Chad Qualls Rumors

East Notes: Loria, Johnson, Chavez, Qualls

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is today's headliner after agreeing to a hefty long-term contract extension that could keep him in a Washington uniform through 2020. Here are a few more odds and ends out of baseball's East divisions …

  • Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said he intends to own the Marlins for "as long as I live," writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Loria is 71 and entering his 11th season as owner of the Fish.
  • The Blue Jays are open to the possibility of signing second baseman Kelly Johnson to a multiyear extension, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. Johnson was a free agent this offseason but accepted the Jays' arbitration offer after receiving underwhelming offers, likely because of his Type A status under the old collective bargaining agreement. The Jays and Johnson settled on a $6.375MM salary.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter said there was lots of competition to sign outfielder Endy Chavez this offseason, tweets Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Chavez said four or five teams were interested.
  • The Phillies were scouting reliever Chad Qualls as early as last season, when he was with the Padres, writes Adam Berry of MLB.com. The sides were in touch throughout the offseason, and the Phils eventually signed the right-hander to a one-year deal on Jan. 31 when his asking price came "way down," according to assistant GM Scott Proefrock.

Central Notes: Qualls, Luhnow, Indians

A few items to pass along from the Central divisions as Tuesday becomes Wednesday …

  • The Cubs were interested in Chad Qualls before the right-hander eventually signed with the Phillies, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. As it stands now, the back end of the Cubs' bullpen features setup men Jeff Samardzija and Kerry Wood, and closer Carlos Marmol.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has begun the process of overhauling Houston's identity during a time of transition, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Luhnow has already made several key hires toward the goal of shifting the organization's focus to a combination of better scouting and more advanced statistical analysis. A reputed ideas man, Luhnow pitched Astros ownership a 25-page plan for repairing the organization before getting the job, according to Castrovince.
  • With arbitration hearings scheduled with two players – Asdrubal Cabrera and Rafael Perez – the Indians' 20-year streak of avoiding arbitration could come to end, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. However, Indians assistant GM Mike Chernoff told Hoynes that "both parties are clearly trying to get things done." Check out MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker to see where the Tribe stands with their arbitration eligibles. 

Phillies Sign Chad Qualls

The Phillies announced that they signed right-handed reliever Chad Qualls to a one-year, $1.15MM contract. The deal includes performance bonuses for the Hendricks Sports client.

Qualls posted a 3.51 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 56.6% ground ball rate in 74 1/3 innings for the Padres last year. The Phillies point out that the 33-year-old has made more appearances (512) than any other MLB pitcher since 2005. He has a 3.78 ERA with 7.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 57.5% ground ball rate in eight career seasons.

The Phillies added Jonathan Papelbon and Dontrelle Willis to the bullpen earlier in the offseason. Dave Bush and David Purcey will be among the team's non-roster invitees.



Cafardo’s Latest: Zumaya, Carlos Lee, Oswalt

At least three teams are "pushing hard" for Joel Zumaya, says Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. According to Cafardo, 50 scouts from 20 teams were in attendance for Zumaya's December workout, and the Red Sox and Padres are among the clubs who are very interested in the right-hander. Here are a few more items of interest from Cafardo's Sunday Baseball Notes:

  • An Astros source confirmed to Cafardo that the club has received a few inquires on Carlos Lee, as we heard earlier this week. The Rays briefly discussed a deal, but even half of Lee's $18.5MM salary figures to be too pricey for Tampa Bay.
  • A long-term extension doesn't look likely for Jacoby Ellsbury this week, but he and the Red Sox should avoid arbitration on a one-year deal before Tuesday's deadline.
  • Based on Hiroki Kuroda's deal with the Yankees, an NL GM thinks Roy Oswalt could be had for about $9MM for one year. There were rumblings this week suggesting Oswalt's current asking price may be even lower.
  • An NL scout on Edwin Jackson and his likely cost: "For that kind of money, you need more consistency out of him. I guess there's a lack of trust in that consistency. He's a great athlete, but he doesn't have a great feel for pitching. To me, he's still a complementary piece."
  • Ryan Spilborghs and Chad Qualls are two free agents to keep in mind for the Red Sox, says Cafardo. The Sox have "always liked" Spilborghs, who was non-tendered by the Rockies last month, and Qualls "has been on Boston's radar all offseason."

Stark On Yankees, Red Sox, Reds, Garza

The new collective bargaining agreement has created millions of dollars in incentives for teams to be below the luxury tax when it reaches $189MM in 2014, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. The upcoming changes have contributed to the relatively restrained spending on the part of the Yankees and Red Sox this offseason, Stark writes. Here are the rest of his rumors…

  • The Yankees won’t be under the luxury tax threshold in 2012 or 2013, but they hope to spend less than $189MM in 2014, Stark writes. However, the CBA isn’t the only reason the Yankees are spending more cautiously. "I think this is what the Yankees were going to do, regardless," one of Stark’s sources said.
  • Hiroki Kuroda is sending signals to the Yankees and Red Sox that he’d like to sign with one of those teams, Stark reports. The Red Sox are “nowhere near close” on Kuroda while the Yankees are mostly “kicking tires,” Stark hears. Stark's colleague Buster Olney reported today that Kuroda's asking price has dropped to the $10-11MM range.
  • Though rival teams were surprised to see the Reds agree to terms with Ryan Madson, the move will help the team stockpile draft picks. They’ll obtain a compensatory pick when Francisco Cordero signs elsewhere and could obtain two more picks if they tender Madson a contract next offseason and he leaves as a free agent.
  • The Reds are going to attempt to turn Aroldis Chapman into a starter this Spring Training, though there’s some skepticism he’ll thrive in the rotation.
  • Chad Qualls’ name is on the Phillies’ shopping list, Stark reports.
  • Rival teams predict the Cubs won’t trade Matt Garza until July, when there are fewer alternatives available in free agency.
  • Stark hears that the Astros would pay half of the $18.5MM remaining on Carlos Lee’s contract and at least $7MM of the $11MM that Brett Myers will earn in 2012. Wandy Rodriguez is also available, though the Astros don’t appear to be nearing a deal involving the left-hander.

Mets Notes: Qualls, Pelfrey, Pagan, Wright

The latest on the Mets, as they prepare for the post-Jose Reyes era…

  • Chad Qualls is one of many relievers the Mets have inquired on, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
  • GM Sandy Alderson told reporters, including ESPN New York's Adam Rubin, that he expects the team's 2012 payroll to be about $100MM. If the team tenders contracts to Mike Pelfrey and Angel Pagan, that would leave about $10-15MM to spend.
  • Alderson on Pelfrey and Pagan: "I've said over the last few weeks they may be very good investments for us given the other options and the fact they're players with upside going into the season and players who would probably be on one-year contracts."
  • David Wright's status was never linked to Reyes' status, according to the GM, meaning that even though Reyes is signing elsewhere, the team doesn't intend to trade Wright and launch an all-out rebuild.

Reliever Rumors: Madson, Saito, Qualls, Rays

Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell are off the market now, but as our Free Agent Tracker shows, there are still a ton of relievers out there for clubs looking to improve their bullpen. Here's the latest on some free agent relief arms…

  • Earlier today we heard that the Red Sox continue to have dialogue with Scott Boras about Ryan Madson, and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio hears that their stiffest competition is "clearly" coming from the Blue Jays and Angels (Twitter link).
  • Six teams have shown interest in Takashi Saito, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Brewers are one of those six teams. Earlier today we heard that Milwaukee wants to bolster its bullpen.
  • SI.com's Jon Heyman hears that there is not one, but two mystery teams interested in Chad Qualls (Twitter link).
  • DRays Bay examined the possibility of the Rays using an 11-man pitching staff next season, suggesting Rich Harden as a potential free agent target to throw multiple relief innings.
  • For all the latest fantasy closer analysis, make sure you check out Closer News.

Padres Decline Options On Harang, Hawpe, Qualls

The Padres announced today they've declined their options on Aaron Harang, Brad Hawpe, and Chad Qualls.

Only Harang was slightly in question; he had a $5MM mutual option with a $500K buyout.  The 33-year-old San Diego native posted a 3.64 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.05 HR/9, and 40.6% groundball rate in 170 2/3 innings.  His SIERA suggests a 4.25 ERA would have been deserved.

Hawpe, 32, had a $6MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout.  His season ended early due to elbow surgery.  Qualls, 33, had a $6MM club option with a $1.05MM buyout.


Free Agent Closers’ Usage

The upcoming class of free agents figures to present an interesting study in the way teams are evaluating relievers these days. After Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, many of the most recognizable names are closers or relievers who have previously closed.

Modern analysis suggests it's foolish to invest heavily in relief pitchers due to their limited contributions and volatility in year-to-year production. But someone has to get those crucial late-inning outs, and the temptation for a team that thinks it's a contender to throw a lot of money at a guy who's coming off a year in which he posted a minuscule ERA or eye-popping strikeout rate is often too great.

Undoubtedly, suitors will use a variety of criteria to evaluate free-agent closers, one of which will be usage. Because usage can encompass so many things — innings, appearances, pitches, "high-stress" pitches, and so on — it's tough to say which is the most accurate reflection of a pitcher's workload; of course, this debate continues on for starters, too.

During the season, with the launch of CloserNews.com, we began keeping an eye on relievers who had pitched on three (and four) consecutive days, as that seems to be the breaking point for when most relievers must be rested. We've tallied that up here in a spreadsheet, along with a few other measures (standard and otherwise) of reliever usage, for the upcoming class of free-agent closers.

The objective here isn't to make any bold proclamations based on who threw the most innings; I may as well pen the inevitable mea culpa right now if it were. Rather, there are some interesting tidbits of note here, a few things to file away as these relievers ready themselves for free agency and teams prepare to bid.

  • Heath Bell and Francisco Cordero were the only two of this group to pitch on four consecutive days in 2011. Bell is the only one to do it twice.
  • Bell's abundance of pitches certainly seems to correspond with his dip in strikeout rate (7.32 K/9 in 2011 vs. 9.22 for career). Looks like he was having trouble putting away hitters, at least relative to his past performances.
  • Francisco Rodriguez paced the group by pitching on three consecutive days six times. 
  • Heavy usage is not unusual for K-Rod, though. He's pitched fewer than 65 innings only once in his nine full big league seasons, the red herring due to an off-field incident in 2010.
  • Info was culled from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.

Padres Declining Qualls, Hawpe Options; Undecided On Harang

The Padres will be declining the $6MM options for Chad Qualls and Brad Hawpe for next season.  GM Jed Hoyer broke the news during a radio appearance on XX1090's The Darren Smith Show (Twitter link from producer Marty Caswell).  Hoyer also said the team was still mulling over whether or not to pick up its side of Aaron Harang's $5MM mutual option for next season.

Qualls will receive a $1.05MM buyout from the Padres but still could be back in San Diego next year, as we've heard the team has an interest in re-signing him at a lower price.  After a disastrous 2010 campaign that saw him lose the closer's job in Arizona and get dealt to Tampa Bay, Qualls rebounded in 2011 to deliver a 3.51 ERA and 2.15 K/BB ratio in 77 games for the Padres.  Qualls had some pretty severe home/away splits (a 2.09 ERA at Petco Park and a 5.05 ERA on the road), so there's a decent chance he'll choose to remain in San Diego.

It was no surprise that the Padres parted ways with Hawpe after the veteran missed most of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June.  Hawpe only hit .231/.301/.344 in 216 plate appearances for San Diego.  Hawpe had a $6MM mutual option for 2012 that the Padres will pay $1MM to buy out.

Harang, like Qualls, underwent a bit of a career revival pitching at Petco Park — a 3.05 ERA in 17 home starts and a 4.70 ERA in 11 road starts for an overall 3.64 ERA for the season.  Harang will turn 34 next year so this could be his last chance at a multiyear deal if another team chooses to ignore his home/away splits.  Harang could decline his half of the mutual option and test the market, though if he doesn't find a multiyear contract, he could lose his chance at coming back to San Diego since the Friars will have their pick of veterans looking for a Petco Park boost.   

Hoyer also addressed recent rumors connecting manager Bud Black to the vacant general manager's job with the Angels, saying that the Halos hadn't asked the Padres for permission to interview Black and that Black is happy in San Diego.  Hoyer also said that the club has made offers to Heath Bell, but didn't confirm Jon Heyman's recent report that the Padres offered their closer a two-year, $14MM contract.  (Both links are to Caswell's Twitter feed.)