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Brian Roberts Rumors
Longtime Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who spent last season with the Yankees, will retire after a productive 14-year career. Roberts himself broke the news in an appearance on the Steve Gorman sports show on FOX Sports Radio (audio link; h/t to the BaltimoreSportsReport.com). Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter that Roberts confirmed his intentions to hang up the spikes.
Roberts, who just turned 37, will always be known for his time in Baltimore. After two years as a solid regular, Roberts broke out with a stellar 2005 season in which he posted 7.2 rWAR and 6.6 fWAR on the back of excellent all-around play. Though he never again reached quite those levels, Roberts was an above-average to excellent performer over each of the next four years.
That track record of consistent production led Baltimore to award Roberts with a four-year, $40MM extension that covered the 2010-13 campaigns. Unfortunately, things turned south the moment the contract began to pay out, as a cascade of injuries conspired to wipe out large swaths of each of his next four campaigns. And Roberts never really regained his form when he was on the field, slashing a meager .246/.310/.359 over just 809 plate appearances during that four-year term.
The ending was not, perhaps, quite what Roberts envisioned when he made the difficult decision to join the Yankees on a one-year deal after spending his entire career in one (rival) organization. He logged 348 plate appearances in New York — somewhat remarkably, the highest annual tally he had managed since 2009 — but slashed just .237/.300/.360 with five home runs and seven stolen bases. He was ultimately released to make room for the acquisition of Stephen Drew.
While it is easy to be distracted by his inability to stay on the field after his age-31 season, Roberts was one of the better players in the game at his peak levels of performance. He logged nearly two-thirds of his career 30.3 rWAR and 28.4 fWAR during that 2005-09 run.
Mets right-hander Jeremy Hefner received awful news after experiencing discomfort in his third rehab outing last week. Via Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (Twitter link), Hefner has a fracture in his elbow and will have to undergo his second Tommy John operation of the past year. The 28-year-old has spent the past year recovering from TJ and will now likely miss most, if not all of the 2015 campaign as well. MLBTR wishes Hefner the best of luck and a full recovery in the next round of rehab.
Here are some more links from baseball’s Eastern divisions…
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles aren’t interested in bringing back longtime second baseman Brian Roberts, who was recently released by the Yankees (Twitter link).
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post examines the Yankees‘ midseason rentals — Stephen Drew, Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy — and wonders if any of the three will be back with the team in 2015 (and beyond). As Sherman notes, the final months of the season will serve as an audition for each player, and each could have a logical spot on the roster. Drew could replace the retiring Derek Jeter, Headley could handle third base when Alex Rodriguez DHs, and McCarthy can serve as valuable rotation depth given the uncertainty surrounding New York’s internal options.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he’s looking for rotation depth following the trade of Roberto Hernandez and the injury to Cliff Lee. That desire led to the claim of Jerome Williams, but it sounds as if the Phils could be on the lookout for other cheap additions that could help them beyond the 2014 season. Salisbury notes that 2014 first-round pick Aaron Nola is not under consideration for a jump to the Majors.
- Within that same piece, Salisbury also speculates that the Tigers and Phillies could reboot their previous trade talks for Jonathan Papelbon due to Joe Nathan‘s recent struggles and Joakim Soria‘s injury (he is on the DL with an oblique strain). Amaro tells Salisbury that the two sides haven’t talked trade recently, but he does acknowledge that he spoke with the Tigers “particularly about the bullpen.” Antonio Bastardo was thought to be a Tigers target at one point, but as Salisbury notes, Bastardo was placed on waivers earlier this month. While no reports surfaced of him being claimed, it’s highly unlikely that he would clear, given that he had a mere $600K or so of his 2014 salary remaining at the time he was placed on waivers.
- One more note from Salisbury, as he reports that Amaro said it’s “possible” that top prospect Maikel Franco will receive a September call-up. An earlier promotion is unlikely for Franco, per Amaro, but there’s little doubt that he’s impressed as of late. While Franco struggled with the jump to Triple-A to open the season, he’s mashed since July 1, hitting .338/.360/.564 in 139 plate appearances.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game:
- The Diamondbacks have outrighted Andy Marte to Triple-A, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Marte was designated for assignment on August 7.
- The Rockies have outrighted Jason Pridie to Triple-A. Pridie was designated for assignment on August 6.
- Diamondbacks farmhand Michael Lee has been traded to the Blue Jays and assigned to Double-A, according to the PCL’s transactions page. This season, the 27-year-old righty mostly worked out of the Diamondbacks Double-A rotation, where he compiled 4.49 ERA, 5.26 K/9, and 2.50 BB/9 over 104 innings and one-third innings. He also made two similarly effective starts in Triple-A. No word on what Arizona received in return.
- Righty Matt Daley was has been outrighted by the Yankees, per the International League transactions page. Daley had been designated for assignment yesterday, and apparently went right onto waivers.
- Catcher Chris Gimenez of the Rangers has cleared outright waivers and is at least exploring the possibility of electing free agency, according to a tweet from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. If he does hit the open market, the Rays would have interest, says Topkin.
- The Yankees have re-signed infielder Scott Sizemore to a minor league deal, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter). He will go right onto the Triple-A disabled list. The 29-year-old, who has not seen significant MLB action since 2011, was released just over a week ago by New York.
- Reliever David Carpenter has accepted an outright assignment with the Angels rather than electing free agency, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 26-year-old righty — not to be confused with the Braves pitcher of the same name — was designated for assignment a week ago today. Over 49 Triple-A innings this year, Carpenter has a 2.20 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9.
- The Yankees have announced that they’ve unconditionally released infielder Brian Roberts, who they designated for assignment at the end of July. The Yankees also placed catcher Brian McCann on the 7-day concussion DL and recalled Austin Romine to take his place on the active roster. The Yankees signed Roberts to a one-year, $2MM deal before the season, but he hit just .237/.300/.360 in 348 plate appearances with them.
- The Marlins have selected Brad Penny‘s contract, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Penny will start tonight against Alfredo Simon and the Reds. Penny is ultimately replacing Jacob Turner on the roster (although, officially, the Marlins cleared space for Penny by optioning Edgar Olmos to Triple-A New Orleans). As MLBTR’s Steve Adams points out, it’s questionable whether Penny will be better than Turner in the short term, even before considering the years of control Turner has left. Penny did pitch well in five Triple-A starts, however. Tonight will be his first big-league appearance since 2012, and his first appearance with the Marlins since 2004.
Brad Johnson contributed to this post
Roberts, a long-time division rival of the Yankees after spending his entire career in Baltimore prior to 2014, signed a one-year, $2MM deal as a free agent in the offseason. He struggled at the plate in his lone season in Yankee pinstripes, slashing .237/.300/.360 with five homers and seven stolen bases.
Roberts was among the league’s top second basemen last decade, but injuries derailed many of his would-be peak years. He’s undergone hip surgery and hamstring surgery in recent years in addition to dealing with concussion symptoms. In his career, the switch-hitter is a .276/.347/.409 hitter with 97 homers and 285 stolen bases.
In an interesting piece for FOX Sports, Dan Rozenson of Baseball Prospectus looks at the increasing proliferation of knuckle-curveballs around the game, and suggests that the pitch could be a better weapon than a traditional hook — especially for hard throwers — due to its more fastball-like release point and typically greater speed. While A.J. Burnett of the Phillies is one of the game’s better-known practitioners of the pitch, many others are less well-publicized and have only recently been identified in the PITCHf/x system.
Here are a few more brief notes from the game’s eastern divisions to start off the morning …
- When Brian Roberts joined the Yankees as their starting second baseman, he not only left the only organization he had known (the Orioles) but stood to replace one of the game’s best players in Robinson Cano. Adapting to his new environs and dealing with that pressure may have explained some of Roberts’s early-season struggles, writes Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. “I think it was more self-inflected than anything,” Roberts said of his slow start. “You try hard, I think. I’ve always said it’s got to be hard for guys to switch teams all the time. I was always so comfortable. It was like riding a bike every year.”
- The Nationals are increasingly setting loose ace Stephen Strasburg, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “I mean, he’s our horse,” said manager Matt Williams. “He’s a guy that can go 120 [pitches].” While Strasburg’s fastball velocity is down and his results have lagged somewhat in the early going — thanks in large part to giving up lots of early runs — he is striking out batters at a ridiculous 12.2 K/9 rate and advanced metrics love his work. Strasburg has thrown 47 1/3 frames through his first eight starts, which lags Adam Wainwright‘s league-leading 58 innings in as many outings. But if the 25-year-old can continue working late into games, he could well make his first push past 200 innings. That could deliver a big bump in arbitration earnings for Strasburg, who netted a relatively modest $3.975MM in his first trip through the process.
Brian Roberts spoke with Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun yesterday about his decision to join the Yankees and leave an Orioles organization that was the only one he'd ever played for professionally. Roberts explained that he decided to join a new club in part because "the opportunity to be an Oriole wasn't there anymore." The second baseman indicated that Baltimore never approached him about a return. "We really didn't have any conversations about [a return]," said Roberts. "I don't think it's my place as a player to necessarily go to an organization and ask for a job." Roberts had nothing but positive things to say about his time with the Orioles, but said he is excited at the chance to don pinstripes. "[W]e felt like that was the best opportunity when it came to everything we were looking for, when it came to an opportunity to play and an opportunity to win and several other things that our family was looking at."
Here are some more notes from the American League:
- The Mariners are "in on" closer Fernando Rodney, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Seattle was said to have interest in Rodney during the Winter Meetings. As Brown notes, other clubs in pursuit of the former Ray reportedly include the Mets and Orioles.
- While the Yankees may be done adding significant players before the start of the season, ESPN's Buster Olney explains (Insider subscription required and recommended) that New York could potentially add a talented player in a trade-deadline salary dump. Olney lists several players who could conceivably become available for little more than salary relief, depending upon their team's performance.
- Among the players on that list is Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle, who Olney says was dangled in trade talks within the past year. Olney calls the southpaw a "plow horse … being paid like a racehorse." The sturdy-but-unspectacular Buehrle is owed $37MM over 2014-15 under his backloaded deal. Moving the 34-year-old's contract could represent an easy way for the team to shed dollars if it is not in contention, says Olney.
- Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are still talking with the Cubs about acquiring pitcher Jeff Samardzija, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Indeed, Toronto has been the "most aggressive team" with regard to Samardzija, according to Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (via Twitter), although Chicago is still working to extend him even as the team explores trade options.
Sherman also has the breakdown of Roberts' incentives. He will receive $175K for reaching 250 and 300 plate appearances, $250K for 350 and 400 plate appearances, $300K for 450 and 500 plate appearances, $350K for 550 plate appearances and $400K for 600 and 650 plate appearances (Twitter link). All told, Roberts can earn $2.6MM worth of incentives (as the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly reported last month), meaning he can earn a total of $4.6MM on his one-year deal.
DEC. 17: The Yankees and second baseman Brian Roberts have agreed to a one-year deal worth $2MM plus incentives, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Morosi's colleague, Ken Rosenthal, reported last night that the two sides were likely to reach an agreement. Roberts is represented by Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX).
The 36-year-old Roberts played in 77 games last season — his highest total since 2009. He's spent his entire career with the Orioles to date, finishing a four-year, $40MM extension this past season that saw him play just 192 games and slash just .246/.310/.359 due to injuries. Over the life of that contract, Roberts was sidelined for significant amounts of time due to an abdominal strain, two concussions (one of which caused him to miss more than an entire season's worth of games), hip surgery and hamstring surgery.
Prior to that onslaught of injuries, the switch-hitting Roberts was a consistent threat at the plate and on the basepaths. From 2004-09, he batted .290/.365/.438 and averaged 46 doubles, four triples, 12 homers and 35 stolen bases per season. He's spent his entire career with to this point with the Orioles, who selected him with the 50th overall pick in the 1999 draft as compensation for the loss of free agent Rafael Palmeiro.
As Rosenthal notes (on Twitter), Roberts' low base salary will allow the Yankees to pursue other infield options. Mark Reynolds remains a possibility, and the team has also expressed interest in trading for Dustin Ackley. New York was also linked to Brandon Phillips in a rumor that gained quite a bit of attention, but that doesn't appear to be a likely outcome at this point.
Should Yankees fans be rooting for Alex Rodriguez to avoid a lengthy suspension? Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out that the Yankees' only chance of staying under the $189MM luxury tax limit is if A-Rod is suspended for the entire 2014 season, but the club would then have very little spending room to address its remaining needs. If Rodriguez is only suspended for 50 games or so, Sherman argues that the Yankees should abandon their plan of staying under the tax limit and spend freely to improve next year's roster. “We either have to be under $189MM or up over $200MM or more," a member of the organization tells Sherman. "Think how dumb it would look if we worked for a few years to get under $189MM and we didn’t and we were at like $192MM and just missed. Either we go under or way over.”
Here's some more from the Bronx…
- Also from Sherman, while the modified posting system will hurt the Yankees' chances of signing Masahiro Tanaka at a relative bargain (in terms of avoiding the luxury tax), the delay in finalizing the new posting agreement puts Tanaka's market closer to the Rodriguez arbitration decision. This will give the Yankees a better idea of their payroll situation and a better idea of what they'll be able to offer Tanaka. Sherman predicts a Rodriguez decision will come on either January 3rd or January 13th, with the latter date being preferable to MLB since it be after the Hall of Fame announcements.
- Brian Roberts' contract with the Yankees contains $2.6MM worth of incentives, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. All of the incentives are tied to plate appearances.
- The Yankees have stayed away from the closer market this winter, which The New York Post's Ken Davidoff interprets as a sign that the club has a lot of confidence in David Robertson to finish games in 2014. While the Yankees could still acquire a reliever with closing experience, Davidoff believes such an acquisition would likely be for depth rather than as legitimate competition for Robertson.
- Johan Santana could be a good investment for the Yankees on a minor league deal, ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews opines. Matthews also suggests Roy Oswalt could be a similar type of low-cost veteran signing, while Paul Maholm could be a safer (if more expensive) choice for the back of the rotation.
- In news from earlier today, the Yankees' signing of Carlos Beltran was made official, and New York created 40-man roster space for the slugger by designated righty Brett Marshall for assignment.
The longtime Orioles second baseman entered free agency for the first time this year after spending 13 years in Baltimore. He just finished off the last season of the four-year, $40MM extension (2010-13) that he signed before the 2009 season. The former All-Star played in just 192 games over the span of that contract, as he dealt with a host of injuries that included a serious concussion.
In 296 plate appearances in 2013, Roberts posted a .249/.312/.392 line. In 2009, his last full season of action, Roberts put up a then-typical .283/.356/.451 triple-slash. Once a plus defender, defensive analytics now see him as an approximately average fielder at the keystone. (In 2013, he registered a 5.1 UZR/150 and a neutral mark from The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved metric.)
From the Yankees' perspective, the addition of Roberts would not prevent the club from adding another bat to the infield, Rosenthal notes. New York may be hesitant to rely on a combination of Roberts and Kelly Johnson at second and third, particularly given Roberts' injury history. (Twitter links.) One possibility, in Rosenthal's estimation, is a re-signing of Mark Reynolds. And we heard earlier today that minor league signee Dean Anna could join the mix at second.
The latest from the AL East..
- The Yankees may have interest in Darwin Barney of the Cubs, tweets Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. The two sides have discussed the second baseman in the past and talks have been renewed in the wake of Omar Infante's agreement with the Royals. Barney had a down year in 2013, posting a .208/.266/.303 line in 501 plate appearances.
- Meanwhile, the Marlins are looking for a third baseman and are intrigued by free agent Casey McGehee, who played in Japan this year and led his team to a championship, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Back in October, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reported that McGehee was seeking a return to MLB. The 31-year-old hit .289/.371/.512 with 27 home runs in his first season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Wilson Betemit, who lost 2013 to injuries, has also been discussed as an option. Miami wants a third baseman with versatility, and McGehee and Betemit both fit the bill.
- Despite a little talk about other teams interest in Brian Roberts, he hasn’t been mentioned very often by the Orioles in the last few weeks, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- Rays infielder Tim Beckham, the top pick in the 2008 draft, will miss a good chunk of the 2014 season after suffering an ACL tear, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. He would have been a long shot to make the Opening Day roster but he likely would have seen action if Tampa Bay needed depth or had an injury to a middle infielder.