Chris Young Rumors

Quick Hits: Farrell, Victorino, Delabar, Dodgers, Young

The Red Sox have held preliminary discussions with manager John Farrell about a contract extension, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com reports. Farrell’s deal is only guaranteed through 2015, though it comes with an additional club option as well. Boston hopes to “add length and security” in a new deal, per the report.

Here are some more items from around the game:

  • Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino sat down with WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford to discuss his recovery from back surgery, telling Bradford that he feels 100 percent and is as motivated as he’s ever been heading into Spring Training. Victorino disagrees with the notion that there’s a “competition” between himself and Mookie Betts, saying that, rather, he views it as two athletes pushing each other to be better. “I’ve been a big advocate of Mookie since Day 1,” said Victorino. “I learned from Day 1 that he’s a kid that wants to learn. My first day in my rehab assignment in Pawtucket, 15 minutes before the game he’s asking me questions in the most respectful way. From Day 1 I’ve been a big fan of that kid.”
  • Right-hander Steve Delabar was disappointed not to be called up in September by the Blue Jays last year, writes John Lott of the National Post. The team felt that Delabar, a 2013 All-Star who battled knee injuries throughout the 2014 season, needed to rest. Those knee issues, coupled with a 2013 shoulder injury that prevented Delabar from fully engaging in his offseason weighted-ball program, contributed to a rough year in 2014, Lott writes. Delabar will be competing for one of three bullpen spots, and the fact that he has minor league options remaining could work against him if he isn’t sharp this spring.
  • The Rays were excellent at unearthing quality relievers while under the leadership of now-Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney notes (Insider link). Friedman will face an immediate challenge in finding a replacement for outstanding closer Kenley Jansen, at least for the season’s early going. The market still contains some notable arms — free agents Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano, as well as trade candidate Jonathan Papelbon — but in some respects their availability only increases the stakes of getting the decision right. There are several possibilities for filling the closer role and the open pen slot, including a few recent acquisitions as well as younger arms (Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia) who got a taste of the bigs last year and have impressed the new front office.
  • MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently endeavored to identify potential landing spots for free agent righty Chris Young, and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs contributes his own analysis on where Young’s notably flyball-prone propensities would best fit. Steve’s market analysis and Sullivan’s fit assessment concur in identifying the Rays as a match.

Potential Landing Spots For Chris Young

One Chris Young has found a home this offseason, as the former D-Backs, A’s and Mets outfielder re-signed with the Yankees early in the winter. The other Chris Young, despite having enjoyed the better results of the two in 2014, remains available on the free agent market. The 6’10” right-hander soaked up 165 innings in the Mariners’ rotation last season, working to a 3.65 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. That’s solid production, and based on runs allowed (RA9-WAR), Young was worth 2.4 wins above replacement.

And yet, the towering righty remains unsigned, perhaps in part due to the fact that sabermetric estimators suggest that his success was exceptionally fortunate. Young’s 5.02 FIP, 5.19 xFIP and 5.24 SIERA paint an ugly picture, to be sure, but there are reasons to think that he can still provide value in a team’s rotation.

Firstly, we can’t ignore the fact that Young’s career ERA (3.77) is significantly better than his career FIP (4.38), xFIP (4.82) or SIERA (4.63). Being an extreme fly-ball pitcher is likely a turn-off for teams in small parks, but because he allows so many fly balls (58.7 percent in 2014; 54.8 percent for his career), Young has proven capable of sustaining a BABIP that is considerably lower than the league average (fly balls in play fall for hits at a much lower rate than line drives and ground balls). Extreme fly-ball arms like Young have proven to be able to outperform those figures because a larger percentage of balls in play against them are converted into outs. Repeating a 3.65 ERA may not be likely, but it stands to reason that Young could demonstrate at least somewhat useful run prevention skills at the back of a rotation.

Young has also shown a dominance over right-handed hitters throughout his career, and particularly in 2014. Same-handed hitters have mustered a paltry .218/.287/.381 batting line against Young in his big league career, and he held them to an even feebler .199/.260/.372 line last year. On the flipside of that is that he struggles against left-handed hitters, of course, but a team with a spacious outfield that naturally suppresses lefty power could use its home environment to maximize Young’s strengths while shielding against his weaknesses.

The cost on Young shouldn’t be prohibitive; I’d imagine that if he is able to secure an MLB deal, the base salary would fall shy of the respective $5MM and $6.5MM guarantees of Aaron Harang and Kyle Kendrick. And, there’s also the possibility that given the late stage of the offseason and the number of teams with their rotations filled, Young will have to settle for a minor league deal. Any non-guaranteed deal would figure to have a relatively substantial base salary in the event that Young made the team. (John Axford, for example has a $2.65MM base on his minor league deal in Colorado.)

Given all of these elements, let’s examine a few spots that make sense for the Reynolds Sports Management client to end up…

  • Angels: The Halos have addressed their pitching depth this winter by adding prospects Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano in separate trades, but the rotation still doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 5 starter. It’s also not a given that Garrett Richards will be ready for Opening Day, so adding a veteran like Young makes some degree of sense. Angel Stadium ranked 25th in left-handed home run factor in 2014 (per Baseball Prospectus) and routinely ranks in the bottom third of the league.
  • Tigers: Detroit’s rotation depth has taken a hit in recent years due to several trades, and they have little in the way of certainty beyond their projected starting five (David Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon). Even Greene and Simon have some uncertainty about them, as Greene has little MLB experience, and Simon wilted in the second half of what could be an outlier season. Comerica Park ranked 23rd in left-handed HR factor last year, though it has played as more of a middle-of-the-road park for lefties in other seasons.
  • Braves: Atlanta hasn’t been shy about adding veterans to slot into the bullpen or the rotation, having added the likes of Eric Stults, Wandy Rodriguez, Jose Veras, Matt Capps and Todd Coffey on minor league deals recently. Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Alex Wood and Shelby Miller are locks, but the fifth spot is up for grabs.
  • Astros: Houston recently added Roberto Hernandez to a minor league deal with the idea that he could compete for a spot in their rotation, and Young could be brought in to compete in a similar manner. Righty Brad Peacock may not be ready to open the season, and Houston did part with Michael Foltynewicz in the Evan Gattis trade (though the team also added rotation candidate Dan Straily in the Dexter Fowler deal with the Cubs).
  • Rays: Matt Moore won’t pitch until this summer as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, leaving Nate Karns and Alex Colome as the likely candidates to compete for the fifth spot behind Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer. The AL East and its hitter-friendly parks may not be an ideal setting for Young, but Tropicana Field is more favorable to pitchers than rival parks such as Yankees Stadium and Rogers Centre.

Few teams possess the type of pitching depth that would allow them to completely rule out adding a depth candidate to compete for a role at the back of the rotation. One could make a compelling case for Young fitting with any number of teams not listed here, and it’s also possible that a Spring Training injury could create a need for an arm like his. At 36 years of age and with a limited MLB track record in recent years, Young isn’t a big-ticket item, but 165 innings of 3.65 ERA in 2014 should at the very least net him the opportunity to try to prove that he can recreate the feat.


Cafardo On Shields, Blue Jays, Price

The Blue Jays didn’t meet expectations in 2014, but that hasn’t discouraged Jose Bautista, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.

Just because we didn’t win doesn’t mean it didn’t work out,” insisted Bautista. “It helped build a core for our team. And the last two years we’ve added to that core. I think the players really appreciate the commitment that [General Manager] Alex [Anthopoulos] has made to building our team.”

Here’s more from today’s column..

  • One prominent baseball official feels that free agent pitcher James Shields has not been marketed properly by his camp.  Few doubt Shields’ talent, but some have the notion that he isn’t a strong postseason pitcher.  Meanwhile, a few executives suspect that the Blue Jays could become interested in his services if the club can convince Rogers Communications to shell out the money.  At present, however, Toronto only has the budget to allow for a bullpen upgrade or two.
  • Over the weekend, David Price reiterated that he would “absolutely” consider a long-term deal with the Tigers.  Entering his walk year, Price doesn’t want to eliminate a big-market team from contending for his services, Cafardo writes.  Still, it’s believed he’ll hit free agency and go elsewhere.
  • With the Astros losing out on Ryan Vogelsong, they might turn their sights to comparable free agents such as Chris Young, Kevin Correia, and Kyle Kendrick.
  • Recently, Cafardo asked Orioles manager Buck Showalter if he’d be interested in being a GM, which was a tough question for him to answer given that Dan Duquette is still with the O’s.  Still, Showalter is already involved in personnel decisions and if Duquette leaves, Cafardo writes that he’d be at the helm along with talent evaluator Brady Anderson and a new GM.  Recently it was reported that the O’s have a list of candidates for the job if it opens up and that includes names like Ned Colletti, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya, and Kevin Towers.


Free Agent Faceoff: Back Of Rotation Starters

With another quiet day turning into an even less eventful evening, I thought we’d spice things up with a look at a particularly interesting segment of the free agent market: innings-eating veteran starters.

Sure, I’m joking. Almost by definition, a back-of-the-rotation innings eater is not a very exciting pitcher. But, then again, perhaps there is something to the idea that this corner of the universe has more intrigue than it might seem at first glance.

Targeting top-end players is fairly straightforward, whereas figuring whether to pursue one or another back-end arm involves much more careful parsing to find value. The fact that most such pitchers sign for short-term deals means that clubs must be right on the player in the immediate term; there is no time to fix them for the future. And then there is the fact that the performance of these players matters a great deal; unlike a utility man or reliever, innings-eating arms are expected to occupy full-time roles. Racking up losses because your number 4 and 5 starters are not competitive is a great way to dig a hole in the standings.

The potential impact of this type of player is evidenced by the list of the best durable, veteran starters still available, several of whom played for contenders in 2014 and one of whom even pitched in the World Series. For better or worse, all of the players listed were allowed to throw at least 150 innings last year, creating plenty of opportunity to add or subtract value.

Kevin Correia: The results are not usually that exciting, but Correia has logged at least 100 innings in every season since 2007. He delivered an average of 178 innings of 4.19 ERA pitching over 2012-13 before suffering through a rough 2014.

Aaron Harang: Last year’s shining example of the importance of choosing your innings eaters carefully, Harang put up 204 1/3 frames with a 3.57 ERA. Sure, there’s a lot baked in there other than his pitching, but the bottom line is that Harang rated amongst the game’s fifty best starters in terms of preventing runs and among its 25 best in logging innings.

Roberto Hernandez: The results haven’t been there for Hernandez, and there is not much silver lining given that he has seen a steady decline in fastball velocity. But he is quite a steady groundball inducer, and showed enough that the Dodgers traded for him and gave him nine starts down the stretch.

Kyle Kendrick: At some point, 199 innings is 199 innings, and that’s what Kendrick delivered last season. He is also a fairly youthful 30 years of age, and is not far removed from producing serviceable results.

Ryan Vogelsong: Though his peripherals are somewhat less promising, Vogelsong has posted pretty darned useful bottom-line results in three of the past four seasons. And he had enough in the tank to run his fastball up to the mid-90s in the postseason.

Chris Young: ERA estimators view Young’s 3.65 earned run mark last year as a mirage, but then again he has always outperformed his peripherals. It had been quite some time since the towering righty had handled a full season in a rotation, but Seattle happily converted his 165 innings of work into a 12-9 record in 29 starts.

Before you vote on the player you think will be the best bet for 2015, you might want to check out these custom Fangraphs leaderboards for a sense of their recent statistical achievements: last yearlast three yearslast five years.


Quick Hits: McClellan, Aoki, Young, Robertson

Former Cardinals and Rangers reliever Kyle McClellan has officially announced his retirement.  In a message on his Facebook page, McClellan explained that he was told that his shoulder simply hadn’t recovered well enough following surgery, so he decided to hang up his glove after six Major League seasons.  McClellan posted a 3.79 ERA over 387 1/3 career innings from 2008-13, spending five seasons with St. Louis (winning a World Series ring in 2011) and one in Texas.  We at MLBTR wish McClellan all the best in his retirement and congratulations on a nice career.

Here’s some news from around the baseball world…

  • The Orioles have “limited” interest in Nori Aoki, a source tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko.  With the O’s linked to such bigger-name free agent and trade targets as Melky Cabrera, Justin Upton and Matt Kemp, it’s safe to presume that Aoki could be more of a backup plan for the Orioles if they can’t land any of those other outfielders.
  • The Mariners‘ acquisition of J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays probably ends any chance of Chris Young returning to Seattle’s rotation, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes as part of a reader mailbag.
  • An increasing number of agents are privately saying that they would’ve advised David Robertson to accept the Yankees’ qualifying offer, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.  I can’t say I agree with the agents’ opinions, since it’s not like the draft pick compensation tied to Robertson via the QO has hurt his market; the closer has reportedly already received a three-year, $39MM offer and several executives think he’ll find a deal in the four-year, $50MM range.
  • Florida high schooler Brendan Rodgers holds the #1 spot on MLB.com’s rankings of the top 50 2015 draft prospects, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes.  Rodgers, a shortstop, heads a class that still contains a lot of question marks, according to one AL scouting executive.  “It’s just wide open right now, especially at the top.  There are some nice players, but there’s a lot of gray area. There are just no elite guys who completely stand out. There’s not as much upside at the top as the past few drafts,” the executive said.
  • Former big leaguer Rico Brogna is now working as the Angels‘ quality control coach, somewhat of a troubleshooting position he tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila combines both traditional scouting analysis with advanced metrics to give his team a complete overview of a player’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Will Middlebrooks doesn’t have an obvious role on the 2015 Red Sox roster, but the third baseman tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that he’s working to get healthy and wants to stay with the Sox.  “I understand the moves they had to make,” Middlebrooks said.  “For the organization we are, we have to win next year. Everyone knows that. They had to make some moves. I was hurt, been hurt a lot. You can’t rely on that.”

Yankees Re-Sign Chris Young

SUNDAY: The Yankees have officially announced the deal. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets Young can earn $6.325MM if he achieves all of his incentives.

SATURDAY: Pending a physical, the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $2.5MM deal with free agent outfielder Chris Young, tweets Sweeny Murti of WFAN. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish was the first to report the contract length, while Buster Olney of ESPN (Twitter) was the first with the value. The contract also contains incentives which are unknown at this time. Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (also Twitter), the offer was originally extended by the Yankees nearly a month ago. Per Nightengale, he could earn nearly $5MM if he’s a regular in the lineup.

As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd wrote yesterday, Young struggled with the Mets to the tune of .205/.283/.346 over 287 plate appearances. After latching on with the Yankees, Young improved his production with a .282/.354/.521 in only 79 plate appearances. Beyond noting the small sample performance, Young’s time in the Bronx carries several warning signs related to his batted ball profile and swinging strike rate. It would be hasty to suggest he made lasting improvements with the Yankees.

It is presumed Young will serve in a backup capacity behind Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Carlos Beltran. That trio has quite the injury history, so it is possible he’ll see frequent action. The 31-year-old’s last successful season was in 2012 when he posted a .231/.311/.434 line with 10 UZR. Since then, he’s posted 0.4 WAR in two consecutive seasons, marking him as slightly better than replacement level.

Pending further moves, the right-handed Young can probably expect to see time against tough lefty pitchers since both Ellsbury and Gardner bat left-handed. Beltran could also spend considerable time as the designated hitter, especially if Alex Rodriguez is unable to contribute.


Yankees, Chris Young Have Mutual Interest

Free agent outfielder Chris Young is in discussions with the Yankees about a deal that would keep him in New York, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Young joined the Yankees on a minor league deal in the middle of 2014, after he was released by the crosstown Mets.

Young had a rough go of things in Queens last year, slashing .205/.283/.346 over 287 plate appearances after signing a one-year, $7.25MM pact in free agency. That represented similar production to his run with the Athletics the year prior, when Young’s downturn began.

But he turned things around in a late-season run with the Yankees, putting up a .282/.354/.521 line in a short sample of 79 plate appearances. And the 31-year-old does have a history of pretty impressive work — twenty home run power, twenty steal speed, and solid defense in center — in the not-so-distant past.

For the Yankees, Young would surely fit in a reserve capacity. The club has committed big money to Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Carlos Beltran, though the latter may need to see an increasing amount of time in the DH slot.


AL West Notes: Iwakuma, Young, Astros, Peacock

Hisashi Iwakuma‘s 2015 option technically vested by operation of performance bonuses, Mariners officials tell Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Of course, Seattle would gladly have exercised the $7MM option on its own, as Iwakuma has been outstanding since joining the team before the 2012 season. The club has interest in exploring a new deal for the 33-year-old righty, Dutton reports.

Here’s more from Seattle and the AL West:

  • The Mariners have a rotation spot open but may not be interested in re-signing Chris Young to fill it, writes Dutton. That is due in large part to the fact that Taijuan Walker may have pitched himself into the starting five, making it hard for Seattle to commit dollars or make roster promises to free agents. While the team will no doubt pursue some veteran depth, Dutton notes that it is unlikely to match what Young can receive elsewhere.
  • Down in Houston, the Astros are preparing for a busy offseason, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart writes. GM Jeff Luhnow said that the club is hoping to improve in the pen and corner infield while adding some pop through an outfielder. The team has as much as $20MM in added payroll capacity to accomplish that, per Luhnow, who says that the organization already has a list of free agent targets and has had contact with a dozen clubs in preparation for trade talks. “There’s been some turn over in front offices,” said Luhnow. “We think we know what players might be available, but you never know until the season’s over and people are taking stock of their areas of improvement and where they have excess and you never know where there’s going to be a match. You’ve just got to talk to everybody.”
  • One player who the Astros will not be able to get a look at to start the spring is righty Brad Peacock, who had bone spurs removed from his right hip. Per Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, the club does not view the surgery as a long-term concern, but Peacock seems rather unlikely to be ready by Opening Day. Having already dealt away Jarred Cosart at the trade deadline, Peacock’s situation could make Houston somewhat more inclined to add starting depth through free agency.

AL Notes: Young, Indians

As we wait for the playoffs to return on Tuesday, here’s the latest from the AL.

  • Mariners starter Chris Young would like to return to Seattle next season, writes Greg John of MLB.com. The 35-year-old had his best season since 2007, throwing 165 innings with a 3.65 ERA, 5.89 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, and a league low 22.3% ground ball rate. The towering fly ball specialist – he’s 6’10” – is often cited as exceptionally deceptive despite an 85 mph fastball. Advanced ERA estimators expected an ERA over 5.00. His unusual size and approach could make him a special case who can reliably outperform his FIP and SIERA. Young faded down the stretch, but it was his healthiest season in seven years. He earned $1.25MM in 2014 and could be in line for a modest raise.
  • The Indians need help in right field, reports Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. While the free agent class isn’t bad, it’s top heavy. Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis are beyond the Indians means. Unfortunately, David Murphy and Ryan Raburn will tie up $8.5MM at the position. Murphy could rebound – he had a decent season before injuring his oblique in August. Raburn was a complete loss this season and may not have a role next season. The Indians previously had interest in Norichika Aoki before he signed with Milwaukee. Hoynes also mentions Michael Cuddyer as a possible buy-low candidate.

Quick Hits: Rockies, Bloomquist, Castillo, Colabello

The Rockies are in the midst of an awful 45-70 season, but a strong offseason could help turn them around, Paul Swydan of FanGraphs writes. Swydan argues that the Rockies should let Michael Cuddyer, Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson depart via free agency, then spend the savings on Russell Martin and on a couple of ground-ball-throwing, mid-grade free agent pitchers, like Justin Masterson and Francisco Liriano. Non-tendering Jhoulys Chacin and dealing for Jon Niese would also help improve the Rockies’ rotation. Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • Mariners utilityman Willie Bloomquist will miss the remainder of the season with a microfracture in his right knee, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Bloomquist is making $2.8MM in the first year of a two-year deal, and he hit .278/.297/.346 in 136 plate appearances this season.
  • Austin Jackson‘s departure in the David Price deal could make the Tigers especially likely to sign Cuban 2B/OF Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets. The addition of Price brought them another top-flight starting pitcher but created an opportunity to improve in their outfield. Castillo has also been connected to a huge number of other teams, holding private workouts for many of them.
  • Chris Colabello may be near the end of the line with the Twins, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Twins recently optioned Colabello to Triple-A Rochester, and after a .229/.282/.380 performance in 220 plate appearances with them this season, he could soon be designated for assignment. Colabello is a great story — he spent seven seasons playing independent baseball before signing with the Twins as a 28-year-old and making it to the big leagues at 29. But as a 1B/OF/DH type who hasn’t hit much, he’s struggled to get established in the big leagues.
  • GM Sandy Alderson says the Mets‘ recent moves, including designating Chris Young for assignment and replacing him by promoting Matt den Dekker, do not suggest that his team is giving up on the 2014 season, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. The Mets will find playing time for den Dekker and more of it for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wilmer Flores. “I’ve tried to be honest with myself about that,” says Alderson. “And I have not concluded that this is a step back from competition.” The Mets remain on the outer fringes of the playoff race, seven games back of the last Wild Card spot. Of course, given that Young, for example, was hitting .205/.283/.346 before he was designated, it’s not likely that someone like den Dekker is even a downgrade, and Niewenhuis and Flores are supplanting underperforming players (Eric Young Jr. and Ruben Tejada) as well.