Bronson Arroyo Rumors
There were no new developments today relating to Matt Garza, who looked to have a deal in place with the Brewers yesterday before an unidentified snag held things up. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provided some updates from the inside, however, reporting that a source said negotiations were "ongoing." When asked whether there were any new developments, GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt "nothing yet."
Here are a few bits of information elsewhere on the current free agent pitching market:
- Bronson Arroyo and the Dodgers have had discussions since Masahiro Tanaka chose not to sign with Los Angeles, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The level of interest remains uncertain, Heyman notes.
- The Angels have "a bit" of interest in Arroyo but are also content to take their current group to Spring Training, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Angels acquired Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs this offseason to join Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards in the rotation.
- It's been a different type of offseason for the Angels this year, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, noting the patience and restraint the team has shown on the free agent market. Gonzalez notes that the Angels aren't interested in Matt Garza at the $13MM AAV he would receive in his near-deal with the Brewers, as it would push them up against the luxury tax threshold. He lists Arroyo, Jason Hammel, Chris Capuano, Scott Baker and Paul Maholm as potential rotation options that would leave some cushion between Anaheim's payroll and the luxury tax.
- With a lot of starters still available on the open market, there are plenty of teams that have yet to fill up their slate of rotation candidates. Joining the O's and Jays among the clubs that are looking for starters are both of Chicago's two franchises, according to Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (via Twitter). Levine indicates that the Cubs are looking over the list of remaining free agents, but he does not say whether the White Sox have any interest in open-market players.
- MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks the team is done making "major" additions, but tweaks are still possible. However, semantics could come into play heavily, as manager Lloyd McClendon said the team would still like to add a No. 3 starter, per ESPN 710's Shannon Drayer (Twitter link). New team president and COO Kevin Mather indicated today that the club would have the financial resources necessary to make more additions before the start of the season.
- There are five clubs vying for the services of Hammel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Hammel is expected to choose a landing spot within a week.
- Swingman Jerome Williams has offers on the table from at least three clubs, Cotillo tweets. He, too, appears to be nearing a decision point.
- Southpaw reliever Tim Byrdak will not be re-signing with the Mets, the reliever tweeted (via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com). The 40-year-old indicated that the team decided against signing him.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
According to separate reports, both the Orioles and Blue Jays are active in the market for starting pitching. Both clubs have been fairly quiet in free agency to date, at least in terms of dollars committed. (Baltimore gave $4.5MM to Ryan Webb, but otherwise has not promised much above league minimum for any players; Toronto has given out only one MLB contract, guaranteeing $8MM to Dioner Navarro.)
The Orioles have had "recent, active dialogue" with several starters, including sought-after names like Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Bronson Arroyo, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). As Connolly recently reported, the club's interest in closer Fernando Rodney may take a backseat to starting pitching in terms of priority.
Meanwhile, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says that the club is "not done yet," as Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Noting that plenty of options remain, Anthopoulos expressed hope in making new acquisitions, but cautioned that, "at the same time we're not going to force anything." The Toronto GM said that the club likes the upside of several of its in-house starting options, including the rehabbing Brandon Morrow. He also warned that players with draft-pick compensation attached -- which can refer only to Santana and Jimenez, among pitchers -- could remain unsigned "into February and even into March."
With Masahiro Tanaka off of the market and Matt Garza seemingly close to following him, the starting pitching dam may finally have burst. As I noted on Tuesday, the long delay in Tanaka's situation has left an unprecedented number of substantial free agent business left to complete just weeks before the start of Spring Training -- especially with respect to a number of quality rotation options.
Here's the latest from around the American League East:
- Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp could still be dealt before Opening Day, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Though Boston has reportedly held out for a substantial return for Carp, and the club values the depth he provies, he might be worth more to other clubs who could deploy him more regularly.
- Meanwhile, extension talks still have yet to begin between Jon Lester and the Boston front office, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Clayton Kershaw's extension does not necessarily serve as a comparable for Lester's purposes, says Bradford, but his absence from the open market could have an impact.
- The Orioles are having ongoing discussions with free agent starter Bronson Arroyo, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). We learned recently that Baltimore had active interest in the veteran.
- Confirming recent reports, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said today that the price of pitchers on the free agent and trade market remains too high for the club's liking, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets.
- Recent comments from Alex Rodriguez and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner indicate that both sides believe a return to the field in 2015 is a realistic possibility. Rodriguez sounds as though he has accepted the likelihood that he will ultimately sit out the entire 2014 campaign, but a spokesman said Rodriguez would "get ready for 2015 should the judge rule against him" in his court challenge against his full-season suspension. Steinbrenner, meanwhile, said that Rodriguez is "an asset" on the field and insisted the club would take a business approach to dealing with Rodriguez's situation going forward.
Even after signing Dan Haren earlier in the offseason and agreeing to extend Clayton Kershaw today, the Dodgers hope to add another arm to their staff, report Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Masahiro Tanaka is a possibility, but would be an ownership call, while Bronson Arroyo is also on the team's "short list" of options.
Club GM Ned Colletti has said that, despite inking Haren, another starter addition remained possible. The rotation presumably will include Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu in addition to Haren. For the fifth spot, absent a new signing, the club would be expected to host a Spring Training competition between veterans Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley.
While Beckett and Billingsley remain question marks due to injury issues, the two are owed a combined $27.75MM by Los Angeles next year. Presumably, either or both could become trade candidates in the event that another starter is brought in.
In his latest column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe revealed that he is part of a BBWAA committee that will explore the Hall of Fame voting process and discuss what changes (if any) need to be made. Some of the issues likely to be addressed by the committee is whether to allow voters to name more than 10 players on their ballots, whether or not long-time broadcasters or statistical analysis-centric writers should be given a say in HOF voting.
Here's the latest hot stove news from Cafardo...
- Two new teams have joined the hunt for Bronson Arroyo. At least one of his suitors is moving closer to giving Arroyo the third contract year he's looking for, though that third year could come in the form of a vesting option. Cafardo isn't sure if the Twins were that mystery team, though they've been interested in Arroyo all winter. He also cites the Yankees and Phillies as interested parties, as those two clubs join the likes of the Orioles, Mets and Pirates as those linked to the veteran righty this winter. Cafardo reported last month that Arroyo has received two-year contract offers from four different teams.
- Free agent Lyle Overbay is an option for both the Astros and Brewers at first base. Milwaukee is also still considering signing Michael Young for first, or trading for Mitch Moreland of the Rangers.
- Agent Scott Boras says “there are five or six teams who I have actively talked to concerning Stephen [Drew],” including the Red Sox. As you might expect, Boras denied that Drew's market is in any way limited, noting that Drew doesn't have a new contract yet since "free agency is a long process. It just doesn’t end at Christmas. It’s a January, February, and even a March process."
- Boras "has a tremendous stake in the Red Sox’ present and future," Cafardo writes, noting that the agent represents not just Drew, but also top youngsters Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley and Deven Marrero.
- "The silence on [Kendrys] Morales is deafening," as teams are reluctant to give up a first round draft pick as compensation for the slugger. At least one team said they're leery about spending significant money for a DH, though Boras, Morales' agent, counters by noting the impact that David Ortiz has had on the Red Sox and also noting that his client can play first base.
- Johnny Damon has stayed in shape and would be willing to resume his career. The 40-year-old hinted at retirement if he couldn't find a contract last offseason and indeed Damon ended up sitting out the 2013. Damon is also a Boras client, and the agent tells Cafardo that Damon has yet to contact him about officially retiring.
- Manny Ramirez wants to continue his career, his hitting coach David Segui predicts, though Segui hasn't spoken to Ramirez in over two months. “Manny will always be able to hit,” Segui said. “He loves to play, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s still looking for something.” Ramirez's agent, Barry Praver, said in November that his client looking for a return to the Majors. Ramirez, 41, last played with the bigs with the Rays in 2011 before being suspended for PED use. Over the last two years, Ramirez spent some time with the Athletics' and Rangers' Triple-A affiliates and also played in Taiwan.
- A National League GM predicts that one of Masahiro Tanaka's many suitors will "come in and blow everyone away. There’s going to be a dance where everyone is in the same boat and then there will be a team that breaks the bank for him.”
Reports yesterday once again connected the Orioles to right-hander Bronson Arroyo, reviving some early offseason linking between the two sides. In his latest piece, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun runs down the list of potential targets for Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, including Arroyo.
Connolly offers a familiar refrain regarding Arroyo, writing that the right-hander seeks a three-year guarantee. Arroyo has been linked to many clubs to this point, but none has been willing to offer a third guaranteed season to the longtime Reds hurler to this point. Though Arroyo is as durable as any starter in the game, having authored nine consecutive seasons of 199 or more innings, he also turns 37 in February, making such a commitment a risk. Connolly writes that there is a sense that Arroyo would go to Baltimore if guaranteed a third season, and the club is "definitely interested." Duquette and the Orioles have maintained an ongoing dialogue with Arroyo's agent, Terry Bross, Connolly adds.
The Orioles have also had internal discussions about bringing back a familiar face in the form of left-hander Bruce Chen, Connolly reports. Chen's name has scarcely been mentioned to this point in the offseason, but the soft-tossing southpaw is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.27 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 121 innings for the Royals. Of course, Chen also posted an astoundingly low 27.7 percent ground-ball rate in 2013, and his 51.9 percent fly-ball rate was the highest in the Majors for pitchers with at least 100 innings. Clearly, such trends would not bode well for a transition to the hitter-friendly parks of the AL East. LIke Arroyo, Chen will turn 37 this year.
Jason Hammel still doesn't figure to be an option for the O's, though Connolly seems to think the idea is becoming more plausible than it was earlier in the offseason. Both sides enjoyed their time together, he writes.
Names like Masahiro Tanaka, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza can all be effectively ruled out, writes Connolly. That's not surprising to hear, given Duquette's earlier statement that the club wouldn't be in the mix for Tanaka and the team's budgetary constraints. Santana, Jimenez and Garza are all likely to sign at least four-year deals, pricing them out of Baltimore's range.
Though they saved nearly $11MM in 2014 salary by trading Jim Johnson to the A's, the Orioles have done little with that savings to this point. They looked to be on their way to allocating a significant chunk of that money to a cheaper option in Grant Balfour, but the O's controversially backed out due to concerns over Balfour's physical.
The money saved on their ninth inning situation would likely be enough to pay Arroyo in the first year of a multiyear pact, especially if the contract were backloaded. Baltimore will have Nick Markakis' salary coming off the books following the 2014 campaign, which could allow them to pay Arroyo more following the first year of a deal.
Arroyo has also been connected to the Twins, Reds, Mets and Pirates this offseason, with the Twins and Reds being the most frequently mentioned suitors for the soon-to-be-37-year-old. Recent reports indicated that as many as four teams have made two-year offers to Arroyo, who is currently holding out for a third guaranteed season. Arroyo has thrown 199 or more innings in each of the past nine seasons, pitching to a 4.10 ERA in that time. He's also succeeded in a hitter-friendly environment -- Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park -- for the vast majority of that stretch.
The Reds are unlikely to make any splashy moves this offseason, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. "It’s been very quiet," says GM Walt Jocketty. "I haven’t had one discussion with another team or an agent. That could change next week. But I think if we do anything, it will probably be a smaller type of deal." Fay notes that the Reds have no, or almost no, money left in their budget.
That means that the Reds are unlikely to re-sign Bronson Arroyo, and it also means they won't pursue higher-end free agents like Nelson Cruz and Stephen Drew, about whom Jocketty flatly says, "We don’t have the money."
One player the Reds could end up getting is former star Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports. "We have [talked]," says Jocketty. "I'm not sure where that is right now. With the holidays, not much has happened." Due to injury trouble, Sizemore has not played since 2011, so if the Reds were to sign him, it would almost certainly be a minor-league deal.
Paul Blair, one of baseball's all-time greatest defensive players, passed away today at age 69. Blair spent 13 of his 17 Major League seasons with the Orioles, with his superb center field defense playing a key role in Baltimore's success in the late 60's and early 70's. Blair won eight Gold Gloves over his career and accumulated 18.6 defensive WAR over his career (according to Baseball Reference), tied for 58th-best all-time. While he was best known for his glove, Blair also enjoyed a few impressive years at the plate, including hitting .285/.327/.477 with 26 homers for the O's in 1969. Blair won four World Series rings in his career --- with the Orioles in 1966 and 1970, and with the Yankees in 1977-78. We at MLBTR express our condolences to Blair's family and loved ones.
Here's the latest from Camden Yards...
- The Orioles will focus on free agent starters like A.J. Burnett or Bronson Arroyo rather than Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Pitchers like Burnett or Arroyo have "a track record of stability [and] can be signed to shorter-term deals" than Jimenez, Santana and Garza, Encina writes. The Orioles "aren't high" on Garza in general.
- Also from Encina, the O's may put their closer search on hold for now and focus on other needs. For the time being, Tommy Hunter projects as Baltimore's closer.
- Minor league right-hander Mike Wright drew attention at the July deadline and MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko notes that the O's aren't keen to trade Wright. A rival scout isn't high on Wright's potential, telling Kubatko that Wright is "a back-of-the-rotation starter in the majors, at best." Wright, who turns 24 in January, was taken in the third round of the 2011 draft and he posted a 3.26 ERA, 3.54 K/BB rate and 8.3 K/9 in 150 1/3 IP for Double-A Bowie in 2013.
- The Orioles are hesitant to trade young starters like Wright or Eduardo Rodriguez, but Kubatko notes that they might have to make such a move to acquire a rotation upgrade if they won't pursue Tanaka and have doubts about the free agent market. Kubatko says that Jeff Samardzija is still "a potential trade target" for Baltimore, though the Cubs would surely ask for young pitching in return.
- Kubatko and Encina both reiterate Dan Duquette's claim that the Orioles won't be part of the market for Masahiro Tanaka, since Tanaka will be out of the team's price range.
The free agent pitching market is largely on hold due to the pending decision on whether Masahiro Tanaka will be posted. One of the starters left in a holding pattern is veteran Bronson Arroyo, who tells ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that he's anxiously waiting for his phone to ring with a strong opportunity.
While it was previously rumored that the Reds offered him a one-year deal, Arroyo says that never happened. Arroyo, 37 in February, also denies that he was ever close to an agreement with the Twins. However, Crasnick notes that the Reds could still ultimately be in the mix for him and we heard earlier today that the Twins have maintained dialogue with the free agent hurler.
Minnesota's interest in Arroyo has been known for some time, but they've already committed about $84MM to Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Mike Pelfrey this offseason. The Reds, meanwhile, need pitching depth, but they could be wary of the price tag on one of baseball's most durable pitchers. Arroyo is the only pitcher in baseball to make at least 32 starts per year from 2005 through 2013.
Many scouts and evaluators think Arroyo would be better served pitching in the National League than the American, but his performance in hitter-friendly Great American Park has made him confident that he can survive anywhere. Arroyo would prefer the East Coast to the West Coast, but he says that's not a deal-breaker by any means.
"There's no point in me really thinking about where my perfect place is, because I don't know who's interested," Arroyo told Crasnick. "It's like going to a party and the whole premise is to find a wife. There are ten girls there, and three of them are smoking hot, but they don't even look in your direction twice, so there's no point in going after them. Then maybe somebody else comes along who didn't seem so attractive at first, and you like what she's saying and you think, 'Hey, maybe this is the one.' That's the way I see it. I can't pick and choose teams. They have to choose me, and I realize it could take a long time for them to get where they need to be. I've been fine, but if it's January 15th and I'm still spinning my wheels, I'll probably change my tune."