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Brian Tallet Rumors
Dewayne Wise and Brian Tallet are free agents after refusing outright assignments to Triple-A Las Vegas, the Blue Jays announced. The A's just claimed Edwin Encarnacion off of waivers, so the Blue Jays' once-massive class of arbitration eligible players is now down to 11. Like Encarnacion, Wise and Tallet were non-tender candidates, so it's not surprising to see either player hit the free agent market.
Wise, 32, played all three outfield positions for Cito Gaston's Blue Jays in 2010. He batted .250/.282/.393 in 118 plate appearances.
Tallet is effective against lefties, but he earned $2MM in 2010 and was getting expensive through arbitration. The 33-year-old pitched to a 6.40 ERA wtih 6.2 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 2010. Against left-handed hitters, Tallet posted 8.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9, so I listed him as one of five potential bargain lefties last month.
Teams are perpetually searching for effective left-handed relievers, so here are five southpaws who could become useful pieces at a bargain price next year. Some of the pitchers below are inching closer to 40, but Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver proved this year that there's no age limit for lefty specialists. The list focuses on pitchers who will likely sign for a couple million dollars at most, so I haven't included Hisanori Takahashi, Scott Downs and others:
- Randy Choate – The 35-year-old hits the open market as your prototypical 'left-handed one out guy.' He made 85 appearances in 2010, but logged just 44.3 innings. His numbers are strong (8.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 4.23 ERA) and suggest he could play anywhere, but teams that play in homer-friendly parks such as the D'Backs, Rockies and Brewers may take note of Choate's ability to keep the ball on the ground. His 60% ground ball rate ranked 15th among big league relievers with at least 20 innings.
- Will Ohman – Ohman, 33, recovered from a poor 2009 season and posted a 3.21 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 between the O's and Marlins. He's going to walk hitters, but he can still get lefties out.
- Ron Mahay – Mahay turns 40 in June, but that didn't stop him from posting a 3.44 ERA this year and striking out three times as many batters as he walked. He's not in position to demand a multi-year deal, but he could help someone's bullpen in 2011.
- Taylor Tankersley – The 27-year-old is the least predictable of the options listed, but possibly the most intriguing. Tankersley, a former first rounder, has struck out nearly a batter per inning in his big league career and has held lefties to a .223/.313/.372 line. There are drawbacks – he missed the 2009 season with a stress fracture in his pitching elbow and has trouble against righties – but Tankersley would be a good fit for the Pirates, Mets or Mariners at the right price. Why those clubs? As a fly ball pitcher, he probably fits best in a park that limits home runs and as an unproven pitcher, he fits best on a non-contender. That makes Pittsburgh, New York and Seattle potential fits.
- Brian Tallet – Unlike the pitchers above, Tallet won't necessarily hit the free agent market, but the 33-year-old is a non-tender candidate so he may be available by early December. Tallet, another fly ball pitcher, limited lefties to a stellar .176/.228/.343 line this year with a 28/6 K/BB ratio.
Dennys Reyes' 2010 numbers look OK, but don't let that 3.55 ERA fool you. Reyes posted a 0.54 ERA through May and a 5.91 ERA afterwards. He can induce grounders, but he walks more than one batter per two innings pitched.
Heading into this season, Brian Tallet's second year of arbitration eligibility, the Blue Jays nearly doubled the left-hander's 2009 salary, signing him for $2MM. Tallet hadn't enjoyed an overly successful 2009, recording a 5.32 ERA and 1.67 K/BB, but he was a useful innings eater for the Jays, starting 25 games and pitching 160.2 IP.
In 2010, Tallet hasn't even provided value as an innings eater, earning less than half the playing time he did a year ago. In 30 appearances (five starts), the southpaw, who turns 33 tomorrow, has seen his ERA (6.28) and BB/9 (4.5) rise, while his strikeout rate (5.9 K/9) has declined. Even if Tallet didn't receive a raise through arbitration this winter, it seems unlikely that the Jays would want to pay $2MM to a player coming off such an underwhelming season.
Tallet does have two factors working in his favor, however: three of Toronto's late-inning relievers (Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, and Jason Frasor) are facing possible free agency, meaning there could be plenty of holes to fill in the club's bullpen. Plus, the silver lining in Tallet's 2010 season has been his ability to shut down left-handed hitters. In 106 plate appearances against Tallet, lefties have hit just .181/.236/.362, striking out 26 times. The Jays have plenty of other options to fill out their 2011 rotation, so they could decide to retain Tallet not in a starting or mop-up role, but as a left-handed specialist out of the 'pen. At $2MM, there are worse investments.
Still, the 32-year-old's numbers against lefties this year may not translate to future success – for his career, left-handers have a .740 OPS against Tallet. And even if he continued to shut down lefties, the market price for LOOGYs isn't high. It took Joe Beimel, who has filled a similar role in Colorado this season, nearly the entire offseason to land a one-year, $850K minor league deal with the Rockies.
Brian Tallet, Edwin Encarnacion and Vernon Wells have all cleared waivers, tweets Bob Elliott of The Toronto Sun. We'll overlook Wells since no team will take on his mammoth contract, but the other two Blue Jays could draw some trade interest.
Tallet has a bit more than $500K remaining on his contract, and has held left-handed batters to a .474 OPS this season. Minnesota just lost Jose Mijares for the next month and could be in the market for a lefty reliever. The Twins have been connected to the Jays in trade rumors about relievers ever since Joe Nathan went on the shelf during spring training. The two clubs weren't able to agree to a deal for the likes of Scott Downs or Jason Frasor, but Tallet would be available at a much lower price.
Encarnacion is a bit of a tougher sell. He has about $1.3MM left on his contract, hasn't hit much (.242/.305/.458) and has an infamously shaky third base glove. That slugging percentage might lead a team or two to make a call, but unless a contender has a sudden injury to a starting third baseman, there might not be much of a market for the 27-year-old.
That said, such an injury just occurred in Atlanta. If the Braves feel they need reinforcements to fill the Chipper Jones void, Toronto could be happy to make a trade. Moving Encarnacion would likely mean that Jose Bautista gets most of the time at third base for the Jays, thus creating more outfield playing time for Travis Snider and Fred Lewis.
SUNDAY, 11:50am: The Mariners have intensified their search for starting pitching, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The duo names Nate Robertson, Brian Tallet, and Manny Parra as a few left-handers who may be available while the M's wait for their own lefties (Lee and Erik Bedard) to return from injuries. FOX's Tracy Ringolsby adds (via Twitter) that the team had a scout on hand to watch Tim Redding pitch yesterday.
SATURDAY, 4:16pm: Fanhouse's Ed Price tweets that the Mariners are now strongly considering adding a starting pitcher due to Lee's injury. Price suggests that the addition would be a free agent or someone who was released from another organization.
THURSDAY, 12:12pm: The Mariners are "now again seriously considering Jarrod Washburn," tweets SI's Jon Heyman, even though he says the team is hoping to have Cliff Lee back by the third week of the season.
On Sunday, Washburn told ESPN's Mike Salk there have been "no recent conversations" between the Mariners and his agent Scott Boras. The added wrinkle is that Salk feels Washburn would need about four weeks to be game-ready.
A National League executive tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the D'Backs are exploring trades for rotation depth. Brandon Webb is recovering from a shoulder injury, so the D'Backs have some concern about their starting five. Right now, that group consists of Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson and some combination of Ian Kennedy, Billy Buckner, Kevin Mulvey and Rodrigo Lopez.
Sherman says the Yankees are "almost certain" to trade Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre before the season starts. Like their division rivals, the Blue Jays could trade starting pitching. The D'Backs had interest in Jays pitcher Dana Eveland earlier in the offseason. Sherman says the Blue Jays would be very happy to move Eveland or Brian Tallet.
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.
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Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com suggests the Blue Jays might want to set their sights on 2010, after which they stand to lose Lyle Overbay, Scott Downs, Scott Rolen, and Roy Halladay to free agency. Not to mention Cito Gaston and J.P. Ricciardi, whose contracts will both expire barring an extension. Morosi writes,
"Six pitchers currently reside on the disabled list, and ace Roy Halladay was a recent visitor. Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, signed through 2014, haven't been hitting. The team is in fourth place and would probably need to climb the standings quickly in order to convince ownership that additions to an $80 million payroll are warranted this month."
Morosi adds the following:
- Halladay is not going anywhere.
- Ricky Romero and Scott Richmond are most likely staying put, says Morosi, and I doubt anyone here disagrees.
- Pitching is not a need for 2010 with the anticipated return of Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum, and Dustin McGowan.
- The Jays are almost certain to keep Downs, who has become a premier reliever in the American League.
Morosi suggests, the Jays trade a pitcher or two to boost their team OPS which lags in the AL East behind the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays. Given the above, Morosi suggests Brian Tallet as a trade chip. "Tallet could be looked upon as a viable option for teams looking for a mid-rotation left-handed starter, particularly if the Mariners stay in the race and elect not to move Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn."
They may also look at dealing from their collection of right-handed setup men, such as Casey Janssen, Jeremy Accardo, Brandon League, or Jason Frasor. Just speculating here but Janssen may be the most attractive since he can start. As a reliever in 2007, Janssen had a 2.35 ERA in 72.2 IP with 6 saves before missing 2008 with a torn labrum.
Morosi has a few more bullet points to discuss:
- Freddy Sanchez's contract contains an $8MM option for 2010 that automatically vests after 635 PAs, or only 600 if he makes the All Star team. So, it stands to reason that Sanchez will either make the All Star Team or see his trade value increase. This may be moot given Sanchez is on pace for 660 plate appearances. Morosi says one Mariners official doesn't think Pittsburgh is considering trading Sanchez. The M's have need for a pure hitter as well as a second baseman given concerns about Jose Lopez ability to stay at 2B long term.
- The M's asked about Jeremy Hermida, but there wasn't a lot of movement. Morosi notes Hermida's trade value has fallen significantly.
- Kevin Correia is pitching fantastically but the Padres haven't put him on the open market. Morosi doesn't report much excitement among other clubs.
- Morosi says "one person in the industry who knows Oakland general manager Billy Beane well," guessed Matt Holliday will stay with the team so Beane could collect the compensatory draft picks. Morosi quotes the source: "Billy loves the draft."
According to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, the Blue Jays avoided arbitration with reliever Brian Tallet by signing him at $1.015MM for ’09. Tallet, 31, held lefties to a .257/.327/.327 line in 2008.
In other lefty reliever news, MLBTR has learned that George Sherrill will agree to terms with the Orioles today or tomorrow. Sherrill had submitted at $3.4MM while the Orioles countered at $2.2MM.
Let’s round up some linkage.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney wonders if Adam Everett would be a good fit for the Dodgers.
- Phillies pitcher Adam Eaton accepted a minor league assignment today. It seems that J.A. Happ will replace him.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America thinks the only first-round pick who might not sign will be San Diego’s Allan Dykstra.
- I did a Q&A with Mets Fans Forever.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak dismissed the idea of trading Kyle Lohse. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe believes the Cardinals have the best shot at acquiring A.J. Burnett. But don’t forget that interesting suggestion yesterday from John Perrotto: the Jays might offer Burnett an additional $2MM in ’09 and ’10 to entice him to stay.
- Marlins catcher Matt Treanor had a setback, increasing their need to acquire a backstop.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon says the chances of a trade are "50-50 at best."
- The D’Backs are still talking extension with Cy Young contender Dan Haren, who is signed cheaply through 2010.
- Blue Jays reliever Brian Tallet is out at least three weeks with a broken toe; bad timing for potential suitors like the Mets.
- I did the Drunk Jays Fans podcast last night.
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