Colby Lewis Rumors
Passing along a few odds and ends as we wrap up Feb. 21. On this date in 1986, Rollie Fingers became a champion of mustachioed men everywhere long before Movember was an actual thing, opting to retire and preserve his trademark handlebar rather than accept a contract with the Reds, who at the time still had a no-facial-hair policy. On with the links ...
- The Rangers and Colby Lewis had "very small, limited talks" regarding a contract extension early in the offseason, the right-hander told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. "They wanted to know how I felt. Nothing came of it this offseason. If something comes up, it will come up, but I'm not too concerned about it." Lewis is a projected free agent after this season.
- Peter O'Malley, the former owner of the Dodgers, has withdrawn his bid for the franchise, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. O'Malley's group was one of 11 to advance to the second round of bidding, although O'Malley was apparently concerned that he might not be awarded the franchise even if he placed the highest bid, sources tell Shaikin.
- Tom Verducci of SI.com has a look at a handful of veteran free agents who are getting the Storage B treatment, i.e. being pushed out of the game because their services are simply no longer in demand. Among the candidates are Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Varitek.
- Manny Ramirez told ESPN's Pedro Gomez that he can be a role model if an MLB team gives him a chance. "I want to show people that Manny can change, that he can do the right thing," Ramirez said.
- Colby Lewis told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he and the Rangers have had some talks about an extension (Twitter link). Lewis is set to hit free agency after the 2012 season, when he'll earn $3.25MM.
- Johnny Damon expressed some frustration with the Rays, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. "It's an unhappy day,'' Damon said after hearing that Luke Scott had agreed to terms with Tampa Bay. "Didn't realize the DH and 1B brought the offense down [in 2011]. Thought we would've had an offer.''
- Renyel Pinto signed with the Softbank Hawks for $910K plus incentives, according to this Sponichi report relayed by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker.
- More from Newman, who passes along another Sponichi report that has the Yomiuri Giants working on a deal with outfielder John Bowker. The Phillies granted Bowker his release earlier in the week.
The Rangers exercised their club option on righty Colby Lewis, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The $3.25MM option was an easy choice over the $250K buyout, as Lewis is clearly worth keeping and he'd have earned more in arbitration.
Lewis, 32, has given the Rangers 401 1/3 innings of 4.06 ball since returning from Japan on a free agent contract. He's added another 50 innings with a 2.34 ERA in the postseason.
The Rangers and Tigers kicked off their ALCS matchup tonight, but that's not the only thing tying these two teams together. Our Transaction Tracker shows that GMs Dave Dombrowski and Jon Daniels have gotten together for four trades, most notably the Gerald Laird swap. A seven-year-old waiver claim is the more interesting transaction though; on this date in 2004, the Tigers claimed Colby Lewis off waivers from the Rangers.
Lewis, slated to start Game Three for Texas on Tuesday, was little more than a failed prospect back then. He made three starts in 2004 before requiring rotator cuff surgery, and he'd pitched to a 6.83 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9 in 176 2/3 innings for the Rangers before Detroit claimed him. The Tigers got nothing, literally zero innings, out of Lewis in 2005 (majors and minors) because of the shoulder, then he spent the majority of 2006 in Triple-A before making two late season appearances in the big leagues.
That is the extent of Lewis' career with the Tigers, just three innings across two appearances. The team granted him free agency after the season, and he soon caught on with the Nationals. The 2007 calendar year saw the right-hander spend time with the Nats, Athletics, and Royals, but he didn't do enough to stick around. Lewis then headed to Japan and pitched very well for the Hiroshima Carp in 2008 and 2009, putting himself back on the map.
Lewis' performance with the Carp earned him a two-year deal worth $5MM with the Rangers prior to last season, the team that originally drafted him in 1999. The Tigers claimed him seven years ago today hoping he'd realize his potential and help a pitching staff that had just allowed the third most runs in the league. It took a trip to Japan before Lewis figured things out, and in a few days he'll start for the team that waived him and against the team that claimed him.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
Links for Friday as the Rangers prepare for a crucial game 3 tomorrow night..
- Carlos Lee could be attractive to a team in need of a designated hitter, says MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
- Ed Price of Fanhouse details the long and strange journey taken by Colby Lewis.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes that with Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and Kevin Gregg all eligible for free agency this winter, the Blue Jays' bullpen could get a lot younger.
- It's unlikely that the Phillies would bring back Jamie Moyer on anything other than a non-guaranteed deal, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
- The Orioles have agreed to hire Rick Adair as their bullpen coach and Jim Presley as hitting coach, reports Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. Both men have agreed to two-year deals though some contractual language is still being worked out.
- Yanks GM Brian Cashman will talk to Triple-A pitching coach Scott Aldred and bullpen coach Mike Harkey about filling the Yanks' pitching coach vacancy, writes Anthony McCarron of the Daily News. However, Cashman cautions that a hire will likely be made "later rather than sooner."
On a night when Brian Matusz stifled the AL West leaders, here are some news items...
- ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine looks at how the Cubs might replace Derrek Lee, whether it be going after a big free agent or by moving Aramis Ramirez or Tyler Colvin to first base.
- The Mariners are "starting to eye" Ted Simmons as a managerial candidate, according to Fanhouse.com's Tom Krasovic. Simmons, 61, is in his second year as San Diego's bench coach and has only three years of coaching experience overall, though he has spent 19 years in various front office positions. Simmons was an eight-time All-Star during a 21-season playing career with St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta from 1968 to 1988.
- Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com predicts that Oakland is "likely" to pick up Coco Crisp's $5.75MM club option for next season.
- Royals owner David Glass adamantly denied rumors that he is thinking of selling the team, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- Gil Meche is "ninety-five percent" sure that he'll pitch out of the bullpen next season, writes MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.
- The Cardinals' contract with first-round pick Zack Cox is analyzed by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron looks at the top five "free agent signings that worked" from the past winter. The Rangers' deal with Colby Lewis tops the list.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian talks to Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos about the GM's busy first year and his future plans for the Jays.
It's clear now that the Rangers made a great free agent signing with Colby Lewis. The 31-year-old righty ranks 15th in the American League with a 3.28 ERA and sixth with 150 strikeouts. He was signed for just $5MM over two years, with a chance for $8MM over three years if the Rangers exercise their 2012 club option.
In February, Lewis told ESPN's Tim Kurkjian of his multiyear deal, "Things like that don't happen very often." Kurkjian explained the rarity of a player going to Japan, returning to MLB, and thriving. Even so, I'm still surprised Lewis didn't get a bigger contract. A $5MM commitment - teams will spend that much on a couple of draft picks despite a lower probability of success. Low-upside free agents like Miguel Tejada, Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Kendall, and Jason Marquis received more money last winter. Heck, the Rangers guaranteed $7.5MM to Rich Harden for one year. The Athletics gave Ben Sheets $10MM.
Interest was heavy - Kurkjian said 12 or 13 clubs were in on Lewis and the Twins and A's also offered two-year deals. MLB teams had two years to scout the new-and-improved Lewis in Japan. Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Kurkjian, "[Lewis] was throwing 90-to-95 with a hard cutter. Other teams saw the same thing." Lewis' numbers in Japan were ridiculously good, too. Why didn't anyone outbid the Rangers? Perhaps teams took the approach of, "better the devil you know than the devil you don't" and allocated free agent money toward players they were able to scout in MLB games.
Links for Thursday, as Omar Vizquel goes deep for the first time this year...
- Cleveland manager Manny Acta said Carlos Santana could join the Tribe before the All-Star break, reports Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. The club wanted Santana to work on his game-calling and throwing before bringing him up to the majors, but Acta says the young catching prospect is progressing defensively.
- Kendry Morales will indeed miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery, according to Mark DiGiovanna of the LA Times. There had been some hope that Morales could return in 2010.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin explained to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that developing pitchers takes years. The former Rangers GM pointed to C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis, two strong starters who were drafted about ten years ago under Melvin.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times takes an in-depth look at what GM Jack Zduriencik has done with the Mariners.
- The Astros signed nine draft picks, including fourth rounder Robert Doran, according to a team press release. Doran is a 6'6" college right-hander.
- Ben Goessling of MASN.com says Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham are players the Nationals could someday win with, not players they should look to move.
- As Pat Andriola of FanGraphs shows, the Marlins have made some fantastic low-key acquisitions in recent years.
- Josh Beckett told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he hasn’t thought about the way his recent back injury may have affected his free agent value had he not signed a four-year extension this spring.
- Former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey would like to manage the team, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Dempsey, a MASN broadcaster who happens to be Gregg Zaun's uncle, has been a candidate to manage the O's three times before.
- Canadian catcher Kellin Deglan, who agreed to a deal with the Rangers, would have liked to play for the Blue Jays, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.
- Jake Peavy told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the Padres' decision to fire former GM Kevin Towers was an "absolute joke."
- Mike Lowell told Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe that he has though about how he would fit in Anaheim. Lowell also realizes he could be in line for a minor league deal after this season and that possibility does not appeal to him.
- Speaking of Griffey, Bob Nightengale of USA Today says (via Twitter) that he will remain with the Mariners in a front office role.
- Big League Stew lists ten players who could be traded before the deadline, headlined by Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee.
- Tom Krasovic of AOL FanHouse grades the Padres' offseason pickups.
- The Red Sox almost drafted Kurt Suzuki instead of Dustin Pedroia in the second round of the 2004 draft, according to WEEI.com's Alex Speier.
- D'Backs GM Josh Byrnes did not deny that Dan Haren may be dealt this summer, according to Jim Bowden of Sirius XM Radio (Twitter link).
- ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick presents the nine most-hyped draft picks of all time.
- Ben Goessling of MASN.com imagines what a Roy Oswalt-Nationals swap might look like, just as MLBTR's Howard Megdal did. Last night we heard that Oswalt would consider a deal to Washington.
- ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports that Randy Wells switched agents "a while ago," leaving the Beverly Hills Sports Council for ACES (Twitter link).
- Lynn Henning of the Detroit News believes Oswalt and Cliff Lee would cost more than the Tigers can afford to give up.
- Scott Boras told Scott Miller of CBS Sports that Tony Gwynn was an "extraordinary" coach for Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State University.
- Boras doesn't want Bryce Harper to catch, but ESPN.com's Keith Law points out that Harper's bat is worth much more behind the plate than anywhere else.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle predicts that Pat Burrell may make his Giants debut as soon as this weekend.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan describes the journey Colby Lewis took from the majors to Japan and back.
- The Rangers need a reliable catcher more than anything else, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- The Indians had no interest in Dontrelle Willis, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- But other teams are eyeing an Indians starter. One executive told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that Jake Westbrook is "everything you look for if you want to add an arm down the stretch."
Astros scouts haven't been told to watch specific teams or players, so Roy Oswalt doesn't need to start preparing for life after Houston just yet. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark has the details on Oswalt and more rumblings from around the major leagues:
- Oswalt has told friends he'd love to play in St. Louis and it's believed that he would be interested in joining the Dodgers and Braves.
- We've heard lots about the $29MM remaining on Oswalt's deal, but the Angels have some money, according to an official Stark spoke to. The Nationals may be "the one team that would pay the whole freight on the contract."
- GM Andrew Friedman says he wasn't sure how Rafael Soriano's National League experience would translate to the American League East when the Rays dealt for him last offseason. Needless to say, the Rays have been pleased with Soriano's dominant start to the season.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Stark that other teams offered Jose Contreras "much more money" last winter.
- Braves GM Frank Wren says he's pleased with Eric Hinske's play and notes that teams probably don't pay enough attention to their benches.
- Wren says the Braves would not have interest in adding a starting pitcher. Besides their current rotation, they have the injured Jair Jurrjens and Triple A pitcher Chris Resop.
- GM Jon Daniels says the Rangers saw "a guy with major league ability and pedigree" when they scouted Colby Lewis in Japan last year.
- One scout says the Blue Jays are definitely tracking Fausto Carmona and have watched his last 12 starts.
- The Red Sox have tried trading Mike Lowell unsuccessfully, but they aren't eager to eat the $8MM-plus remaining on his salary.
- Rival clubs say the Yankees haven't decided what their trade deadline needs are, though they're showing some interest in versatile outfield bats.