Cleveland Indians Rumors
The Indians and Justin Masterson are making progress on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration, the right-hander told reporters, including MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (Twitter link). Masterson said that the two sides are "really close" to an agreement, and he's hopeful that he won't need to catch a flight to attend his arbitration hearing.
Masterson, Homer Bailey and Brandon Belt are the only remaining players whose arbitration cases have not been solved. Bailey is said to be nearing a six-year, $100MM deal with Cincinnati, but Masterson and the Indians don't sind like they'll be striking such a pact. The soon-to-be 29-year-old posted a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings with 9.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 58 percent ground-ball rate that led all qualified big league starters. He filed for an $11.8MM salary while the Indians filed at $8.05MM, as can be seen in MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker.
After a quiet offseason for the Orioles, the team pounced in mid-February, officially announcing a three-year deal for righty Suk-min Yoon yesterday but more significantly (from a financial standpoint, at least) agreeing to a four-year, $50MM contract with Ubaldo Jimenez. Baltimore surrendered the No. 17 pick in this year's draft to issue the largest contract for a pitcher in franchise history. Some early reactions and fallout in the wake of the Jimenez pact...
- Deep down, the Indians never really wanted Jimenez back in Cleveland, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. While the team admired Jimenez's work ethic and felt he was a positive presence in the clubhouse, they didn't feel his wild performance swings were worth the trouble. Hoynes points out that it's a bonus that Baltimore landed Jimenez, because their forfeiture of the No. 17 pick allows Cleveland to move from No. 22 overall to the No. 21 overall pick in the first round.
- ESPN's Keith Law writes that despite the associated risk, the contract is a win for the Orioles (ESPN Insider required and recommended). He feels the $12.5MM annual value can end up being a bargain for a pitcher that at times shows three pitches which grade as a 60 or better on the 20-80 scale. Additionally, it allows Kevin Gausman to work on the consistency of his slider in the minors, which he will need in order to thrive as a Major League starter.
- Law's colleague Buster Olney reports that the Orioles upped their offer from three to four years under the belief that the Red Sox and Blue Jays were both aggressively pursuing Jimenez. However, his sources indicate that neither club actually made an offer (Insider required). Olney points out some risks, such as Jimenez's struggles in limiting the running game, and he also opines that the O's should be more willing to lose further draft picks by pursuing Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales and perhaps even Stephen Drew.
- MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli runs down what the Jimenez signing means for other pitchers in the organization. Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez are locks (health-permitting), she writes, but Yoon, Bud Norris and out-of-options Zach Britton will battle for the fifth slot. Gausman is almost certainly ticketed for the minors, she writes. Ghiroli also reports that manager Buck Showalter said he prefers an everyday DH and that the best deals often happen in late spring, suggesting that someone such as Morales could be a fit after all.
- The Jimenez signing should help to discredit the feeling that Orioles owner Peter Angelos is not willing to spend to win, writes the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck.
- The Sun's Eduardo A. Encina writes that the Orioles' recent international signings made it slightly easier for executive vice president Dan Duquette to surrender the No. 17 pick, as he felt the club added some additional high-upside talent with those moves.
- Jimenez turned his career around by relying less on his fastball and more on his offspeed stuff -- most notably his splitter, writes Eno Sarris of Fangraphs. Jimenez entered the 2013 season having thrown his split just three percent of the time over his career but threw it 14 percent of the time in 2013 with a 17 percent swing-and-miss rate, which helped offset his diminished velocity. If that trend continues, the $12.5MM annual value can be a bargain, Sarris concludes.
- The Orioles and Jimenez have been working on this deal for a long time, but things came together quickly yesterday when Baltimore conceded and added a fourth year, writes MASNsport.com's Roch Kubatko.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that with Jimenez and Matt Garza each landing four-year, $50MM contracts, Ervin Santana's agents now have a great deal of pressure in trying to match that figure. Sherman also spoke to an executive who called Jimenez the "ultimate crapshoot," noting that Baltimore could be getting a star or a bust. That same exec wondered if Jimenez will struggle facing more patient lineups in the AL East (Twitter links).
Extension season is unquestionably upon us, with several notable deals going down in recent days. What else might be forthcoming? Last year, between February 17th and April 4th, major league clubs committed a cool $641.4MM to extend nine players over a total of 45 years.
We just took a look at the latest on Chase Headley and the Padres, who seem at a standstill as the third baseman approaches his walk year. Yesterday, we heard that the Reds and Homer Bailey could be approaching a lengthy new deal. Here are some more notes on potential extension situations around the game:
- The Red Sox have yet to initiate extension talks with Jon Lester, the lefty said today. As Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports, however, Lester remains unconcerned. The 30-year-old indicated that he was willing to talk through the season. "If it's something we do get done in Spring Training, great," said Lester. "If it's not, I think you have to take everything as it comes. If that involves going through the season still talking or getting it done early, you have to play it by ear." He also made clear that he stands by earlier statements that he hopes to reach a deal to stay in Boston, but did not promise a breezy negotiation. "I'm not going to go back on what I said," Lester explained. "I said what I said from the heart and I mean it. We'll see where it goes from there. We've still got a long way to go. It's going to be a tough process."
- Justin Masterson and the Indians are making final preparations for their arbitration hearing on Thursday, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. But Masterson -- who will become a free agent in 2014 if he does not reach a new deal -- indicated that he was still hoping to talk out of the adversarial process. Though apparently aimed at his 2014 salary, rather than long-term possibilities, Masterson's comments were interesting. "We're seeing if it's possible if we can make something happen before we leave [for the arbitration hearing]," said Masterson. "We're trying to see if we're being too stubborn or not. We're trying to be smart and reasonable. We're definitely moving a little bit here and there to see what can happen."
- After posting a breakout year just in time for his first season of arbitration eligiblity, Cubs hurler Travis Wood says that he has had little dialogue about an extension, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (subscription link). After landing a $3.9MM contract to avoid arbitration, it does not sound as if Wood is expecting further discussions before the start of the season. "We'll see what happens," said Wood. "I would love to stay here, but right now we've got to get focused on spring and get ready for the season."
MONDAY: Harang will earn a $1MM base salary if he makes the team, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Harang, who will be 36 in May, pitched 143 1/3 innings for the Mariners and Mets in 2013, posting a 5.40 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. The fly ball pitcher allowed also allowed 26 homers. The Indians currently have Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister penciled into four spots in their rotation. Carlos Carrasco is out of options and could win the fifth starter job, although Harang could join Shaun Marcum, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin as potential contenders as well.
The Braves have signed Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran and Craig Kimbrel to long-term deals in recent weeks, but don't expect them to do the same with Jason Heyward, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Heyward recently signed a two-year deal with Atlanta that did not delay his free-agency eligilibility, and now it will be difficult for the Braves to get Heyward to commit to a deal that's worth less per year than the $20MM-$22MM Freeman will get at a comparable point in his service-time clock. Here's more from the East divisions.
- Homer Bailey's negotiations with the Reds could have an impact on Justin Masterson and the Indians, the Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes writes. Hoynes broke the news that Bailey and the Reds are in discussions about a six-year deal that could be worth $100MM, and a Bailey deal could set a precedent for an extension for Masterson, who was similarly valuable in 2013 and also is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
- The Yankees spent heavily this offseason, but they now have a injury-prone, top-heavy roster and little depth, Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues. That's especially true in their infield, although Sherman notes the situation might have been better if the Yankees had acquired Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante or Logan Forsythe, all of whom they pursued this offseason (Peralta and Infante on the free-agent market, and Forsythe via trade).
- The Red Sox are making plans now that Ryan Dempster and his salary are out of the equation for 2014, writes CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam. McAdam writes that the Red Sox have known about Dempster's decision for the past two weeks and have been looking for a veteran free agent pitcher, but probably one who would start the season at Triple-A and provide depth. The Red Sox could also save Dempster's salary for a trade-deadline acquisition.
- Stephen Drew and the Mets still aren't close on a contract, Newsday's Marc Carig reports. Carig also notes that the Mets have interest in former Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, who is making his way back from Tommy John surgery. The Mets' level of interest may depend on how well the team does at the beginning of the season. Hanrahan is not expected to be ready to pitch until May.
- The Phillies still aren't interested in rebuilding, writes USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "We're committed to this core. We want to surround them with the best possible players. In time, hopefully we'll be able to transition to some of younger players," says Phillies president David Montgomery. "But now, we want to give this group every chance to win.'' GM Ruben Amaro Jr., meanwhile, repeats that he expects the Phillies to do better this season because of improved health. "Listen, if Ryan [Howard] is on the field, we are winning games," Amaro says.
Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija isn't optimistic that he'll be able to work out a contract extension with the Cubs, and is preparing for the possibility of a trade, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The two sides continue to disagree about Samardzija's worth, and it appears the sticking points are Samardzija's belief that his value will continue to increase, and his concerns about the organization's rebuilding plan. "Both sides are justified; it’s not like anyone is asking for some outlandish concept," he says. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- Despite a quiet offseason, Pirates GM Neal Huntington believes his team is well-positioned, MLB.com's Mike Bauman writes. The Pirates did not add any impact talent over the offseason, and replaced A.J. Burnett with Edinson Volquez. Nonetheless, Huntington cites owner Bob Nutting's willingness to spend on aspects of the franchise unrelated to Major-League payroll, such as drafting, Latin American bonuses, scouting and player development, as crucial to the Pirates' success. And at the big-league level, Huntington feels the Pirates' offense should improve in 2014.
- Despite ties to manager Terry Francona, new minor-league signee Aaron Harang doesn't have the inside track on the Indians' fifth-starter job, reports MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. "Nothing has changed from what we've said about Carlos [Carrasco] or Josh [Tomlin]. We're just trying to have depth," says Francona. "We were very honest with Aaron. He's going to get a chance to show what he can do."
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks the top managers in MLB. Red Sox skipper John Farrell comes in at No. 1 thanks to his communication skills, ability to delegate responsibilities well, and, of course, his 2013 World Series ring. Bob Melvin, Terry Francona, Bruce Bochy, and Joe Maddon round out the top five. More from today's column..
- There have been no talks concerning a contract extension between the Indians and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera can become a free agent at the end of the season, but it appears the Indians want to see how he rebounds from a down season. Cafardo sees the shortstop as a potential target for the Yankees next offseason.
- The Dodgers outfield surplus should work in their favor to start the year with Matt Kemp on the mend, but that doesn't mean GM Ned Colletti won't consider a move later in the season. One National League special assistant believes that Andre Ethier would work out very well with the Red Sox. “He needs someone to kick him in the butt, that’s why he would be perfect in Boston with [Dustin] Pedroia. That’s his buddy, and Pedroia would get the most out of him. He doesn’t have anyone like that in L.A.,” said the exec.
- Don't be surprised if the Yankees' efforts to land Ervin Santana intensify in the coming weeks. Even after landing Masahiro Tanaka, the Bombers could use one more solid starter to round out their starting five.
- J.J. Hardy is in the final year of his contract with the Orioles and they would like nothing more than to keep him. Baltimore will have to pony up some serious cash, however, as he could demand a deal of at least five years, possibly in the $15-17MM range.
Angels owner Arte Moreno spoke with Tustin, Calif., officials last week about the possibility of building a new stadium, a team spokesman confirmed today (via Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times). The club is attempting to work out a deal for a new Angel Stadium lease with the city of Anaheim, but talks are "at a stalemate," Moreno comments. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has hesitated to accept a proposed deal in which the Angels would spend $150MM to renovate the ballpark but receive a 66-year, $1-per-year lease to develop a 155-acre space in the parking lot, according to DiGiovanna. Marie Garvey, a consultant employed by the Angels, said the club's "preference is to remain in Orange County." Here's the latest out of the AL West:
- Nolan Ryan's new position with the Astros could lead the club to switch its Triple-A team, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. While the Round Rock Express is currently a Rangers affiliate, Ryan is a co-owner of the team. The Astros' deal with their current affiliate will expire after the 2014 season.
- Athletics reliever Ryan Cook is on track to be ready for Opening Day after being shut down for several weeks with shoulder inflammation, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. Cook appeared in 71 games for the A's in 2013, posting an ERA of 2.54.
- Fernando Rodney says the Orioles, Mets and Indians all expressed interest before he agreed to terms with the Mariners, according to Jose M. Romero of The Associated Press. The signing reunites Rodney with manager Lloyd McClendon, who served as bullpen coach in Detroit during Rodney's tenure there.
The Cubs intend to stock their minor league system with pitching in the upcoming draft, though President Theo Epstein indicated this week that the club may not target an arm with its first-round pick, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. If the Cubs opt against taking a pitcher with the fourth overall selection, North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner is one possibility, according to Gonzales. Here's more from baseball's Central divisions:
- Donovan Hand tells Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that he was surprised to learn that he had lost his 40-man roster spot after the Brewers re-upped with Francisco Rodriguez. The swingman says he hoped his 2013 campaign, which saw him post a a 3.69 ERA in 31 games, would net him a spot on the 2014 Opening Day roster. "It's part of the business here," he acknwoledged, adding that "I love this organization."
- Terry Francona says the Indians haven't worked out any deals with any of the 24 nonroster invites the club has in camp. "In other words, they haven’t been guaranteed big-league jobs if they come to camp on a minor-league deal to save the Tribe some money," Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer clarifies. "We’ve got guys like Jeff Francoeur here and his reputation is flawless in the game," Francona commented. "That’s the last thing I want to do is lie to somebody or get them here under false pretenses."
- The White Sox are unlikely to bring on any free agents that require draft pick compensation, Scott Merkin of MLB.com reports. "I will say that we are certainly looking forward to having the size of the draft pool we have right now," GM Rick Hahn said. "That is part of what we are trying to do, one of the silver linings of an extremely disappointing season."
Ervin Santana's list of suitors includes not only the Blue Jays, Orioles and Mariners (all of whom have been connected to Santana in the past week), but also the Indians, Rockies, Royals and other teams, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Heyman cautions that it's possible that some teams may merely be trying to get Santana on a cheap deal, however.
The Royals would like Santana to return, Heyman writes. The Indians may also be a possibility, although they might be more likely to re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez (which itself seems unlikely). The Reds and Phillies could also be possibilities, although those seem more speculative.
The Blue Jays and Mariners would appear to have an edge in pursuit of Santana, since both teams could be competitive, and neither team would lose a first-round draft pick if they signed him. Perhaps the takeaway here, however, is that, with spring training camps opening and with Santana as one of five qualifying-offer players still on the market, there is plenty of uncertainty, and the team that signs him might not end up being one of the obvious contenders.