Casey Blake Rumors

Casey Blake To Retire

Veteran infielder Casey Blake announced that he will retire from baseball, according to Bryce Miller of the Des Moines Register. The 38-year-old said he considered playing for one more year before deciding to move on. 

“I just decided to shut it down,” he said. “And I’m OK with the decision.”

Blake will retire with 167 home runs and a .264/.336/.442 batting line after a career that included stops in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Baltimore and Toronto. He averaged 22 home runs per season with an .800 OPS in his prime, from 2004-08.

Blake spent considerable time on the disabled list last year as he dealt with a cervical strain. Agent Jim McDowell represents the veteran infielder, who earned more than $32MM over the course of his 13-year career. The Rangers expressed interest in Blake after the Rockies released him this spring, the Register reports.


Rockies Release Casey Blake

The Rockies announced that they released third baseman Casey Blake (Twitter link). Agent Jim McDowell represents the veteran infielder, who signed a non-guaranteed contract worth $2MM plus $1MM in performance bonuses in December. The Rockies owe Blake $491K in termination pay, Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweets.

Blake hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances for the Dodgers in 2011, spending considerable time on the DL with a cervical strain. He had surgery in September and the Dodgers declined his $6MM option for 2012 after the season. The Phillies are known to be looking for infield depth and may inquire on the 38-year-old free agent.


Quick Hits: La Russa, Cordero, Ayala, Oliver, Vizquel

Some links as Monday turns into Tuesday…

  • Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says (on Twitter) Tony La Russa is seriously weighing his career options and hopes to have an answer soon, perhaps before Spring Training. It's been speculated that La Russa could join a team in a front office role after retiring from managing.
  • The Angels have talked to Francisco Cordero's representatives recently according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. He says it's hard to gauge where the team is in the race for the right-hander given all the money they've already spent this offseason, among other things.
  • The Yankees maintain interest in re-signing reliever Luis Ayala according to MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith (on Twitter). Ayala posted a 2.09 ERA with a 50% ground ball rate in 56 IP for New York last season. Last month we learned that six teams were pursuing the righty.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that the Rangers didn't offer Darren Oliver anything close to the $4.5MM he got from the Blue Jays. He says they remain in the market for left-handed bullpen help, and Mike Gonzalez still fits.
  • Omar Vizquel hinted at retirement on his Twitter account today, saying "[if] there is no contract [offer] there will be no other option but to start a new career, [as a] coach," according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (link in Spanish).
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post reports that Casey Blake will have to come to the plate 550 times this season to max out the $1MM in incentives in his contract with the Rockies. He'll earn the first $350K in bonuses at 350 plate appearances.
  • Within the same piece, Renck says that Aaron Cook's minor league deal with the Red Sox will pay him $20K per month in the minors. He can make an additional $2MM by making 30 starts in the big leagues, and the escalators kick in at 15 starts. Cook can request his release if he's not on the 25-man roster on May 1st and again on June 1st.


Rockies To Sign Casey Blake

The Rockies have agreed to sign Casey Blake to a one-year deal, pending a physical, Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd announced (Twitter link). The sides agreed to a non-guaranteed contract worth $2MM plus $1MM in performance bonuses, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding (on Twitter).

Blake hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances for the Dodgers in 2011, spending considerable time on the DL with a cervical strain. He had surgery in September and the Dodgers declined his $6MM option for 2012 after the season. The Indians were among nine teams with some interest in Blake, who should be ready to play in 2012, agent Jim McDowell told MLBTR.

The move provides the Rockies with depth at third base to go along with Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson. Nolan Arenado, a 20-year-old third base prospect in the Rockies' system, has yet to play in Double-A.


Indians Among Nine Teams Interested In Casey Blake

The Indians are one of nine teams to have expressed interest in signing Casey Blake, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland likes Blake as a super-utility type, who could back up at the corner infield and corner outfield positions.

The Dodgers turned down their $6MM option on Blake at season's end, electing instead to pay him a $1.25MM buyout and make him a free agent. The decision was unsurprising after injuries limited Blake's playing time and production in 2011. The 38-year-old hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances. Agent Jim McDowell told MLBTR that his client expects to be 100% for 2012.

If the Indians were to sign Blake, it would be his second stint in Cleveland. The first ended in July 2008, after five and a half years, when the Tribe shipped him to Los Angeles in the trade that landed them catching prospect Carlos Santana.


Yankees Notes: Sabathia, Swisher, Blake, Soriano

Two Yankee legends were born on October 20: longtime Yankee Stadium PA announcer Bob Sheppard (born in 1910) and number #7 himself, Mickey Mantle (born in 1931).  As coincidence would have it, both Sheppard and Mantle debuted at Yankee Stadium in 1951.

Here's the latest from the modern-day Bronx Bombers….

  • There haven't been any negotiations between the Yankees and C.C. Sabathia since the end of the ALDS, reports Ken Davidoff from Newsday.  The club "told Sabathia to take his time in sorting things out," though the Yankees hope to begin talks before the trigger date of Sabathia's opt-out clause, which is three days after the World Series ends.  Davidoff writes the Yankees would rather give Sabathia a larger annual salary in a new contract rather than add more years.
  • The Yankees are "very likely" to pick up Nick Swisher's $10.25MM option for 2012, reports ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews, though they may wait "until the very last minute" (i.e. three days after the World Series) to do so.
  • If Eric Chavez retires, Matthews reports the Yankees are weighing whether to make rookie Brandon Laird the primary third base backup or to acquire a veteran like Casey Blake for the spot.  Blake's $6MM option for 2012 was bought out by the Dodgers for $1.25MM two weeks ago, making him a free agent.
  • Scott Boras, Rafael Soriano's agent, tells Matthews it is "highly unlikely" that Soriano will opt out of the two years and $25MM remaining on his contract with New York.
  • The Yankees can't be blamed for their lack of pitching acquisitions at the trade deadline, writes Joe Pawlikowski of the River Ave Blues blog, given the lack of obvious upgrades on the market.

Dodgers Decline Options On Garland, Blake

The Dodgers announced on Twitter today that they've declined club options on starter Jon Garland and third baseman Casey Blake, and also outrighted Eugenio Velez to Triple-A.  Typically option decisions are announced after the World Series, but Garland and Blake were obvious choices.

For Garland, the Dodgers chose a $500K buyout over an $8MM club option.  Garland had signed for a below-market guarantee of $5MM in November, but a vesting option in the contract became moot when the righty when down for an oblique injury in March and shoulder surgery in July.  Garland, now 32, had previously been a lock for around 200 innings per season.  If Garland is healthy, his agents at LSW Baseball should have no problem finding a one-year deal worth a few million plus incentives, along with a back-end rotation job.

The Dodgers chose a $1.25MM buyout over a $6MM club option on Blake, finishing a contract signed in December of '08.  The 38-year-old Jim McDowell client hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances.  Blake's season was shortened by a ribcage, elbow, and neck injuries, culminating in September neck surgery.  McDowell told MLBTR recently that his client should be "100% for 2012."  Blake is also looking at a one-year deal, probably of the part-time variety.  You can check out MLBTR's list of all the 2012 free agents here.

Velez, now the record-holder for a non-pitcher going hitless in a season with an 0-for-37 showing, was removed from the 40-man roster.  Once free agents Aaron Miles, Jamey Carroll, Hiroki Kuroda, Rod Barajas, Juan Rivera, Vicente Padilla, Jonathan Broxton, and Mike MacDougal are subtracted, the Dodgers' tally will be down to 30.


Make Or Break Year: What Happened?

Before the season, MLBTR writers identified 13 players who were set for 'make or break' years. These players had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for success in free agency.

We checked in on the players at the quarter pole of the campaign and again at its midway point. Let's do it again now that the regular season's over (all links go to the MLBTR posts):

Players whose seasons met or exceeded preseason expectations:

  • Aramis Ramirez - Ramirez had a strong season, hitting 26 homers and posting a .306/.361/.510 line as the Cubs' everyday third baseman.
  • Edwin Jackson - Jackson, a free agent after the season, completed 199 2/3 innings with a 3.79 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 43.8% ground ball rate.
  • Bobby Abreu - Though Abreu's power dropped off, he managed a .353 on-base percentage and 21 steals. His 2012 option vested in July, so he should be back in Los Angeles for a fourth season with the Angels.
  • Carlos Beltran - A highly-coveted midsummer trade target, Beltran spent time on the DL with a strained right hand and wrist in August. His season line was .300/.385/.525, so agent Scott Boras will likely receive multiyear offers for the switch-hitter.
  • Jeff Francis - Francis pitched 183 innings with a 4.82 ERA, 4.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. He wasn't spectacular, but he made his starts, quieting questions about the condition of his left shoulder.

Players who had disappointing seasons due to injury or poor performance:

  • Scott Kazmir - Kazmir spent time on the DL, made one appearance for the Angels and posted a 17.02 ERA with more walks than strikeouts at Triple-A before getting released. The 2011 season could not have gone much worse for the former first rounder.
  • Nate McLouth - McLouth's .228/.344/.333 line is better than it was last year and features a respectable on-base percentage, but he missed the second half with oblique and abdominal injuries.
  • Jonathan Broxton - It was a lost season for Broxton, who recently had surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow and is looking at an incentive-based one-year deal in free agency.
  • Grady Sizemore - Sizemore got off to a hot start, but finished the season with a .224/.285/.422 line. Knee and abdominal issues limited him to 71 games and there's no guarantee that the Indians will pick up his $9MM option for 2012.
  • Joel Zumaya - Zumaya didn't pitch in a Major League game after undergoing elbow surgery in March.
  • Ryan Doumit - A sprained left ankle limited the 30-year-old to 77 games. When healthy, he posted a .303/.353/.477 line, but it doesn't appear likely that the Pirates will pick up his $7.25MM option.
  • Casey Blake - Blake hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances and spent considerable time on the DL with a cervical strain. He had surgery in September and the Dodgers will decline his $6MM option for 2012.
  • Matt Capps - Capps saw his strikeout rate (4.7 K/9), ground ball rate (41.6%), average fastball velocity (92.9 mph) and innings total (65 2/3) drop this year, while his ERA rose nearly two runs to 4.25. At least he stayed healthy, unlike many on this list.

Ned Colletti Talks Offseason

Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times has a slew of information from Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti regarding the team's offseason plans. Colletti feels that his team's pitching and defense have been sufficient, but that the offense is lacking and needs to be bolstered:

"I say the most dramatic way we can improve the offense, that would be the way we would go," Colletti said.

Obviously, that could be an allusion to Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, but the Dodgers' uncertain ownership and financial situations make a signing of that magnitude a stretch. Dilbeck points out that Colletti has never signed a player to a $100MM+ deal, and that Kevin Brown is the only player in Dodgers' history to receive such a contract. At the same time, however, Dilbeck also notes that the Dodgers do have $25MM in contracts coming off the books, so a run at one of the Top 2 free agents isn't necessarily unfathomable.

In the likely event that neither player comes to the Dodgers, Colletti says that James Loney is someone they'd "love to have back." Loney's overall numbers don't appear all that productive, but he's batting .355/.435/.653 with seven homers in his last 37 games. A strong finish could persuade the Dodgers to bring him back, although doing so would require giving him a raise on this year's $4.875MM salary — a risk given Loney's mostly underwhelming numbers.

Colletti also mentions re-signing Hiroki Kuroda as a priority; even if they were to retain Kuroda though, they'd require a fifth starter. Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland can both be candidates, and of course the free agent market figures to offer plenty of low-budget reclamation projects that could be brought in to fill that role as well.

Beyond that, role players such as Tony Gwynn Jr., Casey Blake, Aaron Miles, and Juan Rivera may all return "in the right situation." For what it's worth, Gwynn told Dilbeck's colleague Jim Peltz that he hopes to return to the Dodgers next season.


Dodgers Links: Blake, Vogelsong, Burke

One year ago today, the Dodgers released Ronnie Belliard after he hit just .216/.295/.327 with two homers in 185 plate appearances. Mini-Manny spent some time in the minor leagues this year, but he called it a career in June. Here's the latest from Chavez Ravine…

  • Jim McDowell, agent for Casey Blake, told MLBTR that his client had a post-surgery follow-up appointment this morning, and that everything checked out fine. Blake had surgery to repair a neck issue. He'll be able to begin his offseason workouts after six weeks of downtime, by which point the Dodgers will have already declined his $6MM option.
  • John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Dodgers offered Ryan Vogelsong a contract this past offseason, but the he declined (Twitter links). "I couldn't see myself being a Dodger," said the right-hander, who has a 2.62 ERA in 154 1/3 innings with the Giants.
  • Steve Sugarman, spokesman for Frank McCourt, told Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times that Bill Burke's $1.2 billion offer to buy the Dodgers was "unsolicited and a surprise." The team has not yet publicly responded to the offer, and Sugarman made it clear that Burke is not an acquaintance of McCourt's.