Brian Wilson Rumors
The St. Louis Cardinals are the class of the National League right now, having won exactly two-thirds of their first 39 games. They're fourth in the league in OBP and ninth in slugging, and third in runs scored per game partially due fantastic work with runners in scoring position. Their rotation has easily been the league's best with a 2.33 ERA, even without Chris Carpenter. While the Jason Motte-less bullpen has an NL-worst 5.00 ERA, it's at 3.27 in May, with most of the damage coming in one Carlos Martinez outing. By measure of FanGraphs WAR, Adam Wainwright, Matt Carpenter, Shelby Miller, and Yadier Molina have been the team MVPs so far. Now let's look at some links from elsewhere around the NL...
- First baseman Anthony Rizzo has a new seven-year, $41MM deal with the Cubs, but pitcher Jeff Samardzija says he isn't ready to talk contract with the club, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. "Absolutely not," said the pitcher when asked if he's looking to hammer out an extension. "Nope. This is a great team, really coming around right now, playing great baseball. I'm just really looking to keep this going. It's fun to play with these guys." Samardzija, 28, will have four years of Major League service after the season. This is just a theory of mine, but having been lured away from football in '06 with a $10MM contract, Samardzija has more financial security at this point in his career than most players, and continuing to bet on his talent will enable him to maximize his next contract.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com that he hasn't been in touch with former closer Brian Wilson lately. Sabean says that he doesn't know how Wilson is throwing but has heard The Beard is "working out like a fiend" and is "going to try to showcase himself over the All-Star break or thereabouts."
- The Phillies issued a statement regarding Roy Halladay today: "Roy had successful shoulder surgery yesterday. He had an arthroscopic evaluation and underwent debridement of his labrum and rotator cuff as well as removal of an inflamed bursa. He'll begin a progressive rehabilitation program and if all goes well, he may possibly begin a throwing program in 6-8 weeks." The 36-year-old will be eligible for free agency after the season. Scrambling for depth in the wake of the injuries to Halladay and John Lannan, the Phillies signed Carlos Zambrano to a minor league deal yesterday with a July 1st opt-out date.
- In other NL East injury news, the Braves announced reliever Jonny Venters had the second Tommy John procedure of his career today. The 28-year-old will be arbitration eligible for the second time after the season, with an expected salary similar to this year's $1.625MM.
- A clerical error could have enabled Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt to pocket an extra $500K a few years back, but he wasn't willing to pocket the money, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle via Affeldt's book, "To Stir a Movement." Affeldt believes his subsequent contract with the Giants went smoothly partly because of that decision.
In his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark looks at what we've learned around the 30-game mark of the season. The Red Sox have spent their money better than any team in baseball as Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara, and Shane Victorino (before his back issues) have gotten off to excellent starts. Meanwhile, it looks like the Braves have made the best trade of anyone so far as they landed Justin Upton and Chris Johnson for Martin Prado and four players that aren't currently in the majors. Here's more from today's column..
- Teams that have checked in on Brian Wilson have been told that his target date to throw for interested clubs should be around the All-Star break. Wilson wants to ensure that he's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery before auditioning again.
- Giancarlo Stanton's hamstring injury should probably put any talk of a July trade to rest. "If they trade him in-season, they probably wouldn't get any major league talent," said one exec. "So given everything that's happened with their team and their attendance, are they really in a position to make a deal for him where they just get back prospects? Probably not." The exec concluded that the Marlins are better off waiting until the offseason and getting big league ready talent back for their star.
- The Rays may be the most closely-watched team in the league by contenders over the next few months. Teams know the Rays will keep David Price in July if they're alive in the AL East, and will listen hard if they're out of contention. If they're caught in between, one exec believes that the Rays still might move him if they feel like they're not good enough to win it all. The hurler's price tag is expected to by skyhigh if he hits the open market after the 2015 season.
- The buzzards are already starting to circle over the Phillies, Stark writes, but club officials have told teams that have checked in that they still expect their club to contend and won't even think about selling for another two months.
- If a Phillies sell-off happens, the biggest buzz would include impending free agent Chase Utley. One exec who has checked into things says his impression is that the Phillies would approach Utley first and get a feel for whether he wants to go elsewhere. Utley, who will be just short of 10-and-5 rights at the deadline - can block trades to 21 teams.
- Execs say they'd rather trade for Lucas Harrell than Bud Norris if they had a choice between the Astros pitchers. Harrell has two more years of control and one scout says that the big knock on Norris is that he's still basically a "two-pitch guy". Quite a few teams also think he profiles more as a bullpen weapon on a contender even though he's the Astros' ace.
- The Yankees want a right-handed bat, but one scout feels that they don't have enough pieces to land an impact deal. The Bombers added one right-handed hitter when they traded for Chris Nelson earlier this week.
The Marlins were questioned about their decision to overlook service time considerations when they added Jose Fernandez to their Opening Day roster. So far, the gamble is working for Miami. The 20-year-old, who is making the jump from High-A ball and is the youngest player on a 2013 Opening Day roster, was outstanding in his MLB debut striking out eight (a franchise record for a debut) while allowing only three hits and one walk in five innings of the Marlins' walkoff loss to the Mets. Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel notes Fernandez is just the seventh starter under the age of 21 to record at least eight strikeouts in his MLB debut since 1916 and only the fourth pitcher in the past 13 years to record six or more strikeouts in his debut joining Oliver Perez, Clayton Kershaw, and teammate Jacob Turner (Twitter link). In other news and notes from the National League:
- Dexter Fowler credits his early season success to the security of his recent two-year, $11.6MM contract extension, writes the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck. Fowler believes the investment shows the Rockies now see him as part of their core and not just a trade chip for pitching.
- A former minority owner of the Pirates believes owner Bob Nutting "is too rational a businessman to ever spend more money to build a winner," reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Conventional wisdom says the economic playing field is too uneven for the Pirates to be competitive without a larger payroll. Ex-Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg, a Pittsburgh native, disagrees telling Biertempfel, "The days when any franchise was revenue-challenged are long over. There is so much revenue in baseball, not just at the local level but also national revenues that sustain every franchise as well as enormous amounts of revenue sharing. Every franchise has the ability to compete without losing money."
- The Giants held their World Series ring ceremony today and and there were some notable no-shows. According to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com, Brian Wilson was invited, but never responded dampening the prospects of a reunion when the Giants' former closer fully recovers from Tommy John surgery. Guillermo Mota meanwhile had a prior family committment, but Baggarly writes he has thrown for the Orioles and could sign a Triple-A contract with them.
- Reliever Mike MacDougal has signed a minor league deal with the Reds, reports Baseball America's Matt Eddy. MLBTR reported exclusively in February the 35-year-old would throw a bullpen for interested teams. MacDougal appeared in just seven games for the Dodgers in 2012, but he posted a 2.05 ERA in 69 appearances with them in 2011.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe spoke with Indians manager Terry Francona, who is very grateful to have a fresh start. Francona would love to make things competitive with the Tigers in his first season in Cleveland, but he's not getting ahead of himself. “There are good teams in our division,” said Francona. “We know how good Detroit is, but you know we can’t approach the season like that. We know we’re playing Toronto first and we have to take care of things with them and then move on to the next series." Here's more from Cafardo..
- Carlos Zambrano is an intriguing free agent, but his reputation as a bad clubhouse guy coupled with his downward-trending performance has kept teams away. “You’ve got to be up for what he brings,” said an NL GM. “Not saying the guy hasn’t been good in his career because he has, but when things go bad, he has a rap sheet that shows how he reacts, and that’s hard to overcome.” The 31-year-old boasts a career 3.66 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
- Brian Wilson could be an option for the Tigers once he’s ready, but one National League GM says that he's going to stick to his plan of not letting anyone see him throw until he's 100%, “I think everyone is anxious to see when that time comes, because if he gets it back to what he used to be, he’s going to help someone immediately down the stretch of a pennant race,” said the GM. Cafardo won't rule out a return to the Giants for Wilson either.
- The serious spleen injury suffered by free agent right-hander Carl Pavano has put baseball in the distant future and could even spell the end of his career. Pavano lost a significant amount of blood and faces a long recovery after he fell at his Vermont home while shoveling snow.
- People in baseball have long been wondering when the Cubs will trade Alfonso Soriano, but Cafardo notes that the veteran seems especially happy with the club and has played with intensity through spring training. Soriano is set to earn $18MM in each of the next two seasons.
Free agent reliever Brian Wilson is still working to rehab from his second Tommy John surgery and prefers not to audition for clubs until he is 100 percent, a source with knowledge of pitcher's situation told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. That means that it might be several weeks into the season until the former Giants standout is ready to sign.
Wilson is currently throwing bullpen sessions and is said to be at about “80 to 85 percent.” The soon-to-be 31-year-old threw in January for the Mets and his subpar showing led him to decide to wait until he is 100% before auditioning again.
It usually takes at least 12 months before a pitcher regains full strength following Tommy John surgery and Wilson, who went under the knife last April, is still shy of his one year anniversary. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy says that the club has not ruled out a return for Wilson while the Mets are an unlikely destination.
In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required), Buster Olney lists the Angels renewing Mike Trout's contract for $510K as one of the biggest issues facing baseball today. Craig Landis, the agent for the AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up, said the renewal "falls well short of a 'fair' contract." Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register agrees considering Joe Blanton will receive a $500K bonus from the Angels if he throws 200 innings and the team gave a $250K signing bonus to free agent reliever Sean Burnett. Olney, however, writes it makes almost no sense for Trout to refuse to sign his contract tender and have a negotiation flare-up so early in his career because he will reap millions from the system later on. For his part, the 21-year-old is quoted by Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter) as saying, "I've got to keep putting up numbers. My time will come." Elsewhere from MLB's West Divisions:
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports the Angels don't expect any of this will ruffle enough feathers to sour Trout's desire to sign an extension and cites similar situations involving Adam Jones, Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, David Wright, and Jered Weaver.
- The Diamondbacks renewed Wade Miley's contract for $500,500, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The left-hander earned All-Star honors last year while finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio the team has not closed the door on former closer Brian Wilson (Twitter link).
- The Dodgers will have questions to answer in left field and the leadoff spot because Carl Crawford will likely not be ready to open the season, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Manager Don Mattingly will use a variety of in-house options including Cuban import Yasel Puig.
- If non-roster invitee third baseman Nolan Arenado continues his torrid play during camp and shows he's ready, it could allow the Rockies to use their depth at third base to acquire more pitching, tweets the Denver Post's Troy Renck.
- Cody Ross was disappointed by the lack of interest from West Coast teams during his free agency this offseason until the Diamondbacks called "out of nowhere," reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "My wife and I were jumping up and down," said Ross, a Phoenix resident. "We were so excited to live at home and play at home and be around a good bunch of guys and great coaches, and a front office that’s committed to winning."
- Earlier today, we learned Hunter Pence would rather sign a long-term contract with the Giants rather than test free agency.
Giants pitcher Barry Zito says that he would be open to a contract extension and wants to stay a Giant until he retires, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The left-hander is entering the final year of his seven-year, $126MM deal, which includes a $7MM buyout for his option on the 2014 season. Zito can have the full $18MM option vest with 200 innings of work in 2013. He hasn't reached that total since 2006, but he has come within eight innings of 200 in three of his seasons in San Francisco. Here's more on the Giants, courtesy of Schulman..
- General Manager Sabean says he and Brian Wilson just aren't on the same page, Schulman tweets. Wilson wants more guaranteed money in the deal while the Giants want something heavily based on incentives.
- Sabean said he "lost contact" with Theriot after a winter meetings overture, according to Schulman (on Twitter). Sabean also says that he is open to talking about a long-term deal with Buster Posey. If the Giants start things up with Theriot again, they'll have competition from the Indians, Rangers, and others.
- If Sergio Romo pitches a true closer's workload, his two-year, $9MM deal could rise to $10.5MM in total with incentives and escalators for games finished, Schulman tweets.
The MLBPA announced that Dave Prouty has been promoted to the position of general counsel, replacing executive director Michael Weiner in that role. The 54-year-old Prouty becomes the fourth general counsel in the history of the MLBPA. “I am confident that Dave will excel in his new role and that the players will continue to receive the high level of legal representation they have come to expect from their union,” Weiner said. Here are some links from around MLB...
- While emphasizing that GM Brian Sabean decides which players to sign, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy won't rule out a return for Brian Wilson, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. "I can't say that [Wilson] will be back." But, Bochy added, "I can't say the door's closed on Brian Wilson. ... I don't think that's completely shut."
- The Mets are still hopeful on Michael Bourn and General Manager Sandy Alderson talking about him publicly is a positive sign, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, nothing appears to be imminent between the club and the top remaining free agent left on the open market.
- In an appearance on ESPN Dallas’ the Ben & Skin Show, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said he hopes to stay in Texas long-term (story via Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com). However, the Scott Boras client said he’s prepared to “see what happens” when his contract expires following the 2014 season. “We’re still talking about it. That’s all I can say. For sure, I would love to stay here.”
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti suggested on MLB Network that free agent third baseman Scott Rolen will "probably end up some other place than Los Angeles,"Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. The Dodgers had “some interest” in bringing Rolen on to provide depth at the corner infielder positions, Colletti acknowledged.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has the details on the incentives included in the contracts for Kyle Farnsworth and Kelly Johnson. The Rays announced their deals with both players yesterday.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Mets' search for bullpen help has led them to some prominent free agent relievers. The Mets are pursuing Jose Valverde, and would even consider bringing Francisco Rodriguez back to New York, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. However, a deal with Brian Wilson is now considered “very unlikely.”
The Mets are interested in signing Valverde, but only on their terms. Rubin suggests the Mets might be prepared to guarantee Valverde $4MM on a deal with significant incentives. Though the Mets have some interest in Rodriguez, he is believed to be seeking about $7MM, according to Rubin. Both free agent right-handers are clients of the Boras Corporation.
The Mets visited Roy Oswalt to convince him to join the team as its closer, Rubin reports. Oswalt is not interested in becoming a closer, so he’s no longer an option for GM Sandy Alderson. The Mets have one serious offer out to a late-inning reliever who’s not a closer, Rubin adds. The team expects to hear back from the player shortly.
Earlier today, Mets GM Sandy Alderson joined Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio. Here's a look at some highlights with all links going to Bowden's Twitter..
- The GM said that he would be very reluctant to give up a first-round pick to sign Michael Bourn, but Bowden (on Twitter) got the impression that they are considering the possibility because of the strength of their farm system. The Mets have interest in Bourn and the player's union could potentially support them if they try and argue that their No. 11 pick should be protected from compensation.
- Alderson said that the club may go back and see Brian Wilson pitch again in a few days (Twitter link). The last time they saw the former Giants closer it was early on in his process. It has been said that the Mets would jump at the chance to sign Wilson to a minor league deal, but that seems unlikely.
- Alderson implied that if the trade of Justin Upton to the Braves had happened before Scott Hairston's signing with the Cubs, the club may have had a chance to grab Hairston (Twitter link). Meanwhile, the GM says that he is still looking for ways to upgrade the outfield.