Carlos Carrasco Rumors

Pitcher Notes: Bradley, Carrasco, Garcia

Archie Bradley of the Diamondbacks is set for his big-league debut against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers Saturday, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes. “I mean, it’s exciting,” says Bradley. “He’s one of the best, if not the best, in all of baseball. I just take it as a challenge, like why not start my career against someone like him?” Heading into the season, Baseball Prospectus ranked Bradley the No. 11 prospect in baseball, with MLB.com ranking him No. 15 and Baseball America putting him at No. 25. He likely missed out on a chance to make his big-league debut in 2014 after struggling with an elbow injury. The Diamondbacks liked what they saw from Bradley this spring, though, and traded Trevor Cahill to clear space for him. Here are more quick notes on pitchers.

  • The criticism Carlos Carrasco has received for his four-year extension with the Indians is misplaced, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Carrasco has four children, an injury history and an uneven pre-2014 performance record, so it made sense for him to take $22MM guaranteed, even though he gave away his first season of free-agent eligibility and the rights to two more seasons beyond that.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter is “proud” of Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. Garcia pitched 2 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays Friday, allowing one run and two walks while notching two strikeouts. The 22-year-old pitched in the lower levels of the Red Sox system last season, so he’s making a big leap to the Majors this year. “If he can get going and get strike one, he has a chance to have some success,” says Showalter.

Reactions To Recent Starting Pitcher Extensions

Over the past week, we’ve seen multi-year deals signed by Yordano Ventura (five years, $23MM), Carlos Carrasco (four years, $22MM), Corey Kluber (five years, $38.5MM) and Rick Porcello (four years, $82.5MM). As usual, there’s been no shortage of reactions to these contracts, and here are a few reactions/opinions from around the baseball world to each of the deals…

  • Signing Ventura to a five-year deal was a necessary risk for the Royals, opines Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards. Ventura has long been seen as a risky commodity due to his smaller stature and a fear that he may be bullpen-bound, and he also produced results that were more good than great in 2014. However, only three Royals starters — Zack Greinke, James Shields and Ervin Santana –have matched Ventura’s modest 2.4 fWAR over the past five seasons. The Royals’ rotation is typically occupied by journeymen starters, and the upside for a mid-rotation or front-line starter at that price makes the risk worth taking, writes Edwards, even if there’s a risk he may not hold up as a starter.
  • The Carrasco and Kluber extensions appear to be the latest in a long line of contracts signed with the intent of developing a long-term core. As GM Chris Antonetti said recently on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link): “This nucleus is going to be in place for awhile. Ownership has given us incredible resources.”
  • Mutually beneficial extensions have been a key component of successful Indians’ seasons since John Hart began pioneering them in the 1990s, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Bastian spoke to other members of that growing core — Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes — each of whom has signed extensions of their own in the past year-plus. The Cleveland core expressed excitement about being able to grow and express excitement together in the coming years as they enter their primes.
  • Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel looks at the financial implications of the latest pair of Indians extensions, and he also spoke with Antonetti about the decision to offer Carrasco a long-term deal based on a relatively small sample of success. “His mix of pitches has always been a strength from the time we acquired him,” said Antonetti. “But we’ve seen the continued development and maturity and improvement in his routines, his consistency and his focus and we saw it translate to his success as a starting pitcher last year. We believe that now, not only does he have the physical attributes, but the other attributes to be a successful starter.”
  • Carrasco’s deal may appear team-friendly, but an irregular heartbeat that required offseason surgery and a newborn baby played a role in Carrasco’s decision to accept the contract, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and FOX Sports writes that Porcello’s age-23 through age-25 seasons mirror those of Justin Masterson, and Masterson experienced a breakout in his age-26 season — the same that Porcello is currently entering. While that certainly doesn’t guarantee a breakout for Porcello, Cameron notes that the Sox are betting on a breakout or step forward of sorts — one that would’ve launched Porcello’s free agent price considerably beyond the $82.5MM figure upon which he agreed. Judging contracts based on average annual value is all too common a mistake, Cameron notes, as the years accompanying that AAV are a critical factor of any deal. Boston is showing a tendency to pay a premium to keep contracts short in an effort to avoid rostering expensive non-performers down the line, with Porcello’s deal and the Hanley Ramirez contract serving as recent examples, he adds.
  • Tim Britton of the Providence Journal offers a similar take, using CC Sabathia as an example of the dangers of signing a pitcher into their 30s. As Britton notes, Sabathia would’ve been one of the best free agent signings in history had the Yankees let him walk after he exercised an opt out clause following the third season of his initial contract. However, they re-signed him through age-36, and Sabathia’s contract has become an albatross on the Yankees. While Porcello isn’t as good as prime Sabathia and likely never will be — a fact Britton acknowledges — his situation still aids the argument that it’s better to pay a premium for a pitcher in his prime than commit exorbitant amounts of money to their decline years.
  • I’ll echo my thoughts on the Porcello deal that I tweeted out and included in MLBTR’s write-up of his extension and agree with both Cameron and Britton. While Porcello is not now and may never be a front-of-the-rotation arm, the Red Sox clearly believe that he’s capable of taking a step forward from a career year in 2014, and they’re willing to pay what currently seems to be an above-market annual price in order to secure his prime. It’s commonplace for teams to sign older free agents knowing that the final year or two (and sometimes more) will likely be a sunk cost, and yet as observers we accept that as part of free agency. The Red Sox are taking an opposite approach, seemingly making a strong bet that Porcello’s best years are ahead. Paying for an expected outcome that has yet to take place is risky, to be sure, but it’s no riskier than guaranteeing a pitcher north of $20MM in his age-36 season, as we saw with James Shields, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer this winter. The notion that a player must first “prove” that he is worth upper-market dollars over a long-term implicitly requires that those upper-market dollars will be awarded after or at the tail end of his peak, thereby negating much of the logic in committing such a sizable sum. Whether or not the Porcello deal ultimately looks wise or turns into an albatross, the thinking behind the deal is sound: make projections based on scouting and analytic input, and invest. The alternative — wait and see, then pay for the downswing of a player’s career — is hardly a less risky approach.

Indians, Carlos Carrasco Agree To Extension

The Indians have announced yet another extension, this one with righty Carlos Carrasco. The contract guarantees him $22MM over the next four years and includes two club options.

Carrasco will earn $4.5MM next year, $6.5MM in 2017, and $8MM in 2018. The option years are for $9MM and $9.5MM, respectively, and can each be escalated by $4MM based on top-ten Cy Young finishes, bringing the total max value of the contract to $48MM. Those options come with $662.5K in total buyouts. Carrasco was already set to earn $2.337MM in his first of three arbitration years, which the new deal leaves in place — meaning that Carrasco nets just under $20MM in new money.

Carlos Carrasco (featured)

Carrasco, who just recently celebrated his 28th birthday, posted a 5.29 ERA over his first four seasons (238 1/3 IP) with the Tribe and struggled last April, losing his starting job and even getting designated for assignment last summer. However, he started to turn things around after a stint in the bullpen. As a reliever, he posted a 2.30 ERA with 43 relief innings.

When Carrasco came back to the starting five, he closed out 2014 and in a small sample size of ten games he looked like an absolute superstar.  During that span, the hurler posted a 1.30 ERA and 78 strikeouts (against just 11 walks) over 69 innings.

Carrasco, an ACES client, now has financial security going forward despite a rocky career which included a lost 2012 season thanks to Tommy John surgery.  Now, with Carrasco and Corey Kluber both under contract, the Indians could have a potent No. 1 and No. 2 locked in for years to come.  The Cy Young winner’s deal looks different however as he’ll earn a reported $38.5MM across his guaranteed five seasons while Carrasco will get $22MM across his additional three years.  Kluber receives additional years on his deal, but the difference in average annual value is a modest $400K.

Carrasco, in theory, could have rolled the dice with another solid season of pitching.  Even though he could have secured a sizable arbitration raise and even more leverage in extension talks by building on his close to 2014, he understandably opted for security.

On Saturday night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the two sides were discussing a deal. Rosenthal tweeted that the deal was done. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links) reported contract details, as did MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter) and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Indians Discussing Extension With Carlos Carrasco

The Indians are close to locking up one big rotation piece in Corey Kluber, and the team is also discussing an extension with another in righty Carlos Carrasco, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).  Carrasco just recently celebrated his 28th birthday and was arbitration-eligible for the first time this past winter, avoiding a hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $2.337MM contract for the 2015 season.

A multi-year deal would represent a stunningly quick career resurrection for Carrasco, who posted a 5.29 ERA over his first four seasons (238 1/3 IP) with the Tribe and struggled last April, losing his starting job and even getting designated for assignment last summer.  The right-hander turned things around in the bullpen with a 2.30 ERA over 43 relief innings and then returned to the rotation with astonishing results.  Over his last 10 starts of 2014, Carrasco was arguably the best pitcher in baseball, posting a 1.30 ERA and 78 strikeouts (against just 11 walks) over 69 innings.

Given Carrasco’s rocky career numbers and notable injury history (he missed all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery), it’s difficult to project exactly what an extension might look like for the ACES client.  From the Tribe’s perspective, they’re obviously looking to gain cost certainty on Carrasco’s future now and potentially gain a front-of-the-rotation arm at a discount price over a free agent year or two if he performs anything close to the level of his last 10 starts.

It’s possible Carrasco could want to strike while the iron is hot and gain financial security, even if he might be leaving money on the table.  Conversely, a full season of solid pitching would earn Carrasco a big arbitration raise next winter and line him up nicely for either an even richer extension with Cleveland or as a free agent following the 2017 season.


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.

(more…)


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 SwisherUbaldo 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: