Chris B. Young Rumors

Quick Hits: Young, Hawkins, Braden, Girardi

The White Sox owe it to Paul Konerko to bring him back for a final season in 2014 if the long-time first baseman wishes to keep playing, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune opines.  The Sox would have to release or trade Adam Dunn to make room for Konerko with Jose Dariel Abreu now aboard, and while eating Dunn's contract would be expensive, Sullivan argues that Dunn is already a sunk cost and not worth keeping if it means cutting ties with a franchise icon.

Here are some more items from around baseball tonight…

  • Chris Young would like to play for the Astros but the free outfielder didn't say if he'd been contacted by the team, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets.  Young, a Houston native, has drawn some level of interest from the Red Sox and Mets this winter.
  • Also from McTaggart, LaTroy Hawkins said he hasn't been contacted by the Astros this offseason, though the veteran has other "irons in the fire."  The Astros are looking for bullpen help and Hawkins has a connection to Houston, having pitched for the club in 2008-09.  As many as seven teams, however, have already shown interest in Hawkins, including the Rockies and Mets.
  • Dallas Braden tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he intends to try out for teams when he increases his stamina.  After throwing a perfect game in 2010, Braden made just three starts in 2011 and hasn't pitched since due to a pair of shoulder surgeries.  The southpaw elected free agency from the A's following the 2012 season.
  • Brian Cashman tells reporters (including The Chicago Sun-Times Gordon Wittenmyer) that he always expected Joe Girardi to return to manage the Yankees, despite the rumors that Girardi would join the Cubs.  Wittenmyer believes the Cubs' reported "back-channel communication" to try and woo Girardi "underscored an ongoing disconnect between the Cubs’ baseball and business sides of the operation."
  • The qualifying offer may not be the hindrance to some free agents as it appears, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal argues.  Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse were last offseason's two infamous examples of how a draft pick compensation tag could hurt a player's market, but MacPherson opines that the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA system projected Bourn and Lohse as worth the contracts they eventually signed with the Indians and Brewers, respectively.
  • If the Rockies could somehow get Justin Morneau at a reasonable price, he would make an ideal platoon partner for Michael Cuddyer and Jordan Pacheco, Troy Renck of the Denver Post opines (Sulia link).
  • A member of the Yankees baseball operations staff predicts Phil Hughes will sign with an NL West team, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter).  The flyball-prone Hughes could be greatly helped by pitching at AT&T Park, Petco Park or Dodger Stadium, though Chase Field or Coors Field aren't good fits.  The source says Hughes is a "good fit in Minnesota," and the Twins and Royals are the only teams linked to Hughes so far this offseason.
  • Though Tim Hudson is 38 and coming off a nasty broken ankle, a National League talent evaluator still picked the veteran righty as the best risk amongst free agent pitchers who are at least 33 years old, SI.com's Tom Verducci reports.  Bartolo Colon, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren and Ryan Vogelsong round out the top five.

AL East Rumors: Ryan, Drew, Freese, Wieters

This morning's news out of the American League East..

  • A deal that would bring Brendan Ryan back to the Yankees was set weeks ago, pending a physical following minor surgery, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (via Twitter).  There's reportedly mutual interest in a new deal.
  • Stephen Drew won't be back with the Red Sox, a source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.  There are a number of teams out there that are willing to make multi-year deals beyond what the BoSox are willing to do.
  • A report yesterday indicated that the Yankees are in pursuit of Cardinals third baseman David Freese, but someone involved with the club tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that it won't happen.  The Yankees still won't know what will happen with Alex Rodriguez for at least another month, so if the club does anything at third base, it will be with a left-handed complement, such as Eric Chavez, or a free agent like Jhonny Peralta or Drew who could play shortstop or third and provide insurance for both Jeter and A-Rod.  Sherman also notes the possibility that the Yanks could wait and see if the Cards non-tender Freese ($4.4MM projected), but as Tim Dierkes wrote earlier this month, that seems like a drastic measure.
  • Sherman also writes that Marlon Byrd apparently wasn't on the Yankees radar.  When asked about the outfielder, GM Brian Cashman said, "I didn't even know who his agent was."  As shown in the MLBTR Agency Database, his agent is Seth Levinson, who has a long, strong relationship with Cashman.
  • Free agent outfielder Chris Young is on the Red Sox's list of fallback options if they don't re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
  • Both Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy have been mentioned in trade rumors over the last couple of days, but Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette didn't sound eager to move either one in a conversation with Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.

NL East Notes: Bourjos, Young, Cano, Stanton

People in baseball are trying to figure out the team that has not been named yet that could surprise everyone and come away with top free agent Robinson Cano.  Some have theorized that the Marlins could be that team to shock everyone, but new Miami GM Dan Jennings threw cold water on that idea when asked by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  “It probably doesn’t fit,” said Jennings, who reportedly offered big bucks to Jose Dariel Abreu before he signed with the White Sox. “We have to know our market and our payroll and our history. And our history is to build around young players and add pieces when it has become very clear that we are ready to win.

  • The Phillies remain in the market for starting pitching and relief help after signing Marlon Byrd earlier today, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.  Starter Bronson Arroyo and reliever Joe Smith are two pitchers that the Phils have discussed.  Meanwhile, they might not be quite done in the outfield and they still have their eye on Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos.
  • A source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter) that the Mets are showing interest in free agent outfielder Chris Young.
  • No surprise here, but Jennings also shot down the notion that the Marlins will trade Giancarlo Stanton.  That certainly won't stop other clubs from trying, however.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters, including Mike Puma of the New York Post, that the club likely won't be signing anyone to a $100MM contract.  Alderson said that while the Mets broke the $100MM barrier for star third baseman David Wright, he says that those were special circumstances.
  • The Mets are known to have interest in Curtis Granderson, but he could very well wind up outside of their price range, writes David Lennon of Newsday.  It's possible that a $50MM deal will be too rich for the Mets' blood and a $60MM asking price isn't out of the question.
  • The Nationals will likely need to add a more experienced backup catcher this offseason, someone who can step in full-time if Wilson Ramos gets injured again, writes Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com.


A’s Exercise Options On Crisp, Anderson; Options On Young, Suzuki Declined

The Athletics announced that they have exercised their $7.5MM club option on Coco Crisp as well as their $8MM club option on Brett Anderson and declined their $11MM option and Chris Young and $8.5MM option on Kurt Suzuki. Young and Suzuki will receive respective buyouts of $1.5MM and $650K.

The news comes as a $7.5MM birthday gift for Crisp, who turns 34 years old today. The switch-hitting center fielder enjoyed the best offensive season of his 12-year career in 2013, slashing .261/.335/.444 with a career-best 22 homers. He chipped in 21 steals in 26 tries and was six runs above average in center field, per The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved metric (he was roughly average, per UZR), making the decision a no-brainer.

Anderson, who turns 26 in February, pitched just 44 2/3 innings for the A's this season. He compiled an unsightly 6.04 ERA in that time, though metrics such as FIP (3.85) and xFIP (3.26) suggest he was the recipient of some misfortune. Indeed, his 9.3 K/9 and 69.2 percent ground-ball rate seem to indicate that he should've had better superficial numbers, though his 4.2 BB/9 rate was a drastic departure from his typically excellent control.

Anderson would have been arbitration eligible had the A's declined his option. They could've had him for less than the $8MM he will receive in 2014, but declining his option would have also negated the $12MM club option the team holds on his free agent season. Essentially GM Billy Beane decided to pay Anderson an extra $1-1.5MM with the belief that he will remain healthy and look like a bargain at $12MM in 2015, as his career numbers through 2012 indicate he would.

Young hit just .200/.280/.379 with 12 homers and 10 steals in 2013 after coming over from the D-Backs in the three-team deal that sent Heath Bell and Cliff Pennington to Arizona and prospects to the Marlins.

Suzuki was acquired in an August waiver trade that was necessitated by injuries to John Jaso and Derek Norris. He batted a strong .303/.343/.545 with a pair of homers in 35 plate appearances for the A's but hit just .232/.290/.337 overall between the Nationals and A's. With Jaso and Norris both present in the long-term, Suzuki will look for a new team this offseason, as Oakland likely doesn't have a roster spot for him even on a cheaper one-year deal.


D’Backs Acquire Heath Bell In Three-Team Deal

The Diamondbacks announced that they have acquired Heath Bell, infielder Cliff Pennington, and cash considerations from the Marlins in a three-team deal with the Athletics.  Miami will receive minor league infielder Yordy Cabrera from the A's and Oakland will get outfielder Chris Young and $500K from Arizona. 

The Marlins will be picking up $8MM of the remaining $21MM owed to Bell over the next two years, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel (via Twitter).  The veteran was unhappy in Miami as the club was unwilling to restore him as closer and found himself clashing with manager Ozzie Guillen at points during the year. 

The 35-year-old struggled in his first and only year with the Marlins, posting a 5.09 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 73 appearances.  The new-look Marlins signed Bell in December of last year as a part of their spending spree, giving the reliever a three-year, $27MM deal.  The contract includes a vesting option for the 2015 season which will guarantee him $9MM with 55 games finished in 2014 or 100 games finished in 2013-14.

Pennington has been a member of the A's since being tabbed with the 21st overall pick in the 2005 draft.  The 28-year-old was slotted at shortstop until the acquisition of Stephen Drew bumped him over to second base.  For his career, Pennington owns a .249/.313/.356 batting line across parts of five seasons in Oakland.

Young, 29, is set to make $8.5MM in 2013 with an $11MM club option for the 2014 season that comes with a modest $1.5MM buyout.  The centerfielder has been unable to regain his All-Star form of 2010 and posted a .231/.311/.434 slash line with 14 homers last season.  Young played in just 101 games last season, due in large part to a shoulder injury he suffered when he slammed into a wall in early April.  The outfielder now reunited with skipper Bob Melvin, who he developed a bond with during his time in Arizona.

While the Marlins' main reward in the deal is being freed from the bulk of the money owed to Bell over the next two years, they also pick up a former second-round pick in Cabrera.  The 22-year-old, who played high school baseball four hours north of Miami in Lakeland, Florida, made the move to Class-A Advanced in 2012.  Cabrera hit .232/.293/.332 with three homers in 60 games last season.

Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (via Twitter) first reported that Arizona would send $500K to Oakland in the deal.


Diamondbacks Considering Trading Kubel Or Parra

The Diamondbacks are weighing whether Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra is a better fit as their everyday left fielder in 2012, GM Kevin Towers tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  The Snakes are also looking for help at shortstop and third base this winter, and Towers said those decisions will affect the direction that Arizona takes in left field.

"When you put a club together, it’s more of a puzzle,” Towers said. “What you do at short and third maybe changes what your need is in left. If you get more offense on the corner, then maybe there’s more of a premium for the defender in left. If you don’t get the offense and you get the defense in the infield, you have to have your power somewhere."

Piecoro projects the 2013 D'Backs outfield as Justin Upton remaining with the team and playing right field, Adam Eaton playing center, and one of Kubel or Parra in left, leaving A.J. Pollock as the fourth outfielder.  The loser of the Kubel/Parra decision would become expendable along with Chris Young, who has already been rumored to be on the trading block.  Young is owed $8.5MM in 2013 and his $11MM option for 2014 carries a $1.5MM buyout, and Piecoro reports that the D'Backs expect to eat some of that money in any Young trade.

Kubel signed a two-year, $15MM deal with Arizona last December and he hit 30 homers with a .253/.328/.506 batting line in 2012, though he slumped in the second half of the season, posting just a .745 OPS after the All-Star break.  Parra posted a .727 OPS in 430 plate appearances last year and provided his usual excellent glovework, recording a +13.8 UZR/150 rating.  It's a clear choice between hitting and defense for the Snakes, though contracts also play a role — while Kubel will earn $7.5MM next year, Parra is arb-eligible for the second time this winter and is under control through 2015 as a Super Two player.

Towers mentioned how defense was an important factor at Chase Field and that he wanted the team to be less reliant on home runs, leaving Piecoro to speculate that this could mean the D'Backs could move away from Kubel in left and Chris Johnson at third base.

In other team news, Piecoro hears that Trevor Bauer isn't likely to be traded.  D'Backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick sounded critical of Bauer last week, leading to some speculation that the team had soured on the highly-touted 21-year-old.  If Arizona actually did make Bauer available, the 2011 third overall pick would instantly become one of the biggest trade chips on the market this offseason.


Olney On Young, Upton, Diamondbacks

The chances of Justin Upton, Chris Young, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton returning to the Diamondbacks’ outfield in 2013 seem slim, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. One or more of those players will likely be moved in trades. Here are the details on Arizona’s offseason plans…

  • Rival executives believe the Diamondbacks will trade Young this offseason. Some say they expected Arizona to let Young go on waivers if he had been claimed last month. The center fielder will earn $8.5MM in 2013 and his contract includes a 2014 option with a $1.5MM buyout.
  • Some rival executives sense that GM Kevin Towers is less likely to trade Upton this winter than he has been in the past. There’s no guarantee teams will meet Arizona’s asking price for Upton and there’s concern that the right fielder would blossom as a hitter if he’s traded elsewhere.
  • Despite the Diamondbacks’ impressive core of young pitching, Towers would like to add a veteran starting pitcher this offseason, Olney reports.

Olney On Upton, Young, Wilson

Buster Posey has a legitimate chance at the NL MVP this year, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. Posey has 20 home runs and a .327/.402/.531 batting line with nearly six wins above replacement (5.8 according to FanGraphs, 5.5 according to Baseball-Reference). Here are more of Olney’s notes from the NL West…

  • Rival executives expect the Diamondbacks to trade Justin Upton this winter, Olney reports. Some team officials believe the Diamondbacks will also trade center fielder Chris Young, possibly for a shortstop. Young earns $8.5MM next year and his contract includes an $11MM club option for 2014, so he'd represent a more affordable alternative to free agents such as B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino. Arizona could then enter the 2013 season with a projected outfield of Gerardo Parra, Jason Kubel and Adam Eaton.
  • Olney suggests the Giants will move on from Brian Wilson this offseason. Wilson, who appeared in two games this year before undergoing Tommy John surgery, will be arbitration eligible this coming offseason. He’ll be expensive if the Giants tender him a contract, as he earned an $8.5MM salary in 2012. It’d make sense for the Giants to see if there’s trade interest in the 30-year-old, Olney writes.

(Not A) Trade Candidate: Gerardo Parra

The Diamondbacks' signing of Jason Kubel to a two-year contract was met with surprise and even some confusion from pundits.  Dave Cameron of Fangraphs described the move as "weird," arguing that Kubel was potentially only a minor upgrade over incumbent left fielder Gerardo Parra at the plate, and a major downgrade in terms of defense and baserunning.  Moreoever, it minimized Parra, whose Gold Glove-winning defense and steady bat played a key role in Arizona's 2011 NL West title.

So with Kubel, Chris Young and Justin Upton locked in as the D'Backs' starting outfield, does this mean Parra could be expendable?  Not at all; there's still reason to believe Parra will be a valuable player for Arizona both in 2012 and potentially for years to come.

Through three seasons in the Majors, Parra has provided both excellent defense (a career +9.5 UZR/150) all over the outfield and a solid bat against right-handed pitching (a .289/.337/.420 career line against righties).  In both 2010 and 2011, the left-handed hitting Parra posted a higher OPS against lefties than he did against righties, albeit in roughly a quarter of the plate appearances.

This progress against southpaws notwithstanding, the vast majority of Parra's 2012 at-bats will come against right-handers.  D'Backs GM Kevin Towers has already stated that Parra see action against certain tough right-handers spelling Upton and Young.  I'd say Parra is far more likely to spell the latter than the former, since Upton may be the cusp of superstardom and Young has more significant flaws in his game. 

After delivering stable splits (an .826 OPS vs. lefties, .781 vs. righties) in 2010 as part of a career-best .793 OPS season across the board, it seemed as if Young was finally finding some consistency to match his big power, speed and increasingly impressive glove.  Unfortunately for Young, he reverted to his old tricks in 2011 — he hit just .222/.312/.382 against right-handers, as compared to a mammoth .285/.392/.546 against lefties.  Arizona doesn't lose anything defensively or speed-wise by playing Parra over Young in what could develop into a regular center field platoon.

Parra doesn't turn 25 until May 6 and is under team control through 2015, which means he could be coming into his prime just as Young and Kubel's contracts are expiring.  Young is set to earn $15.5MM over the next two seasons, with a club option worth $11MM for 2014 (with a $1.5MM buyout), while Kubel's deal pays him $16MM over the next two seasons with a $7.5MM mutual option for 2014 ($1MM buyout).  Of the two, Young is the likelier to remain a D'Back since quality defensive center fielders with 30-homer power are a much rarer commodity than what Kubel brings to the table, but the presence of Parra and prospect A.J. Pollock gives the team lots of outfield flexibility in two years' time.  

The Diamondbacks' surprising playoff berth last season turned what was seemingly a rebuilding team into a win-now operation, as evidenced by Kubel's signing and the trade for Trevor Cahill.  While the club doesn't have the resources to just eat a $16MM contract if Kubel struggles, the D'Backs at least have a quality backup (or more) in Parra who provides too much value to trade.


Largest Contracts By Service Time

When Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo signed his five year, $30.1MM extension earlier today, it marked the largest contract ever signed by a pitcher with less than three years of service time.

Let's look at the richest contracts by service time, in terms of guaranteed money…

Less Than One Year
Position Player: Ryan Braun. Eight years, $45MM
Pitcher: C.C. Sabathia. Four years, $9.5MM.

One To Two Years
Position Player: Chris Young. Five years, $28MM.
Pitcher: Fausto Carmona. Four years, $15MM.

Two To Three Years
Position Player: Hanley Ramirez. Six years, $70MM.
Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo.  Five years, $30.1MM.

Three To Four Years
Position Player: Albert Pujols. Seven years, $100MM. 
Pitcher: Scott Kazmir. Three years, $28.5MM.

Four To Five Years
Position Player: Miguel Cabrera. Eight years, $152.3MM.
Pitcher: Justin Verlander. Five years, $80MM.

Five To Six Years
Position Player: Derek Jeter. Ten years, $189MM.
Pitcher: Jake Peavy. Three years, $52MM. 

Six-plus Years
Position Player: Alex Rodriguez. Ten years, $275MM.
Pitcher: C.C. Sabathia. Seven years, $171MM.

Some thoughts…

  • The most regrettable deals were signed very early in the player's career, Young and Carmona. Might be a lesson in using up those pre-arbitration years before taking the plunge.
  • The largest contract signed by a position player with less than one year of service time after Braun's deal is Evan Longoria's, which will pay him just $17.5MM over six years. Is Braun overpaid, or is Longoria underpaid? I think the answer is clear.
  • Sabathia's four year, $9.5MM deal nearly tripled Roy Halladay's three year, $3.7MM deal with Toronto, which was the previous record for a pitcher with less an a year of service time.
  • One only of the above contracts has expired.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.