Clint Barmes Rumors

Heyman On Cueto, Uribe, Wilson, Brewers, Niese, Pirates, Gallardo

In his latest notes column, Jon Heyman of addressed a number of interesting deadline issues, starting with Reds starter Johnny Cueto. There have been suggestions over concern among buyers with the health of the star righty, but Heyman cites one scout from a team with interest who tells him that Cueto “looks fine.” As far as interest, Heyman pegs the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros as “the most likely and logical landing spots.”

Here are some other highlights from an info-packed piece (which you’ll want to read in full for even more notes):

  • The Braves are shopping the recently-acquired Juan Uribe, says Heyman, with the asking price of a “mid-range prospect” and full unloading of the approximately $3MM left on Uribe’s deal. Atlanta has had communications with at least the Mets, per the repor.
  • While the Orioles had been looking at adding a starter, Heyman reports that the team now may instead be prioritizing bats. Though the report doesn’t specify a position, we’ve heard in the past that Baltimore had interest in adding to its corner outfield mix.
  • Heyman writes that it’ll be interesting to see if Angels lefty C.J. Wilson becomes “even more available” now that Jerry Dipoto has resigned as the general manager. Per Heyman, Wilson was close with Dipoto, and the Wilson signing (five years, $77.5MM) was the one significant free agent pickup that Dipoto was actually responsible for. Angels owner Arte Moreno was behind the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton signings, as many other reports have indicated over the years.
  • The Brewers are officially open for business and “may be considering a rather big sale,” one competing team exec tells Heyman. Interest in Jean Segura is down due to his poor play since an early 2013 breakout, but Gerardo Parra‘s big year has lots of clubs asking about him. Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Francisco Rodriguez are drawing interest, and the Brewers are open to packaging some of those players to improve the return.
  • The Jon Niese saga continues, as Heyman hears that the lefty now doesn’t seem particularly available, with one Mets person telling Heyman that Niese never really was. In other Mets news, Heyman hears that the team floated the idea of a Rafael Montero-for-Ben Zobrist swap when Montero was still healthy, but Montero, of course, has since been injured. The Mets have also talked about Uribe, but there are other names higher on their list.
  • While some have connected the Pirates to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur, the Bucs might be aiming a bit higher, looking at Marlon Byrd of the Reds and Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers — both former Pirates. Heyman lists Ben Zobrist as a target for the Bucs as well. Earlier today the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink linked Pittsburgh to Zobrist, Cliff Pennington and Clint Barmes.
  • Yovani Gallardo could hit the trade market if the Rangers end up selling short-term pieces, and he’s not interested in springing for an early extension with his hometown team. Agent Bobby Witt has apparently told the Rangers that Gallardo is looking forward to testing the free agent market.

Pirates Showing Interest In Zobrist, Barmes, Pennington

With both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer out for six to seven weeks, the suddenly injury-plagued Pirates have reached out to the Athletics, Padres and Diamondbacks to express respective interest in Ben Zobrist, Clint Barmes and Cliff Pennington, reports Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Of the names in question, Zobrist is clearly the most high-profile addition. The switch-hitting 34-year-old missed a little more than a month earlier this year after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, but he’s shown little in terms of ill effects at the plate. Since his activation from the DL on May 26, Zobrist is hitting a very solid .264/.358/.429 in 190 plate appearances.

In addition to a strong offensive track record, Zobrist is coveted by many clubs due to his defensive versatility. It should be noted that defensive metrics are down on his work in 2015, but we’re looking at a small sample of work there, and it’s certainly possible that the knee operation has had some lingering effects on his range at this year’s primary positions — second base and left field. (Zobrist has also made three errors in left, which is perhaps to be expected as he adjusts after serving far more time in right field during his Rays tenure.)

At $7.5MM in 2015, Zobrist’s contract is hardly prohibitive from a financial standpoint, but because of the sheer demand for his services and the affordable nature of that salary, an acquiring club would likely have to pay a relatively steep prospect price for a player that is a pure rental; Zobrist will hit free agency for the first time following the season.

Both Pennington and Barmes are strict rentals as well, though the price on either would be markedly lower than with Zobrist. Pennington has spent the past three seasons serving as a utility man for the D-Backs. He’s getting on base but showing little power this year, hitting .245/.322/.292. (Much of those on-base skills are likely attributable to the fact that 40 percent of his plate appearances have come in the eighth slot, in front of the pitcher.)

Pennington is known as a solid defensive player at shortstop, third base and second base, so he could provide the Pirates with some versatility even as their roster mends. He’s earning $3.275MM in 2015, and about $1.38MM of that sum remains.

Pirates executives, coaches, players and fans alike are all familiar with Barmes, who spent the 2012-14 seasons in a Pirates uniform. Known primarily as a defensive specialist at shortstop, Barmes is actually enjoying quite a strong season at the plate in his first year with the Padres after signing a one-year, $1.3MM contract this winter. In 144 plate appearances, he’s hitting .284/.324/.440 with three homers. Of course, he’s been allowed to see nearly half of his at-bats against left-handed pitching and slashed .317/.388/.500 in such situations, and he may not have that same platoon luxury in a return to Pittsburgh.

Should the Bucs elect to bring Barmes back to PNC Park, he’d likely play shortstop, with Jung Ho Kang remaining the club’s primary third baseman as both Harrison and Mercer heal. A return for Barmes would no doubt be well received by a large portion of the Pirates fan base, who greeted Barmes with a warm ovation in his return to PNC Park as a member of the Padres while the team honored him by playing his old walk-up music (video link).

Padres Sign Clint Barmes

The Padres announced today that they’ve added some middle infield depth by signing Clint Barmes to a one-year contract with a club option for the 2016 season. Barmes, a client of Meister Sports Management, reportedly receives a $1.3MM base salary with a $2MM club option that comes with a $200K buyout. All told, it’s a $1.5MM guarantee, and the option’s value can reportedly increase to as much as $4MM based on incentives.

Barmes, 35, provides a veteran option up the middle for a San Diego club that just moved on from shortstop Everth Cabrera. He saw his playing time steadily fall off over the last two years after making over 400 plate appearances for five straight seasons.

Though Barmes has always had quite a well-regarded glove — indeed, he continues to provide value there — his bat has always been below average and has fallen off in recent years. Since the start of the 2012 season, he owns a .224/.271/.314 slash. Of course, Barmes has been so good in the field that he has still played comfortably above replacement level over that stretch.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted news of the agreement. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported basic terms of the contract (on Twitter), and’s Corey Brock provided further details (Twitter link).

Pirates Sign Clint Barmes

FRIDAY: The Pirates have officially announced the signing.

THURSDAY 11:39am: Barmes and the Pirates have agreed to a one-year, $2MM deal, Olney reports (on Twitter).

11:13am: Clint Barmes has agreed to terms with the Pirates, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. ESPN's Buster Olney was the first to report that the Meister Sports Management client was nearing a return to Pittsburgh (Twitter link).

Barmes, who turns 35 in March, batted .211/.249/.309 with five homers for the Bucs in 2013. Though his offensive numbers were lackluster, he played stellar defense at shortstop, posting a +14.2 UZR/150 and +12 Defensive Runs Saved in just over 800 innings at the position.

Barmes will split time with Jordy Mercer upon returning. Though Mercer is a superior offensive player — he batted .285/.336/.435 — he doesn't have much of an offensive track record to this point in his career and isn't considered a strong defensive player.

Pirates Close To Re-Signing Clint Barmes

The Pirates are nearing a deal to bring shortstop Clint Barmes back to Pittsburgh, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter).

Barmes, who turns 35 in March, batted .211/.249/.309 with five homers for the Bucs in 2013. Though his offensive numbers were lackluster, he played stellar defense at shortstop, posting a +14.2 UZR/150 and +12 Defensive Runs Saved in just over 800 innings at the position.

This post was originally published on Dec. 12 at 11:00am.

Pirates To Try To Re-Sign Burnett, Byrd, Barmes

The Pirates will try to re-sign pitcher A.J. Burnett, outfielder Marlon Byrd and shortstop Clint Barmes, and they may extend Burnett a qualifying offer,'s Tom Singer reports. Burnett is still deciding between playing for the Pirates for one more year and retiring, but Singer suggests that the most likely route is that Burnett will accept their qualifying offer. Since Burnett has already said he wants to retire as a Pirate, the Bucs do not need to worry much about their five-day exclusive negotiating period, except in the sense that whether or not they re-sign Burnett will have a significant impact on the rest of their offseason plans.

Byrd, who arrived via an August trade with the Mets, would continue to serve as the Pirates' right fielder if he were to re-sign. If he does not, the bulk of the playing time will likely go to Jose Tabata, with prospects Andrew Lambo and Gregory Polanco behind him. After posting a .291/.336/.511 season in 2013, Byrd will likely be in line for a multiyear deal, even at age 36.

Barmes made $5.5MM in the second year of his two-year deal with the Bucs in 2013. He hit poorly in both seasons and lost his starting shortstop job to Jordy Mercer, but he still has value due to his strong defense. If the Pirates retain him, it would likely be on a cheap one-year deal to back up Mercer.

The Bucs will try to negotiate with Byrd and Barmes before the bidding opens to other teams, Singer reports. He also notes that the Pirates are unlikely to re-sign first baseman Justin Morneau, catcher John Buck, or pitchers Jeff Karstens or Kyle Farnsworth.

National League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make today, and we'll update them in this post in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.  

Updated team decisions:

Teams with automatic decisions only:

Pirates Sign Clint Barmes

The Pirates found their new shortstop, as they officially signed Clint Barmes to a two-year deal today.  The contract is worth $10.5MM, Barmes confirmed to's Brian McTaggart.'s Jenifer Langosch notes that with a $5MM salary in 2012, Barmes will be the Pirates' highest-paid player.  

Barmes, 32, hit .244/.312/.386 in 495 plate appearances for the Astros this year while playing above-average defense at shortstop.  Barmes replaces Ronny Cedeno as the Pirates' starting shortstop and reunites with former manager Clint Hurdle.  The Pirates' press release cites Barmes' UZR heavily, with GM Neal Huntington adding, "With the signing of Clint Barmes, we have added an above average defensive shortstop who will bring quality experience and reliability to the club on the playing field as well as a positive veteran presence in the clubhouse."  

Middle infielders have been surprisingly well-compensated this offseason, with Aaron Hill, Mark Ellis, and Omar Infante also receiving two-year deals despite lackluster offensive years.   

Since Barmes was a Type B free agent, the Astros will receive a supplemental draft pick for their loss.  "We'll have to explore different options to find a front-line shortstop or someone to share time with [Angel] Sanchez," Astros GM Ed Wade told McTaggart.

McTaggart says Barmes talked to the Brewers about a possible two-year deal, but they weren't willing to make an offer until Prince Fielder's situation was resolved.  Barmes said on a conference call today that he didn't receive many other concrete offers, and the Pirates' guarantee of two years was a big factor.

5,020 people entered MLBTR's free agent prediction contest earlier this month, and three contestants are batting 1.000 after four of our top 50 free agents signed.

Pirates Close To Deal With Clint Barmes

8:03pm: Heyman tweets that it will be a two-year contract worth $10.5MM. The two sides are just putting the finishing touches on the deal.

2:36pm: The deal is expected to be worth roughly $11MM over two years once completed, Jon Heyman of tweets.

1:02pm: The Pirates and Barmes are close to a deal according to Heyman (on Twitter).

12:35pm: The Pirates appear to be in the lead for Clint Barmes, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Giants and Brewers have also been involved, and the free agent shortstop is likely to get a two-year contract.

Barmes, 33 in March, hit just .244/.312/.386 with a dozen homers for the Astros last season, but his primary value comes from his defensive skills. The various advanced metrics have rated his glovework at short as well above-average in recent years. The Pirates are in the market for a new shortstop after declining Ronny Cedeno's $3MM option for next season.

Tim Dierkes looked at Barmes' free agent stock last month, saying that Omar Infante's two-year, $8MM extension with the Marlins could serve as a decent comparable. Jamey Carroll's two-year, $6.75MM deal with the Twins reinforces the comparison.

Brewers Targeting Free Agent Shortstops

The Brewers are looking for an upgrade over shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and are combing the open market for a solution.  While it remains a longshot, the team sources make it sound as though they are more likely to land Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins than re-sign Prince Fielder, tweets Danny Knobler of

Meanwhile, GM Doug Melvin is doing his due diligence by talking with Rollins' agent Dan Lozano, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter).  The club is also set to meet with the agent for Clint Barmes today and the shortstop has quite a bit of buzz around him at the Milwaukee meetings.  The Astros and Brewers are among the many teams after him and the Dodgers were also in the mix before signing Mark Ellis, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.