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In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Jerry Crasnick examines how vital a piece of the Pirates‘ success Russell Martin has become. While his two-year, $17MM deal was initially viewed as an overpay by some after a so-so season in New York, he’s become an indispensable asset. Said GM Neal Huntington: “Russ has put us in a position where we got crushed when we brought him in, and if we let him go out the door, we’re gonna get crushed again.” As Crasnick notes, the Rangers, Rockies, Tigers, Dodgers, Cubs and White Sox could all be players in a thin crop of free agent catchers this offseason. Martin spoke to Crasnick as well, explaining that given the proximity to the end of the season, it simply makes sense to see what his options are in free agency. He did profess a love of playing in Pittsburgh, although Pirates fans may be troubled to hear that a more aggressive approach in Spring Training could have helped to retain their backstop: “If there would have been something done in spring training, it would have been a different story,” Martin told Crasnick. I agree with Crasnick’s take that a contract between Carlos Ruiz‘s three-year, $26.5MM contract and Miguel Montero‘s five-year, $65MM deal seems attainable. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently noted that a $50MM figure seems plausible.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon opines that the Reds should shut down Joey Votto for the season rather than rush him back for the final week or so of a non-contending season. Even if Votto appeared to be 100 percent, he would still risk re-injury, while the focus should be on making sure he’s fully healthy for 2015, when the team will desperately need him.
- Jason Kipnis tells Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he pressed too hard early in the season as he tried to live up to the expectations set by his contract extension with the Indians. However, he does feel that this is something he can learn from: “I can change,” said Kipnis. “I can come to the realization that I have that in my back pocket and just go out and enjoy myself and play the game.”
- Following the trade of Gordon Beckham to the Angels, second base has become a position of flux for the White Sox, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. Top prospect Micah Johnson has been shut down for the year due to an injury, but he’ll be firmly in the mix with Carlos Sanchez and Marcus Semien, both of whom are getting looks over the season’s final month. Manager Robin Ventura offered high praise for what he’s seen of Sanchez thus far, calling him a smart player and saying that it’s easy to see why the organization was so high on him.
- Twins pitching prospect Lewis Thorpe has been diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his left arm, Mike Beradino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. It’s been a rough year for Minnesota prospects, as Miguel Sano had Tommy John surgery, Byron Buxton missed much of the year with wrist and concussion issues, and Alex Meyer experiencing shoulder discomfort in his final start of the season. The Australian-born Thorpe has soared up Twins prospect rankings since signing, and Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the game’s No. 101 prospect prior to the season. He posted a 3.52 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 71 2/3 innings as an 18-year-old at Class A. As Berardino notes in a followup piece, Thorpe isn’t expected to need Tommy John surgery and will rehab in the fall instructional league.
The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. As we near the end of the season, here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options …
- Nick Punto, Athletics: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. Though Forst did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, the health route is no longer available. Punto was only activated yesterday — ten days into the September active roster expansion — after going on the DL on August 3rd. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
- Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would have needed to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He has just 255 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Weeks will also fall shy of reaching 400 PAs, which would have entitled him to a $1MM buyout of his option.
- Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins’ option vested earlier this year when he reached 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14. (He has also made 600 trips to bat in 2014, an independent basis for triggering the provision.) That clause, however, also required that he not finish the year on the disabled list, and Rollins left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Word is that Rollins should be able to return, but with just three weeks left even a minor setback could well end his season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would need to go out of its way to place him on the DL at this point, with active rosters expanded. And, in any event, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed-upon doctor deemed Rollins ready to start the 2015 season.
- Dan Haren, Dodgers: Haren needs 180 innings to trigger a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. Heading into his scheduled outing this evening, he has already notched 162 frames. Haren should be in line for at least three more starts (including tonight’s) before the end of the month, and maybe another depending upon how the club approaches the last few games of the year. Having averaged 5.79 innings per start on the year, it will be incumbent on Haren to pitch his way to the option — especially in the midst of a playoff race and backed by a well-stocked bullpen.
- Mike Adams, Phillies: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s obviously not going to get there with just 17 2/3 innings in the tank. Adams has thrown just 42 2/3 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that the team will pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles. He should, however, be an attractive buy-low candidate given his general success when on the field.
- Rafael Soriano, Nationals: Soriano’s $14MM club option vests with 120 games finished over 2013-14. While that always seemed a longshot, any realistic hope was snuffed out when Soriano lost his closing gig to Drew Storen, the man he replaced when he signed on with Washington. Whether or not Soriano makes it back into the 9th inning role over the next few weeks, he now sits at 104 games finished over the last two seasons, making it all but impossible for him to trigger the vesting provision. With the Nationals all but certain to decline their club option on Soriano, he should make for an interesting free agent to watch.
- Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old has made it back for only 10 1/3 innings in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that (unreported) threshold.
- Sean Burnett, Angels: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
- Scott Downs, White Sox: Downs had a $4MM vesting option that would have vested with 55 appearances, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in June (via Twitter). Though he appeared to be headed in that direction earlier in the year, the White Sox cut bait with Downs and his then-6.08 ERA. He owns a 3.55 mark over 12 2/3 innings with the Royals — who signed him to a separate, minor-league deal — and has now thrown in 53 games, but the vesting clause is now a moot point.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Dan Haren | Jimmy Rollins | Kyuji Fujikawa | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mike Adams | Milwaukee Brewers | Newsstand | Nick Punto | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Rafael Soriano | Rickie Weeks | Scott Downs | Sean Burnett | Washington Nationals
The Athletics made several errors in their approach to mid-season roster reconstruction, opines SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee, but trading away Yoenis Cespedes was not one of them. Overvaluing Jeff Samardzija, failing to improve at second, and giving up Addison Russell were all front office mistakes, says Brisbee, though much of the team’s recent poor play can be chalked up to some combination of bad luck and injury.
- Samardzija said he expects to reach free agency in November of 2015, according to Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM (on Twitter). Though Oakland obviously attributed significant value to controlling him next year at a below-market salary, giving up Russell to do so, it is hardly surprising to hear that an extension is not in the works. Samardzija went on to say that he is open to both the Cubs and White Sox as a free agent and indicated that the city of Chicago is still a priority for him (link).
- The Astros‘ coaching staff is in limbo thanks to their managerial opening, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Houston likes its current coaching staff and when figuring out who their next skipper will be, they’ll have to also decide how much they value the staff and whether it’s worth getting rid of coaches they like to accommodate a new manager.
- Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa has several avenues to pursue in his GM search, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. Cardinals farm director Gary LaRocque and agent Dave Stewart have been heavily tied to the job and both have a history with La Russa. Meanwhile, if La Russa truly wants to “beef up” his analytics department, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler should garner strong consideration.
Back in Chicago just days after being traded to the A’s, Adam Dunn said that he understood the boos from White Sox fans, writes Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. “I get it. I had a fantasy team not do very well this week, and I wasn’t happy with those guys either,” Dunn said. “Obviously it makes it harder, but it comes with the territory. Hopefully we can make them boo again tonight.” Here’s more from around baseball..
- The White Sox have just $46MM in commitments to the 2015 payroll before arbitration and General Manager Rick Hahn isn’t exactly sure how he’ll allocate that money just yet, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. “We’ll have to decide based on the options available to us whether it makes sense to invest heavily in one or two targets or try to spread it around between a half dozen or so,” Hahn said. “I don’t think anything is going to be precluded from us in terms of opportunities. It’s going to be a matter of allocating the resources most effectively when the time comes.“
- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp has a pretty mediocre WAR and not much in the way of trade value, but Mike Petriello of Fangraphs has reasons to be optimistic about what Kemp can do. Down the line, however, he probably fits best on an American League team that can let him DH.
- In the wake of the Ray Rice situation, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA should amend the policy on domestic abuse in the CBA, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
The Commissioner’s Office and the MLBPA have been working on “clarification” of the rule preventing collisions at home plate, sources tell ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The two sides hope any uncertainty concerning how catchers can block the plate can be cleared up before any pennant races or postseason games are impacted, though rulings in several games earlier this year have already left many managers and players confused.
Here’s some more from around baseball as we kick off the week…
- The Royals will place right-hander Blake Wood on waivers tomorrow, MLBTR’s Zach Links reports (Twitter link). Wood was designated for assignment last week.
- Evan Gattis has been a big part of the Braves‘ lineup, but the catcher’s defensive limitations could see the club trade him to an AL team, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes (AJC subscription required). Gattis could be better served by a regular DH role, while the Braves could trade him for a long-term outfield solution given that Justin Upton and Jason Heyward are both only signed through 2015. Gattis played some left field himself in 2013, though he was a defensive liability there as well.
- It doesn’t seem likely that the 2015 Cubs rotation will feature both Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood, ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers writes. The Cubs may be stuck with Jackson due to his contract, though Wood is only on a one-year, $3.9MM deal (with two years of arbitration eligibility left). Wood has a 5.15 ERA in 162 2/3 IP this season and could be a non-tender candidate, though he still has some value as an innings-eater.
- The White Sox have some holes to fill in the rotation, bullpen and lineup, yet Grantland’s Jonah Keri sees them as a possible sleeper team for 2015. The Sox have lots of payroll space to address those issues and build around their core of Jose Abreu, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton.
- A veteran player suggests to ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) that players who fail two PED tests should be limited to one-year contracts for the remainder of their career. This would be a deterrent against players with one suspension on their record potentially using PEDs again in the hopes of scoring a big multiyear deal. As the veteran put it, “If I was someone who had been suspended before, why wouldn’t I use again? If you’ve robbed a bank before and you see that you could again and still walk away with millions, why wouldn’t you?“
- Also from Olney, he feels the Rockies have “an easy decision” to decline Brett Anderson‘s $12MM option for 2015, as the team can’t afford to commit that much payroll space to a pitcher with Anderson’s injury history. This would likely end Anderson’s tenure in Colorado, as Olney notes he wouldn’t accept a cheaper one-year deal from the Rockies when he could rebuild his value elsewhere in a more pitcher-friendly ballpark.
- Several key members of the Giants and Tigers hail from Venezuela, and FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi looks at how both teams approach scouting and development in the country.
The fate of Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson will likely be decided by the next GM, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. Five candidates have already been confirmed and Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa expects to personally interview about ten before narrowing the list. La Russa “tried to put together a list that has a nice cross-section of talents.” It will be interesting to see which skill set Arizona chooses to complement La Russa.
- Also from Piecoro’s piece, the Diamondbacks hope to retain former GM Kevin Towers to oversee their scouting department. La Russa wishes to bolster both facets of the organization. He mentioned the possibility of hiring either an entry level or established analyst.
- Much has been made of the Phillies aging roster, although Chase Utley has done his part to contribute. Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders how long Utley can withstand the daily grind of the season. The 35-year-old has contributed a fine season including a .277/.346/.419 line. With Utley possibly under contract through 2018 (he has three vesting options), his presence could be an important stabilizing component of the club’s rebuilding effort.
- Many speculated that the White Sox would call up first round draft pick Carlos Rodon this September, but the club decided to forego promoting the youngster. Chicago pitching coordinator Curt Hasler says Rodon has all the stuff necessary to succeed, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Hasler cites a plus fastball, slider, and change. Rodon does need to work on his command, as evidenced by his 4.7 BB/9 in 24 and 2/3 minor league innings.
There could finally be some movement on the new ballpark front for the Rays, according to a report from John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times. A deal is in the works between the team and the city of St. Petersburg that would enable exploration of possible stadium sites. Any resolution would appear to be a long way off, but Romano explains that this is an important first step towards the sides working together on the matter.
Here are a few more notes from around the American League:
- Newly-acquired Athletics DH Adam Dunn continued to walk back from the notion that he was set on retirement, as John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. “Obviously, things have changed now,” he said. “I owe it to myself to put that on the back burner for at least a couple months.”
- Though the White Sox considered a call-up for recent first-rounder Carlos Rodon, the club ultimately decided against the promotion. But GM Rich Hahn tells Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter) that, given “how far along [Rodon] is,” he “fully expect[s] him to come to big league camp next year and compete for a spot on the 2015 White Sox.”
- The moves to acquire soon-to-be free agents Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley, and Stephen Drew were obviously designed to bolster the Yankees‘ chances this year, but had a side benefit looking forward, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. In the cases of the former two players, says Feinsand, the brief audition has shown both sides that a longer commitment could be beneficial. As for Drew, his poor showing since heading to New York now makes him an unlikely candidate to take over for Derek Jeter at short in 2015, according to Feinsand.
The balance of power in the AL West has swung heavily in the Angels’ direction after the Halos completed a four-game sweep of the Athletics on Sunday. Los Angeles now own both baseball’s best record (83-53) and a five-game lead over the struggling A’s, who are looking for answers after an 12-17 August. Oakland is still on track to reach the postseason, as they hold a four-game lead in the AL wild card race.
Here’s the latest from around the AL West…
- The A’s will cover $1MM of the roughly $2.3MM remaining on Adam Dunn‘s 2014 salary, and ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Oakland’s willingness to take on this much of Dunn’s salary was part of the reason why the A’s were able to acquire the slugger. The Giants, Dodgers and at least one other team were also reportedly talking to the White Sox about a Dunn trade.
- Astros manager Bo Porter tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila that his relationship with Houston’s front office “is what he expected coming in,” which seems to counter recent rumors of tension between Porter and GM Jeff Luhnow. “My staff and I take all the information from our baseball ops and use it to the best of our ability. Every last component of that is needed to be successful,” Porter said.
- Also from Laurila’s piece, 37-year-old lefty Joe Beimel not only has no plans to retire, his 12-year career might only be half-over. “I plan on pitching until I’m at least 50….I don’t see any reason I can’t do what Jamie Moyer did,” Beimel said. “He was starting games at 49 years old and getting guys out with 80 mph. I’m not down that low yet and I figure if he could go six, seven innings, I could at least come in and get one or two guys out.” After missing 2012 and 2013 due to Tommy John surgery, Beimel is enjoying a nice comeback year out of the Mariners‘ bullpen. The veteran southpaw has a 2.03 ERA, 5.2 K/9 and 1.92 K/BB ratio in 40 innings, and he’s held left-handed batters to only a .480 OPS.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- The White Sox purchased the contracts of first baseman Andy Wilkins and left-handed pitcher Scott Snodgress prior to today’s game, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Wilkins, 25, takes the place of Adam Dunn, who was traded earlier today. Wilkins hit 30 home runs at Triple-A with a .293/.338/.558 line. Snodgress, 24, made 21 starts at the Double-A level before appearing eight times as a reliever in Triple-A. He has a 4.01 ERA on the season with 6.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
- The Giants have purchased the contracts of Chris Dominguez and Guillermo Quiroz, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Dominguez is a 27-year-old third baseman. He hit .274/.307/.460 for the Giants Triple-A affiliate with 21 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Quiroz, 32, is a long time back up catcher. He’s appeared with six different clubs and 2014 will mark his tenth season with major league action – assuming he gets into a game. Quiroz also 95 plate appearances for the Giants last season.
- The Royals selected the contract of outfielder Terrance Gore and optioned him from Triple-A to Double-A, the team announced via press release. Gore isn’t on any prospect lists, but he has been useful as a base running threat. In the minors, he has 47 steals on the season despite only 313 plate appearances. Ostensibly, he’ll be summoned to Kansas City to serve as a pinch runner.
- In the same press release, the Royals indicated they will select the contract of left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan. He will be the first 2014 draft pick to reach the majors. Since signing, Finnegan has thrown 27 innings with strong peripherals. The club had him tabbed for about 45 to 50 innings, tweets Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star.
- The Tigers have selected the contract of catcher James McCann, MLive.com’s Chris Iott tweets. The 24-year-old McCann will be among the Tigers’ September call-ups after hitting .295/.343/.427 in 460 plate appearances for Triple-A Toledo this season.
- The Twins have outrighted pitcher Edgar Ibarra and assigned him to Double-A New Britain, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets. Ibarra, 25, has pitched 61 innings of relief in a season split between New Britain and Triple-A Rochester, posting a 4.13 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
- The Mets have announced that they’ve selected the contract of lefty Dario Alvarez. They’ll also promote catcher Juan Centeno, who will join Alvarez as a September call-up. Alvarez, 25, hasn’t played above the Double-A level, but he’s had a dominating season with three Mets affiliates, with a 1.10 ERA, 14.0 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 73 innings, mostly in relief.
- The Tigers have announced that they’ve outrighted pitcher Justin Miller, who they designated for assignment earlier this week. Miller has pitched 12 1/3 innings in relief for the Tigers this season and has had a good season in the bullpen at Triple-A Toledo, posting a 1.81 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 there.
- The Tigers have also outrighted reliever Jose Ortega, according to the International League transactions page. They designated him for assignment on Friday. The righty has spent most of the season with Triple-A Toledo, posting a 3.70 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9.
Molina, 25, was a top prospect in the Blue Jays system before they traded him to the White Sox for Sergio Santos (who, coincidentally, was designated for assignment earlier this week) following the 2011 season. Since then, Molina has struggled — his numbers took a big step backward in 2012 at Double-A, and he’s had injury troubles with his elbow and shoulder. This season, he’s posted a 4.65 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 60 innings of relief at Birmingham.