Brett Myers Rumors
One scout told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the work of the Braves’ hitting instructors and the performance of Kris Medlen has made the difference for the team so far in 2012. Atlanta GM Frank Wren agrees with that assessment, according to Rosenthal, who offers notes and rumors from around the league in his latest column:
- The Cubs are more likely to trade Ryan Dempster if they sign Matt Garza to an extension. However, Dempster’s ten and five rights allow him to veto any trade, so he’ll have leverage if the Cubs look to make a move. It doesn’t seem likely that Dempster will sign a below-market extension to stay in Chicago, Rosenthal writes.
- The Cubs don’t have immediate plans to call up Anthony Rizzo, who figures to stay in the minor leagues until an opening emerges.
- Releasing Alfonso Soriano doesn’t appear to be an option; the outfielder has approximately $50MM remaining on his contract with the Cubs.
- General managers criticize the collective bargaining agreement, Rosenthal reports. Some low-revenue teams dislike spending restrictions on the draft, since they feel the limitations will drive up the price of MLB talent.
- Chien-Ming Wang, who is now rehabbing at Triple-A, could be valuable insurance for the Nationals, since they’ve decided to cap Stephen Strasburg’s innings.
- Brett Myers’ 2013 option likely vests with approximately 55 games finished, Rosenthal suggests. The right-hander will obtain a $500K bonus if the Astros trade him.
- One scout says Blue Jays catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud looks like Russell Martin did with the Dodgers.
The latest notes and rumors from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com:
- Astros people say they aren't thinking about trading their veteran players at this point, according to Heyman. One non-Astros executive likes Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers as midsummer trade candidates.
- However, the executive said it won't be easy to move Carlos Lee and his $18MM salary. Lee can block trades to 14 teams and badly wants to stay in Houston. A possible trade to the Brewers fell through months ago, Heyman reports.
- High-level Mets people such as COO Jeff Wilpon generally support David Wright, Heyman reports. The Mets won't trade Wright this summer and will try to lock him up before long, Heyman writes. It would take something "extraordinary'' for Wright to be traded this year, GM Sandy Alderson confirmed to Heyman. If the Mets were to trade Wright this summer, he would obtain the right to void a $16MM club option for 2013 and become a free agent this offseason. Mets people view Wright as a more reliable player than Jose Reyes, Heyman writes.
- Heyman also points out that Josh Hamilton's performance is going to make re-signing him that much more complex for the Rangers.
The 13-15 Astros have scored more runs than they’ve allowed so far this season, but they’re still expected to be sellers at the summer trade deadline. GM Jeff Luhnow acknowledged to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he'll consider trades that add talent to the organization.
“If we have pieces on our club that are in demand by other clubs and we get enough future value for them to make up for the short-term loss, we’ll consider every opportunity,” Luhnow told Rosenthal.
The GM expects rival teams to have interest in some of his players late this summer. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, closer Brett Myers, first baseman Carlos Lee and reliever Brandon Lyon are playing well, but Luhnow said he’s not actively looking to make trades yet.
“We need those guys right now,” Luhnow said. “I’m not in any rush to have any conversations about our veteran players.”
Rodriguez, Myers and Lee have $10MM or more remaining on their contracts and relative to other middle relievers, Lyon’s $5.5MM salary is hardly a bargain. The Astros would presumably need to absorb a considerable percentage of their veteran players’ contracts to obtain highly-regarded prospects in trades.
As the calendar gets ready to flip over to May, let's check in on the players who have vesting options for the 2013 season...
- Jason Bartlett, Padres - $5.5MM option vests with 432 plate appearances. Bartlett currently has 61 PA and has come to the plate at least 432 times in each of the last five seasons.
- Alex Gonzalez, Brewers - $4MM option vests with 525 PA. Gonzalez has 66 PA at the moment and has eclipsed 525 PA in both 2010 and 2011.
- Kevin Gregg, Orioles - $6MM option vest with 50 games finished. Gregg has finished three games this season but is a release candidate given his poor performance (7.94 ERA).
- Brett Myers, Astros - $10MM option vests based on unknown starting or relieving milestones.
Chipper Jones has an option worth $9MM+ that will vest with 123 games played, but he's already rendered the option moot by announcing his plans to retire after the season. Chipper has played in a dozen of the Braves' first 20 games.
The Brett Myers trade rumors have been circulating for a while, and there’s no reason to expect them to slow down between now and the July 31st trade deadline. Myers, a capable pitcher nearing free agency on a team not expected to contend, should draw some trade interest this summer.
Myers' name surfaced at the 2011 Winter Meetings and the right-hander still seemed to be available in January, when Jayson Stark reported that the Astros were willing to take on at least $7MM of his 2012 salary in a trade. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow said this month that he’s not presently shopping Myers, and while that’s entirely believable, the team's stance could very well change within the next 95 days.
Myers, 31, probably won’t be on the next contending Astros team. He’s earning $12MM in 2012 and has a club/vesting option valued at $10MM for 2013 ($3MM buyout). Like most players on the Astros’ roster, Myers is a product of the Ed Wade regime. I doubt Luhnow will have reservations about trading Myers when the time is right.
Unfortunately for the Astros, Myers earns a starting pitcher’s salary. Other trade candidates such as Huston Street ($7.5MM) and Grant Balfour ($4MM) will be more appealing to contenders since they earn considerably less than Myers. I expect the Astros will have to take on millions to move Myers.
For the Astros to convince a rival team to take on more than a couple million of Myers’ salary, he’ll have to continue pitching well. So far -- and it’s admittedly quite early -- Myers has pitched five innings with a 4K/1BB ratio and three saves. It’s worth noting that his fastball velocity has climbed by nearly 4 mph this year to 92.2 mph from 88.4 mph (source: FanGraphs). He's just 74 pitches into the season -- not even a full start’s worth -- but the uptick in velocity isn’t surprising given Myers’ new role.
Should the 7-12 Astros fall out of contention early, Luhnow might have the chance to start selling before other trade candidates become available. This could enable him to send more of Myers' salary to a team looking to acquire relief help before the trade market heats up in July. Still, it seems more likely that the Astros will postpone most serious trade talk until after they select first overall in the upcoming June draft. There's also a good chance Myers' salary would clear waivers, so he might be available in August.
Myers should draw interest from contenders, especially if his strong April portends a successful first half. But it seems likely that the Astros will have to take on millions to complete a deal. Depending on Myers' performance, the evolution of the trade market and Luhnow's willingness to absorb salary, the Astros could acquire anything from a marginal minor leaguer to a legitimate prospect for their closer.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
Astros closer Brett Myers is not on the trading block, GM Jeff Luhnow told Mark Berman of FOX 26 Sports in Houston (Twitter links). Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported over the weekend that the Astros were shopping the right-hander.
Myers transitioned to the bullpen this spring after spending most of the past four seasons in the rotation. The 31-year-old has pitched effectively in his first two appearances as Houston's closer, for what it's worth. He'll earn $11MM in 2012 and figures to be involved in many trade rumors this summer if he continues pitching well. For now, however, Luhnow says the Astros are not discussing trades with other teams.
A few items of note to share out of MLB's West divisions ...
- Things don't look good for Giants closer Brian Wilson, manager Bruce Bochy told reporters, including Steve Kroner of the SFGate.com. The Beard has "structural issues" in his right elbow and could be facing surgery.
- The news on Wilson prompted Bob Nightengale of USA Today to wonder whether the Giants would check in with the Astros on closer Brett Myers, whom Houston has been shopping for the past few months, if Wilson is in fact out for the season's balance or a substantial period of time (Twitter link).
- Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson doesn't hold a grudge against the Yankees for not attempting to sign him this offseason, according to Richard Justice of MLB.com, though the lefty intimates that it bothered him at the time: "Everybody has different constraints. There's not one way to build a team. They obviously went after a couple of pitchers. Obviously, both those guys did really good last year. You can't hold a grudge forever. You move on. I'm here. I'm an Angel. That's it."
- Padres lefty Cory Luebke discussed how last month's multiyear extension came to pass with Jeff Rickard and Jeff Nelson of MLB Network Radio's "Home Plate" on SiriusXM (audio link): "It wasn't something I expected, by any means. I was pretty surprised when they asked me if it was something I'd be willing to do. ... There's a little peace of a mind, but I think we get more peace of mind when we're winning ballgames than dealing with the financial side of it, but it does offer a little security."
Which players can lock in 2013 contract options based on their 2012 performance? Let's take a look.
- Jason Bartlett, Padres: $5.5MM option vests with 432 plate appearances.
- Alex Gonzalez, Brewers: $4MM option vests with 525 plate appearances.
- Chipper Jones, Braves: $9MM+ option vests with 123 games.
- Kevin Gregg, Orioles: $6MM option vests with 50 games finished.
- Brett Myers, Astros: $10MM option vests based on unknown starting or relieving milestones.
Agent Scott Boras told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he expects trade deadline activity to decrease because the superpowers in baseball are going to save money on the luxury tax and can’t spend it in the draft. Boras was in attendance for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston and our own Tim Dierkes sat down for an interview with the super agent. Here's more from Cafardo's Sunday column..
- The Orioles' Adam Jones keeps popping up in trade discussions with the Nationals, but O's sources indicate that there’s very little chance he'll be dealt. The Nats are trying to figure out center field, and for the moment they’re content with using Jayson Werth, Roger Bernadina, and Rick Ankiel. However, they will be scouting Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, Gerardo Parra, and Peter Bourjos in spring training.
- White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd could be in play for the Blue Jays or Red Sox. The White Sox don’t appear eager to move Floyd, but GM Kenny Williams wouldn’t be shy if it brought him a decent bounty in return.
- The Indians will try to fill in for Grady Sizemore with Michael Brantley, but their scouts are looking for a center field option in the trade market.
- Free agent Adonis Garcia is drawing interest from several teams, but the Red Sox aren’t overly enamored, according to a team source.
- Roy Oswalt is still in play and later in camp the Red Sox could put on a full-court press for him.
- The Rays are looking for a catcher to back up Jose Molina and Boras may look to put Ivan Rodriguez in that spot.
- There seems to be concern that the Astros are shooting themselves in the foot by moving starter Brett Myers into the closer role as he is one of the veterans they have been trying to deal. Teams typically need innings-eaters over late-inning relievers.
- Cafardo wonders aloud if Terry Francona will land with the Mets when he resumes his managerial career.
New Astros GM Jeff Luhnow participated on the baseball analytics panel today at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. A few highlights:
- After the panel, I mentioned to Luhnow that his decision to move Brett Myers to the Astros' closer role has raised a few eyebrows. I asked if he thought Myers will have more impact in the bullpen than the rotation, and the GM replied, "I think for our team, right now, where we are and what we need, Myers in the bullpen is going to help us. We've got some options in the rotation and we really didn't have good options for that [closer] role. He's excited about it, and I'm excited to see how it works out. If it doesn't work out, we can always go back to the other way." As to whether the two parties would "re-restructure" the contract in that case, Luhnow said that would not be necessary because it's currently structured so it can go either way.
- During the panel, Luhnow explained what it's like to make a move that is not well-received. "It's frustrating, because you wish you could tell the fans everything that went into the decision. You go on FanGraphs and you read stuff about the player, and if that's all the information you had, you might make a different decision. But you've got a lot of information from the clubhouse, medical information, you have a lot of other pieces that are relevant that you really can't discuss. You're going to be second-guessed no matter what, so you just have to take it and move on."
- "You can't go wrong" with the first overall pick in the draft, Luhnow told me. He's never picked higher than Brett Wallace at #13 in 2008 for the Cardinals. He says there's already a short list of candidates for the Astros' 1-1 pick in 2012. I mentioned the huge expectations for such a pick, and Luhnow replied, "No question about it, there have been 1-1s that have not worked out well and we hope that we're one of the 1-1s that turns out to be a franchise player. That's the
expectation, that's the goal. There's risk in any player you select in the draft, but hopefully we'll take one that will move quickly and be an impact player."
- "There's no question that sports analytics helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series last year," said Luhnow on the panel. He said the Cardinals didn't have much with respect to analytics when he arrived in 2003, and the Astros are similar nine years later. He considers a blank slate "a huge opportunity to gain an edge." Luhnow says he's hired ten people since being named Astros GM, and "four of them were geeks, nerds, computer guys."
- Luhnow says the Dominican amateur market is almost inverted from the bargains of 10-15 years ago, and likes the limitations imposed in the new collective bargaining agreement.