Chad Qualls Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.)
The Padres' victory last night gave them a 71-91 record for the 2011 season and, as small consolation, the seventh overall pick in next year's amateur draft. There won't be daily Adrian Gonzalez rumors out of San Diego this winter, but it will be an interesting offseason nonetheless for the Friars. Here's the latest...
- The Padres won't pick up Chad Qualls' $6MM option for next season, a source tells Dan Hayes of the North County Times (Twitter link). San Diego will instead pay the $1.05MM to buy Qualls out but the club is still interested in bringing back the veteran right-hander.
- Also from Hayes, no decision has been made yet about Aaron Harang. The Padres and Harang share a $5MM mutual option for 2012; Harang would get a $500K buyout if the option isn't exercised.
- "My gut feeling is that I will be here [in 2012],” Heath Bell tells Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "They have my number. They know I want to stay. I think they’re going to take advantage of that."
- Randy Ready will not be returning as San Diego's hitting coach next season, according to a team press release. The rest of the club's coaching staff will remain intact.
- Dan Hayes hears from a source that Sean Berry and Phil Plantier are being considered for the hitting coaches' job next year (Twitter link). Both men could end up being hired as GM Jed Hoyer said the Padres will have two hitting coaches next season, tweets Tom Krasovic of the Inside The Padres blog.
- The Padres will focus on run prevention this winter and look to add starting pitching, writes MLB.com's Corey Brock. The club will also look to acquire some depth for the bench and, as always, some hitting.
- Owner Jeff Moorad said the Padres lost $1.6MM in 2011, tweets Hayes. Moorad also said he hopes to have a new TV contract for the team finalized by New Year's Day.
- Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles says it’s probably too late for a shakeup to affect the Giants’ season. They trail the D'Backs by 5.5 games, so their postseason chances are slim, but they got better today and for next season by designating Rowand and Tejada for assignment, Brisbee argues.
- There will be no dynasty for the Giants, Jon Paul Morosi writes at FOX Sports.
- ESPN.com's Jim Bowden and Padres GM Jed Hoyer agree that MLB should reduce the number of players MLB teams are allowed to call up in September.
- A trade involving Padres starter Aaron Harang has become more likely, according to Morosi.
- The Padres are still discussing Chad Qualls with multiple teams, according to Morosi (on Twitter).
This is a running list of players who have cleared waivers, based on published reports. Once a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team (barring a no-trade clause). This list can always be found in the sidebar under MLBTR Features. Player names are linked to the source articles.
Updated 8-30-11 at 10:56pm
- Aaron Harang, Padres - Harang's ERA is a respectable 3.92 with 6.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
- Dontrelle Willis, Reds - Willis has bounced back with the Reds, posting a 4.10 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, and 56.8% groundball rate in 52 2/3 innings.
- Carlos Zambrano, Cubs - Zambrano cleared waivers prior to being placed on the disqualified list. He has a short fuse, lousy stats, and over $22MM remaining on his contract through next year.
- Rodrigo Lopez, Cubs - Not surprising to see the journeyman clear waivers.
- Chris Capuano, Mets - Capuano owns a 3.74 SIERA as of August 14th and earns only $1.5MM plus incentives, so it's hard to see why a few teams didn't place claims.
- Bronson Arroyo, Reds - His peripheral stats haven't changed much, but Arroyo has a 5.31 ERA as of August 15th. $15MM of his $35MM contract is deferred through 2021 without interest. The deferrals are voided if he's traded, however. At any rate, expect Arroyo to stay put.
- Bruce Chen, Royals - Chen has his moments, but it's not surprising to see him clear waivers.
- Jason Vargas, Mariners - Like many of the starters here, Vargas' fastball wouldn't break a window. But he has less than a million bucks left on his contract this year and is under team control through 2013. He'd fit nicely at the back end of several rotations.
- Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals - His three starts this season were his first in over two years, so it's understandable that contenders wouldn't jump to claim him.
- Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals - Booted to the bullpen last month, the 29-year-old flyballing southpaw has posted strong strikeout rates in recent years but can't hold a rotation job.
- Ted Lilly, Dodgers - He always has strong strikeout-to-walk numbers, but is prone to the longball. With over 82% of his $33MM contract remaining ($27MM+), it's no surprise he cleared waivers.
- Joe Nathan, Twins - Nathan won't be traded, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- Chad Qualls, Padres - Qualls is enjoying a bounce-back season, though his strikeout rate dipped to 5.3 K/9 this year.
- Bill Bray, Reds - Bray has been decent this year, and a little tougher against lefties. He'll be arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason.
- Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers - A dominant reliever last year, Kuo has dealt with a back injury and anxiety disorder as his control has eluded him.
- Huston Street, Rockies - Between a recent triceps injury and the $9MM+ owed to him through 2012, Street was expected to clear.
- Brian Fuentes, Athletics - He's owed over $6MM through next year, and has been mediocre for the A's.
- Jon Rauch, Blue Jays - Rauch is affordable, but he's on the DL for an appendectomy and wasn't great before that.
- Mike Gonzalez, Orioles - Gonzalez has been dominant in August, and against lefties. The problem is that he's still owed almost a million bucks.
- Kevin Gregg, Orioles - Gregg might be the worst reliever holding down a closer's job, and he's owed at least $6.4MM through next year.
- John Grabow, Cubs - He's been ineffective even against lefties, and he has over $700K remaining.
- D.J. Carrasco, Mets - The Mets signed Carrasco to a two-year deal in December - their biggest acquisition of the offseason - but optioned him to Triple-A in April. He stayed there until mid-June.
- Aramis Ramirez, Cubs - In July, Ramirez's agent said that his client would consider an August deal but he has since had a change of heart. The Cubs hold an option on Ramirez's deal worth $16MM.
- Alfonso Soriano, Cubs - This one was also obvious. SI's Jon Heyman notes on Twitter that the Cubs are willing to pay a "major, major chunk" of the $58.35MM owed to the left fielder through 2014.
- Lance Berkman, Cardinals - Berkman has said he hopes to re-sign with St. Louis after the season, when he hits free agency. Still, it's a surprise to see him clear waivers.
- Ryan Theriot, Cardinals - Theriot earns $3.3MM this year and will be a non-tender candidate after the season.
- David Wright, Mets - It's surprising that Wright cleared waivers, but it doesn't mean the Mets have interest in dealing him. Wright earns $15MM next year and can void a $16MM club option for 2013 if traded.
- Conor Jackson, Athletics - Olney notes that the Red Sox asked about the light-hitting 1B/LF/RF, but there doesn't seem to be any traction there.
- David DeJesus, Athletics - DeJesus has had a rough year but could at least be useful against right-handed pitching.
- Hideki Matsui, Athletics - The Athletics have several waiver trade candidates, and Matsui's hot second half and low salary (owed less than $2MM the rest of the season) could make him a popular target.
- Jason Bay, Mets - With Bay being owed at least $38.8MM through 2013, this was expected. It's only been 12 games, but Bay is at least having his first good month of 2011.
- Willie Harris, Mets - The versatile Harris has less than $200K left on his contract.
- Angel Pagan, Mets - It's been a dismal year for Pagan, who may be in line for a non-tender after the season.
- Carlos Lee, Astros - No surprise here, as the 35-year-old is hitting .263/.321/.417 and is owed almost $23MM through next year. El Caballo's ten-and-five rights kick in after the season.
- Johnny Damon, Rays - Damon blocked an August trade last summer and 12 months later he's a candidate to be traded once again.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.
The Padres will make two and possibly three trades on Sunday, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Reliever Heath Bell, outfielder Ryan Ludwick, and right-hander Chad Qualls are the most likely to move.
The source said that the Rangers remain the front-runner for Bell, but the Cardinals are still in the mix with the Phillies and Yankees showing late interest.
Two men expected to remain in San Diego are starter Aaron Harang and setup man Mike Adams. The Tigers and Indians were pursuing Harang but both teams acquired better starting pitchers on Saturday. Adams, meanwhile, would takeover for Bell as closer.
4:10pm: Manager Mike Scioscia said he and GM Tony Reagins haven't discussed Betancourt as a possible solution, according to Kevin Baxter of the LA Times. Scioscia said Reagins always runs players past him before acquiring them.
1:34pm: The Angels seek a right-handed sixth-or-seventh-inning kind of arm in the Chad Qualls mold, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times has similar feelings, tweeting that their best chance is to get a non-closer along the lines of Qualls, Rafael Betancourt, or Koji Uehara. Earlier, ESPN's Jim Bowden tweeted that the Angels are "working hard on Uehara trade talks" with the Orioles. Of course, Uehara has better numbers than just about any available reliever.
The pace quickened in the Padres' trade talks involving relievers Heath Bell and Mike Adams yesterday, tweeted ESPN's Buster Olney. The Rangers and Cardinals are in the mix for Bell, at the least. The latest:
- The Cardinals are in the mix for Bell and the Rangers remain the favorite to acquire him, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- Bell told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that he would be willing to take a discount to re-sign with the Padres after the season (Twitter link). "I said I'd take a discount, and I want to stay here," said Bell. "Everyone knows that."
- Jon Heyman of SI.com says (on Twitter) that baseball people around the league expect Bell to wind up with Texas because they have the need and the prospects to get a deal done.
- Bell told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that a trade is "going to happen" (Twitter link).
- Don't expect the Angels to trade for Bell if the Rangers can't swing a deal for him, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times writes (on Twitter). The Angels may not have enough upper-level prospects to sway the Padres.
- The Rangers are "pushing hard" for Bell, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
- The Rangers say any deal for Bell is doubtful today, since the sides aren't close, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
- Miller reports (on Twitter) that the Padres have not seemed willing to trade Adams.
- The Padres' asking price on Bell is too high for the Rangers currently, tweets Scott Miller of CBS Sports. The Padres are asking for three players for Bell and the Rangers remain "very interested" despite the Padres' asking price, according to Miller.
- An executive of one team told ESPN's Jayson Stark the Padres are "getting closer" to a major bullpen deal, and talks "could end quickly." The Rangers appear to be the favorite for Bell, though they've been in on Adams and Chad Qualls as well. The Phillies seem to view Adams as a better fit than Bell, and could try to swing a deal that also includes Ryan Ludwick. Though the Padres are talking actively with the Cardinals and Angels as well, they're higher on the Rangers' and Phillies' prospects.
- The Padres and Rangers are engaged in substantive talks on Bell, tweets Rosenthal. Similarly, Jon Heyman says the Rangers are making progress on Bell and Scott Miller says Texas has pushed harder today. Miller says they've had "good talks" but nothing is imminent.
- There's been little substantial dialogue between the Phillies and Padres regarding Bell, tweets MLB.com's Corey Brock.
- Colby Rasmus was a central part of the Cardinals' discussions with the Padres for Bell, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.