Bruce Chen Rumors

Central Notes: Chen, Konerko, Brewers, Axford

For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to the postseason.  The Buccos and Reds each clinched playoff spots tonight, though it remains to be seen if those two clubs will face each other in the Wild Card game, or if one of them can catch the Cardinals for the NL Central lead.  Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis all won on Monday, so the Cards retained their two-game lead.

Here's the latest from both the NL and AL Central divisions…

  • Bruce Chen loves pitching for the Royals and wants to re-sign the team this winter, the veteran southpaw tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.  Chen said that he hasn't yet sat down with agent Scott Boras to determine his market and that the Royals "haven’t talked to me" about a new contract, but Chen said he hopes to pitch for at least another four or five seasons.  The 36-year-old has a 3.13 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 2.30 K/BB ratio in 109 1/3 IP this season, making 13 starts and 19 appearances out of the bullpen.  Dutton shared some more Royals items earlier today.
  • Paul Konerko won't decide on his playing future until after the season, a source tells ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine.  Konerko has been toying with the idea of retirement all season, though he has reportedly told friends he intends to play in 2014.
  • Norichika Aoki earned a $250K bonus upon making his 140th start of the season tonight, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports.  This ups Aoki's salary to $1.5MM for the season, and he can earn $0.5875MM for playing in one more game this year.  The Brewers have already gotten a huge bargain from Aoki's original two-year, $2.5MM contract and they hold a $1.5MM team option on the outfielder for 2014.
  • In other Brewers contract news from McCalvy, right-hander Kyle Lohse will earn a $350K bonus on Wednesday when he retires his first batter and reaches the 190-inning mark for the season.
  • John Axford is "open to discussing something with the Cardinals" about a new contract this offseason but for now is just looking forward to the postseason, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Axford has posted a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 IP since joining the Cards three weeks ago but he could be a non-tender candidate due to his high arbitration number.  Axford is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and will earn a raise on his $5MM salary, plus he has two more arb years remaining after that as a Super Two player.

Cafardo On Chamberlain, Cishek, Royals, Rangers

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks all 30 managers in the major leagues.  In Cafardo's view, you're doing something right if you're managing in MLB, so there are no negative comments for any of the skippers.  Buck Showalter takes third place for his work with the surprise Orioles last season. Rays manager Joe Maddon takes second for his innovative ways.  The top spot, however, goes to the Giants' Bruce Bochy.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • We learned last week that the Rangers are scouting Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees and one AL scout believes that the Bombers believe they have gone as far as they can with the right-hander.  “They would deal him in a heartbeat and then fill in with one of their starters in the bullpen,” said the scout. “If Texas would give up Mike Olt, a deal could get done there.
  • The Marlins' Steve Cishek is drawing considerable interest from teams looking for a reliever.  One scout says that the side-arming sinker baller is likely on most wishlists around baseball.
  • The Royals are open to moving Luke Hochevar (albeit, for a higher-than-expected price) but they're also willing to trade projected No. 5 starter Bruce Chen.
  • The PhilliesYuniesky Betancourt has improved his visibility and it wouldn't be shocking to see a team deal for him before Opening Day.  The shortstop has a March 24th opt out date and he is on the Cardinals' list as they look to replace Rafael Furcal.
  • Cafardo believes that there is an obvious trade to be made involving Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello and the Red Sox's Andrew Bailey.  However, Boston's rotation is full right now and they already have Allen Webster waiting in the wings.
  • One National League GM says that teams will be kicking themselves for missing out on Kyle Lohse, despite the draft pick compensation that he will cost.  “That’s the way it’s going to go,” said the GM, “but you also don’t want to overpay for a pitcher who has been hanging around that long. If you can’t get him at your price, then you look foolish paying what he was asking two months ago.” In Cafardo's view, the Rangers are still the most logical destination.
  • Manny Acta, who is now serving as an analyst for ESPN, has said that he hopes to get back into managing.  However, he says that he's not interested in becoming a GM.

Quick Hits: Royals, Stanton, Draft, Mets, Nationals

Earlier tonight, the Royals announced the signing of Miguel Tejada to a minor league contract. Whether or not the deal includes an invitation to Spring Training will be announced at a later date, the Royals said in a release. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweeted the addition of Tejada could make Tony Abreu or Irving Falu expendable. Dutton added Falu has options remaining while Abreu doesn't (Twitter link). As the East Coast drops the ball on 2013, let's enjoy another round of MLB news and notes: 

  • Dutton projects the Royals' payroll to be in neighborhood of $83MM and it's hard for him to see it go much higher (via Twitter). The Royals could free up some salary by moving Luke Hochevar or Bruce Chen, but Dutton doesn't sense any urgency from the club to move either one. Another possibility, although less likely, is Chris Getz (Twitter links).
  • The Mariners have contacted the Marlins about Giancarlo Stanton, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. However, one source Morosi spoke with doubts a trade will occur. 
  • Baseball America's Jim Callis has updated the 2013 amateur draft order. There are four potential compensation free agents remaining on the market (Michael BournAdam LaRocheKyle Lohse, and Rafael Soriano). If they change addresses, their former club will get a pick at the end of the first round and their new team will forfeit their top choice (unless it's one of the top 10 overall).
  • Within the same piece, Callis remains surprised the Mets were able to obtain Noah Syndergaard from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade. By adding Travis d'Arnaud and Syndergaard, which Callis projects as the Mets' second and third best prospects, the club has boosted their farm system into the top 20.
  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post listed the Nationals posting the best record in baseball as the club's top storyline in 2012.


Central Notes: Soriano, Pierzynski, Adams, Royals

Happy birthday to Cubs great Fergie Jenkins, who was born 70 years ago today in Chatham, Ontario.  The 1971 NL Cy Young Award winner won 167 games in 10 years with the Cubs and wore the red 'C' into the Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1991.

Here are some items from Chicago and elsewhere around both the AL and NL Central divisions…

  • The Braves don't have any interest in trading for Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The Cubs are willing to pay $26MM of Soriano's remaining $36MM salary in a trade and have shopped the veteran to the Astros and Phillies this offseason.
  • The White Sox would like to bring back A.J. Pierzynski but only at the team's price, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago.  While the team has kept in touch with Pierzynski's agent, the Sox are prepared to go ahead with Tyler Flowers as their everyday catcher.
  • The Brewers can probably be counted out of the Mike Adams hunt, opines Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) as the free agent reliever will likely be priced out of the Crew's range.  At least seven other teams besides Milwaukee are known to be interested in Adams.
  • Also from Haudricourt, he outlines how the Brewers have been historically unable to keep their major stars, a trend that may continue given the team's small local TV contract.  The one exception was Ryan Braun, who was already on an eight-year contract when he signed his major extension with the Crew.
  • We heard last month that the Royals were trying to trade Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar, but Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that while the team will listen, they "feel no urgency" to move either pitcher.  The Royals want a lot of rotation depth and could just put either Chen or Hochevar in the bullpen, though K.C. could also wait until March to find better trade offers. (All links to Dutton's Twitter account.)
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters (including John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that his team is pretty much done its winter shopping, though he hinted that the Reds could add a left-handed reliever.
  • As the cost of high-end pitching has risen, Adam Wainwright is in position to receive a huge payday as he enters the final year of his contract with the Cardinals, writes the Associated Press.  Both Wainwright and the Cards are open to the idea of discussing a new contract before Opening Day.
  • From earlier today, the Cubs and Tigers are the final two suitors for Anibal Sanchez.  The Cubs thought they had Sanchez signed to a five-year, $75MM offer, but Sanchez is giving the Tigers a final chance to match or top the offer.

Royals “Calling Everyone” To Trade Hochevar & Chen

The Royals are "calling everyone" in an attempt to trade both Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter). The team is accelerating its timetable to acquire rotation help and wants to free up money.

Hochevar, 29, pitched to a 5.73 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 185 1/3 innings this season. The first overall pick in the 2006 draft owns a 5.39 ERA in 771 career innings. Hochevar is arbitration-eligible for the third time this winter and is projected to earn $4.4MM by Matt Swartz. He's a candidate to be non-tendered by Friday's deadline.

Chen, 35, posted a 5.07 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 191 2/3 innings this year. He's revived his career in Kansas City, pitching to a 4.55 ERA in 549 1/3 innings since 2009. Chen will earn $4.5MM next season as part of the two-year, $9MM contract he signed last winter. The soft-tossing southpaw will become a free agent next offseason.

Earlier today team owner David Glass told Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star that the team needs to maintain a $70MM payroll to break even, but they will "react based on what (their) opportunities are." The Royals have already acquired Ervin Santana and re-signed Jeremy Guthrie this offseason, but they continue to look for ways to upgrade a starting staff that posted to a 5.01 ERA this year.


Quick Hits: Byrd, Royals, Youk, Padres Sale

Marlon Byrd was suspended for 50 games today after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, according to MLB's official PR department (on Twitter). Byrd issued the following statement:

“I made an inexcusable mistake. Several years ago, I had surgery for a condition that was private and unrelated to baseball. Last winter, I suffered a recurrence of that condition and I was provided with a medication that resulted in my positive test. Although that medication is on the banned list, I absolutely did not use it for performance enhancement reasons. I am mortified by my carelessness and I apologize to everyone who loves this game as I do. I will serve my suspension, continue to work hard and hope that I am given an opportunity to help a Club win later this season.”

Here are some additional links for your Monday evening…

  • Royals general manager Dayton Moore told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he has received zero calls on Jeff Francoeur, Bruce Chen, and Jonathan Broxton (Twitter link).
  • Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com tweets that the reason the Red Sox didn't get more for Kevin Youkilis is because some offers from interested parties simply stated that they would take Youkilis "for nothing," if the Sox were willing to pick up the entire contract.
  • The imminent sale of the Padres could have a positive impact on the Mariners, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The sale price is said to be $800MM — $600MM for the Padres and $200MM for a stake in their upcoming $1.2 billion TV deal with FOX. The Mariners can opt out of their current TV deal in 2015, and could be sitting on top of a "financial windfall," writes Baker. He writes that Mariners "should be able to get more in any pending sale if everything remains equal."
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that yesterday's Youkilis trade has kicked off the trade season, and runs through some big names that could be trade candidates at this year's deadline.

American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here

Updated team decisions:

Teams with decisions still due:


Quick Hits: Red Sox, Sizemore, Padres, Chen

Links for Wednesday night as we await arbitration decisions from the National and American Leagues…

  • Rob Bradford of WEEI.com surveyed this offseason's stronger-than-usual relief market with the help of many Major League GMs. The Red Sox aren’t desperate for a closer, because Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks are already in their ‘pen, but GM Ben Cherington figures to explore the market for closers after losing Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies.
  • The Phillies, Rockies and Cubs had more interest in Grady Sizemore than any teams except the Indians, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter links). Hoynes has the details on Sizemore’s incentives: the outfielder obtains $1MM if he reaches 500 plate appearances and $500K for every 25 plate appearances until he reaches 650. 
  • The Padres aren’t likely to sign any free agent pitchers to Major League deals this offseason, according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock (on Twitter). Padres GM Josh Byrnes sent starter Wade LeBlanc to Miami yesterday.
  • The Rockies had mild interest in Bruce Chen before he re-signed in Kansas City, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). 
  • The Twins and Cubs were Chen’s primary suitors other than the Royals, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).

Royals To Sign Bruce Chen

Piece by piece, the Royals' rotation is taking shape. They have agreed to sign Bruce Chen to a two-year deal worth $9MM. The deal also includes a $1MM roster bonus and up to $1MM in incentives.

Before agreeing to terms with Chen, Royals GM Dayton Moore told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he is looking to add one or two more pitchers to compete with their internal candidates. Left-handers Jonathan Sanchez, Danny Duffy and Chen join right-handers Luke HochevarFelipe Paulino in the projected 2012 rotation at this point and relievers Aaron Crow and Everett Teaford could also transition to the rotation. Though Moore has already added two arms this offseason, the Royals lack top-of-the-rotation starters and may continue to pursue trades for available pitching.

Chen posted a 3.77 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 155 innings for the Royals this past season. The Royals offered the 34-year-old Scott Boras client arbitration earlier today, which means they would have obtained a compensatory draft pick had he accepted one of his other offers

Jon Heyman of SI.com first reported the agreement (Twitter links) after Dutton reported that the sides were nearing a deal.


Royals, Bruce Chen Progressing Toward Deal

The Royals appear to be progressing toward a new contract with Bruce Chen, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The Royals have offered Chen, a Type B free agent, arbitration in anticipation of tonight’s deadline for teams to offer deals to ranked free agents.

“I know he wants to be here, and we want him here,” GM Dayton Moore told Dutton. “The feeling is mutual. We’d like to get something done before the Winter Meetings. I think we’re getting closer.”

Chen appears to be asking for a two-year deal worth more than $10MM, according to Dutton. He has already obtained multiyear offers this offseason. The 34-year-old Scott Boras client posted a 3.77 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 155 innings for the Royals this past season. Moore says the Royals are looking to add one or two more pitchers to compete with their internal candidates, even after trading for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez.