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Chris Young Rumors
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 year; last three years; last five years.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Mets could jettison struggling outfielder Chris Young in the next week to ten days, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Young, signed before the season to a one-year, $7.25MM deal, has hit just .206/.284/.348 in 286 plate appearances, and cutting him could create opportunities for the younger Matt den Dekker (who’s hitting .331/.403/.533 in hitter-friendly Triple-A Las Vegas) to play every day. Here are more notes from the NL East.
- The list of 2014 draftees off to hot starts to their pro careers includes former LSU pitcher Aaron Nola, the No. 7 overall pick by the Phillies, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo writes. Nola got off to a great start with Class A+ Clearwater and pitched well in his first start at Double-A Reading. Mayo notes that the sample sizes for 2014 are all very small at this point. (Also, stats for players in the lower minors can be very difficult to interpret.) But it’s not uncommon for players to get off to hot starts in their first pro seasons and then continue that success into the following year, just like Cubs slugger Kris Bryant has.
- Jacob Turner‘s impending departure from the Marlins serves as a reminder that the trade with the Tigers that brought him to Miami hasn’t worked out so well, Dave Tepps of the Palm Beach Post writes. Turner hasn’t worked out, and Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn have struggled to establish themselves in the Majors (although Flynn, who has pitched fairly well at the Triple-A level, may still have a future). Meanwhile, the Marlins gave up Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, who both played well in Detroit, with Sanchez emerging as a mainstay in a terrific Tigers rotation.
Here’s the latest out of the National League …
- The Reds are interested in Cuban free agent pitcher Raisel Iglesias, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America (via Twitter). A team official told Badler that a deal was not in place at this time, however. Badler recently reported that the righty was granted an extended signing window by MLB, and will be free to sign through July 1 without being subject to international spending limitations.
- Brewers righty Brad Mills has an opt-out provision in his minor league deal that was triggered on Sunday, but can only be exercised if he has an offer from a team that would put him on its 25-man roster, reports Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mills, 29, has impressed at Triple-A, with a 1.56 ERA and 9.2 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 through 75 innings (including 12 starts). As Rosiak notes, however, Milwaukee seems relatively uninterested in using him at the big league level at present.
- If the Pirates decide to open extension talks with catcher Russell Martin, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review estimates that it could take a three-year, $39MM offer to make a deal. Martin, who signed a two-year, $17MM pact to come to Pittsburgh, has posted a strong .275/.409/.400 line this year, which is the best pace he’s carried since his excellent 2006-08 seasons with the Dodgers. In the intervening five years, Martin has averaged a .234/.332/.370 triple-slash, though he has consistently earned stellar defensive ratings. After Martin, pickings are fairly slim on next year’s free agent market for backstops, with players like Kurt Suzuki, A.J. Pierzynski, Geovany Soto, and Nick Hundley leading the way.
- The Mets have no intention of releasing struggling outfielder Chris Young, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. Young has posted a meager .196/.283/.313 line in 185 plate appearances since joining the club on a one-year, $7.25MM pact. While the team would like to be able to deal him, presumably eating some salary to make that happen, a team official tells Rubin that New York does not expect to find much of a market for his services.
- As expected, Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley will undergo season-ending surgery on his right elbow, reports Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. It seems all but certain that the club will opt to pay Billingsley a $3MM buyout rather than picking up his $14MM option for 2015. The veteran hurler tells Saxon that the rehab is expected to be “about six months,” and that surgery offered him the “best chance to pitch next year.”
As previously reported, before hiring Tony LaRussa, the Diamondbacks considered other candidates to slot in atop the club’s baseball operations structure or to take over directly for Kevin Towers as general manager. One candidate was former Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who notes that it is likely (but not certain) that Beinfest would have slotted into the GM role. Arizona also spoke with Braves advisor John Hart, says Rosenthal, though that was purely for purposes of dispensing advice.
Here’s more from Arizona and the rest of the National League:
- The April 2012 shoulder injury to then-Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young had widespread ramifications both for player and club, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Young, who had been off to a hot start that season, has never really been the same since. And the injury also led to then-teammate Justin Upton playing through a thumb injury. Upton’s step back that year, which could well have been injury-related, ultimately played a role in his departure, Piecoro observes.
- If Young’s current team — the Mets — want to improve its offensive performance, the club needs to boost its spending, opines ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). With David Wright and Curtis Granderson eating up much of the team’s payroll space at its current spending levels, which reduces the team’s flexibility to add talent creatively without increasing its budget.
- Confirming recent suggestions, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Nationals are planning to rotate Ryan Zimmerman between third, first, and left field when he returns from the DL. In addition to increasing the club’s ability to optimize the deployment of its position players, Washington hopes that Zimmerman’s future value to the team will see a boost from increased flexibility. The one-time stalwart at the hot corner, who has seen his defensive performance wane with shoulder issues, is in the first year of a six-year, $100MM extension that was agreed to before the 2012 season.
- Nationals prospect Matt Purke will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (via Twitter). The 23-year-old lefty has largely disappointed since the Nats gave him a $4.15MM bonus in 2011 to sign out of TCU. As Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com notes on Twitter, Purke — who signed a big league deal — will be out of options by the time he recovers from the procedure.