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Brian Matusz Rumors
The Orioles are “going hard” after Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke, an MLB executive told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles appear to be the most aggressive suitor for Greinke, but talks are preliminary, Connolly reports. Some believe the Orioles and Braves are most likely to land Greinke, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports.
Brewers president of baseball operations Doug Melvin recently told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that his team is "trying to win games and get back in the hunt." The Brewers may wait until after facing the Reds, Pirates and Cardinals to determine their course of action this summer.
Executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette "absolutely" has financial support from ownership to take on salary this season, Connolly reports. Greinke, who’s on track for free agency this offseason, earns $13.5MM in 2012. The Brewers could obtain two compensatory draft picks for losing Greinke to free agency, but no other team has the same opportunity under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.
Duquette recently told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com that he'd like to improve his team's rotation if possible. Top prospects Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy are probably off-limits in trade talks. “They look to be long-term solutions to help the Orioles," Duquette said. The Orioles don’t want to trade young pitching, Connolly reports.
Greinke, 28, has a 3.08 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 108 innings so far this year. Agent Casey Close has had some extensions talks with the Brewers on Greinke's behalf.
Phillies general partner David Montgomery told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he’s not thinking about trading away established players since opportunity still exists for his 29-33 club. “Come August or something, maybe we feel differently,” Montgomery acknowledged, noting that the team’s current goal is to re-enter the playoff picture.
Here are more rumors and notes from Rosenthal…
- Though the Cubs want to add talent, they are reluctant to start a long rebuilding process. Of all the Cubs, Ryan Dempster is most likely to be traded, according to Rosenthal. One general manager said the right-hander seems like a “classic Ned Colletti buy,” so don’t be surprised if the Dodgers show some interest in Dempster.
- Rosenthal speculates that the Indians could be a fit for Alfonso Soriano. Though the Cubs would be paying most of the outfielder’s salary in any trade, Soriano can still hit, especially against left-handers. Rival teams expect the Indians to be aggressive this summer, and they could use a right-handed bat like Soriano.
- Teams aren’t sure that Wandy Rodriguez would succeed in the American League.
- One person said there’s “no chance” the Red Sox could obtain prospects for Kevin Youkilis without paying most of his salary.
- The Reds want to add a left-handed hitter, Rosenthal reports.
- Though Eric Chavez can still play, preparing for games has become “a huge hurdle to climb physically.” The Yankees and White Sox were the only teams to show interest in the 34-year-old this past offseason, and he would have been content to retire if necessary.
- Don’t be surprised if the Giants look to acquire a reliever, Rosenthal writes.
- One executive wonders if the Orioles could trade Brian Matusz in a deal for a more established starter.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alfonso Soriano | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Brian Matusz | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | Cleveland Indians | Eric Chavez | Houston Astros | Kevin Youkilis | Los Angeles Dodgers | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Ryan Dempster | San Francisco Giants | Wandy Rodriguez
Clayton Kershaw's salary jumped from $500K to $7.5MM this year, and it wasn't just because of his Cy Young performance. Kershaw qualified for arbitration for the first time in his career over the winter, so he obtained the right to establish his salary by comparing his production to that of his peers.
Though $7MM raises are reserved for elite performers like Kershaw, many first-time eligible starting pitchers will see their salaries rise from $500K or so to $2-4.5MM this coming offseason. A player’s case depends in large part on his career numbers, but his most recent season, or platform year, matters a great deal.
Advanced statistics like xFIP, wins above replacement and swinging strike rate don't generally figure in to arbitration cases. Instead, traditional stats such as innings, starts, wins and ERA determine players' salaries.
With one third of the season now complete, let’s check in on the prominent starting pitchers on track to be first-time arbitration eligible this coming offseason:
Wade Davis signed a multiyear extension with the Rays last week, though he's just one season into his MLB career. The deal is not without risk for Davis, since he could pitch like Ubaldo Jimenez and become a bargain for Tampa Bay, or for the Rays since Davis could get hurt, depriving them of a pitcher they need.
Here's a list of pitchers who could sign deals like the four-year, $12.6MM contract Tampa Bay completed with Davis. Like the Rays righty, these pitchers are on track to hit arbitration after 2012 and free agency after 2015 unless otherwise noted (age in parentheses):
- Mat Latos, Padres (23) – Latos was flat-out phenomenal last year and would be positioned to ask for more than Davis obtained with his record deal. The skill is there, so if the Padres believe in his health (he's now on the DL) and maturity, Latos would be an extension candidate.
- Wade LeBlanc, Padres (26) – LeBlanc, now in the minor leagues, is older than Latos and without the same front-of-the-rotation potential. His numbers, though comparable to the ones Davis has, don't scream 'lock me up,' so a deal seems unlikely.
- Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (23) – The Rockies were aggressive with extensions this offseason, locking up Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and others. Chacin, who struck out a batter per inning in 2010, wouldn't cost nearly as much as his more experienced teammates.
- Mike Leake, Reds (23) – If one organization was as extension happy as the Rockies this offseason it was the Reds. Leake struggled down the stretch last year and just barely made Cincinnati's rotation. They'll likely let the 2009 first rounder prove himself before committing eight figures to him.
- Jon Niese, Mets (24) – Niese has comparable numbers to Davis, with slightly more strikeouts per inning (7.4 K/9) and a higher ERA (4.33).
- Brian Matusz, Orioles (24) – Matusz compares to Davis statistically, but he could establish himself as a front-of-the-rotation starter with a breakout 2011 season, so he may be reluctant to lock himself in to pre-set salaries.
- Mitch Talbot, Indians (27) - Talbot has poor walk (4.3 BB/9) and strikeout (5.0 K/9) numbers so far in his career, so he doesn't seem like a likely extension candidate. The Indians did extend Fausto Carmona, who doesn't get many strikeouts, but they may prefer to let Talbot prove himself further before committing to him.
- Brett Cecil, Blue Jays (24) and Madison Bumgarner, Giants (21) both impressed in 2010. They're possible super two players, which means they may go to arbitration four times, once more than the starters above. If either Cecil or Bumgarner signed an extension, it wouldn't be completely parallel to the Davis deal.
It's possible that none of these pitchers will sign extensions, since long-term contracts for starters with fewer than two years of service time are uncommon. Some players don't mind going year to year in anticipation of big arbitration paydays and many teams prefer not to commit eight-figure deals to relatively unproven pitchers.
But some small market clubs, like the Athletics, Indians and Rays, have successfully completed a number of multiyear contracts for emerging pitchers. Teams looking to spend now and save later could take note and approach their best sophomore arms about long-term deals.
Links for Friday…
- Chad Jennings of The Journal News reports that Marcus Thames can opt out of his contract with the Yankees if he doesn't make the team out of Spring Training. Thames signed a minor league deal earlier this month that would pay him $900K in the big leagues.
- Alyson Footer, the Astros' Sr. Director of Social Media, tweets that the team has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with infielder Tommy Manzella worth $400K. He's expected to be the team's regular shortstop in 2010, and he has less than a month's worth of service time.
- Mike Aviles and Anthony Lerew agreed to terms with the Royals according to a team press release. Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star tweets that both deals are expected to be worth less than $500K. Both players are not yet eligible for arbitration.
- Meanwhile, the Marlins also agreed to terms with six of their pre-arbitration eligible players, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reports that Orioles' lefty Brian Matusz has changed agents, and is now represented by CAA Sports. He had a 4.63 ERA in 44.2 innings last year, and is widely considered to be one of the two or three best pitching prospects in the game.
- Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo spoke about the Livan Hernandez signing to MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling, and said that the righty isn't guaranteed a rotation spot.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports polled nearly 20 baseball people about Carl Crawford's next contract. Many of the agents and executives expect Crawford to command a five-year deal worth $12-16MM per season, but some think the left fielder could make as much as $18MM per year when he hits the open market, probably after 2010.
- Scott Rolen was happy to restructure his contract so the Reds could "free up some money to go out and be more competitive," according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Nationals pitcher Rafael Martin tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he agreed to his deal on February 8th (Twitter link).
- Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd told Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports that he wants his players to be driven by "more than money." O'Dowd also told Ringolsby that he did not shop Brad Hawpe this winter.
- The Mets are still looking at lefty and righty relievers, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (via Twitter).
- Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt tells Scott Lauber of the News Journal that he expects Placido Polanco to make a smooth transition to third base.
- Marlon Byrd tells USA Today's Bob Nightengale that he's uncomfortable being compared to friend and former teammate Milton Bradley.
- Big market clubs sent $433MM to small market clubs last year, according to Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball.
- The Red Sox don't generally use insurance on their long-term deals. Principal owner John Henry tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that "it isn't always easy to get paid," even once players are injured.
- Jose Julio Ruiz may be close to signing, but it won't be with the Nationals, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane, who has "a huge amount of confidence" in GM Ed Wade, would consider selling his team for $600MM or more, according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Anthony Lerew | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Brad Hawpe | Brian Matusz | Carl Crawford | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Houston Astros | Jose Julio Ruiz | Kansas City Royals | Livan Hernandez | Marcus Thames | Marlon Byrd | Miami Marlins | Mike Aviles | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Placido Polanco | Rafael Martin | Scott Rolen | Tampa Bay Rays | Tommy Manzella | Transactions | Washington Nationals
Some more links for your Thursday night…
- John Tomase of the Boston Herald says the Red Sox believe Adrian Beltre to be "one of the most game-changing defenders in the majors."
- Two GMs tell Tom Verducci of SI.com that they were shocked to see the Astros commit $15MM to Brandon Lyon.
- Verducci reports that the Yankees called the Tigers about Curtis Granderson before the World Series began.
- The Nats still plan on adding multiple veteran starters, according to Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post.
- Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News says the Rangers have to be "extremely selective with multi-year deals, stock a good farm system, fill in with low-risk, high-reward short-timers and churn regularly." So far, Sherrington likes Jon Daniels' strategy.
- MLB.com's Ian Browne expects Mike Lowell to be a positive presence in the Texas clubhouse.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti tells MLB.com's Ken Gurnick that he's "not close" on any deals.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Steve Kornacki of MLive.com that there's a chance Phil Coke starts in Detroit.
- The D'Backs don't appear to have much money to spend, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
- Marlins president Larry Beinfest tells MLB.com's Joe Frisaro that "there is still some stuff simmering." The club hopes to trade Dan Uggla, according to Frisaro.
- Orioles starter Brian Matusz told Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun that he grew up watching Kevin Millwood pitch for the Braves. Now, the two will be teammates.
- Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reports that the Dodgers turned down a Japanese club that wanted to buy Eric Stults' contract.
- Brian Cashman told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that Juan Miranda could potentially DH for the Yanks next year.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Adrian Beltre | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Brandon Lyon | Brian Matusz | Curtis Granderson | Dan Uggla | Houston Astros | Juan Miranda | Kevin Millwood | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | Mike Lowell | New York Yankees | Phil Coke | Texas Rangers | Washington Nationals
The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly details the questions facing a Baltimore team with some young offensive talent, some terrific young pitching on the way, and a lot of extra cash.
Connolly writes that while the 64-98 record Baltimore had in 2009 was the third-worst in team history, "there is a sense that the future has promise because of the emergence of young starting pitchers Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen, catcher Matt Wieters and outfielders Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie."
Left unsaid, of course, is the emergence of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continuing to be a tremendous player.
The good news? The Orioles, according to Connolly, went from roughly $77MM owed in payroll at the start of the 2009 season-including $9MM to Jay Gibbons and Ramon Hernandez- to a $30MM commitment for 2010, not including raises through arbitration.
The bad news is that there aren't many marquee free agents (though there is Jason Marquis), and those that do qualify- Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, John Lackey- aren't great fits, particularly Bay and Holliday in an overcrowded outfield.
Connolly captures the problem of desires vs. realistic options perfectly here:
"The preference is to find a right-handed or switch-hitting first baseman in his prime, like the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira. But there's no one who fits that profile in this year's class. The best free-agent options might be left-handed-hitting first basemen Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock or right-handed do-it-all Mark DeRosa."
So what's an Oriole to do?
FRIDAY: The Orioles reached an agreement with Matusz on a Major League deal worth $3.47MM.
THURSDAY, 12:51pm: MLB.com’s Spencer Fordin says the O’s and Matusz inched closer to a deal, perhaps for a Major League contract worth $3.1MM. However, no agreement is confirmed.
11:16am: Roch Kubatko confirms Matusz’s presence in Baltimore for a physical, but stresses that the pitcher has not signed yet. All signs point to a deal getting done though.
9:43am: According to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, Orioles top draft pick Brian Matusz is expected in Baltimore today for a physical and a deal is close. Zrebiec believes Matusz sought a big league contract for $5MM.
Nationals fans have to hope the Matusz deal is wrapped up early and can be used as a benchmark to sign Aaron Crow.
10:51am: Baggarly has the latest on Posey. He says it’s a "spitting contest" between Scott Boras and Posey’s agency to have the highest-paid draft pick.
7:46am: The latest links involved unsigned first-round draft picks.
- Sam Mellinger explains the decision Eric Hosmer faces. He might have to go against Scott Boras’ advice.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle denies Andrew Baggarly’s Buster Posey report yesterday, calling it "premature Posey-ing." Schulman talked to the Giants’ director of player personnel, who said the deal is not done and the number is not $7.5MM. There is no verbal agreement, either.
- Schulman also heard the Orioles are about to sign Brian Matusz for less than $7.5MM. Most folks believe this will get done as a Major League deal.
- The Pirates are cautiously optimistic about Pedro Alvarez. It’s possible Scott Boras could drag this out to within minutes of the deadline.
- Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein has an update on all unsigned picks. He believes both Yonder Alonso and Justin Smoak will sign. Publicly, Reds GM Walt Jocketty is 50/50 on Alonso.
- MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo gives his take on Matusz, Josh Fields, and Allan Dykstra.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Allan Dykstra | Baltimore Orioles | Brian Matusz | Buster Posey | Cincinnati Reds | Eric Hosmer | Josh Fields | Justin Smoak | Kansas City Royals | Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Yonder Alonso
The deadline to sign ’08 draft picks is 11pm CST on Friday. Here are the latest rumors.
- MLB.com’s Kevin Czerwinski has a new summary of the unsigned first rounders.
- The Nationals and Aaron Crow are not close. It’s been said Crow wants a Major League deal in the $8-10MM range.
- The Orioles are reluctant to give a big league deal to Brian Matusz.
- John Perrotto expects Pedro Alvarez to sign at the last minute. Dejan Kovacevic dismisses the notion that it would be OK for the Pirates to shrug off signing Alvarez and take next year’s #3 pick.
- The August 15th deadline doesn’t apply to Mariners top pick Joshua Fields, since he was a college senior.