Brett Myers Rumors
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.
The new collective bargaining agreement has created millions of dollars in incentives for teams to be below the luxury tax when it reaches $189MM in 2014, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. The upcoming changes have contributed to the relatively restrained spending on the part of the Yankees and Red Sox this offseason, Stark writes. Here are the rest of his rumors...
- The Yankees won’t be under the luxury tax threshold in 2012 or 2013, but they hope to spend less than $189MM in 2014, Stark writes. However, the CBA isn’t the only reason the Yankees are spending more cautiously. "I think this is what the Yankees were going to do, regardless," one of Stark’s sources said.
- Hiroki Kuroda is sending signals to the Yankees and Red Sox that he’d like to sign with one of those teams, Stark reports. The Red Sox are “nowhere near close” on Kuroda while the Yankees are mostly “kicking tires,” Stark hears. Stark's colleague Buster Olney reported today that Kuroda's asking price has dropped to the $10-11MM range.
- Though rival teams were surprised to see the Reds agree to terms with Ryan Madson, the move will help the team stockpile draft picks. They’ll obtain a compensatory pick when Francisco Cordero signs elsewhere and could obtain two more picks if they tender Madson a contract next offseason and he leaves as a free agent.
- The Reds are going to attempt to turn Aroldis Chapman into a starter this Spring Training, though there’s some skepticism he’ll thrive in the rotation.
- Chad Qualls’ name is on the Phillies’ shopping list, Stark reports.
- Rival teams predict the Cubs won’t trade Matt Garza until July, when there are fewer alternatives available in free agency.
- Stark hears that the Astros would pay half of the $18.5MM remaining on Carlos Lee’s contract and at least $7MM of the $11MM that Brett Myers will earn in 2012. Wandy Rodriguez is also available, though the Astros don’t appear to be nearing a deal involving the left-hander.
We wouldn’t want the biggest news of the day -- that the Rangers won the bidding for Yu Darvish -- to completely overshadow some secondary notes from around MLB. Here are some quick hits from around the league, starting in Texas:
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told fans at MLB.com that Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Carlos Lee are “very good players” who could help the Astros going forward. “We will look for any opportunity to improve our team in the medium and long term,” Luhnow explained, “so if there were a trade that made sense, we would consider it.”
- Brian Bixler cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Oklahoma City, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. The Astros designated the infielder for assignment last week to create roster space for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland.
- The Cubs and Red Sox have agreed that former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein won't be able to hire anyone from the Red Sox for three years, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto likes the depth in his team's starting rotation, but doesn't yet know whether his bullpen is a strength or a weakness, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. Ideally, the Angels would like to add a late-inning reliever and make the lineup a little more left-handed, Dipoto says.
- There's a consensus among international MLB people that the Yankees are "BIG" on Yoenis Cespedes, according to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (on Twitter).
- Cespedes is close to establishing residency in the Dominican Republic, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. The Cuban outfielder still needs to secure a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control since his residency is not permanent. The process could take two weeks, but he should be cleared to sign sometime in January.
The Astros are telling teams that they'd be willing to pay half of the salaries for Carlos Lee or Brett Myers if they were to trade them, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. However, the team doesn't want to eat any salary in a potential Wandy Rodriguez deal.
Lee is owed $18.5MM in 2012, and the Astros may have to pay more than half of that figure if they hope to move him. While Myers' $11MM salary is more managable, it includes a $3MM buyout on his $10MM 2013 club option. Rodriguez is set to earn $23MM over the next two seasons, but his 2014 club option would turn into a player option if he's dealt, meaning the team acquiring him could be on the hook for another $13MM in '14.
Here are a few more Monday evening Astros notes:
- Besides moving players like Lee and Myers, the Astros' top priority is finding a shortstop, tweets MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
- The Astros have interviewed a half dozen GM candidates, with a focus on player development and scouting experience, tweets Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.
- The team doesn't have a timetable for hiring their new GM, tweets Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner.
Congratulations to national baseball writer Jon Heyman, who has a new job with CBSSports.com starting Monday. As usual, Heyman is tweeting up a storm; here's his latest from the Winter Meetings (all links go to Twitter):
- The Royals are talking trades for starters and are in on Oakland's Gio Gonzalez.
- Everyone wants bullpen help but few want it more than the Padres, Brewers, and Red Sox.
- The Phillies haven't completely ruled out Michael Cuddyer, but the Twins are still trying to bring him back as well. The Giants and Red Sox are other logical destinations, in Heyman's estimation.
- The Yankees would love to bring back Andruw Jones for his right-handed pop and strong clubhouse presence.
- Former Reds executive Scott Nethery is in the mix for the Astros GM opening. Andrew Friedman is still their top choice, Bill Geivett and Jeff Luhnow are also in the mix.
- The Astros will also eat most of Carlos Lee's contract to facilitate a trade. They still expect a good return for Wandy Rodriguez and something decent for Brett Myers in any trade.
- Heyman also said this morning that the Angels are looking for a closer and the Pirates are talking to Derrek Lee.