Carlos Delgado Rumors
Two weeks ago, the Marlins agreed to send basically every player making decent money on their roster to the Blue Jays for a package of prospects. The 12-player blockbuster became official a week ago, leaving Miami with just three players scheduled to make $2MM+ in 2013. Ricky Nolasco ($11.5MM) and Yunel Escobar ($5MM) could both still be moved before the end of the winter as well.
This isn't the first time the Marlins have torn things down and rebuilt from scratch, of course. They did it immediately following their 1997 World Series win, then again a few years after bringing home the 2003 World Championship. On this date in 2005, the team officially swung a pair of trades sending three of their highest paid players elsewhere.
Trade #1: Boston Red Sox
Josh Beckett, then just 25, was coming off a 3.38 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 178 2/3 innings for Florida. He earned $2.4MM in 2005 and was due a significant raise in his second trip through arbitration, plus the team was unlikely to re-sign him long-term when he hit free agency after 2007.
Beckett had significant trade value, so the Marlins took advantage by attaching then-31-year-old Mike Lowell to him in talks. If a team wanted Beckett, they had to take Lowell as well. The third baseman slipped to .236/.298/.360 with eight homers in 558 plate appearances that year, but more importantly he was scheduled to earn $18MM total from 2006-2007.
Few teams could meet Florida's demand for a young shortstop, but the Red Sox were one of them. The two sides worked out a seven-player trade that sent Beckett, Lowell, and Guillermo Mota to Boston in exchange for prospects Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Harvey Garcia, and Jesus Delgado. The Marlins saved all $18MM owed to Lowell in addition to second- and third-year arbitration salaries for Beckett and a third-year arbitration salary for Mota. The trade worked out well for both teams as Beckett and Lowell helped the Red Sox to the 2007 World Championship while Ramirez developed into an MVP candidate and Sanchez became a rock solid innings-eater for the Marlins.
Trade #2: New York Mets
During the 2004-2005 offseason, Florida landed the top free agent slugger by signing Carlos Delgado to a four-year, $52MM contract with a fifth-year vesting option. The then-33-year-old hit .301/.399/.582 with 33 homers in the first year of the contract, good enough to earn him a sixth-place finish in the MVP voting. However, like the contracts of Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, Delgado's deal with the Marlins was heavily backloaded. He earned just $4MM in 2005, then his salary was scheduled to jump to $13.5MM in 2006, $14.5MM in 2007, $16MM in 2008, and potentially $12MM in 2009 if the option vested ($4MM buyout).
Rather than pay him that huge salary over the next three years, the Marlins traded Delgado to the Mets for three minor leaguers: Yusmeiro Petit, Mike Jacobs, and Grant Psomas. The Mets also received $7MM from Florida in the trade, but it was a drop in the bucket compared to the $48MM left on the contract. Delgado hit .265/.349/.505 with 100 homers during his first three years with New York, which was enough for the team to exercise his option even though it didn't vest. Jacobs had three decent years with the Marlins while Petit and Psomas flamed out, but the real get for the club was the $41MM in payroll savings. Combined with the Red Sox swap, the Marlins shed more than $59MM in contract obligations with these two moves seven years ago today.
When Carlos Delgado cracked the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster 17 years ago, the two-time defending World Champions knew the 21-year-old catching prospect was powerful. He had punished Southern League pitchers the year before, hitting 25 home runs, posting a .954 OPS and establishing himself as one of the best prospects in baseball. But when he had eight home runs after 13 games in April of 1994, everyone was surprised, including Delgado.
“I was a kid in a candy store,” he told MLBTR over the phone from Puerto Rico. “I’m at the big league level, I’m hitting, I’m hitting home runs and it’s great. I was on cloud nine."
Pat Gillick, a 2011 Hall of Fame inductee who was Toronto's GM at the time, credits Blue Jays scout Epy Guerrero for his role in discovering and signing Delgado in 1988. Seeing the teenager develop from a prospect to a big leaguer was nearly as exciting for Gillick as it was for Delgado.
"We all knew that he had tremendous power potential," Gillick recalled. "But potential is one [thing and] results and performance is what counts."
The Blue Jays weren’t sure of Delgado’s defense behind the plate, so they put him in a new position, left field. Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash was Toronto’s assistant GM at the time and he says Delgado’s hitting ability forced him onto the big league roster.
"Obviously his bat earned him the opportunity but we struggled as to where to play him defensively," Ash said in an email. "I think in retrospect that brief opportunity helped him better transition when he came back to stay."
Nearly two decades later, Delgado has announced that his playing days are over and the reasons for his retirement are firmly grounded in reality. His hips allow him to do normal daily activities, but they prevent him from swinging the way he once did.
Delgado had hoped to play in the majors again, so after a brief comeback attempt with the Red Sox last year, he underwent hip surgery in the fall and started preparing for the rigors of another MLB season. About two weeks ago, Delgado was watching video of his swing and he realized his playing career was over.
“I watched myself hit a few times and it didn’t resemble anything like the swing that I had, so at that time and with the discomfort I had, I knew that it wasn’t there anymore,” Delgado said.
Before his hips started limiting his mobility, Delgado was one of the most durable and powerful players in the game. He averaged 35 home runs and 148 games per season from 1996-2008, posting a .937 OPS over the course of that 13-year stretch. Now 38, Delgado finishes his career with 473 home runs, four of which came on a single night. Delgado won’t say his historic power outburst is the highlight of his career, but he acknowledges that it’s up there.
“That four home run night in September of 2003 was great, but I can also say that Opening Day 1994 was phenomenal because it was my first Opening Day at the big league level,” Delgado said. “I can look back to my first All-Star Game in 2000, which was a great experience. It was pretty surreal. Even when I was in Puerto Rico in 1995, I played for the so-called ‘dream team’ and we swept the Caribbean Series.”
Delgado spent four seasons with the Mets and another one with the Marlins, who signed him to a $52MM contract in 2005. Yet he spent most of his career - 12 seasons of it - in Toronto and he remains grateful that the Blue Jays didn’t give up on him when he didn’t work out as a catcher or a left fielder.
“They were patient with me,” he said. “The city embraced me like family. It was phenomenal having that opportunity and I met some great friends there like Shawn Green, Pat Hentgen, Jose Cruz Jr., Darrin Fletcher [and] Roger Clemens.”
The Blue Jays didn’t make the playoffs once during Delgado’s tenure (excluding 1993, when he had two plate appearances as a callup). So he looks back at the Mets’ 2006 playoff run as one of the best experiences of his career, even though the Cardinals beat the Mets in the seventh game of the NLCS.
“It was phenomenal,” Delgado said. “It was a great experience. It was an energy that you’d never experienced before. I wish I could have done it more often. I wish it had happened every year, but it didn’t happen. After 12-13 years when I finally made it, it was great.”
Now that it’s all over, Delgado says he’ll spend some time with his wife and children before deciding whether to pursue other opportunities in baseball. When eligible, he’ll become a candidate to join former teammate Roberto Alomar in the Hall of Fame, but he says he doesn’t intend to worry about Cooperstown.
“It would be a great honor,” Delgado said. “I would be lying if I told you that it wouldn’t be. But by the same token, I try to keep it real, because that’s a situation where I really have no control. I played the game with passion, I played the game as hard as I could for as long as I could and I did what I wanted to do, which was have fun and play ... I think I had a pretty good career. I put some numbers on the board, but like I said it’s beyond my control."
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
Back in February, Delgado told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez he did not want to retire, which is why he went through multiple hip surgeries. He last played in the Majors in May of 2009.
Delgado finishes with a strong .280/.383/.546 line with 473 home runs across 17 seasons with the Blue Jays, Marlins, and Mets. His OBP ranks 149th all-time, while his slugging percentage ranks 28th. We know him as a first baseman, though Delgado caught in the minors and played left field early in his big league career.
He earned almost $150MM in his career, according to Baseball Reference. Alex Rodriguez has been the highest paid player in baseball since December of 2000, but Delgado is the most recent player besides Rodriguez to have had that distinction. The David Sloane client signed a four-year, $68MM deal that briefly made him the highest paid player in the game after the 2000 season.
There's a simple reason Carlos Delgado doesn't have any contract offers in hand. Delgado, who is working to return from a series of hip operations, hasn't given his agent the go-ahead to solicit offers from clubs. Once Delgado's ready, he'll let his agent know and work toward a deal.
"He's working out to get himself in physical shape to play," agent David Sloane told MLBTR.
Once Delgado's in shape, he'll notify Sloane, who will contact clubs. At this point, Delgado hasn't discussed his preferences with his agent, but he does want to play in 2011 (as he explained to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez this weekend). The first baseman signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox last year, but didn't make it back to the majors because of his left hip.
Delgado has 473 career home runs, thanks to a decade-long stretch of seasons with 30-plus homers from 1997-2006. He last played in the majors for the 2009 Mets.
The latest on the Yankees from Joel Sherman of the New York Post, as the Bronx Bombers trickle down to Florida for the start of another Spring Training...
- The Yankees have zero interest in Carlos Delgado. The longtime Blue Jays slugger wants to play in 2011, but hasn’t been getting much interest so far.
- The Yankees checked in on Jarrod Washburn earlier in the winter, but talks did not progress much. However, the Yankees would consider Washburn if he’s willing to accept a minor league deal like Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon did.
- The Yankees had interest in Carl Pavano but didn’t want to surrender a draft pick for the former Yankee, so they discussed a scenario that would have seen the Diamondbacks sign Pavano and trade him to New York for prospects. The Yankees could have kept their draft picks and worked out a deal with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, who worked for the Yankees last year and knows their farm system well. The D’Backs would have lost their second-round pick (63rd overall) to the Twins had they signed Pavano.
MONDAY, 7:41pm: Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that Delgado has not received any offers yet (on Twitter). He'll likely have to prove he's healthy before teams show interest.
SUNDAY, 9:03pm: Veteran slugger Carlos Delgado is still recovering from surgery on his left hip but hopes to return to the majors this year, writes Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The 38-year-old has not played in a Major League game since May 10, 2009.
"If I am healthy, I will find a way," said Delgado, who is 27 home runs shy of reaching 500. "I know how to play. I don't want to retire. The reason why I put myself through three surgeries in 18 months is because I want to play. Otherwise, I would have just hung it up."
Delgado went under the knife last September for the third hip surgery of his career. A month prior to that he signed a minor league deal with the BoSox that would have paid him a prorated portion of $3MM upon reaching the majors.
Before he signed with Boston, the White Sox, Rockies, and Mariners were among the clubs known to have interest. The two-time All-Star said last November that he was still waiting for a call from a major league club and had no preference as to where he signs.
In today's blog post at ESPN (Insider req'd), Buster Olney solicited the opinions of various talent evaluators about yesterday's Matt Garza trade. The general consensus is that the Cubs made the move with the idea of contending in 2011 while the Rays made the move geared towards reloading for the future, somewhat acknowledging that the upcoming season "will be very difficult."
Here are the rest of Olney's rumors...
- Two sources tell Buster that the Angels' final offer to Adrian Beltre was $77MM guaranteed, or $3MM less than the guarantee he got from Texas.
- Carlos Delgado wants to come back, but it'll be very tough to do so when the free agent market features plenty of healthier DH-types.
- The Yankees are seeking a capable back-of-the-rotation innings-eater, but there are very few pitchers that fit that description available.
Happy birthday to the Big Cat, Johnny Mize! The Hall-of-Famer was born on January 7, 1913 in Demorest, Georgia. Other notable players born on this day include Jon Lester, Alfonso Soriano, Eric Gagne and Francisco Rodriguez.
Onto the news items....
- A reunion between Freddy Garcia and the Tigers is "possible, though unlikely at this point," writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. Garcia, who made three starts for Detroit in 2008, "is believed to be open" to the idea and Tigers officials at least discussed the prospect, Beck reports. The right-hander appears to be behind at least Jeremy Bonderman and Brad Penny on the club's list of veteran depth options for the rotation.
- Carlos Delgado is recovering from his third hip surgery but still hasn't ruled out a Major League comeback, writes Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.
- The Nationals are counting on a much-improved defense to help them in 2011, reports Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post.
- While the Rockies haven't made any huge additions, their moves to keep their young core players gave them the most successful offseason in the NL West, writes Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com.
- Ed Wade says the Astros might consider acquiring a replacement for Jeff Keppinger if none of their young infielders can fill the backup role in Spring Training, reports Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com says the Indians need to start seeing some production in 2011 from the young players the team received in the Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia trades.
- Frank McCourt met with executives from the comissioner's office to outline his plans for keeping control of the Dodgers amidst his divorce proceedings, reports the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin.
'Tis the season for Puerto Rican players to head back to the island for winter ball and home cooking. Links are in Spanish...
- At the opening of a baseball academy yesterday, Carlos Beltran told Fernando Ribas Reyes of El Nuevo Dia that the Mets have invited the center fielder to meet with new GM Sandy Alderson. Beltran was non-committal about his approach, saying, "It doesn't matter what I think. The organization is going to do what they think is best for them. The way I can control it is to have a good year. If I do, I know there will be teams interested in me. For my part, I'd like to play in New York a few years more."
- In a separate piece, Carlos Delgado told Reyes he hasn't been approached by any major league teams so far this offseason. Delgado insisted he has no preferences about where he plays, and admited that he has had a few doubts about his ability to return to the majors.
- Pat Listach, former Nationals third base coach and recent candidate for the Brewers managerial opening, told Junior Lugo Marrero at Periodico La Perla that making the jump from base coach to manager remains one of his goals. At the moment, Listach is managing the Ponce Lions in Puerto Rico, and he described his style as that of "an aggressive manager who likes the hit and run and moving players around the bases." In the shorter term, Listach will be joining the Cubs as bench coach, reported Rhett Bollinger at MLB.com two days ago.
Let's round up the highlights from Nick Cafardo's Sunday column for the Boston Globe....
- One AL executive tells Cafardo that he's never seen so many candidates interviewed for managerial openings: "It’s amazing to me that you wouldn’t know within, say, two or three candidates who you want. But I guess in some cases the GM’s job is also on the line if he picks the wrong guy."
- Matt Stairs would like to play for at least one more season. While he says he'd like to return to Boston, he concedes that he'd probably play "anywhere."
- An NL scout was positive about A.J. Pierzynski, suggesting that he'll be one of the most attractive catching options on the free agent market, behind Victor Martinez and John Buck. "With A.J., you know he’s not going to throw people out," said the scout. "But there’s nothing wrong with his receiving and he can still hit. I know the fire he has can rub people the wrong way, but I think that’s great for a team."
- Brandon Inge has a good chance of landing a starting role this winter, given the lack of free agent third base options after Adrian Beltre. However, Cafardo wonders if Inge could eventually become a Bill Hall-esque utility player, given his ability to play a few different positions.
- Possible bullpen targets for the Red Sox include Joaquin Benoit, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, and Brian Fuentes.
- A market appears to be developing for Lance Berkman. Teams like the Rockies, Orioles, Mets, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks could have interest.
- Carlos Delgado underwent another hip procedure two and a half weeks ago, but is rehabbing the hip and feels like he'll be able to play in 2011.