Chris Perez Rumors
Considering how many teams continue to seek bullpen help, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we're following up our earlier post on reliever rumors with another round of them. Let's dive in...
- The Mets have kicked the tires on Chris Perez as a potential late-inning addition, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (Twitter link). DiComo notes that Perez could serve as ninth-inning insurance for New York if Bobby Parnell isn't healthy.
- In addition to Perez, Mitchell Boggs is receiving interest from the Mets, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Boggs was non-tendered after a subpar 2013, but is viewed as an intriguing buy-low candidate by New York, says Sherman.
- Baltimore could be another potential fit for Perez, but the Orioles are also eyeing Grant Balfour and John Axford, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
- The Mariners don't appear to be prioritizing bullpen additions at this point, according to GM Jack Zduriencik, who says that with their available money, the M's "would look at adding a legitimate closer as a lower priority" (Twitter link via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune).
- Noting that Dave Dombrowski has suggested the Tigers may take a flier on a veteran as insurance for Bruce Rondon, MLB.com's Jason Beck wonders if Octavio Dotel might be a fit to return to Detroit (Twitter link).
We haven't seen a ton of action yet from Orlando today, but plenty of smaller-scale rumors have been trickling in throughout the day, including plenty related to the bullpen market. Let's round up a few of the latest updates on some available relief pitchers....
- The Indians, who are in the market for a closer, have spoken to Grant Balfour, sources tell Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
- Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that Chris Perez is in attendance in Orlando to meet with teams in person, which Olney sees as a good move, considering how Perez's 2013 season played out.
- The Tigers sound lukewarm on the bullpen market at this point, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com (via Twitter), who says that stance could change once more closer openings are filled and free agents shift their focus to setup jobs.
- The Yankees, Nationals, and Padres have all been involved in the lefty relief market to varying degrees, according to Morosi (via Twitter).
- New York has stayed in touch with Boone Logan, tweets Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. However, Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link) hears that Logan is hoping to earn a role as a setup man, rather than simply as a LOOGY.
- The Braves have spoken with the agent of Eric O'Flaherty, but that appears to be on the backburner for now, particularly since he's drawing interest from other teams, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Indians announced that they have released closer Chris Perez. The right-hander would have been eligible for arbitration for the final time this winter, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $9MM salary, making him a clear non-tender candidate. By releasing Perez now, the Indians are essentially non-tendering him, but they won't have to use a 40-man roster spot on a player they knew they weren't going to retain. Likewise, it's beneficial to Perez, as it gives him and agent Nez Balelo of CAA additional time to explore the free agent market.
The 28-year-old Perez earned $7.3MM this season and pitched to a 4.33 ERA in 54 innings. Perez saved 25 games and posted a solid 9.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9, but he became shockingly homer-prone and wilted in the season's final two months, posting a 7.52 ERA with seven homers allowed in his final 20 1/3 innings of work.
Originally acquired along from the Cardinals (along with fellow right-hander Jess Todd) in exchange for Mark DeRosa, Perez has served as the Tribe's closer for the past four seasons. In 267 2/3 career innings with Cleveland, he's registered a solid 3.33 ERA and saved 124 games, averaging 8.4 strikeouts per nine frames along the way.
Perez will join a crowded market for closers that also includes Joe Nathan, Brian Wilson, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Kevin Gregg and Edward Mujica. His late season struggles and the stiff competition on the free agent market might make it difficult for him to land a closing gig this offseason. He comes with a bit of personal baggage, having recently pleaded no-contest and being convicted of misdemeanor drug abuse after having marijuana shipped to his home. Perez was fined, placed on probation for a year and will speak to youth about drug use (per the Associated Press).
With Perez out of the picture, the Indians will have some work to do at the back of their bullpen. Fellow right-hander Joe Smith is also a free agent, and Vinnie Pestano experienced quite a bit of regression in 2013.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Yesterday, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the Indians were never close to giving Jose Dariel Abreu the kind of money he received from their intra-divisional rival, the White Sox. In other Tribe tidbits from Hoynes:
- Re-signing Matt Capps to a minor league deal is not an indication the Indians are going to part ways with closer Chris Perez. If tendered a contract by the Indians, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $9MM salary for the arbitration-eligible Perez. If Perez is traded or non-tendered, Hoynes names Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw as the best in-house replacements.
- Right-hander Jake Westbrook is definitely someone the Indians will keep an eye on this off-season, if healthy. The Cardinals are expected to decline their half of Westbrook's $9.5MM mutual option in favor of a $1MM buyout. The 36-year-old spent nine years in Cleveland before being acquired by the Cardinals at the 2010 Trade Deadline.
- Corey Hart is a tough fit for the Indians because his knee surgeries make it unlikely he can man the outfield and they already have Nick Swisher at first and Carlos Santana at DH. While the Indians have gambled on buy-low contracts for pitchers coming off an injury, Hoynes cannot recall such a deal for a position player. MLBTR's Steve Adams predicts the open market will bear a one-year, $8MM contract for Hart with an additional $2-4MM in incentives.
Indians GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona had an end-of-the-year roundup session with the media, including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Here are some of the hot stove-related items...
- It isn't yet clear if next season's Tribe payroll will be greater or lower than 2013's $80.6MM number, though Antonetti isn't worried. "That's information that we'll get a little later in the offseason when we find out exactly what our payroll will be," Antonetti said. "But that's not the defining thing for us. It's how we build a the best team and I'm confident we'll have the resources we need to build a contending team again next year."
- Pitching seems to be the top priority for the club this winter. When asked if the Indians would go after a middle-of-the-order hitter, Francona said, “It depends on how much pitching we have.”
- Ubaldo Jimenez hasn't made a decision about voiding the $8MM option the club has on his services for next season, Antonetti said. Unsurprisingly, Antonetti said the Tribe would be happy to have Jimenez back in 2014. MLBTR's Steve Adams wrote a Free Agent Profile on Jimenez last month.
- Both men want Jason Giambi to return to the Indians next season, either as a player, coach or possibly both. Giambi has said he wishes to keep playing, so it seems likely the two sides will work something out.
- The Indians will look at Chris Perez's whole career with the team as "the lens" for his arbitration case, Antonetti said, rather than Perez's poor end to the 2013 season. Perez earned $7.3MM last season and will get a raise through the arbitration process, so there have been rumors that the Tribe will look to deal or even non-tender the right-hander.
- Sandy Alomar Jr. will take over as first base coach from Mike Sarbaugh next season, a move that Francona stressed was not a demotion from Alomar's previous job as bench coach. Brad Mills (Francona's long-time bench coach with the Red Sox) will take over as Cleveland's bench coach, while Sarbaugh completes the shuffle by becoming the new third base coach.
- Antonetti didn't comment on whether or not the Cubs have asked for permission to interview first base coach Sandy Alomar for their vacant managerial position. Alomar was a candidate for the Cubs job in 2011 before they hired Dale Sveum, and he's been linked to their current vacancy.
- Lonnie Chisenhall is still the incumbent third baseman, though Bastian suspects the club will look to improve themselves at the hot corner this winter.
- The Indians made the playoffs despite subpar seasons from Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, their two big free agent signings from last offseason. Francona and Antonetti felt that the two players may have been pressing in a new environment, plus Swisher was affected by a shoulder injury and Bourn was adjusting to the American League.
Closer is "the most overvalued position in baseball," Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes, an opinion shared by no less an authority than Hall-of-Famer closer Dennis Eckersley. Kepner notes that teams often err in signing closers to expensive contracts and then end up using replacement closers that were already on their rosters in the first place. “I don’t want to take away anything from what I did, but it’s not as tough as you think," Eckersley said. “You could groom somebody to do it who’s on the staff, if you manage it the right way."
While the agents of this year's free agent stoppers compose their counter-arguments, here are some more news items from around baseball...
- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts isn't planning any major payroll increases in the near future, telling Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that, "You can’t just throw money at the problem. We have to build the organization from the ground up. And that’s what we’re doing right now."
- Chris Perez will be shopped by the Indians this offseason, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer predicts, and Pluto thinks Perez will be pitching elsewhere in 2014. Perez will earn a raise from his current $7.3MM salary in the arbitration process and Pluto feels the Tribe will want to move him rather than pay the closer that much. Perez's solid season could help his trade value, as Pluto notes that the Indians found only an "iffy" market for Perez when they attempted to deal him last winter.
- "In a strict, WAR sense, [Kendrys Morales] may not compute to be worth $14 million or more per season. But the real cost the Mariners will have to weigh is what it would be like without him," The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker writes. While Morales has slumped lately, Baker argues that the M's are still short of big bats and thus need to at least extend Morales a qualifying offer.
- Paul Konerko answered a simple "No" to questions about any decisions on his playing future, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. We heard yesterday that Konerko was telling friends he wanted to keep playing in 2014, but the White Sox captain reiterated his stance that he would wait until a later date to make a decision.
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron looks at which free agent hitters should or shouldn't receive qualifying offers from their current teams this winter.
- Neal Huntington would win a fictitious "MLB Comeback Executive of the Year" award, MLB.com's Tom Singer writes. The criticism faced by the Pirates GM has turned to praise as his recent moves have the Bucs on the cusp of their first playoff berth since 1992.
- Despite Ryan Vogelsong's tough season, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter) thinks the Giants will pick up his $6.5MM team option for 2014 if the righty remains healthy. Vogelsong has a 5.49 ERA in 14 starts, but entering tonight's action, Vogelsong had posted a 2.93 ERA over five starts since returning from the disabled list.
C.C. Sabathia's deal with the Yankees could turn out to be an ugly one, Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com writes. "That contract might not be a disaster of A-Rod-ian proportions, but unless Sabathia finds a way to turn it all round, it might turn out to be the next-worst thing," Matthews writes. Sabathia has three years left on his contract, plus a vesting option for 2017 that the Yankees can avoid only if Sabathia has a left shoulder injury. All told, the Yankees are likely to be on the hook for $96MM after this season. Sabathia's season arguably isn't as bad as his 4.81 ERA makes it look -- his peripherals are indicative of ERA about a run lower. But his declining velocity is a serious concern. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Red Sox's huge trade of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers one year ago gave them the payroll flexibility to acquire Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Koji Uehara, and Jonny Gomes, Scott Miller of CBS Sports writes. But that doesn't mean the Dodgers are unhappy with their end of the deal -- Miller notes that it "changed the path of both franchises." Miller also quotes Dodgers manager Don Mattingly noting that his team likely would have pursued Victorino (for whom they had traded in July 2012) as a free agent if they hadn't acquired Crawford.
- The trade also gave the Sox the flexibility to acquire Jake Peavy, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal notes. Peavy's matchup against Chris Capuano on Sunday reminds MacPherson that the Red Sox made a "desperate attempt" to acquire Capuano from the Mets in 2011. The talent gap between Peavy and Capuano is significant, and MacPherson argues that the trade with the Dodgers made the difference in acquiring Peavy this time.
- There will be interest in Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez this offseason if the Indians want to trade them, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Cabrera has struggled this season, hitting .237/.292/.389, and he's set to make $10MM in the last year of his contract in 2014. Perez, meanwhile, is set to earn a raise in arbitration on his $7.3MM 2013 salary before becoming a free agent after 2014. His pitching hasn't been stellar in 2013 -- he has a 3.30 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. Hoynes may be right that the Indians could deal Perez if they wanted to. For example, the Red Sox's offseason trade for Joel Hanrahan, a pitcher with a similar salary and contract situation, perhaps shows that teams are always willing to deal for an established closer. But that deal also demonstrates just how volatile closers can be, and Perez has never been dominant in the way Hanrahan once was.
- As the August trade deadline approaches, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says that his team is unlikely to make a trade, Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch tweets. That makes it unlikely that the Cards will wind up with Dan Haren of the Nationals. The Cardinals recently lost Jake Westbrook to injury and have replaced him in the rotation with Tyler Lyons, at least for now.
NIck Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked 30 people from around baseball who they would build their team around, regardless of age or experience. The leading vote-getter was Yadier Molina, with Buster Posey in second place. Here's more from today's column..
- There's a lot of uncertainty in the Twins' organization surrounding Justin Morneau. People wonder what happened to his power, which hurts his trade value. The Twins are a very loyal organization so they certainly won't give him away. If a deal for a prospect comes up, however, they would likely let him go.
- When closer Chris Perez is back in action he may be a piece the Indians would look to move. Despite his troubles, he would draw interest considering the shortage of available closers out there. “If a team can get him and he’s amped up because of a change of scenery, that’s all they’re looking for,” said one special assistant to an American League GM. “It’s all about getting bang for your buck during those two months-plus after you acquire him, if you don’t have to give up a lot of inventory to get him.”
- Speaking of closers, the Marlins' Steve Cishek is garnering attention and the Red Sox seem to have interest. However, clubs will have to consider whether he can handle the adjustment of going to a bigger market like Boston or Detroit.
- One National League GM believes that the Red Sox will have to give up on Daniel Bard at some point if things don't turn around. Because of his natural talent, a lot of teams would line up to trade for him in hopes that a change of scenery would turn him around.
- The Phillies declared last week that Jonathan Papelbon was not available, but Cafardo cautions not to believe it, especially in the wake of his public criticism of teammates.
- Nationals right-hander Drew Storen is an interesting alternative for a team looking for a closer. Storen was the Nationals’ closer two years ago but hasn't been as sharp in 2013 as he was in years past.
- Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco could be the first pitcher dealt as we near the deadline, even ahead of Bud Norris. Cafardo says not to be shocked if teams like the Orioles or Giants make a move on him sooner rather than later.
- One scout who saw Manny Ramirez in Taiwan said, “He can still hit with the best of them.” That doesn't mean that a team will be bold enough to sign him, however.
Indians CEO Paul Dolan explains his team's thought process following a 68-94 season in 2012 and says that a total rebuild was not an option, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "None of us wanted to think about tearing it down. Our goal is to put together a team to win a World Series. Another goal is to avoid 20 years of losing, which some smaller-market teams have endured." The Indians did trade outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but rather than also dealing veterans like Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Perez and Justin Masterson, the team spent heavily on free agents like Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Here are more notes from Pluto's interview with Dolan.
- Dolan expresses "a high degree of confidence" in team president Mark Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti, even though the Indians haven't had a winning season since 2007.
- Dolan also confirms that the Indians offered a four-year, $43MM deal to outfielder Shane Victorino, who ended up going to the Red Sox for three years and $39MM.
- Dolan says he didn't want to worry much about the possibility of Bourn's four-year, $48MM deal turning out badly, but the Indians' history with long-term contracts gives him pause. "We've not had good luck with some of our longer deals," he says. That includes pacts with Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood.
- Pluto notes that season-ticket sales are up since the signings of Bourn and Swisher, but Dolan says that the Indians "will lose money" in 2013. Dolan views the team's offseason spending splurge as an investment in its future.
The Cardinals are better-positioned for success over the next five years than any other team in the majors, according to the latest edition of ESPN's Future Power Rankings (Insider subscription required). Jim Bowden, Keith Law and Buster Olney rank each club in five categories (Major League roster, minor league system, finances, management and mobility) and the Cards have the best overall grade, jumping to #1 after finishing third in the last edition of the rankings in August.
Here's the latest from around the league as we head into March...
- The Yankees usually don't offer to extend players before their contracts are up but GM Brian Cashman tells reporters (including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News) that the club is flexible in this regard, such as when the Yankees tried to extend Russell Martin last season and their current talks with Robinson Cano. "Since we’re the team, we have the right to change our mind and adjust the policy whenever – especially ownership. It’s not like it’s a country club and here’s the code of conduct that we can’t deviate from," Cashman said.
- The Yankees may be reacting to criticism from fans that they're sacrificing short-term competitiveness in order to get under the luxury tax cap by 2014, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Sherman argues that if the team's management wasn't feeling this pressure, Cashman wouldn't have told the media about the team's "significant offer" to Cano.
- The Giants and Phillies were both interested in Indians closer Chris Perez this offseason, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The Dodgers were also linked to Perez this winter, as the Tribe was shopping Perez due to his large salary and his criticism of both the team's management and Cleveland's fanbase last season.
- Chris Snyder has an out clause in his minor league deal with the Nationals that will allow him to request his release if he isn't on the club's Major League roster by March 24, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports. It could be a tough fit for Snyder as Comak notes the Nats' 25-man roster is virtually set.
- Omar Quintanilla was re-signed by the Mets since the team wanted infield depth if Ruben Tejada was dealt for Justin Upton, a Mets source tells John Harper of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). We heard earlier this week that the Mets explored a trade that would've brought Upton to Citi Field in exchange for pitching prospects and one of Tejada or Daniel Murphy.
- Baseball America's Matt Eddy recaps the week's minor league transactions.