Carlos Carrasco Rumors

Pitching Market Notes: Ross, Gallardo, Iwakuma, Indians, Chapman, Pirates

The Padres are “progressing” on multiple deals, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and Tyson Ross is a key piece among their trade chips. Rosenthal adds that trading him would be considered a concession on the 2015 season, and while that’s likely, it’s certainly possible that the Padres could acquire some MLB-ready talent to make it more even for 2015 purposes than if they went with an all-prospects package. The Padres could add some pieces as well, he notes.

Meanwhile Bob Nightengale of USA Today chimes in on Ross as well, tweeting that executives from other teams are “convinced” that Ross will be dealt. Nightengale says the Cubs continue to push for Ross. (Earlier today, ESPN’s Jayson Stark heard that Ross is Chicago’s top pitching target.)

Here’s more on the trade market for pitching help — starters and relievers alike:

  • The Cubs, Blue Jays and Dodgers are the most aggressive teams pursuing Yovani Gallardo of the Rangers at this time, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Yankees and Giants also have some level of interest, he adds. Gallardo started tonight, and things went poorly; the Yankees knocked him around for five runs in six innings, and he struck out just one hitter.
  • Despite a record that is well below the .500 mark, the Mariners aren’t planning to make right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma available, tweets Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. While other teams have apparently inquired, they’ve been informed that Mariners ownership prefers to keep him. Iwakuma’s value is down after a shaky, injury-filled season, though given his reasonable $7MM salary and track record, I’d imagine he’d draw no shortage of interest if put on the block.
  • Teams are still in touch with the Indians regarding their crop of young pitching talent, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. There’s nothing close at this time, but the Indians remain willing to engage in conversations. To this point, they’ve reportedly discussed Carlos Carrasco with other clubs, and one can imagine that Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer are of interest to other teams as well. Cleveland did bolster its impressive stockpile of young pitching today — albeit with a future-oriented move — acquiring Class-A lefty and former first-round pick Rob Kaminsky from the Cardinals for Brandon Moss.
  • The D-Backs reportedly have an offer on the table to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman, but Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic spoke to a pair of executives (Twitter link) about the asking price on Chapman, with one calling it “high” and the other using the term “ridiculous.”
  • Following today’s acquisition of Joakim Soria to strengthen his bullpen, Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he doesn’t plan to acquire an additional starting pitcher prior to tomorrow’s non-waiver trade deadline (Twitter link).

Reactions To And Impact Of The Troy Tulowitzki Deal

The blockbuster trade sending start shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies to the Blue Jays is now official. He’s officially heading to Toronto along with veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins. In return, the Rockies will pick up the rest of the contract of Jose Reyes (saving about $50MM against Tulo’s deal) and add three quality right-handed pitching prospects (Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco).

Here are the some of the many reactions to the overnight deal, along with the latest notes from the teams involved:

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos’ persistent approach paid off in the end, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. According to Rosenthal, Anthopoulos first contacted Rockies GM Jeff Bridich about the possibility of acquiring Tulowitzki this winter, but Bridich wasn’t interested in taking on Reyes as part of the return. The same held true in May, but there was a bit of traction in early July, and business picked up quickly on Monday night. (Rosenthal adds that Anthopoulos took the same dogged approach with A’s GM Billy Beane in offseason talks for Josh Donaldson.)
  • After being promised that he’d be consulted prior to any trade, Tulowitzki instead found out when manager Walt Weiss, with tears in his eyes, pulled the franchise cornerstone from the game in the ninth inning on Monday, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. The Rockies, Passan continues, asked that Tulo not publicly demand a trade so as not to weaken their stance in discussions, and he obliged. Both Passan and Rosenthal note that Tulowitzki is not pleased with the manner in which his exit from Colorado was handled. Notably, Passan writes that the Rockies’ young players have said to one another since the trade that owner Dick Monfort should have flown into Chicago to inform Tulowitzki in person. This type of ugly exit sets a bad precedent with remaining stars around whom the Rockies want to build (e.g. Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson), Passan opines.
  • As for Arenado, he expressed some dismay at the situation to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post“I don’t know any of these dudes we got,” Arenado said. “But I think if we were going to trade Tulo, I would think it would be for an ace, an established veteran pitcher. Obviously we are starting to rebuild from the ground up.” (To be fair, it seems that Arenado was referring to the prospect pitching that came back in the deal, not the veteran Reyes.)
  • Rosenthal adds that the Blue Jays are still intent on adding starting pitching, and he speculatively wonders if the addition of Tulowitzki’s imposing bat will make it easier for the Blue Jays to part with Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion to make that happen. But reports have indicated that won’t occur, and GM Alex Anthopoulos confirmed in his press conference that the team does not intend to move its big league bats to add arms (via Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, on Twitter). In Passan’s piece above, he notes that the team will be active on the pitching front but deal from its prospect depth instead of its big league roster.
  • The team does, however, intend to remain active on the market for relievers and, especially, starters. Anthopoulos said he hopes to make staff additions over the next few days, as Sportsnet’s Arash Madani tweets.
  • Coming out of this deal, the Jays could look to add another option in left field, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. He also cites a report from Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun regarding the failure of Toronto’s recent attempt to pry Carlos Carrasco away from the Indians. Hoffman would have been a part of that deal, along with highly-regarded prospects Daniel Norris and Dalton Pompey, which could explain in part how things worked out. (It’s also an indication of what kind of price Carrasco could command.)
  • Looking ahead, Anthopoulos says that the Blue Jays see Tulowitzki as a future piece for the club, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports on Twitter“We would have taken Tulowitzki in the offseason, we just couldn’t get a deal done,” said the Toronto GM. “This is not a July deal.”
  • Several rival executives believe the Rockies will keep Reyes with hopes that he’ll regain some value over the second half, Passan tweets. Certainly, playing at Coors Field promises to boost his batting line, though injuries have long been an issue for the Rockies. The strategy certainly does make some sense at first glance, though, as the team may not be prepared to hand the everyday job to prospect Trevor Story and Reyes could find a much wider market over the winter. I’d also add that he could factor as an August trade piece in the event that a contender has a need arise.
  • The Cardinals talked with the Rockies about Tulowitzki before he was moved, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Morosi notes that Tulowitzki is close with outfielder Matt Holliday, so that might have been a good fit for the shortstop.
  • The Rockies and Cardinals have discussed Tulo in the past, but a deal never came together because the asking price was “absurd,” one source tells Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch.  Various sources have indicated that the Rockies sought a package that included, at times, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, and Matt Adams — and possibly all three. That was too much for the Cardinals, who also made it clear that Michael Wacha was not going to be in such a deal.
  • The Yankees, meanwhile, were never even engaged by the Rockies before the deal was struck, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. While New York had long seemed a plausible destination, we also heard earlier today that the Mets passed on an opportunity to get involved.
  • It was notable, of course, that the Jays made this big of a splash to add a position player, but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs argues that the team’s desire to add pitching shouldn’t preclude it from upgrading in any way possible. Bolstering the team’s lineup (as well as its defense) still adds runs to the ledger, and Cameron suggests that Toronto may well be correct in assessing that it made more sense to utilize its young arms in this deal than to move them for a rental arm (or, perhaps, a somewhat less productive and/or risky controllable starter). It’s a lengthy and detailed piece — all the more impressive since Cameron pulled it together not long after the deal went down — and is well worth a full read.
  • Obviously, Toronto did give up real value to bring in one of the game’s biggest stars. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs breaks down the three hurlers involved in the swap. He explains that Jeff Hoffman still has plenty of upside, but appears to have dialed back the aggressiveness in his delivery since his return from Tommy John surgery. Miguel Castro, meanwhile, has a live arm but needs significant refinement. And Jesus Tinoco fits roughly the same profile, delivering ample tools to dream on but figuring as a possible future pen arm if he does not develop as hoped.
  • For ESPN.com’s Keith Law, despite the promise of the departing arms, the deal represents a win for the Jays given that they did not have to part with either Norris or Aaron Sanchez. He sees Hoffman more as a future mid-rotation starter than a top-line arm, with Castro looking like a strong future reliever and Tinoco a back-end rotation piece.

AL Notes: Blue Jays, Carrasco, Rangers

The Blue Jays, who are on the lookout for pitching help, are still in talks with the Padres about both starters and relievers, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. The Padres, of course, have starters Ian Kennedy, James Shields, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, and relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit. The Jays’ payroll could be an issue, however. Morosi writes that, for example, it would be tough for the Jays to take on the remainder of Kimbrel’s contract. Kimbrel is due about $4MM the rest of the season, plus $11MM in 2016, $13MM in 2017 and a $1MM buyout on a $13MM option in 2018. Here’s more from the American League.

  • The Blue Jays and Indians nearly completed a deal involving starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes. It’s not clear why the deal wasn’t completed, but Carrasco would have provided a long-term fix for the Jays’ rotation — Carrasco is signed through 2018, with team options for 2019 and 2020, and his outstanding peripherals (10.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 2015) suggest he has a strong foundation for future success. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday that the Jays had made a “big push” to trade for Carrasco.
  • The Rangers‘ solid recent play suggests that they should make moves to improve their pitching, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. They’re still in the playoff race, but Rangers starters have struggled to work deep into games, and they have a weak bullpen. The team has already decided to steer clear of big names on the rental market, though they’ve been connected to Cole Hamels along with Cashner and Ross.


AL East Notes: Orioles, Samardzija, Soria, Carrasco, Latos

Despite very public statements indicating that the team is all in on 2015, the Orioles are now giving “serious consideration” to selling, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes (Twitter links), Baltimore owner Peter Angelos has previously been disinclined to authorize such a move, but that could change (at least in theory) with several of the team’s better players set to reach free agency. Of course, executive vice president Dan Duquette said on Wednesday that his club will be a buyer. But a sweep at the hands of the division-leading Yankees has certainly impacted the team’s chances of making a run at the AL East.

Here’s more from the division:

  • The Blue Jays remain in “active discussions” with the White Sox about right-hander Jeff Samardzija, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The Jays have been said to have “strong” interest in adding Samardzija, a potential free agent at the end of the season. Upgrading the pitching staff is the Blue Jays’ top priority in the week leading up to the trade deadline, and Samardzija, whose eight-inning gem on Thursday dropped his ERA to 3.91, would certainly do that. Over his past eight outings, Samardzija has a 2.55 ERA, and he’s lasted at least seven innings in each of those contests. As Peter Gammons pointed out earlier today on Twitter, for a team with bullpen woes in addition to rotation troubles, adding a pitcher that is capable of effectively working deep into games should carry even greater appeal.
  • If the Tigers do end up selling, the Blue Jays will have interest in closer Joakim Soria, tweets Anthony Fenech of the Detroit News. Soria would be a pure rental, as he’s a free agent at the end of the year. He’s earning $7MM and has posted an even 3.00 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his 39 innings this season, though he’s also had an unusually difficult time with home runs, which could make pitching at the Rogers Centre a challenge.
  • The Blue Jays‘ pursuit of Scott Kazmir illustrates that it’s “becoming more clear” that the team is open to a rental acquisition, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Davidi notes that the Kazmir talks were never going to get off the ground based on the asking price — “think Jeff Hoffman or Daniel Norris,” says Davidi — especially considering Kazmir’s injury scares. Health concerns are another reason to wonder if the Blue Jays will seriously pursue Johnny Cueto or not, he adds. While the Blue Jays may be warming to the idea of a rental arm, they can’t afford to have their acquisition miss any time, and Cueto’s had a pair of minor elbow issues in 2015.
  • While the Blue Jays made a “big push” to land Carlos Carrasco from the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), the trade simply “didn’t get done.” Cleveland isn’t necessarily motivated to trade a starter, though they’re also not entirely ruling out the possibility.
  • The Yankees have shown at least some interest in Marlins righty Mat Latos, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports on Twitter. They join a growing list of clubs that have shown some inclination to take a chance on Latos’s resurgence and past success. New York has given public indication that it is not lining up any major moves, but it would be surprising if it does not at least make a few acquisitions at areas of need, and rotation depth could certainly make sense.

Indians Listening On Starters; Discussed Carrasco With Blue Jays

The Indians may be more willing to listen to trade scenarios regarding their controllable pitching than they have indicated publicly, according to a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). In particular, they’ve spoken with the Blue Jays regarding righty Carlos Carrasco.

There are other appealing arms under long-term control in Cleveland — Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer most notable among them. But the report indicates that the Indians are most willing to consider a deal involving Carrasco. The 28-year-old carries only a 3.94 ERA this season after last year’s breakout, but his peripherals (10.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 49.0% groundball rate) suggest he’s rather an elite performer. And ERA estimators all value his work this season at a sub-3.00 level.

Expanding Carrasco’s value is the fact that he’s only just started playing under a four-year, $22MM extension inked over the winter. That deal includes two option years (both of which include escalators) that could boost its total value to $48MM. Even at that price, though, it looks to be quite a bargain. And the flexibility at the back end limits the already-reasonable risk.

With the Tigers still debating whether to market David Price and the White Sox still waiting to decide on Jeff Samardzija, the AL Central suddenly seems to hold the key to the starting pitching market. It remains to be seen whether some or all of those players will seriously be marketed, though at least Samardzija seems a good bet to change hands.

Carrasco, though, would be a much more palatable target for Toronto since he comes with plenty of affordable future control. As Passan notes in his report, the Jays have a number of notable young talents that would certainly hold appeal to Cleveland — he mentions Jeff Hoffman, Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, and Anthony Alford — and it would be much easier to part with one or more for a non-rental.

On today’s MLBTR podcast, Steve Adams and I discussed the possibility of Cleveland moving an asset such as Carrasco — possibly as a means of offloading some of the big salaries owed to players like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. It’s unclear what kind of deal might conceivably be structured between the two clubs, but it’s notable (as Steve and I also covered) that Toronto has significantly more open payroll capacity in the future than they do at present. Taking on some later-in-time money could in theory offer a route to acquiring a controllable arm while limiting the damage to the club’s talent pipeline.


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.