Chris Perez Rumors
One AL GM said the Indians got “incredible value” for Shin-Soo Choo by obtaining Trevor Bauer in last night’s three-team trade, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. While evaluators love Didi Gregorius’ glove, they wonder if the Diamondbacks’ new infielder will hit enough to merit an everyday job. Here's the latest from Olney (some Twitter links)...
- Free agent right-hander Brian Wilson is expected to have opportunities to close, Olney writes. The Giants non-tendered their longtime closer last month, making him a free agent.
- Agents and executives wonder what will happen with free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, Olney reports(on Twitter). In my view the Rangers and Mariners appear to be two possible destinations for the Scott Boras client.
- The Indians could still trade Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson and Vinnie Pestano, as Olney points out (on Twitter). There’s “not much action” on Chris Perez, however.
- Some evaluators say the Red Sox are poised to move on the pitching market as prices drop, according to Olney(on Twitter). GM Ben Cherington figures to add starting pitching depth at some point, as his projected rotation consists of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey and Franklin Morales.
- It’s apparent that the Mariners aren’t the top choice of the best free agent hitters. Olney suggests Seattle will end up signing a leftover player, though they’re pressing to land someone of note.
- Phillies officials have privately maintained that they’d be prepared to offer Josh Hamilton a three-year deal.
There's arguably no better shortstop available via free agency or trade than Asdrubal Cabrera, and the Indians' asking price reflects that reality. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer writes that the Tribe is looking to get three-to-four prospects in exchange for their 27-year-old shortstop -- preferably four.
Hoynes writes that the Indians had a deal in place to acquire a Major League pitcher and two high-level prospects for Cabrera. That trade fell through when Cleveland asked that a third prospect be included in the package. The potential acquiring team would have switched Cabrera's position, for those who would like to play the speculation game.
Cabrera has two years and a total of $16.5MM remaining on his contract. Over the past two seasons, Cabrera has batted .272/.335/.443 with 41 home runs and 26 stolen bases.
In addition to Cabrera, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez and Shin-Soo Choo are drawing interest. The asking price on Perez is substantially lower than Cabrera's, one scout told Hoynes. Like Cabrera, Perez has two years of team control left. He's arbitration eligible for the third time as a Super Two player this offseason, and Matt Swartz has him projected at $7.2MM.
Hoynes notes that the Padres have called regarding both Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Masterson can become a free agent after the 2014 season and is projected to earn $5.7MM in arbitration this season. The Indians picked up Jimenez's $5.75MM option this offseason despite a dreadful season and drastically reduced fastball velocity. The Padres are likely attracted to Jimenez's durability and hopeful that a return to the NL West can help restore his numbers.
The Indians are already drawing trade calls on Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez, and Asdrubal Cabrera according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. GM Chris Antonetti acknowledged that they will listen to offers for those four and others.
"I'm not looking to move those guys,'' said the GM. "But we have to be open-minded.''
The 30-year-old Choo will be a free agent after next season, but he needs to play for his new team all season for them to be eligible to receive draft pick compensation next winter. Heyman speculates that outfield-needy teams like the Yankees, Pirates, Red Sox, Tigers, and Phillies could be in the mix. The 26-year-old Cabrera should be a hot commodity given the dearth of quality free agent middle infielders.
Masterson, 27, figures to draw a ton of interest as a workhorse starter who is one year removed from a 3.21 ERA in over 210 innings. It's been speculated that his former team, the Red Sox, could have interest in bringing him back. The 27-year-old Perez might have talked his way out of Cleveland with some late-season comments. Mark Polishuk analyzed his trade stock in September.
Matt Swartz projects Choo to earn $7.9MM through arbitration next season before becoming a free agent. Masterson and Perez are under team control through 2014 and project to earn $5.7MM and $7.2MM through arbitration next season, respectively. Cabrera is under contract through 2014 and will earn $6.5MM next year and $10MM the year after.
Let's take a look at the latest news and notes on what could be the final day of the 2012 baseball season.
- Jim Leyland's future as manager of the Tigers is still unclear, tweets Tom Gage of the Detroit News. Before tonight's World Series game, Leyland said nobody puts a team together better than team President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski adding "hopefully he feels I'm the guy to manage it."
- The Orioles' most pressing needs for 2013 are a frontline starter, a second baseman, and dealing with the unsettled positions of left field and first base, writes MASN.com's Roch Kubatko.
- Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy are among the Orioles who could make a big step in 2013, according to Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- The Indians should only trade Chris Perez if they feel Vinnie Pestano can replace him as closer, opined Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer as he delved into his readers' mailbag. Hoynes also believes Lonnie Chisenhall will be given every opportunity to be the everyday third baseman and Sandy Alomar, Jr. would have been the slam-dunk choice as manager, if Terry Francona hadn’t been so adamant about getting back in the dugout.
- In the wake of Shohei Otani's announced intention to pursue a MLB career rather than play in Japan, Japanese baseball officials are considering stricter rules for amateur players who want to do the same, reports the Associated Press (via the Boston Herald).
- Tom Kotchman denied he was forced out by the Angels insisting his decision to leave was due to a desire to find something closer to his Tampa-St. Petersburg area home, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
- Congratulations to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, who was named the first female president in the 104-year history of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
- Manny Ramirez's quest to resurrect his baseball career has the slugger heading to the Dominican Republic in hopes of catching the eye of a potential suitor during a tryout for three Japanese teams, writes George A. King III of the New York Post.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
Earlier today, the Indians interviewed Sandy Alomar Jr. about their full-time managerial vacancy. General Manager Chris Antonetti didn't put a timetable on making a hire, but he was quick to tip his cap to Alomar for the job he did guiding the club at the end of the 2012 season, according to the Associated Press. Antonetti addressed the media today and we have the highlights courtesy of MLB.com's Jordan Bastian..
- Antonetti confirmed to reporters, including Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (via Twitter), that closer Chris Perez wants to remain in Cleveland. Perez said earlier this week that he wasn't looking for a way out this year by commenting on issues concerning the club.
- The GM wouldn't rule out bringing back Grady Sizemore or Travis Hafner on reduced deals, but Bastian (Twitter link) believes that Antonetti was just saying the right thing in regards to two long-time Indians.
- As of right now, Antonetti anticipates Shin-Soo Choo being back with the Indians in 2013 (Twitter link). Choo will hit the open market after next season and it has been said that the club will consider trades for him as they are not optimistic about an extension.
- The GM said that the decision on Roberto Hernandez's option will be difficult given the limited amount of time they had to evaluate him, Bastian tweets. Hernandez has been sidelined both by his suspension and injury.
- Matt LaPorta is out of minor league options going into next year and the GM said (Twitter link) that this will be a very important offseason for the first baseman/outfielder.
A month after criticizing his club's management and decision-making process, Indians closer Chris Perez told media (including MLB.com's Jordan Bastian) that he didn't speak out in an attempt to be traded and that he wants to keep pitching in Cleveland. According to Perez, the firing of manager Manny Acta alleviated some of his issues with the team.
"A lot of frustration from those comments, a lot of that walked out the door last week. I'll just leave it at that," Perez said. "It doesn't mean everything is in tip-top shape over here. Obviously, we fell short of our goals and we need to see why."
I profiled Perez as a trade candidate in the wake of his original comments and noted that even if he hadn't spoken out, the closer could have been dealt anyway given that he earned $4.5MM this season and will be in line for a raise this winter when he is arbitration-eligible for the second time. Perez said he spoke to Indians GM Chris Antonetti on Monday and doesn't believe he will be traded (as tweeted by Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer), but if he is, it's a sign that the Indians aren't planning to contend in 2013.
"That's a business decision that they're going to have to make," Perez said. "That's not up to me. That's not my decision. I have two years left here at least. Right now, it's up to them. I think whatever they decide to do is definitely going to tell you which way the team is going one way or the other...I kind of find it hard to see them keeping me here and then trading other people. But, you never know."
The Blue Jays shouldn’t part with manager John Farrell unless they are confident they can hire a comparable replacement and make the Red Sox pay dearly for their former pitching coach, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Blue Jays could start by asking for Clay Buchholz again, Rosenthal suggests. Here’s more from around MLB, starting with Farrell...
- People who know Farrell find it difficult to believe he’d try to force his way out of Toronto, Rosenthal reports. The Blue Jays appear to value Farrell and don’t want to see him leave.
- Most MLB teams wanted to develop Jurickson Profar as a pitcher when he was an amateur player, Rosenthal reports. The Rangers built a relationship with Profar, who wanted to play shortstop.
- Scouts following the Indians like the team’s up-the-middle talent, but say the body language of manager Manny Acta suggests he’s resigned to losing. The Indians are expected to consider trade offers for Justin Masterson, Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Perez this offseason and rival teams wonder if they’d listen to offers for Asdrubal Cabrera.
- Indians officials are “livid” with Perez for his comments about the team’s ownership and top baseball executives, Rosenthal writes. Perez questioned the Indians’ decision making and spending last week in an interview with Jon Paul Morosi. Some executives viewed those remarks as an attempt to get traded, Rosenthal reports.
- One Orioles person points out that Andy MacPhail traded for many of the Orioles’ key players in a series of successful deals. MacPhail dealt for players such as J.J. Hardy, Pedro Strop, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Robert Andino and Adam Jones before stepping down following the 2011 season.
- Though the Nationals would like to retain Adam LaRoche, they can rely on internal options if the first baseman’s asking price reaches the three-year, $33-36MM range. Similarly, the Nationals might decide not to pursue Michael Bourn despite the long-standing expectation that they will offer him a competitive free agent contract.
- The Brewers will need to sign a starting pitcher and fix their bullpen this coming offseason, Rosenthal writes.
Chris Perez is enjoying a nice comeback season in 2012 and made the All-Star team, but the Indians closer has mostly drawn attention for his statements off the field. Perez criticized Cleveland fans for low attendance and a perceived lack of support last spring, and now the right-hander has spoken out against team management in a recent interview with FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi.
Perez is clearly frustrated in Cleveland, and if his latest comments were the last straw for Indians' management, it might be best for both sides if they parted ways this offseason. The Indians have a deep bullpen that includes the likes of Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith and Tony Sipp, with Pestano the favorite to take over closing duties should Perez get traded.
There was talk, in fact, that Pestano could've taken over as closer in 2012 in the wake of Perez's shaky 2011 campaign. While Perez posted a 3.32 ERA, his advanced metrics (4.65 SIERA, 5.01 xFIP) weren't kind and he had a career-low 5.9 K/9, good for just a 1.5 K/BB ratio. Perez has bounced back nicely this season (3.51 ERA, 2.55 SIERA, 3.18 xFIP, a 10.4 K/9 and a career-low 2.0 BB/9) and the righty now has a career 3.20 ERA and 266 strikeouts in 270 innings over five seasons.
At age 27, Perez is in his prime and arguably has more upside than any of the free agent closing options on the market this winter. He will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter after agreeing on a $4.5MM contract for 2012, so you can guess Perez is looking at a raise to around $6MM in 2013. The escalating cost might've made Perez a trade candidate anyway for the cost-conscious Indians though other teams around baseball may also hesitate to take Perez given that he's on pace to earn even more in 2014 after his final arb year. Still, $6MM for a proven closer is not a bad price to pay.
Here are a few teams who may be looking for a new closer this offseason....
- Mets. Frank Francisco is set to earn $6.5MM next season and the Mets may not have much payroll space to work with this winter. Still, the Mets are known to be looking for bullpen help and could be looking for a longer-term option than Francisco, who has pitched better (3.55 SIERA, 10.07 K/9) than his 5.49 ERA would indicate.
- Dodgers. A very borderline candidate, as L.A. would only be looking for closing help if Kenley Jensen's heart problems proved to be career-threatening.
- Astros. Wilton Lopez was recently named closer and the rebuilding Astros will likely look for young arms and low-cost veterans in their bullpen rather than pursue a bigger name this offseason.
- Red Sox. It's probably unlikely that the Sox would pursue another closer but Perez would provide depth given Andrew Bailey's injury history.
- Tigers. Jose Valverde is a free agent this winter and the Tigers could look for a younger upgrade to finish games. It's doubtful the Indians would deal Perez to a divisional rival, especially in this case since Perez singled out the Tigers for praise as a team who spends despite their medium market size.
- Yankees. If Rafael Soriano leaves for free agency, the Yankees could want a proven closer on hand should Mariano Rivera have a setback in his recovery from a torn ACL.
Indians closer Chris Perez offered some potentially controversial analysis of the Cleveland market in an interview that could put the outspoken right-hander back in the national spotlight. In particular, Perez highlighted that the Tigers regularly out-spend their division rivals in Cleveland.
“Different owners,” Perez told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. “It comes down to that. They [the Tigers] are spending money. He [owner Mike Ilitch] wants to win. Even when the economy was down, he spent money. He’s got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don’t. But most of the time you do.”
Perez went on to say that top baseball executives have a share of the responsibility as well. Owners don’t make the baseball decisions, so general managers must be accountable for player moves, he said.
“The GMs can only spend the money the owners give them, but they pick who they spend it on or who they don’t,” Perez said. “They pick. The owners don’t pick.”
Perez, 27, suggested the Indians would be better off if they had been more aggressive on last year’s free agent market.
“Josh Willingham would look great in this lineup. They didn’t want to [pony] up for that last year. … That’s the decision they make, and this is the bed we’re laying in,” he said.
The two-time All-Star earns $4.5MM this year and will go to arbitration this coming offseason. The Indians control his rights through 2014, but they could look to trade him before then in the opinion of MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link). Perez has a 3.51 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 34 saves in 48 2/3 innings so far in 2012.
The Tigers rank fifth in MLB with a payroll of $132.3MM, according to USA Today. Meanwhile, the Indians rank 21st with a payroll of $78.4MM. President Mark Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti run the team, which is owned by Larry Dolan.
Masterson, the Tribe's opening day starter, earns $3.825MM in 2012 after avoiding arbitration this past offseason. Masterson is controlled through the 2014 season and has pitched to a 4.47 ERA with a 6.9 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 56.4 percent ground-ball rate that is tied for sixth-best in the Majors. Masterson's control has taken a significant downturn this season, as evidenced by the rising walk rate (2.7 BB/9 in 2011) and his AL-worst 11 wild pitches.
Knobler reports that both the Reds and Rangers had scouts present to watch Masterson's start against the Twins in Minneapolis yesterday, though he wasn't particularly impressive. He allowed eight earned runs to the Twins over 5 2/3 innings on seven hits, two walks a and a hit batter.
The Indians are also open to trading Shin-Soo Choo for the right price, and both the Pirates and Reds appear to be interested at the moment. There have been rumors over the past few weeks that they could deal Chris Perez as well, but Knobler calls it "doubtful" that Perez will be traded.