Brian Matusz Rumors
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.
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.
Let's kick off the morning with some random links.
- Live chat here today at 2pm CST.
- Brian Matusz is hopeful about striking a deal with the Orioles by Friday's deadline. Roch Kubatko has a source saying it's likely.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis warns us not to listen to the posturing - he still expects all the first-round draft picks to sign with the possible exception of Allan Dykstra.
- Should the Mariners offer Raul Ibanez a three-year deal at $10-11MM per?
- No word yet on possible Rays acquisitions in wake of the Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria injuries. Marc Lancaster wonders if Kenny Lofton or...don't say it...Barry Bonds would make sense.
- The Mets had no interest in Adam Dunn. They wonder about his passion, according to Joel Sherman. Did you know he doesn't like baseball?
- The Phillies were more interested in Casey Blake than Manny Ramirez.
- Athletics Nation looks at some free agent options for '09.
- Shannon Stewart didn't understand his latest Blue Jay Experience.
- The Yankees, Mets, Angels, and Padres have scouts at the Olympics to watch Hitoki Iwase, Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami, Yu Darvish, and Kyuji Fujikawa.
Let's round up some links concerning the unsigned '08 draft picks.
- The Orioles haven't made much progress with Brian Matusz, but they haven't gone backward either. His agent seems cautiously optimistic.
- Reds top pick Yonder Alonso told the Miami Herald there's a 50-50 chance he doesn't sign and goes back to college. One of Alonso's "advisors" said the Reds and Alonso were way off on figures.
- Sam Mellinger says some think Royals top pick Eric Hosmer might be willing to try college. Hosmer is advised by Scott Boras. Mellinger considers fourth round pick/first round talent Tim Melville the Royals' backup plan. Ideally, they'll sign both high-ceiling talents.
- How much of this is just posturing? We'll know on August 16th.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo reminds us of baseball's next deadline: this year's draft picks must be signed by end of day August 15th. Mayo provides links updating progress on unsigned top ten picks Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer, Yonder Alonso, and Aaron Crow. No news on Gordon Beckham.
- Roch Kubatko says both the Orioles and Brian Matusz remain confident a deal will be done. No hard feelings on either side regarding the delay.
- Based on this Q&A with Nationals GM Jim Bowden, talks with Crow apparently haven't gotten too far.
- As for Alvarez, the Pirates have a dollar figure they'd prefer not to exceed.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo has some draft tidbits tonight.
- The idea has been floated that the Rays could draft Pedro Alvarez with an eye on moving Evan Longoria to second base down the road. Alvarez's position really shouldn't be a concern - Carlos Pena might be gone by the time he's ready. Mayo's heard buzz that the Rays have narrowed it down to Alvarez or Buster Posey, despite what Tim Beckham's dad said.
- Standard speculation is that the O's are looking at Brian Matusz and Justin Smoak, but Mayo's heard there might be a non-Beckham dark horse.
- The White Sox have Smoak, Yonder Alonso, and perhaps Andrew Cashner on their radar at #8.
With last year's top pick, David Price, making his pro debut yesterday, we are now two weeks from the 2008 "Rule 4 Draft" and the top of the draft is not as clear this time around. There are five candidates that could go in the top slot: Buster Posey, the FSU catcher; Vanderbilt's third baseman Pedro Alvarez; San Diego lefty Brian Matusz; Southern California high school catcher Kyle Skipworth, and Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham. Earlier this week we heard that the Rays were leaning towards Posey or Alvarez, while the Pirates were said to be torn between Alvarez and Beckham with the second pick. Recent mock drafts from Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, have Beckham going to the Rays with the top pick.
Let's take a look at what is being said about the upcoming draft in the Blogosphere...
- Minor League Ball ranks the top 30 prospects, with Posey and Beckham at the top of the board, while Alvarez' injury knocks him down to #8.
- Baseball Mastermind would like to see a push for a little more hype in the baseball draft and feels that baseball fans would benefit from more debate on the merits of the available talent. They also can't see the Rays taking Alvarez with the top pick now that they have Evan Longoria locked up to a long-term deal.
- DRays Bay wonders if recent reports of the Rays drafting Beckham or Posey were just smoke-screens to lower the price on Alvarez, who is a Scott Boras client.
- Rays of Light note that Alvarez would be the ideal choice, but believe signability may be too big of a factor to ignore, making Posey more attractive.
- Bucs Dugout feels a team should select the best available player with the second pick, but suggests that a team like the Pirates, that is still several years away from contending, may be better off drafting high school talent. The idea is that an Alvarez will not help a Bucs club in '09 or '10 while a Beckham will remain under the team's control for more years.
- Camden Depot doesn't sound very excited about the prospect of the Orioles drafting Matusz.
- McCovey Chronicles is hoping that Alvarez falls to the Giants at #5.
In a recent blog post, ESPN's Peter Gammons told us not to be surprised if the Rays take Florida State catcher Buster Posey first overall in the June draft. Posey, a former shortstop, has the skills and frame to behind the plate in his career.
Baseball America's Jim Callis recently analyzed the Rays' most likely options (print issue 0809). He doesn't see the Rays choosing Boras-represented corner infielder Pedro Alvarez. Pitchers Brian Matusz and Aaron Crow and shortstop Tim Beckham are the top talents after Alvarez. Callis, like Gammons, notes that the Rays could go for Posey if they choose to draft for their "biggest organizational weakness."
It seems that the experts' expectation for the Rays' pick is Beckham, but we'll keep you updated in the coming months.