Brendan Harris Rumors

Dead Money: Paying Players To Play Elsewhere

Eating money in trades or by releasing players is far from an ideal business practice, but sometimes it's a necessary evil. The Mets believe they are better off paying Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo a combined $18MM not to be on their team this year, and released the two just last month. David Wharton of The Los Angeles Times wrote about the concept of "dead money" today, speaking to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, sports economist J.C. Bradbury, and Scott Boras.

With some help from Cot's Baseball Contracts, let's look at the teams that are paying players to be anywhere but on their roster this season…

This doesn't include money the Braves owe Kenshin Kawakami ($7.4MM) or the Yankees owe Kei Igawa ($4MM). Both Japanese imports remain in the organization, but they've since been banished to the minor leagues. It also doesn't include all the money the Mets famously owe Bobby Bonilla for the next two decades.

Yuniesky Betancourt is the only player collecting paychecks from three different big league teams at the moment, but Carlos Silva could join him if he's called up by the Yankees. Gary Matthews Jr. could also be in that mix if he catches on somewhere this summer.


Antony On Nishioka, Hardy, Pavano, Liriano, More

Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony recently sat down for a chat with Jesse Lund from Twinkie Town to discuss a variety of topics. Let's recap the hot stove talk…

  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka first popped up on the team's radar after Antony mentioned to his agent that the team was looking to get more athletic on the infield. This was long before they decided to trade J.J. Hardy.
  • The Twins believe Nishioka is a good player, but they understand there might be a bit of a transition period. Not just for the move to MLB, but the move to the United States. They've hired an interpreter for Nishioka, and don't believe the additional Japanese media will be an issue in the clubhouse.
  • The three-year, $9MM contract Nishioka signed was "exactly what we pretty much anticipated and were willing to give." They were trying to add speed and athleticism to the lineup, but no one on the free agent market jumped out at them, hence the pursuit of Nishioka.
  • Hardy was expected to make $5MM+ in 2011 (he eventually signed for $5.85MM), and the team "just decided that we wanted to put that money into other areas." Carl Pavano, Jim Thome, and most of the bullpen were free agents, so they had to prioritize. "Trying to fit all those guys into a budget was going to be impossible."
  • The Twins had conversations with other teams about Hardy, but there were never any real offers. The trade with Baltimore was "by far [their] best opportunity to make a deal." It became apparent that Brendan Harris wasn't a fit anymore, hence his inclusion in the trade.
  • Antony says the Twins like Rule 5 Draft pick Scott Diamond in long relief, and Dusty Hughes' success against Minnesota last year played a role in claiming him off waivers.
  • Although they would have liked to retain Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, and Brian Fuentes, the Twins just "couldn't compete" with the multyear offers they were receiving as free agents.
  • Thome decided that Minnesota was where he wanted to be after talking with his family, and the money didn't appear to be much of an issue.
  • Antony expected Pavano to get two or three years at $10-11MM per season, and he knows the Brewers had some interest in the right-hander. Pavano's agent basically told the Twins he wanted to play there, and he wasn't a guy that was "chasing the last dollar."
  • Rumors of Francisco Liriano being available in a trade were just that, rumors. As far as a multiyear deal with the lefty, Antony said there "can be many reasons why you don't consummate a multiyear deal, and sometimes the player doesn't want to, sometimes the club doesn't want to, sometimes you just don't agree on numbers, or whatever. So we're not going to talk about any of our negotiations with that or anything else, but he was a big part of our rotation. We're not talking to anybody right now on Francisco Liriano."
  • The team is at the "far reaches" of where they can go with payroll, so they tried to maintain flexibility for 2012 by not doing any multiyears deals this offseason (aside from Pavano).
  • "If the right deal arises and we can improve our ballclub, we could look at it from that point of view," said Antony, regarding a potential trade involving one of the team's excess starting pitchers. "I don't think we'd trade away one of our starting pitchers for a middle reliever or something. It would have to be something that would make sense for us. And a trade isn't even the most likely scenario, it's a possible scenario."

Antony also talked about Justin Morneau's health, Delmon Young's breakout, injury concerns, minor league prospects, and much, much more. Make sure you give it a read.


Orioles Notes: Duchscherer, Vlad, Invitees

As the Orioles' roster rounds into shape heading into Spring Training, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun has a few items of note

  • The Orioles still have interest in free-agent pitcher Justin Duchscherer, although the O's were not one of the two teams for which the right-hander recently worked out, as reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Duchscherer will likely hold another open workout for any interested teams to check him out in the next week or so, Zrebiec notes, and he thinks the O's will be there. Duchscherer's son lives in New Jersey, which is relatively close to Baltimore, and the righty is looking to join a team he can start for, which the Orioles can offer.
  • The Orioles have not been aggressively pursuing free-agent slugger Vladimir Guerrero, contrary to a report by ESPNDeportes.com earlier on Thursday. If Guerrero's market shrinks enough, the O's may be interested, Zrebiec writes, but otherwise they plan on moving forward with Luke Scott as their designated hitter, and Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie platooning in left field.
  • The Orioles have not officially announced their list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training, but Zrebiec reports the following players will be among them: Armando Gabino, Raul Rivero, Josh Rupe, Adam Donachie, Michel Hernandez, Caleb Joseph, Ryan Adams, Brendan Harris and Tyler Henson.


Orioles Acquire J.J. Hardy, Brendan Harris

The Orioles officially acquired shortstop J.J. Hardy, infielder Brendan Harris, and $500K from the Twins for relievers Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey, the teams announced.

Hardy, 28, hit .268/.320/.394 in 375 plate appearances this year for the Twins after coming over from Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez.  He missed time with wrist and knee injuries.  Hardy earned $5.1MM this year and is arbitration eligible one last time.  He would have been a free agent already, but fell just short of the service time requirement because the Brewers briefly demoted him to Triple-A late in the '09 season.  Hardy joins Mark Reynolds in a revamped left side infield for Baltimore.  He became expendable for Minnesota with their expected signing of Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Harris, 30, received only 120 plate appearances from the Twins this year after more regular duty in previous seasons.  He was outrighted in June due to poor performance, and a $1.75MM commitment for 2011 likely allowed him to clear waivers.  Harris is capable of playing all around the infield.

Hoey, 28 later this month, hasn't pitched in the Majors since '07.  In a season split between Double and Triple-A, the reliever posted a 3.25 ERA, 12.0 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 0.2 HR/9 in 52 2/3 innings in 2010.  Prior to his '08 shoulder surgery, Hoey's average fastball velocity exceeded 95 mph.

Jacobson, a 24-year-old reliever, posted a 2.79 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 0.9 HR/9 in 71 High-A innings this year.  Baseball America ranked him 16th among Orioles prospects heading into the season, noting that he came over from the Tigers in the Aubrey Huff deal in August of '09.  He's said to have a power repertoire and a setup man profile.

Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.


Crede Unlikely To Re-Sign With Minnesota

Reporting from the TwinsFest fan session, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (via Twitter) has "got hints" that the Twins won't bring back free agent Joe Crede in 2010. In a follow-up tweet, Christensen said the reason was that it is "too hard to keep Crede on the field, which hamstrings your roster" and that the Twins would prefer to see Brendan Harris play third for now with an eye on prospect Danny Valencia eventually taking over the position.

Crede signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with Minnesota last February that could have been worth as much as $7MM had he reached all of the contract's many incentive levels.  Unfortunately for Crede, he was limited to just 367 plate appearances last season thanks to the latest in a series of back problems that have plagued the veteran third baseman.  His September surgery to remove fluid from a herniated disk was the third procedure on his back in as many years.  Crede hit .225/.289/.414 last season.


Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.

We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements.  Yesterday's list can be found here.

  • Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals.  Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts.  Willits' contract is worth $625K. 
  • Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter).  Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players.  In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
  • Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter).  The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
  • The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press.  MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
  • Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
  • The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
  • Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
  • Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.

(more…)


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Third Base Remains A Mystery For Twins

According to MLB.com’s Kelly Thesier, the Twins are preparing to head into spring training with a third base platoon of Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris.

The Twins have made a few attempts to snag a strong third baseman this offseason, but all talks have fallen flat.  They pursued Casey Blake before he signed with the Dodgers, and Mark DeRosa before he was sent off to the Indians. 

Joe Crede remains a free agent, but the Twins might not want to throw money at a guy with chronic back problems.  The 30-year-old played only 97 games last season, finishing with a .248 average on top of 17 home runs and 55 RBI.


Matt Garza Traded For Delmon Young In Blockbuster

UPDATE, 11-28-07 at 9pm: It’s now a done deal.  The Twins substituted 21 year-old reliever Eduardo Morlan instead of Rincon.

UPDATE, 11-28-07 at 7:30pm: This thing hasn’t gone through yet because of concerns over Rincon’s elbow.  The deal will either be finalized or killed by Thursday, according to Scott Miller.  The trade has been in the works for a few days.

UPDATE, 11-28-07 at 4pm: Neal reports that the Twins have interest in Aaron Rowand, which is really surprising given his reported demands.  I don’t see it.  Neal adds that Craig Monroe may now be non-tendered and the Garza trade will not stop Bill Smith from shopping Johan Santana.  By the way, talks for Coco Crisp persist.

FROM 11-28-07 at 2pm:

Wow!  That rumor really didn’t die!  La Velle E. Neal III says the Twins are close to a multiplayer deal.  They’ll send Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Juan Rincon to the Rays for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie.  I can’t remember any kind of young player blockbuster like this recently. 

It’s exciting to see Bill Smith pull the trigger on a deal to get that possible elite slugger.  Will he be more hesitant to trade Johan Santana now?  Or maybe it doesn’t matter since he’d require an elite young hurler like Phil Hughes in return.  Beyond Young, you also have to applaud Smith for getting Pridie, who immediately becomes the Twins’ center fielder of the future.  The 24 year-old came back from injuries this year to rake in Triple A.  Just like that, the Twins have an outfield.   

Meanwhile the Rays suddenly have an awesome young trio fronting their rotation in Scott Kazmir, Jamie Shields, and Garza.  Rincon’s ability is questionable at this point but he could be the setup man the Rays are craving.

I’ll give the advantage to the Twins but I like this deal for both teams.