Cincinnati Reds Rumors
Here's the latest news from both the NL and AL Central divisions...
- The Brandon Phillips trade rumors may have temporarily stopped, though Reds president/CEO Bob Castellini left the door slightly open when talking to reporters today (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon and the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay). "Brandon is part of the team, boys," Castellini said. "Walt [GM Walt Jocketty] was just exploring. You have to understand what he's up against. He's got to look around. Brandon Phillips is an integral part of this franchise....But you never say never."
- The Cubs and John Axford share a mutual interest in each other, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com reports. Axford would get a chance to compete for the Cubs' closing job, though the right-hander seemingly has plenty of opportunities around the league, with a reported 14 teams checking in following his non-tender from the Cardinals.
- The Cubs and Royals are two of the teams who have shown interest in Joba Chamberlain, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets. No signing seems to be imminent for either team, however. Chamberlain is another relief arm who has drawn significant attention on the open market, as he may be seen as a reclamation candidate after some tough seasons with the Yankees.
- The Twins have spoken to John Buck's agent, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, and a source tells Berardino that Buck is Minnesota's top target amongst available catchers. It isn't clear how interested in the Twins are, however, given that Josmil Pinto is still the club's preferred choice to take over the everyday catching job now that Joe Mauer has been moved to first base.
- Carl Pavano talked with Berardino about his comeback attempt from a freak snow-shoveling accident that left him with a ruptured spleen and sidelined the veteran righty for the entire 2013 season. Pavano said the Twins haven't contacted him about a return: "I haven't really talked to them. I don't know if that would be a good fit anyway. I think we're in different places. They need those younger guys in their rotation."
Here are the latest updates from the National League side of the ledger:
- The Mets are increasingly expressing optimism about their efforts to bring Curtis Granderson into the fold, reports Marc Carig of Newsday, though nothing appears to be immiment. Joining the Mets in pursuit of Granderson are the White Sox and Mariners, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. If that does not work out for New York, says Puma, the club will "likely" turn its attention to Nelson Cruz.
- After parting ways with two left-handed relief options in Fernando Abad and Ian Krol, the Nationals remain interested in adding Oliver Perez, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore says that the Mariners and Padres also have interest in the 32-year-old southpaw, who pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings last year for Seattle.
- Echoing previous reports, Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that the club has told second baseman Brandon Phillips that it is "not in any talks to trade him," reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Though Jocketty also noted that he could not rule out that possibility, he definitely left the impression that he is not actively shopping Phillips.
- Jocketty also indicated that the club is likely going to keep Aroldis Chapman in the closer role rather than converting him to a starter, reports Sheldon. Though Cincinnati will keep the starting option on the table in the spring, Jocketty said that the club likes its depth at the present. As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth wrote at the start of the off-season, the Reds could tinker with their rotation, but lack a pressing need to do so.
- Though the latest scuttlebutt has Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija marked for trade talks, club president Theo Epstein says that the club still hopes to extend him, tweets Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Of course, Chicago could certainly be keeping both options on the table for the time being.
- After trading away center fielder Dexter Fowler, the Rockies plan to shift Carlos Gonzalez over to fill the vacancy, reports the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Meanwhile, the club is still shopping for relief pitchers, reports the Denver Post's Troy Renck (via Sulia), and may be most likely to add a bullpen arm via trade.
- The Diamondbacks are still looking to add a major piece, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, and GM Kevin Towers has indicated that the club would be willing to give up its first-round draft choice to sign a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer. Towers indicated that the club is most likely to add a starter via trade, leaving Piecoro to posit that the most likely open-market targets would be Granderson, Nelson Cruz, or Carlos Beltran.
- Meanwhile, the D-Backs could be much more willing to deal pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs than they had been in the past, Piecoro writes. In fact, the club apparently recently explored just that possibility. Coming off of a down year that saw his velocity drop, however, the 22-year-old probably also has diminished trade value at the moment, Piecoro further notes.
WEDNESDAY: ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with three teams that inquired on Phillips, each of which got the sense that Reds ownership wants to trade Phillips more than the front office does (Twitter link).
TUESDAY: The Reds are now unlikely to trade Brandon Phillips, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The second baseman has been in trade whispers for quite some time, but it now appears that GM Walt Jocketty & Co. will hang on to him despite a lack of available quality options at the position.
Phillips, 32, batted .261/.310/.396 with 18 home runs this season but was involved in a pair of ugly PR incidents: one in which he publicly complained about how the Reds handled his contract negotiations and another in which went on a tirade against a Cincinnati reporter for pointing to his low on-base percentage. He is owed $50MM over the final four years of his six-year, $72.5MM contract.
The Yankees and Royals have both been linked to him this offseason, but it's not known how serious things got for either team. Phillips' 2013 batting line was down from his previous six seasons in Cincinnati where he hit .280/.329/.446.
The Rays, Reds and Diamondbacks successfully completed a three-team trade today, the teams have announced. Tampa Bay acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan (and promptly extended him) from the Reds and Heath Bell (pictured) from the Diamondbacks. The Reds will receive left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks. Arizona, meanwhile, was able to shed Bell's salary and will receive minor league righty Justin Choate as well as a player to be named later or cash from the Rays.
It was expected that Cincinnati would move Hanigan since they agreed to a two-year deal with Brayan Pena. The 33-year-old had the worst season of his career in 2013, batting just .198/.306/.261 and tying a career-low with two home runs.
Hanigan will give the Rays three catchers with Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina already in the fold if Lobaton is not one of the outgoing players. Molina is staying in Tampa Bay after agreeing to come back on a two-year, $4.5MM deal last month.
Hanigan has long been known as a patient hitter that is tough to strike out, as evidenced by a career 12 percent walk rate and 10.1 percent strikeout rate. He also has a reputation as a solid defensive backstop, having led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent). He is also regarded as one of the best in the game at pitch-framing, a skill that he has in common with new teammate Molina.
Bell, 36, is owed $9MM this year in the final season of an ill-fated three-year pact he inked with the Marlins prior to the 2012 campaign. However, Miami is on the hook for $3.5MM of that figure, so the Rays have him for $5.5MM in 2014 while Arizona has him off the books. Bell rebounded from a dreadful 2012 campaign, to an extent, this past season. The veteran closer posted a 4.11 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Bell saw improvements in his strikeout rate, walk rate and swinging-strike rate, giving the Rays hope that his so-so results were the product of unnatural BABIP and HR/FB marks.
Holmberg, 22, has spent most of the last two seasons at Double-A Mobile, where turned in a 2.75 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 26 starts this past season. The lefty, who made his lone big league appearance on Aug. 27 vs. the Padres, was ranked as the No. 6 prospect in Arizona's system by Baseball America after the 2012 season. Baseball America thinks highly of Holmberg's control and likes his chances of reaching his ceiling of becoming a No. 3 or 4 starter.
Choate, 22, posted a 2.88 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 40 2/3 in short-season Class-A this past year. It was the Stephen F. Austin State University product's first year of professional ball, as he signed with the Rays on a minor league deal out of independent baseball.
Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that Hanigan was going to the Reds in a three-team deal (Twitter link). John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer later tweeted that the Diamondbacks were the third team involved. The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro was the first to report the involvement of Bell and Holmberg (Twitter links). Rosenthal added that Holmberg would go to Cincinnati. Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reported that the Rays were the ones acquiring Bell (Twitter link). MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reported that Choate and a PTBNL or cash were headed to Arizona (on Twitter). Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted the financial details. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that the PTBNL is not on Tampa's 40-man roster.
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of National League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.
- The Reds non-tendered outfielders Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson, according to the AP. Robinson had been designated for assignment last Thursday to open a roster spot for Skip Schumaker.
- The Rockies have non-tendered reliever Mitchell Boggs, tweets Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
- The Dodgers have non-tendered Ronald Belisario, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Marlins have non-tendered outfielder Chris Coghlan and reliever Ryan Webb, the club announced via press release.
- The Pirates have non-tendered Garrett Jones, Michael McKenry, and Kyle McPherson, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Giants have non-tendered Sandy Rosario and Francisco Peguero, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The Cubs have non-tendered Mat Gamel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The club has also non-tendered Chang-Yong Lim, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com.
- The Mets officially announced their slate of non-tenders, which includes a few new names in Jeremy Hefner and Justin Turner (via tweet from Andy Martino of the New York Daily News).
- The Braves announced that they have non-tendered infielders Elliot Johnson and Paul Janish as well as right-hander Cristhian Martinez (Twitter link). Johnson, 29, batted .209/.255/.283 in 275 plate appearances between the Royals and Braves last season. Janish was less productive in 45 PAs, batting .171/.222/.220. Martinez, 31, missed nearly the entire season due to shoulder surgery. However, he posted a 3.63 ERA in 151 1/3 innings for Atlanta from 2011-12, making him a potential buy-low candidate for another club.
- The Mets have non-tendered Jordany Valdespin, Rubin reports. Valdespin has been a persistent source of drama for the Mets, lashing out at manager Terry Collins after being demoted and also being slapped with a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. The soon-to-be 26-year-old is a career .219/.271/.380 hitter in 350 big league plate appearances. Valdespin's non-tender comes despite him not yet being arbitration eligible, illustrating the Mets' frustration with the second baseman/outfielder.
- The Cubs will non-tender right-hander Daniel Bard, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Bard was claimed off waivers in September and never threw a pitch for the Cubs organization. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford notes that Bard was pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League but walked nine batters while recording just one out. The Cubs could still agree to a non-roster deal with Bard, he adds. Bard's control has vanished into thin air, as the formerly dominant setup man has also walked 56 batters over his past 47 1/3 minor league frames.
- The Mets have informed shortstop Omar Quintanilla that he will be non-tendered, Quintanilla told Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. Quintanilla projected to earn $900K this offseason after batting .222/.306/.283 in a career-high 359 plate appearances last season.
- ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets that the Mets will also non-tender Scott Atchison. The right-hander projected to earn $1.3MM coming off a 4.37 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 45 1/3 innings. Atchison will turn 38 in late March.
11:22am: Parra will earn $2MM in 2014 and $3.5MM in 2015, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
11:04am: The Reds and left-hander Manny Parra have reached an agreement on a two-year, $5.5MM contract, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links). Parra is represented by agent Joe Urbon of CAA Sports.
Parra, 31, enjoyed a tremendous rebound campaign for the Reds in 2013, posting a 3.33 ERA with 11.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 43.8 percent ground-ball rate in 46 innings. Parra demonstrated a significant platoon split, however, holding left-handers to a brilliant .167/.237/.238 batting line but yielding a .310/.370/.524 line to right-handers.
His ideal role appears to be that of a left-handed specialist, though his usage will depend on new manager Bryan Price. Last season, Dusty Baker split Parra's time evenly, allowing him to face 95 right-handers and 93 left-handers. Under Price, who served as the team's pitching coach in 2013, Parra completely abandoned his slider and changeup in favor of a fastball/curveball/splitter mix that appears to have been quite effective. He also saw his average fastball velocity jump to a career-best 93.4 mph.
While Parra's platoon split is more pronounced than that of Javier Lopez, Reds GM Walt Jocketty was able to secure an arm that was similarly effective against left-handed batters for less than half the price of Lopez's three-year, $13MM contract with the Giants. Though Jocketty hasn't made any large splashes yet this offseason, this is the third two-year deal he's agreed to with a free agent. The Reds have also signed utility man Skip Schumaker and backstop Brayan Pena to two-year deals.
The Cardinals' four-year, $53MM deal with Jhonny Peralta has an interesting twist: it's frontloaded. The shortstop will earn $15.5MM in 2014, $15MM in '15, $12.5MM in '16, and $10MM in '17, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Here's tonight's look around the majors..
- Peralta's deal raises the uncomfortable issue of PED usage paying off, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Diamondbacks relief pitcher and team union representative Brad Ziegler took his dissatisfaction with the deal to Twitter, but he's far from the only player who has an issue with players linked to PEDs getting major paydays.
- Heyman looks at the market for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and wonders if the Blue Jays, Twins, or Rockies could steal him away from the Red Sox. The Rangers look like another possibility to some, but one person connected with the club says a return for Salty isn't too likely at the moment. Texas has looked at free agent catchers, but they've also suggested that Geovany Soto will be their fulltime backstop.
- The Rays' are still waiting on results of Jose Molina's physical and therefore won't have an announcement on his signing until early next week, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Molina is expected to ink a two-year, $4.5MM pact to stay with Tampa Bay.
- The opportunity to win attracted Skip Schumaker to the Reds, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Schumaker said his decision came down to the Reds and one other unspecified playoff-caliber team.
- In today's inbox, MLB.com's Corey Brock touches on the possibility of star third baseman Chase Headley being moved and other matters surrounding the Padres.
Carlos Beltran already has plenty of suitors, but it sounds like we can add another to his list. The outfielder told Noel Piñeiro of Primera Hora (Spanish link) that the Reds have reached out to Beltran’s agent, Dan Lozano. Piñeiro told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer in an e-mail that Beltran told him he expects to make a decision by mid-December.
While the American League would seem to be a better fit for the 36-year-old, he tells Piñeiro that he would prefer to play in the National League. Beltran has played mostly right field in each of the last two seasons with the Cardinals, but would likely move to left for the Reds.
Teams that have previously been linked to Beltran include the Tigers, Yankees, Rangers, Orioles, Mariners, and Red Sox. Some regard the Yanks as the favorites to land the veteran outfielder and see him as the club's No. 1 priority at this stage of the offseason. The switch-hitter posted a .296/.339/.491 slash line for the Cardinals last season and is a career .283/.359/.496 hitter.
A look at the latest on the Twins..
- The Twins have made a two-year offer to Mike Pelfrey, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, there's still a gap in salary that needs to be bridged. Pelfrey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2012 to post a 5.19 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a career-low 43.2 percent ground-ball rate in 152 2/3 innings. Pelfrey's FIP (3.99) and xFIP (4.54) both suggest that his ERA could have been lower were it not for a .337 BABIP and 67.2 percent strand rate.
- More from Heyman, who writes that the Twins have inquired on top starters like Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez as well as several others lower on the free agent list, including Phil Hughes and Scott Feldman. The club has been most heavily linked to guys like Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco, and Matt Garza to date. Minnesota starting pitchers combined for a league worst 5.26 ERA in 2013.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN previews the Winter Meetings agenda for the Twins. Minnesota has Nolasco atop their free agent wish list, but they'll move on if it's not at the right price. They also like Arroyo and a source says he's seeking a three-year deal in the $27-$30MM range.
- The Twins have told agents that they don't plan on sacrificing their second-round pick in June's amateur draft to sign a free agent, despite a public declaration stating otherwise, Wolfson writes. That would mean that Santana and Jimenez aren't in their plans. Santana's reps already have meetings set up with teams in Orlando and the Twins, as of this morning, are not on that list.
- On the trade front, the Twins are fond of Homer Bailey, according to Wolfson. Wayne Krivsky, special assistant to GM, knows Bailey well from his days with the Reds. Krivsky took over as Cincinnati's GM two years after Bailey was drafted and was in that role when Bailey made his big league debut.
- A Twins official "scoffed at" the idea of trading for Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello but was more receptive to the idea of a Jeremy Hellickson acquisition when asked by Wolfson about both each right-hander.
The Reds made a move to add to their bench, officially announcing the signing of Skip Schumaker to a two-year contract. A client of CAA Sports' Nez Balelo, Schumaker will reportedly be guaranteed $5MM over the life of the deal, and the contract includes a $2.5MM club option for a third season with a $500K buyout. Schumaker will earn $2MM in 2014 and $2.5MM in 2015.
Schumaker, who turns 34 in Februrary, slashed .263/.332/.332 in 356 plate appearances for the Dodgers in 2013. Though he offers positional flexibility -- he appeared at second base and all three outfield positions this season -- Schumaker does not play any one position particularly well. He posted negative UZR and DRS marks at all four of his positions in 2013 and has registered negative defensive value each season since 2008, according to Fangraphs.
Even if he isn't a gifted defender though, Schumaker will give new Reds manager Bryan Price a versatile piece off his bench that has slashed a respectable .279/.347/.357 against right-handed pitching over the past two seasons. A veteran of nine big league seasons between the Cardinals and Dodgers, Schumaker is a career .285/.344/.372 hitter in 3,043 plate appearances.
This is the second two-year deal issued by GM Walt Jocketty in the young offseason. Cincinnati has already agreed to a two-year deal with backstop Brayan Pena. Cheap multiyear deals for bench pieces are nothing new for Jocketty, who has guaranteed multiple years to Miguel Cairo and Jack Hannahan in recent years.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the two-year agreement (on Twitter), and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the $5MM guarantee (also on Twitter). MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reported that the contract contained an option and provided the financial breakdown.