Cleveland Indians Rumors
Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer reiterates that he won't negotiate an extension once the season starts, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press writes. "This can be a major distraction," Scherzer says. "I understand I have a chance to secure my future here with the team. I want that to happen. But at the same time, I’m not going to drag negotiations out into the season." Scherzer would not say whether he and his agent, Scott Boras, are currently negotiating a deal with the Tigers. Here are more notes from the AL Central.
- James Shields of the Royals is heading into his last season before what should be a hefty free-agent payday, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. "I’d definitely say he’s a $20 million (per season) guy," says one AL executive. Along with Scherzer and Homer Bailey, Shields will headline the 2014-2015 class of starting pitching. The Royals aren't ruling out extending Shields, but it will be tricky for them to retain him. "If they keep him, it’ll be a bit of a revelation over there," says the executive.
- After a quiet offseason, the Indians seem to be hoping the team can take a step forward with newcomer David Murphy and with better performances from returning players like Asdrubal Cabrera, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Hoynes also notes that the Indians have not had contact with Ubaldo Jimenez's agent since last month.
Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin has lost his arbitration case, Tom Withers of the Associated Press tweets. Tomlin had asked for $975K, but he will make $800K instead. Tomlin is represented by SSG baseball.
Tomlin, 29, appeared in just one game with the Indians in 2013 after returning from Tommy John surgery. He could compete for a job in the back of the Indians' rotation this spring. He has a career 4.92 ERA with 4.9 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 343 2/3 innings.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan was released from the hospital today after undergoing surgery to treat cancer discovered in his neck, the team announced. He'll spend the next several days at home recuperating as the Twins get their 2014 Spring Training underway. Here's more out of the AL Central...
- Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star looks at the Royals' payroll in an effort to correct critics that mocked GM Dayton Moore calling the 2014 payroll a "gamble." Those critics pointed to the additional $25MM in revenue teams are receiving from national TV revenue, but Mellinger spoke with Forbes Sports senior editor Kurt Badenhausen who explained that the $25MM number is a myth. The Royals' increase (after MLB takes its share) is more like $5-10MM, he explaines. Mellinger writes that while owner David Glass and Moore have each had their failures, the success or failure of the past seven years will ultimately be determined by the 2014 Royals' on-field results.
- Indians left-hander Nick Hagadone and GM Chris Antonetti both are relieved to have the long-standing grievance between the two sides resolved, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Antonetti said he and the rest of management feel Hagadone can be a big part of the bullpen going forward, and Hagadone said he was happy with the grievance's outcome: "In the end, I thought it was very fair. I’m happy with the outcome. I’m happy I can just concentrate on baseball."
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes that the Indians and right-hander Josh Tomlin tried to settle their pending arbitration case but were unable to do so before today's hearing. Announcement of a result can be expected in the near future. Within that piece, Antonetti says he is still hopeful of avoiding a hearing with ace Justin Masterson.
- The Tigers are planning on getting Victor Martinez some occasional time behind the plate in 2014, writes MLive.com's Chris Iott. In reference to interleague games in National League parks, manager Brad Ausmus told Iott: "We can't not have Victor play for five straight games." Martinez says that he's excited to get back into some games at catcher. Additionally, Miguel Cabrera could still work some games at third base, with Martinez handling first base Iott writes. Both will work on those positions in Spring Training.
Keep former big league shortstop and manager Jim Fregosi in your thoughts and prayers tonight. The six-time All-Star suffered multiple strokes while on a cruise and has been taken off life support in a Miami-area hospital, writes MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby. As a player, Fregosi played in parts of 18 seasons with the Angels, Rangers, Mets and Pirates, batting a collective .265/.338/.398. He went on to manage the Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays over parts of 15 seasons, taking Philadelphia to the World Series in 1993. He is currently the Senior Advisor of Player Personnel for the Braves -- a role he has filled for 13 years. Fregosi's larger than life personality has endeared him to teammates, media members and colleagues for decades. We at MLBTR are keeping Fregosi, his family and his many friends in our thoughts tonight and wishing for the best. As you do the same, here are some notes from around the league...
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines what a potential Mike Trout extension could look like, ultimately concluding that while the end result would be a shocking sum, the Angels would be wise to sign him to a nine-year, $260MM or ten-year, $300MM extension if possible. The longer the team waits, says Cameron, the closer it comes to getting into a free agent bidding war over Trout, which could push his price tag up toward $400MM.
- Freddy Garcia did not decide to sign with the Braves until the team offered him a March 25 opt-out clause, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, and that clause will create an interesting battle for the team's final two bullpen spots in Spring Training. That Garcia would rather return to his family than pitch at the Triple-A level makes him a favorite to earn a spot on the team if he pitches reasonably well, and he could even temporarily push Alex Wood to the bullpen, writes Bowman.
- "Impatient is an understatement," Mets third baseman David Wright told Tim Rohan of the New York Times in discussing his desire to be a part of a winning club. However, Wright went on to say that he believes in GM Sandy Alderson's plan. Wright says he'd like to win before he feels like he cannot compete at a high level anymore. Rohan also spoke with Alderson and was told that there are no constraints on the club's payroll, and any lack of spending right now is a philosophical choice.
- In addition to the two-year, $14MM offer from that Mariners that he accepted, Fernando Rodney had offers from the Indians, Mets and Orioles, according to MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom (on Twitter).
Here are the lastest minor transactions from around the league...
- The Indians announced yesterday that they've agreed to a minor league deal with former big leaguer Kyle Davies. The right-hander did not receive an invite to Major League Spring Training, however. Davies, still just 30 years old, spent the 2013 season pitching with the Twins' minor league system as he recovered from shoulder surgery. Davies posted a 3.41 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 across three levels, though he didn't pitch at Triple-A. He has a 5.59 ERA in 768 Major League innings between the Braves and Royals.
- The Pirates announced today that they've inked Taiwanese lefty Yao-Hsun Yang to a minor league pact with an invite to big league Spring Training. Yang has a career 3.08 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in Nippon Professional Baseball, but he's thrown just 90 2/3 innings. The 31-year-old spent last season pitching in the Japanese minor leagues, according to the Pirates' release.
- Three players are currently in DFA limbo: Jimmy Paredes and Chris Hatcher of the Marlins along with the Reds' Henry Rodriguez. You can keep an eye on their statuses using MLBTR's DFA Tracker.
The Indians have announced a four-year extension with outfielder Michael Brantley via press release. First reported on Monday, the deal will guarantee Brantley $25MM over its four years, and comes with an $11MM club option for 2018. The 26-year-old is a client of the Legacy Agency.
Brantley has established himself as a solid ballplayer over his early career, though he has yet to post a true breakout campaign. Since becoming a full-time player in 2011, Brantley has posted a cumulative .280/.334/.394 triple-slash, with 23 home runs and 42 stolen bases over 1,716 plate appearances in that three-season period. Last year, he checked in with a .284/.332/.396 line, but did post a career-best 10 home runs and 17 swipes (he was caught only four times).
Making way for Michael Bourn, Brantley switched from center to left field last season and figures to remain there for the foreseeable future. Advanced defensive metrics view Brantley as an approximately average outfielder over the last few years, whether playing up the middle or in the corner. (In 2012, at center, Brantley posted a UZR of -0.7 and DRS of -1; in left last year, he notched a -4.1 UZR but was +2 per DRS.)
Brantley had been preparing to go to an arbitration hearing in his first year of eligibility, and was set up to qualify for free agency after the 2016 season. Instead, he will now be under team control through 2018. If Cleveland exercises that final-year option, Brantley will hit the open market after his age-31 season.
Brantley's contract calls for him to receive a $3.5MM signing bonus. His annual salary breakdown is as follows: $1.5MM (2014), $5MM (2015), $6.5MM (2016), and $7.5MM (2017). The 2018 club option is for $11MM and comes with a $1MM buyout. The structure of the deal gives Brantley a big payday up front, but spreads the $3.5MM signing bonus over the life of the deal for purposes of the CBA. That also means that Brantley's 2014 salary will not set a high bar for arbitration purposes: it lands at just $2.375MM, well under the respective $3.8MM and $2.7MM filing figures.
The most obvious comparable for Brantley's deal is the five-year, $25MM extension inked by Cameron Maybin with the Padres before the 2012 season. Though that deal covered an additional guaranteed year, Maybin was also a year further from free agency. Though featuring a Brantley-esque .264/.323/.393 triple-slash, Maybin's pre-extension season was better than anything that Brantley has put together: he also swiped 40 bags and played a stellar center that left him credited with better than four wins above replacement. Though Brantley has a longer track record, he has maxed out at about three WAR and is somewhat older than was Maybin.
But Maybin's deal is now two years out of date, a hugely significant factor given the observed increase in spending in the interim. (The four-year, $20.5MM Franklin Gutierrez extension signed in 2010 is even further out of date.) Viewed thusly, the Indians seem to have done fairly well to land Brantley for a term of years and amount of money that fits comfortably in the mold of earlier extensions.
Indeed, Brantley's extension is the first of three-or-more years signed by a player with less than six years of service since the massive extension signed by Freddie Freeman (and that of Clayton Kershaw, for that matter). As I wrote recently, though Freeman's deal potentially set the stage for less solid but non-premium young players to command somewhat greater extension guarantees, prior extension models remain valid until proven otherwise. The Brantley deal confirms that, as it seems to reflect mostly measured growth in the market.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported the deal, as well as its length and guaranteed money, via Twitter, and was also first to report that the sides were close. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com was first to report the annual breakdown (on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
One year ago today, the Indians plucked Michael Bourn off of the free agent market with a four-year, $48MM deal that includes a fifth-year vesting option. The now-31-year-old center fielder had languished on the market, hampered in part by being tied to draft-pick compensation, and ended up with a deal that fell shy of expectations. But Bourn's 2013 season ultimately came up somewhat short as well: missing about 30 games due to injury, Bourn put up a .263/.316/.360 line in 575 plate appearances. He swiped 23 bags, but was caught 12 times attempting a steal, and his often-stellar defense ratings fell towards average. In the end, Bourn was worth only 2.4 rWAR and 2.0 fWAR, his weakest tallies since emerging in 2009. The Cleveland faithful will hope that a bounceback 2014 begins to turn the contract back in the club's favor. Meanwhile, for the remaining free agents that have turned down qualifying offers this time around, Bourn's situation at least shows that a sizeable contract can still be had as camps begin to open.
Here's more out of Cleveland:
- It has been a busy arbitration season for the Indians, who still have two unresolved cases even after winning a hearing against Vinnie Pestano and agreeing to an extension with Michael Brantley to avoid another. One of those -- the case with righty Josh Tomlin -- will be going to a hearing on Friday, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The sides are separated by less than $200K ($975K vs. $800K), so the stakes tell much more for the player than the team.
- The other remaining arbitration situation involves key starter Justin Masterson, who filed at $11.8MM against a team counter of $8.05MM. As Hoynes reports, Masterson says he will be open to considering long-term extension talks after his 2014 salary is arrived upon. "We'll talk, we'll listen, we'll see," said Masterson, who is set to qualify for free agency next year. "To want to be a part of [the Indians' core] is there, but there is always the temptation in the back of your head as to what comes next."
- Another possible extension candidate in Cleveland is star second baseman Jason Kipnis, who is coming off of a huge 2013 campaign and will qualify for arbitration next year. He tells MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that he would be interested in discussing an extension, indicating that previous talks had taken place and could restart once the above-noted situations are tied up. "Why would I not listen?" Kipnis said. "Yeah, I'm open to hearing what they have to say or what they have to offer. It'd be stupid not to. I know they've got some arbitration cases to finish right now. I think once everything's done with that and the spring starts flowing along, we'll start talking again."
- A re-signing of outgoing Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez will not occur unless "something extreme" takes place, reports Hoynes. Given the value that Cleveland has put on the pick it stands to gain if Jimenez signs elsewhere, as well as the pick it would sacrifice to sign fellow free agent starter Ervin Santana, the club seems unwilling at this point to ink either pitcher.
After defeating reliever Vinnie Pestano in an arbitration hearing recently, Cleveland still has three more players scheduled to face a panel. One of them -- outfielder Michael Brantley -- is reportedly close to a long-term deal. Pestano discussed his feelings upon going through the process, as MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. The reliever said he was surprised mostly by the team's use of statements he'd made to the press against him. "You're being honest and accountable and saying the right things and being there," Pestano said, "and then later you find your own words in the paper, and somebody is trying to use your words against you to drive your value down. Whether that played a big role in the decision, I don't know." Though not necessarily expressing ill-will towards the team, Pestano did indicate that the hearing would have a future impact. "I definitely think it'll affect how I see things going forward," said Pestano. "I don't really know if I can be as honest and up-front anymore. I've got three more years of arbitration left. I don't know what they'll pick to use against me next year or two years from now."
Here's more from the Indians and an American League Central competitor:
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Indians haven't been in touch with Ubaldo Jimenez or his agents at Relativity Baseball in "weeks." Cleveland is, however, said to have inquired on fellow righty Ervin Santana, who (like Jimenez) will require the sacrifice of a draft choice if he is signed by a new club.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (via Twitter) that Indians hurler Justin Masterson is willing to discuss an extension in Spring Training and may even consider talking with the team during the season, if necessary. Last we checked in, extension talks had been shelved while the sides focused on avoiding an arbitration hearing that remains scheduled for February 20th.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore says that the club's payroll will land around $90MM for the coming season, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. That tab falls beyond the club's "break-even point," says Moore, and thus constitutes a "gamble."
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Indians and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on a long-term deal, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter links). The deal could be for four years with an option, says Hoynes. Brantley is represented by the Legacy Agency.
As things stand, the sides still have to resolve a pending arbitration case ($3.8MM vs. $2.7MM) for the 26-year-old. Brantley, who slashed .284/.332/.396 last year in 611 plate appearances, is presently under team control through 2016. A four-year deal would cover one free agent year, with an option extending to another.
11:38am: MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reports (via Twitter) that there's "no way" Santana signs today. Dierkes' source says that there are three to four teams with serious interest.
10:59am: Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca hears from a source that Santana did indeed move closer to striking a deal this weekend. However, the Blue Jays "aren't the ones driving the sudden turn in his market," according to Davidi.
7:58am: The Orioles aren't close to a deal with Santana at this time, a source tells Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
MONDAY, 7:12am: Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that there's no interest in Santana from the Twins, but he hears that the Orioles, Mariners, Dodgers, Yankees and Indians have all inquired on Santana within the past few days. Of course, the Dodgers signed Paul Maholm over the weekend, so they may no longer be in the market for another starter.
SUNDAY: Free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana seems to finally be heading toward a deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Blue Jays and the Orioles have both been in touch with Santana. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, meanwhile, tweets that the Orioles will strongly pursue Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez this week.
Santana, of course, is coming off a strong 2013 season in which he posted a 3.24 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 211 innings with the Royals. His path to a new team has been blocked, however, first by the uncertainty regarding Masahiro Tanaka's destination, and now by the fact that the team that signs him will have to forfeit a draft pick. As Rosenthal points out, the Jays' No. 9 and No. 11 picks are protected, which means they would only have to forfeit their No. 49 overall pick. The Orioles would lose their top draft choice, at No. 17.
Rosenthal notes that the Orioles are unlikely to be able to sign A.J. Burnett, as reports earlier this weekend indicated. They were among the finalists for Bronson Arroyo, but Arroyo recently agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks.