Cleveland Indians Rumors
Several teams have now called on free agent pitcher Bronson Arroyo, but none of them have made an offer yet, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Mets may or may not have plans to meet with the veteran, depending on who you ask. The Giants could be interested as well, even after re-signing Ryan Vogelsong to a one-year deal. Here's more from around baseball..
- The Mariners are hesitant to deal their young arms and they prefer to upgrade their offense with free agent bats, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
- Despite agreements with Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, the Twins could still add one more veteran to their rotation, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May are still in the minors and Minnesota is looking to keep up with the arms of the Royals and Tigers (link).
- The Indians' outfield has gotten a little more crowded, but the club is still expected to tender a contract to Drew Stubbs, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
The Royals are very interested in Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees remain the favorites to sign him, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. "I think at this point it would be an upset if he didn’t end up there," one executive tells Sherman. The Yankees have thus far been unwilling to give Beltran a three-year deal, but they could eventually land him by giving him three years or by paying heavily for two. Regardless of the Yankees' current issues, the perception of the Yanks as a winning organization matters to Beltran, even though they won fewer games than Kansas City did last year. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Sherman writes that the Mets are no longer interested in free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, who missed last season with Tommy John surgery, because of concerns about his health. The Mets are looking for an upgrade over Ruben Tejada at shortstop.
- Furcal himself says that the Mets, Red Sox, Marlins, Pirates, Nationals, Rockies and other teams have shown interest in him, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (link in Spanish).
- After failing to find common ground on a contract extension, the Padres would listen to offers for Chase Headley, Sherman reports. The question is how he should be valued -- Headley hit .286/.376/.498 in a terrific 2012 season, then came back to earth with a .250/.347/.400 season in 2013.
- Even after landing Ricky Nolasco, the Twins will continue to strongly pursue free agents and trade possibilities, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN tweets. The Twins have been connected to any number of starting pitchers, including Bronson Arroyo, Phil Hughes and trade targets Homer Bailey and Jeremy Hellickson. They've also been tied to catchers like Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski.
- The Twins aren't the only suitors for Hughes, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Royals are also making "a strong push" for the former Yankees righty. Hughes is expected to receive a two-year deal, with the Mariners and Angels potentially being involved along with the Royals and Twins. Berardino also points out that Hughes' agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, also represents Jason Vargas, who recently signed a four-year deal with Kansas City.
- The Royals need a second baseman, and a team official recently told the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton that the Royals think Mark Ellis "has something left" (via Twitter). Ellis, 36, hit just .270/.323/.351 last season with the Dodgers, but he's a consistently-above-average defensive player.
- Carlos Santana of the Indians would like to play in the field more, but the Indians already have good options at catcher in Yan Gomes and at first base in Nick Swisher. Instead, then, Santana would like to try third base, and Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the Indians are interested in the possibility, in part because Santana is taking initiative rather than complaining. (He's working out at third at the Indians' Dominican facility.) Whether Santana can field at third base is an open question -- he hasn't played more than a handful of games at the position since 2006, when he was in the Dodgers' minor-league system. If the Indians have any confidence he can play there, though, they might be less inclined to pursue a righty-hitting third-base type this offseason. Lefty-hitting Lonnie Chisenhall, who struggled last season, currently sits atop the Indians' depth chart at third.
As we continue to work our way through what has been a slow holiday weekend, here are a few interesting notes from ESPN.com's Buster Olney:
- Starting pitching demand may not be sufficient to drive up the salaries of Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Matt Garza, argues Olney. Each member of that trio is rumored to be seeking a major, long-term deal. But as Olney observes, several factors -- including the wait for Masahiro Tanaka, possible trade availability of some major arms, and imperfect track record of all three hurlers -- could conspire to limit their market.
- One team that "seems bound" to land one of that threesome, according to Olney (via Twitter), is the Mariners.
- Ticking through each team in baseball to gauge possible interest in one of these upper-middle-class starters, Olney includes a few interesting notes on some clubs. For instance, Olney twice notes that the Athletics' Brett Anderson is available via trade and could well be dealt if Oakland brings back Bartolo Colon or another short-term starter. He has previously reported that the Royals might be interested in buying low on Anderson.
- The Mets, meanwhile, "have been looking more at second-tier and third-tier free agents." That fits the most recent rumors out of New York, though it is sure to disappoint those who expect the club to ink at least one major free agent. As I discussed in my offseason outlook for the Mets, the club has professed to have $40MM in payroll space for next year, and so far has committed less than a fifth of that by signing Chris Young.
- Likewise, according to Olney, the Rockies are putting out word that they do not have a lot to spend in free agency. Of course, the club reportedly made legitimate runs at both Jose Dariel Abreu and Brian McCann, though it could be that it was only willing to spend big on certain players.
The market for starting pitchers has actually started off at reasonable prices, argues Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com. Running the numbers on the price of a projected win for the starters who have signed to date, he says that a preliminary look shows that early-moving teams look to have achieved solid value. Here's more on the pitching market around the league:
- Even if the Dodgers are willing to spend the huge amount of cash that Masahiro Tanaka's posting and signing is expected to require, says Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com, it is far from clear how the club would sort its rotation out to accomodate him. GM Ned Colletti has said that he is "not going to close the door on any more starters" even after adding Dan Haren on a one-year deal with a vesting option. Saxon notes, however, that it would be more difficult to push aside Josh Beckett and/or Chad Billingsley than it was for the club to do last year with Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. Of course, Tanaka may be good enough that, if the price is right, that problem is one you just deal with as best you can.
- The Giants, on the other hand, seem less likely than their rivals to the south to consider the addition of another starter, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting that the club's rotation is set after re-signing Ryan Vogelsong. As Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News noted earlier today, the rotation seemed complete upon the return of Vogelsong, given GM Brian Sabean's earlier comments that he would not make the veteran compete for his slot in the spring. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, and Tim Hudson round out the club's starting five.
- Meanwhile, it could well be that San Francisco could look to add pen pieces given their decision to add veteran arms to the back of its rotation, reasons Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Sulia). It is easier and cheaper to add relief arms, he notes, and the club could look to ease the burden on its starters by following the Dodgers and Cardinals in trotting out multiple arms that can throw quality innings.
- Free agent reliever Edward Mujica of the Cardinals is drawing interest from a variety of teams, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The Angels are probably out after inking Joe Smith, Cotillo notes. But the Orioles, Indians, and Cubs have at least kicked the tires on Mujica, joining the Phillies in pursuit of the 29-year-old.
- Right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, who produced solid results last year at age 35 for the Orioles and Braves, is also in search of a multi-year deal, Cotillo reports. He has not yet seen an offer, but has received interest from the Red Sox and Rays as well as the Dodgers, Giants, O's, and Phils. Meanwhile, the Royals have seemingly stepped away from Ayala after showing initial interest.
- One other arm that could enter the market is Angels righty Jerome Williams. Soon to turn 32, Williams' agent Larry O'Brien tells Cotillo (Twitter link) that he is rooting against a tender from the Halos since "there are many teams he could effectively start for." That statement seems to imply what has long been suspected about Williams, which is that Los Angeles does not intend to use him as a starter. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes wrote in reporting Matt Swartz's $3.9MM projection for Williams, a non-tender is a very real possibility for the swingman. Of course, as MLBTR's Zach Links has explained, there are few teams with as many projected rotation holes as the Angels.
Over the next few months, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.
Both Justin Masterson (pictured) and Homer Bailey enter their third year of arbitration with relatively similar credentials this year, and both are projected to get very similar raises around $4MM. Since both players are not first-time eligible players, the rules of arbitration generally dictate that pre-platform year performances are not very importance. Rather, the current salaries on top of which they will receive raises suffice as summaries of their pre-platform year performance.
Masterson and Bailey had pretty similar pre-platform salaries too: $5.35MM for Bailey and $5.6875MM for Masterson. In 2013, Masterson went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings with 195 strikeouts, while Bailey went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA in 209 innings with 199 strikeouts. Obviously the ERA and strikeout numbers are almost identical, and the model seems to think that Masteron’s three extra wins only help him a tiny bit more than Bailey’s 16 extra innings. Playing time is extremely important in arbitration hearings, so it is not too surprising that they are still seen as similar by the model. At the same time, Masterson will definitely get some benefit from his wins. We project him to get a $4.0125MM raise as compared with Bailey’s $3.95MM raise, leaving them with $9.7MM and $9.3MM projected salaries respectively.
The comparable starting pitchers in the last few years seem to reinforce these raise approximations. In the last seven years, I looked for third-time arbitration eligible starting pitchers with ERAs in the 3.00-4.00 range, between 10-20 wins, and within 175-225 innings, and found nine guys who met those criteria. They received raises ranging from $2.5-5.9MM, which is obviously a pretty big window, but other than Zambrano’s $5.9MM raise in 2007 (which is largely viewed as an anomaly), the raises fall in the $2.5MM-$4.075MM range. Of course, the lowest raise in there was Wandy Rodriguez’s $2.5MM, but that came as part of a multi-year deal in which he was initially offered $3MM, so maybe the real range is from Kevin Correia’s $2.85MM in 2010 to Oliver Perez’s $4.075MM in 2008. In general, these seven guys are all pretty similar to Masterson and Bailey but I suspect that both inflation and slightly better performances will push them both to the high end of this spectrum.
The limitation on Bailey’s performance is definitely his win total. With just 11 wins in 2013, his team’s poor run support will cost him. A few pitchers in the aforementioned group seem to meet these criteria pretty well. One is Matt Garza, who in 2012 was coming off a 10-10 record to go with a 3.32 ERA in 198 innings. He also had 197 strikeouts, very similar to Bailey’s 199. Of course Bailey had a slightly worse ERA at 3.45, but he also had eleven extra innings pitched. Given the similarity of their numbers but with the extra win and eleven innings, it seems likely that Bailey could argue that Garza’s $3.55MM raise could be a floor for his 2014 raise.
Another possibility that Bailey could use to justify a raise closer to $4MM is the $4.3MM raise that Anibal Sanchez won in a hearing in 2012. He had even fewer wins than Bailey that year, amassing only an 8-9 record, and his 3.67 ERA was worse than Bailey’s too. He did have 202 strikeouts, but had under 200 innings (196 1/3, to be exact) which could give Bailey a leg up on him. Arbitration cases that go to hearings are often tough to use in newer hearings because obviously $4.3MM was seen by the Marlins at the time as too high and chances are a settlement would have come in below $4.3MM (the Marlins offered Sanchez a $3.2MM raise). But nonetheless, both Sanchez and Garza could help Bailey argue for the $3.95MM raise that I’m projecting for him.
This is not very different from the $4.0125MM that I have down for Masterson, even though Masterson had 14 wins. To try to find a good set of comparables for Masterson, I honed the win range to 13-15 wins, and looked for guys with ERAs in the 3.00-4.00 range who also had 175-225 innings. Perez got a $4.075MM raise from the Mets in 2008 when he won his arbitration hearing. Like Sanchez’s raise, Perez’s raise needs to be taken with a grain of salt because it was the result of a hearing, not a settlement, but the fact that Perez’s 15-10 record and 3.56 ERA looks so similar to Masterson’s 14-10 ERA with his 3.45 ERA, that it does warrant a comparison. Perez also only had 177 innings, compared with Masterson’s 193.
Another good, more recent comparable for Masterson is Jason Vargas' raise last year. Vargas got a $3.65MM raise after going 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA in 217 1/3 innings. Of course, Vargas only had 141 strikeouts which puts him well below Masterson’s 195. The extra innings and equal number of wins are a good starting point for the Indians to try to argue that Masterson shouldn’t top the $3.65MM number. Masterson would be better off trying to argue similarity to Sanchez and Perez, whose raises exceeded $4MM after winning cases, but it remains to be seen how much weight those will carry.
Overall, it’s not hard to see that both pitchers will fall reasonably close to a $4MM raise. Some of this is going to come down to how inflation is treated this year, and that is always a bit of a wild card. I suspect that if I’m off in my projections, I’m probably more like to be a few hundred thousand low for both pitchers than high, but if either one of these pitchers settles first and beats $4MM, I suspect the second player to settle to use the first as justification for a larger raise himself.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Orioles announced that they have claimed infielder Cord Phelps off waivers from the Indians, bringing their 40-man roster to 38 players. The Indians had designated the former third-round pick for assignment last week.
Phelps, who turns 27 in January, is the owner of a career .286/.367/.471 in 1,576 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. However, he's failed to live up to the expectations set by that robust batting line in the Majors, slashing just .159/.221/.248 slash line in 123 plate appearances. Primarily a second baseman, the switch-hitting Phelps also got a bit of experience in left field and at first base in 2013. He's played 40 games at shortstop in the minors as well, though he hasn't appeared at the position since 2011.
The Indians announced (on Twitter) that they have designated right-hander Tyler Cloyd for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for outfielder David Murphy, whose two-year, $12MM contract became official earlier today.
Cloyd never threw a pitch within the Indians organization. Cleveland claimed the 26-year-old off waivers from the Phillies in early October, after the minor league season had already ended. He has a solid minor league track record, as he's the owner of a 3.39 ERA to go along with 6.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 254 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level.
However, Cloyd was hit hard at the big league level in 2013, posting a 6.56 ERA in 60 1/3 innings and averaging 6.1 strikeouts and 3.7 walks per nine innings with a 39.4 percent ground-ball rate. His 86.3 mph average fastball is one of the slowest you'll see from a right-handed starter, creating plenty of room for doubt, but his FIP of 4.49 this season does leave some room for optimism.
To keep track of Cloyd's status as well as the dozen other players who have been designated for assignment in the past week, remember to check out MLBTR's DFA Tracker.
It's not as flashy as their signings of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher last offseason, but the Indians added to their outfield depth by officially signing David Murphy to a two-year contract with a third-year club option, the team announced on Monday. Murphy's contract is reportedly worth $12MM. He will earn $5.5MM in 2014, $6MM in 2015 and has a $500K buyout on a $7MM club option for the 2016 season. Murphy is represented by Moye Sports Associates, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.
Murphy, 31, hurt his free agent stock in 2013 with a career-worst .220/.282/.374 in 476 plate appearances. While Murphy seemed destined for a sizable deal after 2012, a season in which he posted an OPS of .859, he raised question marks for clubs in his follow-up act and didn't make Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agents list. The left fielder has spent the last seven years in Texas, posting a .275/.337/.441 slash line in that span.
With Bourn and Michael Brantley as virtual locks in the 2014 outfield, Murphy's addition brings Drew Stubbs' role with the club into further question. The two could form a platoon, as Murphy has a .280/.347/.469 slash line against righties in his career, and Stubbs has slashed .274/.349/.448 against lefties. That platoon would figure to pay the pair $9.3MM, however, which might be spendy for a solid but not elite tandem. The Indians could trade or non-tender Stubbs and give Murphy the bulk of at-bats in right field.
Murphy began the 2013 season as Texas' starting left fielder but fell into a slump and saw his playing time dwindle. A return to the Rangers was viewed as unlikely and it now appears that the club has their eyes on more ambitious outfield targets such as Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury, with Choo possibly being higher on their list. The Rangers could also bring back Nelson Cruz to give them pop in one of the corners.
Jamie Kelly of Shutdown Inning was the first to report that the Indians would sign Murphy (on Twitter). Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News then reported that it was a two-year deal. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes reported that Murphy would receive $12MM, and his contract contained a club option (on Twitter). MLB.com's Jordan Bastian provided the financial breakdown (on Twitter).
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
As I just noted, today's acquisition of Peter Bourjos may make the Cardinals an even greater longshot to bring back star right fielder Carlos Beltran. Here are the latest rumblings on one of the game's all-time great post-season performers, who will turn 37 early next season:
- Officials from two teams say that Beltran's representatives at MVP Sports Group have not asked for four years in early talks with prospective new employers, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. In his profile of Beltran, MLBTR's Steve Adams pegged his value at $30MM on a two-year deal.
- Many clubs are interested in Beltran, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and the Royals could be a realistic landing spot. Beltran made his name in Kansas City, and Heyman suggests that the club could have added motivation given Beltran's history with the club. Indeed, he even raises the point that a Hall of Fame push at career's end could land Beltran in Cooperstown donning a KC cap. Having given four years to Jason Vargas, Heyman wonders whether the club would be willing to go past two seasons for its old star.
- One major obstacle to that possibility could be payroll, as the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton questions whether GM Dayton Moore has already burned through the club's 2014 payroll allocation after promising Vargas $32MM. As Dutton explains, the decision to designate catcher George Kottaras for assignment could be an indication that money is tight. Kottaras seemed to be the club's best backup option, says Dutton. When he asked why he was chosen to be set loose, a "top club official responded by rubbing his thumb over the tips of his first two fingers," indicating that money was the issue. Kottaras is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn a modest $1.2MM in his second go at arbitration, and Dutton notes that Moore has pegged current payroll projections at $87MM despite previously saying that the club would not go much past its 2013 tab of $85MM.
- While Dutton tweets that the Royals are indeed interested in Beltran, he says that the slugger would need to spend some time at designated hitter for it to make sense. That, presumably in combination with his likely-sizeable salary, would mean that current DH Billy Butler would probably be put on the market in such a scenario.
- Turning back to Heyman's report, he does not include St. Louis among the likely suitors at present. The Mariners and Rangers are in the mix, says Heyman, and the Indians may be as well. Meanwhile, the Yankees and Red Sox definitely have interest but seem unwilling to go past two years.
- Yet another team that could make sense as a landing spot for Beltran is the Tigers, who Jamie Samuelsen of the Detroit Free Press says is the best target for a Detroit outfield upgrade. Certainly, a play by GM Dave Dombrowski for Beltran's services would be a boon to the outfielder's free agent prospects.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- The Yankees have outrighted infielder Corban Joseph, according to the International League transactions page. Joseph made his big-league debut in 2013, collecting seven plate appearances. He spent much of the season at Triple-A Scranton, where he hit .239/.329/.383 in 213 plate appearances.
- The Indians have signed lefty reliever Mike Zagurski to a minor league deal, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets. Zagurski pitched in the Pirates, Yankees and Athletics organizations in 2013, posting a 3.04 ERA with a ridiculous 14.0 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 53 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. He did, however, get shelled in 6 1/3 big-league innings.
- The Orioles signed infielder Sharlon Schoop and outfielder Ronald Bermudez to minor league contracts, according to a team release. Schoop last played in the minors in 2012, when he was in the Royals organization. He is the brother of Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop. Bermudez hit .261/.299/.329 in stints at Double-A and Triple-A in the Red Sox organization in 2013.
- Infielder Brandon Snyder has re-signed what appears to be a minor league deal with the Red Sox, the infielder tweeted himself the other night. Snyder collected 52 plate appearances with the Sox in 2013, hitting .180/.212/.360.
- The Rays announced yesterday that they have agreed to a minor league deal with right-hander Sam Runion. The 25-year-old Runion, a client of Dishman Sports Group, was the Royals' second-round pick in 2007. He has a career 3.41 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 at Double-A and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2013. Runion converted to a relief role full-time in 2010 and has enjoyed success since, yielding just eight homers and posting a 3.80 ERA in 170 1/3 frames.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed Yamaico Navarro to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training (Twitter link). The Wasserman Media Group client appeared in eight games for the Orioles last season and slashed .267/.354/.418 at Triple-A.
- The Nationals inked righty Daniel Stange to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter link). The 27-year-old posted a 4.52 ERA in 65 2/3 Triple-A innings with the Angels and also made it into three big league games for the Halos in 2013.
- The Dodgers announced that they've signed former No. 4 overall pick Daniel Moskos to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Now 27 years old, Moskos spent last season with the White Sox' Triple-A affiliate, pitching to a 4.97 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 15 walks in 29 innings of relief.
- The Dodgers also signed Clint Robinson to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reported earlier in the week. The 28-year-old first baseman split the 2013 campaign between the Blue Jays' Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, slashing .254/.353/.421 with 13 homers.
- The Mets announced that they have signed right-hander Miguel Socolovich to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training (Twitter link). The 27-year-old Venezuelan fired 11 1/3 one-run innings for NPB's Hiroshima Carp last season and owns a career 2.99 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 129 1/3 Triple-A innings. He has some brief Major League experience, having allowed 11 runs in 16 1/3 innings between the Cubs and Orioles in 2012.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.