In two seasons as a starter, the 27-year-old owns a 4.62 ERA with 10.5 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 over the course of 325 2/3 innings.

Despite Morrow's ability to overwhelm opposing hitters — he led the American League in K/9 last year — he has posted below-average ERAs since joining the rotation. SIERA (3.31) and xFIP (3.53) suggest his ERA of 4.72 could have been considerably lower in 2011. There's reason for the Blue Jays to expect some improvement in terms of ERA, even if Morrow continues under-performing his peripheral stats. Though he's a fly ball pitcher (36.0% ground ball rate in 2011), he hasn't been particularly homer-prone (21 home runs in 2011).

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk examined Morrow as an extension candidate last August and his prediction (a three-year, $19MM deal with an $11MM option) came extremely close to the actual numbers. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet first reported that the sides were nearing a three-year, $20MM extension.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


Blue Jays Close To Extension With Brandon Morrow

The Blue Jays are close to a three-year, $20MM contract extension with Brandon Morrow, reports Shi Davidi of Rogers Sportsnet (Twitter link).  The deal also contains a $10MM option for 2015 (with a $1MM buyout) and the contract could be announced as soon as tomorrow.

The extension would cover Morrow's remaining two arbitration years and at least his first year of free agency.  Morrow has a 4.62 ERA, a 10.5 K/9 rate and a 2.82 K/BB ratio in two seasons and 56 starts with Toronto, pitching a career-high 179 1/3 innings in 2011.  I examined Morrow as an extension candidate last August and my prediction (a three-year, $19MM deal with an $11MM option) came quite close to the actual numbers.


Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players avoided arbitration today, but dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won't go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays and Braves have stuck to 'file and trial' policies in the past. 

MLBTR's arbitration tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $4MM or more. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com had most of the info with MLBTR and others also contributing:



Extension Candidate: Brandon Morrow

Brandon Morrow hasn't quite taken the big step towards ace-hood that the Blue Jays were hoping he would take this season, but the right-hander has still has a very solid 2011 campaign.  Morrow has a league-leading 10.5 K/9 ratio, a 3.16 K/BB rate and a somewhat misleading 4.51 ERA (his xFIP is just 3.24) in 20 starts for the Jays.

With Jose Bautista, Ricky Romero, Adam Lind and Yunel Escobar all locked up in multiyear deals, it stands to reason that Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos may turn to Morrow as the next key part of the Jays' future to receive a contract extension.  Morrow, who turned 27 last month, earned $2.3MM this year and has two more arbitration years before being eligible for free agency after the 2013 season.

Morrow's unusual career path could be a factor in helping the Jays get a relative bargain in an extension.  He was primarily used as a reliever in Seattle for the first three years of his career, which depresses his career numbers in the eyes of an arbiter.  Also hurting Morrow is the fact that as of today, his career record (26-25) is barely over the .500 mark and his career high in innings pitched is the 146 1/3 frames he posted last year. 

Combine this with his injury history (a few minor arm-related stints on the DL) and the Blue Jays hold all the cards in extension negotiations.  In fact, all of these factors might even convince the Jays to wait another year to see what they really have in the right-hander.  The club could be content to sign Morrow to a one-year deal for 2012 worth between $4-4.5MM and then look into an extension if he blossoms in 2013.

If an extension did happen this winter, however, a fair number would be a three-year deal worth $19MM, broken down as $4MM in 2012, $6MM in 2013 and $9MM to cover Morrow's first free agent year in 2014.  Knowing Anthopoulos' history, such an extension would certainly include at least one option year, perhaps an $11MM team option for 2015.  Provided that option year was picked up, Morrow would be a free agent at age 31 — still young enough to score a big contract on the open market.

It was one year ago today that Morrow delivered his 17-strikeout, near no-hitter against the Rays.  Given the hype and promise that surrounded Morrow after that masterpiece, a three-year/$19MM extension seems a bit low for a pitcher with his potential.  Morrow himself might prefer to take the risk and only look for a long-term deal once he's established himself as a reliable, upper-tier pitcher.  Then again, given Anthopoulos' already-impressive history of making team-friendly deals, it wouldn't be a surprise if Toronto struck while it had the advantage and ended up with a future ace at a discount price.


Starting Pitchers Linked Entering 2011

Jeremy Guthrie, Matt Garza, Chad Billingsley and John Danks all went to arbitration for the first time before last season and all settled for contracts in the $3-4MM range. The four pitchers went to arbitration again this offseason and settled for contracts within the $5.75-$6.3MM range. A year from now, they will become points of reference for the class of pitchers just behind them (those currently entering their first seasons as arbitration eligible players). Here's a list of pitchers who could be compared to the quartet above after the 2011 season:

  • Mike Pelfrey$3.925MM in 2011 - Pelfrey already has a tremendous amount of big league experience and a fourth consecutive season of 30-plus starts could push his 2012 asking price past the $6.28MM Billingsley will earn in 2011, especially considering Pelfrey's high 2011 salary. Pelfrey doesn't have particularly impressive strikeout numbers or ERAs, however, which will help the Mets keep the right-hander's salary in check.
  • Dallas Braden$3.35MM in 2011 - Garza was working from the same base salary in 2010 and he earned a $2.6MM raise after logging 204 2/3 innings of 3.91 ERA ball in the AL East with a 2.4 K/BB ratio. If Braden wants to match Garza's raise, he'll have to earn it with another big year.
  • Jair Jurrjens, $3.25MM in 2011 - Jurrjens is well-positioned to ask for a salary in the $6MM range next year if he returns to his 2008-09 level of productivity.

Guthrie, Garza, Billingsley and Danks all had relatively healthy, productive seasons in 2010, which kept their 2011 salaries within a $600K range. A poor performance would have disrupted the pattern and the same applies to this year's class. They have to pitch well and stay healthy to earn raises to the $6MM range. Meanwhile, others will have the chance to prove they belong in the same discussion as Pelfrey, Jurrjens and Braden if they have big years.

  • Phil Hughes$2.7MM in 2011 - Hughes, who has just one full season as a Major League starter, is starting from a lower base salary than the others, so he'd likely need a standout season to approach $6MM in 2012.
  • Brandon Morrow$2.3MM in 2011 - Morrow doesn't have the bulk numbers his peers do, so he's at a disadvantage. But he has flashed dominant stuff and if he continues pitching the way he did from June on last year, he could justify asking for a larger-than-usual raise.

Other starters, including Edinson Volquez and Kevin Slowey, are also entering their first seasons as arbitration eligible pitchers, but raises to the $6MM range seem extremely improbable given their current salaries and career numbers. The same goes for super two players Armando Galarraga, Kyle Kendrick, Ross Ohlendorf and Luke Hochevar.


Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. The sides will then settle on a salary between the team's proposed number and the player's proposed number or go to an arbitration hearing. Arbitration eligible players are under team control, so the clubs don't risk losing them – it's a question of how much the players will earn.

Yesterday, 11 players avoided arbitration. We could see just as many agreements trickle in today and we'll keep you posted on them right here and with our Arb Tracker. The latest updates will be at the top of the post:

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Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Royals, Rays, Burrell

On this date 41 years ago, Major League owners unanimously elected Bowie Kuhn to a seven-year term as commissioner. It was under Kuhn that the reserve clause was eliminated, paving the way for free agency as we know it.

We've got a lot of links to get to, so let's dive right in…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


Odds & Ends: Cardinals, Blue Jays, Morrow, Delgado

Some links to check out as Brandon Morrow just misses no-hitting the Rays…


Odds & Ends: Anderson, Penny, Mariners, Zito

Links for Tuesday, as J.J. Hardy hits the disabled list…


Brewers May Not Be Able To Add Another Starter

The Brewers may be right up against their 2010 payroll limit according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, however GM Doug Melvin is still looking to upgrade his club.

"If we can [add another starter] we'd like to," Melvin said at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. "We might not be able to. We're always looking to improve the club.

"We're trying to keep flexibility to do things. The worst thing you can do is lose flexibility. We still want to be aggressive but we can step back and look at the landscape, see what takes place with free agents and trades."

McCalvy notes that the club's free agent signings total a $21MM commitment for 2010, plus there's another $37MM or so tied up in players already on their roster. The team has seven players eligible for salary arbitration, and there's about $18MM budgeted for them. If they fill out their roster with players making close to the minimum, it'll push Melvin's club over their $80MM or so projected payroll.

Given Randy Wolf's price tag, the team may not be able to add the second starter they crave. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com said the Brewers will "almost certainly" sign one of Jon Garland, Doug Davis, or Jarrod Washburn, though they may have to make a move to free up some cash to sign one of them.