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Rehabbing Mets ace Matt Harvey hopes to return to big league action at the end of this season, the righty tells Tom Verducci of SI.com. While Harvey acknowledged that he would not push to return before being cleared, he said he wants to re-establish himself on the hill before the year is out. “I just want the peace of mind,” said Harvey. “I want to go back out there and know I still have the stuff to strike out major league hitters.” For his part, club GM Sandy Alderson sounded a cautious note, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. “Not being a medical doctor and not really faced with that decision previously, I’ll reserve judgment,” he said. “But the one thing we don’t want to do is be put in a situation where someone — Matt, or anyone else — has a setback because we’ve pushed the natural recovery processes further than we should have.”
Here’s the latest on some injury situations around the game that could potentially have transactional implications:
- Cliff Lee of the Phillies underwent an MRI today on his left elbow, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. The durable and excellent lefty has been throwing through elbow tenderness for the last several weeks, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the discomfort increased in his last start. The 35-year-old has been diagnosed with a flexor pronator strain, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, though a full assessment will await the results of the MRI. Needless to say, a prolonged absence or ongoing injury questions could not only have ramifications for the Phils’ ability to stay in the post-season race, but could heavily impact the summer’s starting pitching trade market. Lee, who has 21-club no-trade rights, is owed $25MM this year and next before a 2016 vesting/club option that comes with a $12.5MM buyout.
- Mariners first baseman/outfielder/DH Corey Hart is expected to miss four to six weeks, reports MLB.com’s Greg Johns (via Twitter). That news — and Stephen Drew‘s signing with the Red Sox today — has fueled calls for Seattle to take another look at re-signing first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales. Should Morales stay a free agent until the upcoming amateur draft, of course, he will be free to sign anywhere without costing his new team a pick, and without returning a compensatory choice to the M’s.
- Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran still hopes to play through the bone spur in his elbow, but if surgery is required he would be out for about two months, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). Beltran saw Dr. James Andrews today, who confirmed the original diagnosis. It appears that the question at this point is whether or not Beltran can deal with the pain while playing at full speed.
The Yankees got 4 2/3 shutout innings in a spot start from rookie right-hander Chase Whitley tonight, and manager Joe Girardi praised his effort as “spectacular,” writes Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. Girardi said he pulled Whitley in the fifth due to the fact that his arm isn’t used to such a large workload — Whitley just converted from reliever to starter in 2014 — but the 24-year-old did more than enough to earn himself a second start while CC Sabathia mends. More on the Yankees…
- Carlos Beltran has been placed on the disabled list, and the injury could be very serious. The 37-year-old received a cortisone shot in attempt to alleviate pain stemming from a bone spur in his elbow, but he told reporters (including ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand) that if the shot doesn’t do the trick, he could require surgery that would sideline him for up to eight weeks.
- Though owner Hal Steinbrenner eventually put a limit on the Yankees’ offseason spending, he’s willing to stretch the payroll this summer in order to make trade acquisitions, he told the Post’s Ken Davidoff. “[We’re] always willing to look at options come July. … [W]e’re not going to ever lay down and die. We’re going to do what we need to do to stay in.” Steinbrenner noted that injuries have raised numerous concerns and specifically called the onslaught of pitching injuries a “big concern.” As Davidoff points out, the amount of money they’re able to take on is a big factor, as the team doesn’t have the prospects to outbid many other clubs but could be better equipped to absorb salary when acquiring a player’s contract.
Injuries continue to dominate the headlines around the league, led of course by the most impactful UCL tear in a year already full of them. The news that star Marlins hurler Jose Fernandez is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery has capped off a difficult stretch of pitching injuries, leading to reactions from around the game. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports says that understanding and addressing the rash of elbow injuries is in its infancy, and could be decades away from any kind of satisfying resolution. Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider link) writes that the club did not mishandle Fernandez, and that the lesson teams have drawn from the rash of TJ procedures is to maximize the innings of young arms before they hit the open market. And Tom Verducci of SI.com argues that the issue is not use at the major league level so much as years of added stress before players become professionals, and explores various possible solutions.
Let’s run through the latest injury news that carries potential hot stove implications:
- A beleaguered Astros bullpen (collective 5.91 ERA) will be without young righty Jose Cisnero for the rest of the year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, tweets MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. The 25-year-old threw just 4 2/3 ineffective innings in 2014, but tossed 43 2/3 frames of 4.12 ERA ball in his debut season last year. Entering 2013, Cisnero was rated Houston’s 15th-best prospect by Baseball America, which noted that he could become an innings-eating starter.
- Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia has seemingly defied the odds and worked himself back to the point that he is now a candidate to receive a big league start this weekend, tweets Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Garcia’s most recent problems have been in the shoulder, though he has previously undergone TJ surgery. Garcia, still just 27, has logged just 177 innings under his four-year, $27MM contract, which runs through 2015 and includes club options for the two following seasons ($11.5MM and $12MM, respectively, each with a $500K buyout).
- The Giants will be without first baseman Brandon Belt for at least six weeks after successful thumb surgery, reports Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (on Twitter). It appears that the team will utilize a mix of Michael Morse and Hector Sanchez at first while Belt recovers.
- Twins minor leaguer Byron Buxton — the game’s consensus top overall prospect — learned today that he has re-aggravated the wrist injury that cost him most of the early portion of the season, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter links). Though the team does not believe the wrist is any worse than when it was first injured, but another extended absence would obviously further delay the 20-year-old’s final development push.
- Outfielder Carlos Beltran, one of the major offseason signings by the Yankees, has been diagnosed with a bone spur in his right elbow. As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports, the club will see if a cortisone show can allow Beltran to avoid surgery. “They believe it’s an old bone spur,” said manager Joe Girardi. “It’s aggravating his elbow now. If in a couple of days he doesn’t feel better, then my level of concern would be pretty high.”
The Boras Corporation — the powerful agency led by Scott Boras — has lost a grievance action that it brought against recent Yankees signee Carlos Beltran, report Bob Nightengale and Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today. Boras had sought $1.3MM in damages from Beltran for leaving his agency in October of 2011, prior to inking a two-year, $26MM contract with the Cardinals.
The ruling by arbitrator Shyam Das held that Boras could not enforce the following provision in his contract with Beltran:
"You understand and agree that we invest substantial resources, time and effort in preparation for free-agent contract negotiations and salary arbitration hearings. Therefore, you agree that if you terminate our agency authorization during or after a championship season, and before the following championship season you sign a free-agent or arbitration-eligible contract (whether single- or multi-year), you agree to pay us 5% of the entire contract regardless of who negotiates it on your behalf."
This provision had been part of Boras's contracts for fifteen years, with many other player reps utilizing some form of it as well. The agreement of which this clause was a part must be re-executed annually, leading Boras to argue that Beltran had prematurely terminated the agreement. But Das effectively read it out of the contract, deciding that it was not "permissible under governing MLBPA regulations" and holding that Beltran's termination of the agreement foreclosed any obligations to pay Boras a cut of any future earnings.
Of course, the broader importance of the ruling is what it means for player-agent relationships going forward. Without the implicit threat of the provision's enforcement, there is somewhat less disincentive to look for a new agent in the middle of a representation term. Boras warned of dire consequences:
"It basically makes the agent an at-will employee. Is this what you want? You should be responsible for the work you do. We need accountability on both sides. … The understanding of this rule is that it now promotes the vast majority of agents to take any deal they can get. The agents' conduct will be affected. This rule gives owners a lot more power. This is not in the best interest of major-league baseball players."
Meanwhile, for Beltran, the case was also about principle. He said:
"I felt like I had to win because he was basically suing me because I left him and he was trying to collect money without having done anything for me. It's not the money. It's the intention. Scott Boras had to do something that wasn't right. If I haven't done anything for you, haven't negotiated your contract, how could I sue you and try to collect money because you left me and because you hired another agent? That didn't make any sense to me.''
In addition to the broader impact, the ruling seems to have implications for already-framed disputes. Boras has an action pending against Edwin Jackson, who left Boras Corp. before landing his $52MM deal with the Cubs. And Robinson Cano famously bolted for upstart agency Roc Nation in advance of signing a monster $240MM contract, though no action has been initiated in that situation. "I never worried about it,'' said Jackson. "Come on, you can't have it both ways. You can't take away guys from another agency, but when your guys leave, sue them."
Sticking with the Cubs didn't work out for Matt Garza, and now the Brewers starter wants to "kick their teeth in every time I get the chance," Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Garza isn't as angry as that makes it sound, though — he's just an energetic player looking for motivation. Wittenmyer notes that the Cubs had previously offered Garza a five-year extension that might have been worth around $65MM, but the two sides couldn't settle on a deal, and the Cubs ended up shipping him to the Rangers in the middle of last season. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The Royals offered Carlos Beltran $42.5MM this offseason, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. That's only a bit below the $45MM Beltran received from the Yankees. (MLBTR's Steve Adams recently looked back the moves the Royals were able to make in an offseason that featured the departure of Ervin Santana but the additions of Omar Infante and Jason Vargas, both on four-year contracts.)
- The Indians plan to have Justin Sellers, who they recently acquired in a minor trade with the Dodgers, start at shortstop for Triple-A Columbus, writes Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer. The Indians are fans of Sellers' fielding. Top prospect Francisco Lindor will start the season at Double-A Akron, perhaps bumping Sellers into a utility role at Triple-A if Lindor plays well enough to earn a promotion there.
The St. Louis Browns were officially re-christened the Baltimore Orioles on this date in 1953. Jack Dunn III, whose family had operated the International League's Baltimore Orioles for decades, turned over rights to the Orioles name and became the first traveling secretary of the MLB franchise. Here's the news and notes from today's AL East:
- In the wake of what happened with Grant Balfour, one agent's solution to dealing with the Orioles is to never discuss money until the player's medicals have been examined, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com.
- Despite the retirements of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees have managed to become an older team this offseason, reports the New York Post's Joel Sherman. The eight projected position starters will be at least 30-years-old come Opening Day and Sherman notes the chances six or seven of them performing at a high level are not good and there's a lack of talent in the pipeline ready to step up and provide quality and energy, if needed.
- Carlos Beltran, one of the Yankees' 30-something acquisitions, is listed as the best free agent signing this winter by Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. The Yankees' signing of 30-year-old Jacoby Ellsbury, however, is ranked as the second worst by Dubroff because speed doesn't age well. The worst? Robinson Cano's 10-year, $240MM pact with the Mariners.
- Beltran told reporters, including Newsday's David Lennon, he insisted on a third year to improve his chances of making the Hall of Fame. "I felt that having the third year, it allowed me to play longer, and it allowed me to put up better numbers. In my consideration, it would be more realistic." Beltran also hinted this may not be his final contract.
It didn't take long for the Yankees to move on from losing Robinson Cano. The Yankees have officially announced the signing of Carlos Beltran to a three-year deal. The contract is reportedly worth $45MM and will pay Beltran an even $15MM per season as well as provide him with a no-trade clause. Beltran is represented by agent Dan Lozano of the MVP Sports Group.
Beltran had a three-year, $48MM offer in hand from the Diamondbacks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Snakes made Beltran a three-year offer for more than $45MM. Though the Yankees were a bit reluctant to give Beltran that third year, he was known to be a top target for the Bombers this offseason. Beltran was himself keen on coming to the Bronx and is now finally wearing the pinstripes after showing similar interest in his two previous trips to free agency.
Beltran hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 homers in 600 PA with St. Louis last season, and though he turns 37 in April, Beltran has thus far kept swinging a big bat deep into the late stages of his career. He'll no doubt see some DH at-bats in New York but he'll spend most of his time in right field while the more defensively-challenged Alfonso Soriano will be the Yankees' primary DH, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports.
The D'Backs were just one of several teams were linked to Beltran this offseason, with the Royals also pushing hard to reunite with the veteran slugger. This strong market pushed Beltran's price tag to a third year, topping the two-year, $30MM deal that MLBTR's Steve Adams predicted in Beltran's Free Agent Profile. One team that wasn't in the mix was Beltran's most recent club, the Cardinals, who look to go forward with younger options like star prospect Oscar Taveras in the outfield next season.
Since Beltran rejected the Cards' one-year qualifying offer, St. Louis will receive a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2014 amateur draft. The Yankees already lost their first round pick for signing Brian McCann, and in signing Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury, New York has also given up its own two compensation picks for Cano and Curtis Granderson.
The Yankees have thus far spent a whopping $311MM for the services of five players (Beltran, Ellsbury, McCann and the re-signed Hiroki Kuroda and Derek Jeter) this offseason. More spending could be on the way for the Bombers if they need a third baseman to replace a suspended Alex Rodriguez, if they want to upgrade beyond Kelly Johnson as Cano's replacement at second base, and once they make their long-rumored bid on Masahiro Tanaka once his posting situation is resolved.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News first reported the three-year agreement (Twitter link). Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported the total value and yearly breakdown (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the no-trade clause (also on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz continues to draw heavy interest from Major League teams, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Some teams like Diaz, who can't sign until Feb. 19 due to falsifying his age last offseason, as a second baseman. Passan reports that Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays and Cardinals as teams who have been heavily represented at Diaz's most recent showcases in Mexico (Twitter links). Some more links from around the league…
- Jeff Francoeur, who recently underwent LASIK surgery, is seeking a job as a backup outfielder, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Frenchy will also abandon his use of a 35-ounce bat in 2013 — a weight only utilized by Orioles slugger Chris Davis.
- Felix Pie is nearing an agreement with Korea's Hanwah Eagles, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Pie hasn't seen much big-league action in the last two years, recording just 31 plate appearances in 27 games with the Pirates in 2013.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Royals' offer to Carlos Beltran was slightly less than the Yankees' three-year, $45MM offer but would technically have paid Beltran more due to the tax differences between Missouri and New York.
- The Dodgers have not been involved in negotiations with Omar Infante, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- As they search for starting pitching help, the Orioles will be open to multiyear contracts rather than just one-year deals, GM Dan Duquette confirmed today (Twitter link via Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com).
- The Twins pursued a catcher before the market dried up, but had no interest in going to three years for any of the free agents they targeted, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota "made that clear from the start," according to Berardino.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along word, in a translated tweet, that Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda has expressed interest in playing in MLB, perhaps as soon as 2015.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aledmys Diaz | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Carlos Beltran | Felix Pie | Jeff Francoeur | Kansas City Royals | Kenta Maeda | Los Angeles Dodgers | Minnesota Twins | New York Yankees | Omar Infante | San Francisco Giants | St. Louis Cardinals | Toronto Blue Jays
The idea that the Pirates would trade for David Price is "pure nonsense," writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook. The Pirates would have to pay about $30MM for two seasons of Price, and would have to give up lots of value in prospects as well. "There are a lot fewer clubs that can play at the top of the market than clubs that can't," Pirates GM Neal Huntington says. "We just can't afford to do 'X.' Well, we could, but then how would we build a championship-caliber club around that one player?" Huntington also says the single biggest improvement the Bucs can make is re-signing A.J. Burnett, who continues to consider whether to play for one more year or to retire. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The Pirates could look for a first baseman, starting pitcher, shortstop and/or right fielder this week, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Biertempfel notes that the Pirates "checked in on" starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. If so, that might indicate that they're not hopeful that Burnett will be back next year.
- The Royals offered Carlos Beltran three years and over $40MM, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. Beltran ended up going to the Yankees for three years and $45MM. Heyman also notes that the Royals will also be bidding against the Yankees for infielder Omar Infante.
- The White Sox have demonstrated interest in Chase Headley of the Padres, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. As Van Schouwen notes, that's a little odd, unless the White Sox think they can sign Headley to an extension — the White Sox aren't expected to contend in 2014, and Headley is a free agent after the season.
SATURDAY, 4:17pm: The Yankees confirmed the signing via press release. The seven-year contract takes the outfielder through 2020 with a club option for 2021.
WEDNESDAY: Ellsbury is guaranteed $148MM over the first seven years of the contract, and there is a $21MM option for an eighth year that comes with a $5MM buyout, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears that an option year has not yet been agreed upon.
TUESDAY, 11:45pm: Ellsbury's deal includes a no-trade clause, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
8:00pm: The deal includes an eighth-year option that could boost the total value to $169MM, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (on Twitter).
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that Ellsbury would get a seven-year, $150MM deal in his free agent profile earlier this offseason.
7:31pm: The Yankees have agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the two sides were closing in on a seven-year pact. It is believed the deal will top Carl Crawford's $142MM, seven-year deal with one estimate pegging the deal at about $150MM, according to Heyman.
The Yankees have been in simultaneous talks with Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and many other top free agents, including their own Robinson Cano. Things have stalled somewhat with Cano, however, as the Yanks don't want to go far beyond $170MM over seven years and Cano's team looking for about $260MM. Heyman spoke with sources who didn't rule out the Yankees continuing their purusit of Choo or Beltran, but it would seem unlikely at this point. One source told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) that a deal with Ellsbury or another top outfielder won't preclude the Yanks from re-signing their star second baseman.
ESPN's Jayson Stark reported on Monday that talks were moving faster than expected for the Scott Boras client. Boras is notorious for waiting out the market to find the right deal as he did with Prince Fielder (signed in late January) and Michael Bourn (February).
Ellsbury offers more pop than the typical center fielder, with a career slugging percentage of .439 and isolated power of .141. While his power is more of the doubles and triples variety, which is aided by his speed, he did hit 32 home runs in his stellar 2011 campaign. In that year, Ellsbury led all of baseball with 9.1 wins above replacement, finished second in the AL MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, and made the All-Star team. However, the left-handed batter wasn't much of a threat against southpaws this year, posting a .246/.323/.318 line in 237 plate appearances.
The 30-year-old has also consistently posted above average UZR and DRS numbers in center field. While he has come back to earth somewhat since '11, he checked in with 5.8 wins above replacement in 2013, which is second only to Robinson Cano among free agents.
Of course, much of Ellsbury's game is predicated on speed. Now, the Yankees have to hope that Ellsbury can stay fleet-footed for some time and will be able to adjust when his motor eventually wears down.
The Yankees have been vocal about their desire to get under the $189MM luxury tax threshold this winter, but it remains to be seen where they'll stand after the Ellsbury deal and Brian McCann's five-year, $85MM pact. Now more than ever, one has to imagine that the Yankees are rooting for MLB's side in the Alex Rodriguez saga.
The market for Ellsbury has been somewhat cloudy, but the Mariners and Giants were both believed to have interest.
Yankees people envision Ellsbury in center with Brett Gardner moving to left, Heyman writes. The 30-year-old was ranked No. 2 on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agent Power Rankings. With Ellsbury and McCann in the fold, the Yankees have now forfeited their first and second round picks.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.