Carlos Carrasco Rumors

Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday

As we approach tomorrow’s deadline for exchanging filing numbers, the volume of arb deals will increase. All arb agreements can be monitored using MLBTR’s 2015 Arbitration Tracker, but here are today’s smaller agreements, with all projections referring to those of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz:

  • The Indians have avoided arbitration with third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  It’s a slight bump over Chisenhall’s projected $2.2MM salary.  Chisenhall hit .280/.343/.427 with 13 homers in 533 PA with the Tribe last season.
  • The Indians and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski have agreed to a one-year, $2.4MM contract to avoid arbitration, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  Rzepczynski surpassed his projected salary with the contract, as he was pegged to earn $1.9MM next season.  The southpaw posted a 2.74 ERA, 2.42 K/BB rate and an even 46 strikeouts over 46 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen last season.
  • The Nationals and catcher Jose Lobaton will avoid arbitration after agreeing to a deal, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman reports.  Lobaton will earn $1.2MM, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets, which exactly matches his projected 2015 salary.  Lobaton hit .234/.287/.304 over 230 PA in backup duty for the Nats last season.
  • The Athletics and outfielder Craig Gentry agreed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal to avoid arbitration, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets.  Gentry was projected to earn $1.5MM.  After posting a .759 OPS over 556 PA in 2012-13, Gentry took a step back at the plate last season, slashing just .254/.319/.289 over 258 plate appearances but still providing tremendous defense (a +16 UZR/150).
  • The Nationals have avoided arbitration with second baseman Danny Espinosa, agreeing to a one-year, $1.8MM contract, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports.  This deal falls below Espinosa’s projected $2.3MM contract, though Espinosa hit .219/.283/.351 in 364 plate appearances for the Nats last season and managed only a .465 OPS in 167 PA in 2013.
  • The Indians agreed to a one-year, $2.337MM deal with right-hander Carlos Carrasco, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).  This figure is a significant increase over the $1.4MM contract that was projected for Carrasco in his first arb-eligible year.  The righty enjoyed a breakout 2014 season, posting a 2.55 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 4.83 K/BB rate over 134 innings with the Tribe.  Carrasco pitched mostly out of the bullpen but also delivered several quality starts down the stretch.
  • The Dodgers and outfielder Chris Heisey agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.16MM to avoid arbitration, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  This is slightly less than the $2.2MM Heisey was projected to earn.  Heisey is coming off a .222/.265/.378 slash line over 299 PA with the Reds last season and was dealt to L.A. last month.
  • The Angels inked catcher Drew Butera to a one-year, $987.5K deal to avoid arbitration, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.  Butera was projected to earn $900K next season.  The catcher posted a .555 OPS in 192 PA with the Dodgers last season and was dealt to the Halos last month.
  • The Nationals agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM contract with Craig Stammen, avoiding arbitration with the right-hander, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).  This figure slightly tops Stammen’s projected $2.1MM contract.  Stammen posted a 3.84 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and a 4.00 K/BB rate over 72 2/3 innings out of Washington’s bullpen last season.
  • The Cardinals agreed to a one-year, $1.65MM deal with outfielder Peter Bourjos to avoid arbitration, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Bourjos was projected to earn $1.6MM.  Bourjos displayed his usual top-shelf defense with the Cards last season but only hit .231/.294/.348 over 294 PA.

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Indians Notes: Swisher, Bourn, Masterson, Hamels

MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian and Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group cleared out their inbox this weekend answering readers’ questions about possible moves for the Indians this offseason. Here are the highlights:

  • Bastian downplays a Nick Swisher-Ubaldo Jimenez swap of bad contracts. Cleveland could afford the move (Jimenez is due $38.75MM through 2017 while Swisher is owed $30MM through 2016 with a 2017 vesting option worth $14MM), but Bastian feels the odds of Swisher rebounding in 2015 is a better bet than three years of Jimenez.
  • If the Indians are looking to shed a bad contract, Hoynes thinks Michael Bourn would be easier to trade, but adds that doesn’t mean Cleveland wants to deal him.
  • Bastian and Hoynes both agree the Indians have interest in Justin Masterson on a one-year pillow contract, but feel the right-hander will find a multi-year pact elsewhere.
  • Trading for Cole Hamels is an interesting thought, according to Bastian, because the left-hander is cheaper ($90MM through 2018) than the top free agent rotation arms on the market and the Indians have the type of prospects the Phillies covet. Ultimately, though, Bastian sees Hamels’ annual salary and the potential prospects lost will be too steep of a price for the franchise to pay.
  • While noting manager Terry Francona’s penchant for strong bullpens, Hoynes doesn’t see the Indians investing in any of the high profile free agent relievers, especially with Zach McAllister waiting in the wings.
  • Does Francona’s new contract extension contain the same opt-out clause allowing him to leave if President Mark Shapiro or GM Chris Antonetti are fired? Antonetti did not provide details when asked that question, but Hoynes imagines the opt-out provision is included in the extension.
  • Bastian expects right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer to have break out seasons for the Indians in 2015.


Minor Moves: Garcia, Carrasco, Gimenez

A huge trade went down three years ago today, as the Rangers acquired Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe, and cash from the Mariners for Justin Smoak, Josh Lueke, and Blake Beavan.  Lueke eventually led to Mike Morse (a free agent after the season) via John Jaso.  Beavan is working in long relief for the Mariners.  Smoak may finally be reaching his potential in Seattle; he's hitting .308/.411/.533 in 141 plate appearances since April 29th.  Smoak's OBP in that period ranks 10th in the Majors among those with at least 100 plate appearances, right behind…John Jaso.  On to today's minor moves…

  • The Phillies announced they've selected the contract of righty Luis Garcia, clearing a spot on the 40-man roster by moving Mike Adams to the 60-day DL. Phillippe Aumont was optioned to Triple-A.  Garcia will be making his MLB debut.
  • Indians righty Carlos Carrasco has officially been optioned to Triple-A, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  Carrasco being designated for assignment on Sunday was a paperwork move to secure optional waivers, he explains.
  • The White Sox outrighted catcher Hector Gimenez yesterday, according to the International League transactions page.  Gimenez was designated for assignment on Thursday to open a spot for fellow catcher Josh Phegley, who has two home runs in his first three games.  Gimenez, 30, is on his fifth organization.  At Triple-A last year he hit .259/.324/.440 in 418 plate appearances.
  • Three players currently reside in DFA limbo: Jeremy Bonderman of the Mariners, Adam Rosales of the Athletics, and Brandon Lyon of the Mets.

Indians Designate Carlos Carrasco For Assignment

The Indians announced that they have designated pitcher Carlos Carrasco for assignment for the purpose of placing him on their Triple-A team.  The move will allow the Tribe to remove Carrasco from the 25-man roster while keeping him on the 40-man roster once he clears optional waivers.

Carrasco, 26, allowed 29 earned runs across 28 and 2/3 innings this season with 15 strikeouts and 13 walks.  The right-hander made 21 starts for the Tribe in 2011, posting a 4.62 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.


AL Notes: Ryan, Porcello, Happ, Indians

Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan had dinner with principal owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson Friday night to discuss his future role with the franchise. Simpson called the meeting "productive" while Ryan remained silent until today when he released a statement through the team. "Over the last week, Ray Davis, Bob Simpson, and I have been in discussion and met in-person. The conversations have been productive, and we have discussed my role as CEO of the organization. We agreed these discussions will continue as we go forward. I am very proud of what the Rangers have accomplished over the last several years, and I believe our preparations for upcoming season are what is important." Sources have told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Ryan could leave after he fulfills his two remaining team obligations: in San Antonio for the Rangers' two exhibition games there March 29-30 and in Houston during the Rangers' season-opening series against the Astros. In other news and notes from the American League:


Quick Hits: Contreras, Indians, Marlins, Yankees

After Brian Sabean traded Matt Williams to the Indians for a package that included eventual San Francisco cornerstone Jeff Kent, the public reaction against the newly minted Giants general manager was so strong that he felt compelled to declare: “I’m not an idiot.”  Sixteen years later, with two World Championships under Sabean’s belt, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby writes that he “has proven that, emphatically.”  Sabean still abides by the credo he adopted while working for George Steinbrenner: “keep your head down and do your job.” Here are some notes on teams hoping to dethrone Mr. Sabean’s Giants in 2013:

  • Having agreed yesterday to a minor league contract with the Pirates, 41-year-old reliever Jose Contreras reported to camp quickly with plans to take it slow, says Tom Singer of MLB.com.  Still recovering from Tommy John surgery, and having just returned from his first visit to his native Cuba since defecting over a decade ago, Contreras said that the Pirates instructed him “to take my time and recover at my own rate.”  Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, for whom the signing was a “low-risk” gambit to bolster the club’s bullpen, stated that Contreras would “rehab throughout Spring Training” and that the team would “be patient with him and get him back as quickly as his body allows.”
  • The Indians have set up a three-way competition for the last spot in the team’s starting rotation, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer.  Scott Kazmir and Carlos Carrasco, both of whom are attempting comebacks, will compete with recently-acquired prospect Trevor Bauer.  All three pitchers appeared in today’s Cactus League game.  While MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk maintains that Kyle Lohse could fit nicely in the Tribe's rotation, the team seems likely to utilize one of the options it already has on hand.
  • With Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis likely out for more than six weeks with a fractured collarbone, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro discusses the club’s search for a new second backstop behind presumed starter Rob Brantly.  In addition to considering internal options like Kyle Skipworth, “the club is combing through other rosters, exploring possible trade options and trying to figure out which teams have a surplus.” 
  • Other than Sabean, only one current GM has overseen multiple championship clubs: the Yankees’ Brian Cashman.  Cashman revealed today that, contrary to his previously stated belief, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli is in fact out of options, writes MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.  MLBTR has labeled Cervelli as out of options from the start; check out our full list of players here.  Of the three primary catchers competing to break camp with the Yankees, then, only Austin Romine can still be optioned.  (Chris Stewart, like Cervelli, has had his options exhausted.)  When asked to comment on the catching situation, Cashman wryly reported: “We’ve got two guys out of options and one guy with an option.  I think the two guys are winning.”
  • Of more immediate concern to Cashman and the Yankees, of course, is the injury to outfielder Curtis Granderson.  In addition to the analysis of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, other commentators have begun to weigh in.  Bill Madden of The New York Daily News explores the options for replacing Granderson and worries that the club could face a power shortage.  MLB.com’s Richard Justice opines that Cashman should stick to his winning strategy of “being smart and efficient” and “not overreacting to every crisis.”  For FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, on the other hand, the injury “exposed the Yankees’ flawed roster construction” and leaves the club’s 2013 postseason prospects in doubt.

Indians Notes: Payroll, Hafner, DH, Starting Rotation

The Indians have been very busy during the first days of 2013 officially announcing the free agent signings of Nick Swisher and Brett Myers. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the team will open the season with a payroll hovering around $66-68MM (not including the $2.75MM buyout of Travis Hafner's 2013 club option and the $3.5MM sent to the Reds in the Shin-Soo Choo trade). As a result, GM Chris Antonetti has said the team's financial resources have been exhausted. The lone remaining hole in the lineup is designated hitter. Bastian says the Tribe could rely on internal options like Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness. Even bringing back Hafner is a possibility according to Antonetti, "I think some of that is going to depend upon other opportunities for Travis and his thoughts on returning, as well as what opportunities we may have for him compared to other guys." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has more news and notes concerning the Indians:

  • Hoynes adds Matt LaPorta to the list of in-house DH options, but says Antonetti could still sign a hitter or bring one in on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. 
  • Hoynes thinks Delmon Young would look good as the Tribe's DH, but doesn't see it happening at this time because of his asking price and character issues.
  • The Indians will still consider trading Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez, but only if the return is comparable to what they received in the Choo deal.
  • The starting rotation looks like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Myers, and Zach McAllister. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the leading candidates for the fifth spot.
  • With the flush of spending of this season, does this put extra pressure on the front office to win now? Hoynes doesn't sense any panic in the hallways of power, especially since new manager Terry Francona can opt-out of his deal if certain members of management lose their jobs.

Indians Notes: Shapiro, Carrasco, Santana

On this date in 1997, Jim Thome hit his 40th homer of the season for the Indians, who went on to win the American League pennant. Here's the latest on the current version of the Indians, who have a 0.0% chance of returning to the postseason this year, according to Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds report

  • Indians president Mark Shapiro hasn't had contact with the Cubs about their open GM job, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Shapiro is involved in making the Indians more successful on and off the field and appears to be happy in his role, Hoynes writes. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported yesterday that the former GM might be intrigued by the Cubs job.
  • The Indians announced that Carlos Carrasco had Tommy John surgery in New York City today, as Dr. David Altchek repaired the ulnar collateral ligament in Carrasco’s right elbow. Recovery time is generally a year or more, so the Indians won’t be counting on Carrasco in 2012.
  • Indians manager Manny Acta told Todd Wills of MLB.com that Jeanmar Gomez will be a name to consider for next year's rotation. Gomez has allowed just three earned runs in 17 1/3 innings since being recalled from Triple-A at the end of August.
  • Carlos Santana could be a long-term solution behind the plate or at first base, Acta told Wills. The Indians' decision will depend, in part, on others, such as Matt LaPorta.
  • The 26-year-old LaPorta has had his chances. In what amounts to two full seasons, he has 30 homers and a .234/.300/.394 line. He has always destroyed minor league pitching, but he hasn't helped the big league club nearly as much as expected.

Quick Hits: Rizzo, Braves, Rowand, Pujols, Carrasco

On this date 11 years ago, the Angels signed amateur free agent Ervin Santana. The right-hander recently reached the 200-inning plateau for the fourth time in his career and he has a 3.27 ERA to go along with his July no-hitter. Here are the latest links from around MLB…

  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is "definitely" on the Cubs' wish list for their vacant GM position, reports Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post. Rizzo shot down any speculation about him leaving though, saying "there's nowhere I'd rather be than the Washington Nationals right now," and "this is the place I need to be."
  • MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports (on Twitter) that Kurt Kemp has stepped down as Braves' director of player development to pursue other opportunities.
  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com suggests that the Phillies could have interest in the recently designated for assignment Aaron Rowand after he clears waivers. He would not be eligible for postseason play, but Salisbury notes the team has had a "longstanding interest" in bringing Rowand back after losing him to the Giants in free agency.
  • In a piece for Grantland.com, Jonah Keri wonders if losing Albert Pujols to the free agency would really be that bad for the Cardinals.
  • Indians minor leaguer Hector Rondon told Carlos Alberto Zambrano of the Venezuelan paper Lider en Deportes that it appears that Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco will undergo Tommy John surgery. Rendon says the currently-disabled Carrasco told him of the upcoming operation. 
  • Meanwhile, Indians skipper Manny Acta told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that the team is stil exploring options for Carrasco's injured elbow (Twitter link). He acknowledged that Tommy John surgery was a possibility, but it is not a certainty at this point.
  • Nate Mink of MLB.com explains that Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg showed he's ready for the Major Leagues in his final minor league rehab start. 
  • Doug Miller of MLB.com shows how so many former members of Mike Scioscia's coaching staff – Joe Maddon, Bud Black and Ron Roenicke – have gone on to become MLB managers. 
  • It appears that first base prospect Angel Villalona will return to the Giants organization now that murder charges against him have been dismissed, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The Giants expect to resolve a $5MM breach-of-contract lawsuit that Villalona filed against the team.
  • Former GM Jim Bowden introduces us to the agents behind this offseason's big-name free agents in a must-read piece for ESPN. If you're interested in agents, be sure to check out our Agency Database.