Carlos Villanueva Rumors

Cubs Notes: Villanueva, Marmol, Barney, Draft

Earlier today, Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer, manager Dale Sveum, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein all spoke with the Chicago media.  Here's a look at some highlights with all links going to Twitter..

  • Sveum told reporters, including Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, that the club expects to finalize a deal with Carlos Villanueva today.  The hang up, he said, was over clearing a roster spot for the right-hander.
  • However, Bruce Miles of ESPNChicago.com hears that the deal won't be inked today.
  • The deal that would have sent Dan Haren to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol was never a completed deal and Hoyer doesn't understand why the word "botched" was used to describe it, Miles tweets.  The trade, which was discussed before the Angels' deadline to exercise Haren's option, was initally reported to be agreed upon but was never finalized.
  • Hoyer said that second baseman Darwin Barney is a part of their long term plans "for sure", tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com.  The Tigers inquired on the youngster last summer.
  • Epstein said that if the club sees a can't miss position player available at the No. 2 spot in the draft, they may go that route and stockpile pitching later, tweets Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.

Cubs To Sign Carlos Villanueva

The Cubs have agreed to sign Carlos Villanueva, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). The SFX client obtains a two-year, $10MM deal, Heyman reports.

Uspw_6496000Chicago has sought out rotation depth this offseason, and they've already signed Scott Baker and Scott Feldman as our Free Agent Tracker shows. They also made a run at Anibal Sanchez and are reportedly a final suitor for Edwin Jackson. Villanueva, Baker, and Feldman will join rotation incumbents Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, and Travis Wood.

Villanueva, 29, pitched to a 4.16 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 125 1/3 innings spread across 16 starts and 22 relief appearances for the Blue Jays last season. He's made 29 starts and 42 relief appearances over the last two seasons and has proven capable in both roles. Earlier this offseason we heard Villanueva was reportedly seeking the opportunity to make 30 starts next season, an opportunity the Cubs can provide.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ranked Villanueva as the 29th best free agent on the market this offseason, predicting he would sign with the Royals. To see where you stand in our Free Agent Prediction Contest, check out our leaderboard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Sanchez, Villanueva, Red Sox

The latest out of the AL East..

  • Free agent Anibal Sanchez is reportedly seeking $90MM over six years and that may still fit the Blue Jays' budget.  GM Alex Anthopoulos says that the club could accommodate that kind of average annual value, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (via Twitter).  The club hasn't talked about going beyond their current five-year limit on contracts, but Anthopoulos said that things can always change (Twitter link).
  • Meanwhile, Anthopoulos says that he can promise free agent pitcher Carlos Villanueva the 30 starts that he is seeking, Davidi tweets.  The GM said that the club has never doubted Villanueva's abilities, but has raised concerns about his durability in the past.
  • Anthopoulos went on to say that the club is taking a wait-and-see approach with their left field approach while being a little more aggressive in terms of the rotation, tweets Davidi.
  • After wrapping up his six-year, $52MM deal with the Red Sox, agent Scott Boras tells Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal that Daisuke Matsuzaka figures to have a number of suitors now that he comes with a lower price tag.
  • The Yankees would like to find an upgrade for Jayson Nix which means finding someone who can play 100 games between shortstop and third base, tweets Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.


Blue Jays Notes: Bullpen, Romero, Johnson, Villanueva

MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm provides a look at the Blue Jays upcoming offseason and tackles a host of free agent issues in the process:

  • Of the team's four free agents — Kelly Johnson, Brandon Lyon, Jason Frasor and Carlos Villanueva — the most likely to return is Frasor or Lyon. The bullpen has become a position of depth, however, with the acquisitions of Steve Delabar and Brad Lincoln. Sergio Santos should return in 2013 as well. That could mean all four free agents will find new homes.
  • The team has no interest in shopping Ricky Romero and selling on the left-hander when his value is at an all-time low.
  • There doesn't appear to be much interest in retaining Johnson, according to Chisholm. The team once had eyes on bringing Marco Scutaro back to Toronto, but his torrid run with the Giants has likely made him too spendy. Instead, Adeiny Hechavarria or Mike Aviles could take the role.
  • The Blue Jays aren't willing to give Villanueva a multi-year deal and an opportunity to pitch out of the rotation — two things that the free agent is seeking. He'll likely pitch elsewhere in 2013.
  • Anibal Sanchez will probably get an "extended look," according to Chisholm, but it's more likely that GM Alex Anthopoulos will upgrade the rotation via trade.

Blue Jays Notes: Farrell, Marcum, Villanueva

Whether the Blue Jays keep manager John Farrell or send him to the Red Sox, the time has come to make a decision, argues Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi. The manager controversy is taking the Jays' attention away from more important offseason business, and Davidi argues that unless the Jays receive quality compensation in return for Farrell, it will make the team look bad to free agents. "An ideal sales pitch doesn’t include: 'Come to Toronto, this manager won’t flee to help our direct opposition,' ” Davidi writes. 

Here's the latest from north of the border…

  • There is still speculation that the Jays are eager to part ways with Farrell, with one team-connected source telling Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that, “The people there [in Toronto] would charter a jet to get him out.''
  • The negotiations between the Jays and the Red Sox about Farrell have advanced beyond the "preliminary" stage, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  Cafardo broke the news yesterday that the two teams have begun to discuss how the Jays would be compensated in a possible trade of the manager.
  • As to what that compensation might look like, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe uses the Theo Epstein and Ozzie Guillen deals as models to conclude that "a pitcher on the cusp of being helpful to the big league team and a Double A prospect" will be suitable, with Toronto also sending "a non-prospect" back to Boston.
  • In a radio interview with Jeff Sammut of Sportsnet 590 The Fan (partially transcribed by Sportsnet.ca's Mike Johnston), Shaun Marcum said he'd be open to returning to the Jays as a free agent and cited his good relationships with the training staff, pitching coach Bruce Walton and third base coach Brian Butterfield. "They're on my list, that's for sure," Marcum said. "I enjoyed my time there, I loved the city, loved the coaching staff, so it's definitely a place that I would be interested in."  Marcum said he's willing to pitch anywhere and in either league, though he wants to pitch for a team with a chance at the playoffs.
  • Carlos Villanueva talks about his free agency, his late-season slump and the Toronto fans with MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm.
  • As reported earlier today, the Jays claimed right-hander Tyson Brummett off waivers from the Phillies.

Royals Rumors: Payroll, Sanchez, Lohse, Trades

Royals owner David Glass recently said that the team is "committed to improving (their) starting pitching" while also indicating a willingness to operate at a financial loss to be competitive. Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star has the latest on the team…

  • “Our market is what it is,” said GM Dayton Moore. “We’re not going to have a payroll of $100MM. We know that going into it. We embrace who we are … We’ve got to stay consistent with our approach. We’re not going get crazy and go nuts in free agency.”
  • There are indications that the Royals have Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse at the top of their free agent target list. Bringing Zack Greinke back for a second tour of duty is unlikely.
  • The team's list of secondary pitching targets is believed to include Ryan Dempster, Hiroki Kuroda, Shaun Marcum, Carlos Villanueva, and Carlos Zambrano. They will also monitor pitchers who could have club options declined, like Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.
  • “Absolutely … I think any pitcher would be fortunate to pitch here," said right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, an impending free agent the team would like to retain. They are unwilling to go beyond a two-year deal, however.
  • Moore acknowledged that there is a chance of working out a new contract with Guthrie during the exclusive negotiating window prior to free agency.
  • “I wouldn’t say anybody is untouchable,” said Moore with regards to potential trade talks. “You go into any discussion with an open mind. That being said, there are certain positions on the diamond that are very difficult to replace …  You don’t want to compromise in one area just to get strong in another area.”
  • Dutton estimates that the Royals could have $20-23MM to spend this winter while keeping the current roster intact.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Carlos Villanueva

When Carlos Villanueva throws his first pitch to Red Sox tomorrow afternoon, he'll set a career high in games started. For some pitchers it'd be a bit of trivia. For Villanueva, it's a more significant threshold that could help him establish his value to prospective suitors as he nears free agency.

The right-hander has spent the second half of the season in Toronto’s starting rotation and his success in that role could be enough to convince MLB executives that he can excel as a starter in years to come. Yet some observers remain unconvinced. Speaking to the media this week Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos credited Villanueva for a successful season but emphasized the importance of remaining objective and establishing realistic expectations.

Carlos Villanueva - Blue Jays (PW, 2)

“When you’re looking at a starter you’re looking at 32 or 34 starts, 200 innings, durability, things like that, that’s part of the equation,” Anthopoulos told reporters, including Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. “There’s no question when he’s taken the ball he’s done a great job. But his [durability] is obviously part of the equation. That’s not to take anything away from him. But that’s the unknown with Carlos, he’s never had 200 innings, he’s never had 32 or 34 starts. I think we all would say you love what you see, what he’s done for us and he’s a great teammate and all those things. But again we’ve only had bits and pieces of him starting.”

Villanueva, who’s weeks away from hitting free agency for the first time, started 27 games over the course of his five seasons with the Brewers. He started 13 more last year after Anthopoulos acquired him from Milwaukee for a player to be named (the trade, overlooked at the time of its completion, has worked out tremendously for the Blue Jays). He's been a valuable reliever and spot starter to this point in his career. But he believes he can start at the MLB level despite Anthopoulos’ comments.

"Its a little disappointing. Everyone is entitled to their opinion," he told Sportsnet’s Tony Ambrogio (Twitter links). "I definitely don't love the advertising of that being put out there."

Let's set the rhetoric aside and look at the numbers. As Anthopoulos acknowledged, Villanueva is in the midst of an excellent season. He has a 3.48 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 38.9% ground ball rate in 111 1/3 innings as a starter and reliever. He generates swings and misses on 9.9% of his offerings — a marked improvement from 2011 — despite a fastball that averages just 89 mph.

Villanueva's strikeout rate and ground ball rate have dropped since he joined the rotation. But he has also pitched to a 3.58 ERA out of the rotation and cut his walk rate in half. In fact, he walked more batters in 33 1/3 relief innings (21) than he has in 78 innings since joining the rotation (20). And Villanueva has been healthy for the entire 2012 campaign after missing time with a strained forearm last year.

For Villanueva to obtain a multiyear contract, he'll probably have to convince teams he's a starter. Multiyear contracts for free agent relievers dropped from 17 in 2010-11 to six last offseason and most of last winter’s multiyear deals went to big-name closers such as Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Nathan.

Many teams — the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Royals, Twins, Brewers, Padres and Rockies to name a few — figure to be looking for starting pitching this coming offseason. Teams that can’t afford Zack Greinke and miss out on Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda and Kyle Lohse could target Villanueva. After all, he’s younger than most free agents at 28 years old and enjoying success in the American League East.

Assuming Villanueva’s representatives at SFX market him as a starter, they could look to match recent deals obtained by Chris Capuano (two years, $10MM) and Aaron Harang (two years, $12MM). Those pitchers aren’t great comps for Villanueva — few players are — but a contract in that range seems possible. SFX could argue that Villanueva's upside and youth make up for the perceived lack of dependability. 

If no multiyear offers surface, Villanueva would be looking for a one-year guarantee in the right environment. A one-year deal would presumably be worth less than the $11MM Edwin Jackson obtained following the 2011 season. Jackson, after all, had youth and durability on his side when the Nationals signed him last winter. However, pitchers such as Joe Saunders ($6MM), Roy Oswalt ($5MM), Paul Maholm ($4.75MM) and Erik Bedard ($4.5MM) signed one-year deals worth $5MM or so. That would represent a raise for Villanueva, who’s earning $2.28MM this year, without exposing the signing team to much risk.

Villanueva figures to draw lots of interest from teams interested in signing him for one year. I also expect some teams will have interest in multiyear deals given Villanueva’s recent success as a member of the Blue Jays’ rotation. One thing is certain: his last few starts will be scouted heavily as teams attempt to determine whether Villanueva is headed for sustainable success as an MLB starter or simply having a career year.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


East Notes: Villanueva, Red Sox, Nationals, Strasburg

Last night, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters that he isn't sure if impending free agent Carlos Villanueva could last as a starter across the course of an entire season.  Villanueva, who has a 3.58 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 13 starts this year, told reporters that he isn't happy with the lack of public support, according to Tony Ambrogio of Sportsnet (via Twitter).  The right-hander is looking to be a full-time starter going forward, which would call for a more lucrative contract.  Here's more from the Eastern divisions..

  • Villanueva told reporters, including MLB.com's Chris Toman, that he took some time to speak with Anthopoulos following his comments to the media.  "It's OK for him to have that doubt. It's OK for him to have his own opinion, because there are 29 other teams that might have a different opinion — that's why we battle to get to free agency, so we can see what else is out there," Villanueva said.
  • A person who is familiar with the Red Sox's ownership group told Peter Gammons of MLB.com (Twitter link) that the rumors of the club being for sale aren't true.  Earlier today, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino took to the Boston airwaves to deny the rumblings.  Owner John Henry also shot down the speculation of a sale.
  • The Astros are set to interview Nationals third base coach Bo Porter for their vacant managerial position, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.  Porter, 40, is the first name to surface as having interviewed for the position.  Tony DeFrancesco has been managing the club on an interim basis since Brad Mills was let go last month.
  • Rany Jazayerli of Grantland argues that the Nationals were wrong to shut down Stephen Strasburg.  Jazayerli looks back at how other promising young pitchers were used it the past and also questions why the Nats imposed an innings limit on Strasburg rather than a pitch limit.

Blue Jays Notes: Lind, D’Arnaud, Villanueva

Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos addressed a number of topics concerning the club's future in 2013 and beyond tonight and Chris Toman of MLB.com has the goods..

  • Anthopoulos is hoping to see more out of Adam Lind going forward, but noted that the Blue Jays won't be afraid to look elsewhere for better production.  Toronto is on the hook for $5MM in 2013 with club options on him from 2014-16 totaling $22.5MM. 
  • Even if the Blue Jays don't find an out-of-house upgrade at first baseman/designated hitter, Lind could face competition Travis d'Arnaud, who could be in the mix with J.P. Arencibia as the starting catcher.  David Cooper, a 2008 first-round pick who has hit .300/.324/.464 in 45 games this year, could also factor in.
  • The Blue Jays still aren't sure if they see impending free agent Carlos Villanueva holding up as a starter for an entire season.  The right-hander has made 13 starts for the Blue Jays this year, posting a 3.58 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in that role.  Recently, Villanueva told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet that he wants to continue as a starting pitcher.

Quick Hits: Villanueva, Hammel, Cabrera, Hamilton

Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel is on the mend and set to return next month.  With that in mind, O's General Manager Dan Duquette doesn't seem terribly focused on adding a starting pitcher, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • Blue Jays right-hander Carlos Villanueva hopes to stay in Toronto, but wants to do so as a starting pitcher, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.  Villanueva avoided arbitration with a $2.2775MM deal this winter but would likely look for a significant pay bump as a starter.
  • This winter's free agent market figured to be light on heavy hitters anyway, but Melky Cabrera's situation means that the Rangers would have an even harder time replacing Josh Hamilton, writes Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.  One Texas official cautiously predicted that the slugger would re-sign with the team, but we learned last week that Hamilton will wait until the offseason to negotiate.
  • It hasn't been a successful year for the Astros, but things could get worse upon their arrival in the American League West, writes Randy Harvey of the Houston Chronicle.
  • Speaking of the Astros, they released 2008 second-round pick Jay Austin earlier today (hat tip to Jayne Hansen of What The Heck, Bobby).  The 22-year-old outfielder never advanced beyond Advanced-A ball in his time with Houston.
  • Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is staying upbeat in the face of the latest controversy surrounding him and the club, writes MLB.com's Ian Browne.  Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia were reportedly the most vocal in a meeting between the players and principal owners regarding Valentine.