Brandon McCarthy Rumors
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.
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.
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).
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).
- 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.
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.
According to Neal, there are seven other teams that also have interest in Liriano.
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.
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 Sox, White 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.
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 GM Billy Beane met with reporters today at the Winter Meetings in Nashville; here's the latest.
- The A's are considering two free agent shortstops: Stephen Drew and Hiroyuki Nakajima (Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reporting). Slusser heard from Drew's agent Scott Boras last night that he will meet with Beane this week. As for Nakajima, the A's may have some competition from the Giants, as Slusser's colleague John Shea hears they've spoken with his reps as a Plan B if they're unable to re-sign Marco Scutaro.
- Beane noted the A's have more options at shortstop via trade. Slusser and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports have made the connection with the Marlins, who are shopping Yunel Escobar.
- Beane says nothing is imminent with free agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy, and the GM realizes the righty will have a significant market (Jane Lee of MLB.com reporting).
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.
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.
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.