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Dallas Braden Rumors
Former Athletics starter Dallas Braden has decided to retire, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Braden has not thrown a professional pitch since 2011, but had intended to put on a showcase for teams this winter in hopes of getting a chance to work back.
Now 30, the southpaw had a stellar campaign for the A's back in 2010 as a 26-year-old. He put up a 3.50 ERA in 192 2/3 innings, capping things off by throwing a memorable perfect game. Braden was off to a nice start early in the 2011 campaign when he succumbed to a series of shoulder and rotator cuff issues. The A's allowed Braden to become a free agent before last season rather than tendering him arbitration.
Slusser reports that Braden's comeback plans were shelved when a recent MRI revealed that the damage was beyond fixing. “There is nothing left in there, it's just a shredded mess,” Braden told Slusser. “I left my arm on the mound at the Coliseum, and I'm okay with that."
The White Sox owe it to Paul Konerko to bring him back for a final season in 2014 if the long-time first baseman wishes to keep playing, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune opines. The Sox would have to release or trade Adam Dunn to make room for Konerko with Jose Dariel Abreu now aboard, and while eating Dunn's contract would be expensive, Sullivan argues that Dunn is already a sunk cost and not worth keeping if it means cutting ties with a franchise icon.
Here are some more items from around baseball tonight…
- Chris Young would like to play for the Astros but the free outfielder didn't say if he'd been contacted by the team, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets. Young, a Houston native, has drawn some level of interest from the Red Sox and Mets this winter.
- Also from McTaggart, LaTroy Hawkins said he hasn't been contacted by the Astros this offseason, though the veteran has other "irons in the fire." The Astros are looking for bullpen help and Hawkins has a connection to Houston, having pitched for the club in 2008-09. As many as seven teams, however, have already shown interest in Hawkins, including the Rockies and Mets.
- Dallas Braden tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he intends to try out for teams when he increases his stamina. After throwing a perfect game in 2010, Braden made just three starts in 2011 and hasn't pitched since due to a pair of shoulder surgeries. The southpaw elected free agency from the A's following the 2012 season.
- Brian Cashman tells reporters (including The Chicago Sun-Times Gordon Wittenmyer) that he always expected Joe Girardi to return to manage the Yankees, despite the rumors that Girardi would join the Cubs. Wittenmyer believes the Cubs' reported "back-channel communication" to try and woo Girardi "underscored an ongoing disconnect between the Cubs’ baseball and business sides of the operation."
- The qualifying offer may not be the hindrance to some free agents as it appears, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal argues. Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse were last offseason's two infamous examples of how a draft pick compensation tag could hurt a player's market, but MacPherson opines that the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA system projected Bourn and Lohse as worth the contracts they eventually signed with the Indians and Brewers, respectively.
- If the Rockies could somehow get Justin Morneau at a reasonable price, he would make an ideal platoon partner for Michael Cuddyer and Jordan Pacheco, Troy Renck of the Denver Post opines (Sulia link).
- A member of the Yankees baseball operations staff predicts Phil Hughes will sign with an NL West team, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter). The flyball-prone Hughes could be greatly helped by pitching at AT&T Park, Petco Park or Dodger Stadium, though Chase Field or Coors Field aren't good fits. The source says Hughes is a "good fit in Minnesota," and the Twins and Royals are the only teams linked to Hughes so far this offseason.
- Though Tim Hudson is 38 and coming off a nasty broken ankle, a National League talent evaluator still picked the veteran righty as the best risk amongst free agent pitchers who are at least 33 years old, SI.com's Tom Verducci reports. Bartolo Colon, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren and Ryan Vogelsong round out the top five.
Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo has been hit by an incredible nine pitches already, which, combined with a very discerning eye at the plate, has lead to an MLB-best .523 OBP. SB Nation's Rob Neyer opines that the Reds correctly assessed that the gap between Choo's offense and Drew Stubbs' offense would outweigh the defensive downgrade. While Choo won't keep this pace up, Neyer points out that Reds leadoff men combined for a .254 OBP last season, making the addition of Choo a worthwhile move.
Choo currently ranks third on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, and a career-year in terms of OBP would certainly help keep him near the top of that list. Here's more from around the league…
- MLB.com's Lyle Spencer writes that Miguel Cabrera was nearly traded to the Angels prior to the 2007 trade that sent him to the Tigers. Cabrera himself told Spencer that he thought he was being traded to Anaheim. The Angels and Marlins discussed Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders in the deal as well as young infielders Howie Kendrick and Brandon Wood. Ultimately, Cabrera said that he thinks he wound up in Detroit because the Tigers were more willing to take on Dontrelle Willis and his $7MM salary.
- Former Athletics left-hander Dallas Braden implied via Twitter that he could be entertaining a comeback attempt. Braden, now 29 years old, made just three starts in the 2011 season and hasn't pitched since thanks to a pair of shoulder surgeries. Braden famously threw a perfect game against the Rays on May 9, 2010 with his grandmother in attendance.
- The Mariners' offensive woes present the "biggest crisis of the Jack Zduriencik era," writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. While he concedes that it's a small sample, Zduriencik made several moves to bolster the lineup this offseason but the Mariners find themselves in 29th place in nearly every offensive category. The collapse of Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero — who were supposed to be the team's young core — is a major setback in Zduriencik's blueprint.
Left-hander Dallas Braden and right-hander Joey Devine elected free agency, the Athletics announced. The pitchers declined outright assignments to Triple-A after being removed from the 40-man roster and clearing outright waivers.
Both Braden and Devine projected as non-tender candidates after missing the 2012 season with injuries. Braden, 29, continued rehabbing from a shoulder operation that took place in May of 2011 before undergoing a second surgery in August to repair his left rotator cuff. He had a projected salary of $3.4MM, but wasn't worth the commitment given rules that prevent teams from cutting the salaries of arbitration eligible players by more than 20%.
Devine missed the entire season to undergo Tommy John surgery, his second such operation. The 29-year-old had a projected salary of $1.1MM.
Two years and three months ago, Dallas Braden was on top of the baseball world. He had just thrown 19th perfect game in baseball history on Mother's Day with his grandmother in the stands. The left-hander finished the season with a 3.50 ERA in 30 starts and 192 2/3 innings, further cementing his place in the Athletics' rotation.
Braden, now 29, has made just three starts since the end of that season. He allowed seven runs in 18 innings across three starts last April, and has been on the shelf with shoulder problems ever since. Braden had surgery to repair a torn capsule one year and one week after his perfect game, and was expected to be ready in time to return to the team early this season.
Instead, the shoulder continues to give Braden problems and as Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported, he will have another procedure soon. This one will be exploratory but will cost him the rest of the season nonetheless. Fellow starting pitchers like Chien-Ming Wang, Johan Santana, and Brandon Webb have had shoulder capsule surgery in recent years with mixed comeback results.
Unlike those three, Braden is not a power pitcher. Even before the surgery his fastball averaged a little less than 88 mph, the 15th lowest average fastball velocity among the 156 pitchers who threw at least 400 innings from 2007-2011. Braden was a classic finesse left-hander who relied on his fastball and changeup to keep hitters off balance, so perhaps a potential loss of velocity due to the surgeries will have minimal impact on his effectiveness going forward.
Either way, the Athletics have to decide if their 24th round pick in the 2004 draft is worth the investment post-surgery very soon. Braden will earn $3.35MM without throwing a pitch this season, and will be eligible for arbitration for the third and final time this winter. He doesn't figure to get any kind of raise – he didn't a raise from 2011-2012 – however that remains a hefty investment for low-budget A's.
Oakland has enviable rotation depth going forward with Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, and Dan Straily all in their pre-arbitration years, plus Brett Anderson potentially under contract through 2014. They could decide that sinking more money into Braden isn't a wise investment considering the potential for zero return, so a non-tender in December looks like a very real possibility for the southpaw.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
10:34pm: Slusser tweets that Braden will earn $3.35MM next season, with another $400K in "very reachable" performance bonuses.
6:27pm: The Athletics and Dallas Braden have avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract, reports MLB.com's Jane Lee (on Twitter). The team confirmed the agreement in a press release. We project his 2012 salary at $3.3MM or so.
Braden, 28, missed most of 2011 after having surgery on his shoulder, though Susan Slusser of The San Fransisco Chronicle says (on Twitter) he's expected to be ready for the start of next season, or very close to it. The left-hander allowed seven runs in 18 innings across three starts before getting hurt, one year after he pitched to a 3.50 ERA in 192 2/3 innings across 30 starts.
It's still a little early to be thinking about trades, but the Mariners are contemplating a big mid-season addition nonetheless. Here's the latest…
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times hears that the Mariners aren't in a rush to promote Dustin Ackley, though they like what they've seen from him at the plate. Baker says the Mariners don't want to risk paying Ackley for four years of arbitration when his glove isn't ready. Despite Ackley's hitting, they don't feel he's ready defensively.
- Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner hears that the Mariners could call on Ackley as soon as tomorrow. The hot-hitting prospect homered today and the Mariners aren't worried about the possibility that Ackley will qualify for super two status, according to Cameron. Ackley would have a good chance at qualifying for arbitration four times if he gets the call tomorrow and stays in the Majors.
- Dallas Braden underwent successful surgery to repair a torn capsule in his left shoulder, the A’s announced. The left-hander is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
- As Tom Verducci of SI.com explains, Angels ace Jered Weaver has become a strikeout pitcher in spite of his "pipe cleaner legs" and 90 mph fastball. Weaver could double his $7.365MM salary in 2012 thanks to those strikeout numbers, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained in detail earlier this month.
It’s no secret that the A’s have extended starting pitchers aggressively over the course of the past decade. Oakland GM Billy Beane says it’s a blueprint for success for teams with limited revenue and he has put that theory to the test. Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Brett Anderson and, now, Trevor Cahill have all signed long-term deals early on in their MLB careers.
Naturally, fans, reporters and players themselves are wondering which starter is next in line for an extension. It could be Dallas Braden, author of a perfect game and many a memorable quote. It could be Gio Gonzalez, the promising left-hander who reached the 200 inning plateau last year, posting a 3.23 ERA with 171 strikeouts. Or, for a while at least, it could be no one at all.
Technically speaking, Braden and Gonzalez (both pictured) aren’t under contract beyond 2011. The urge to extend them and solidify the rotation for the foreseeable future is understandable. In a way, the Athletics’ current rotation is a successor to the big three of Hudson, Zito and Mulder. Locking a number of starters up before free agency seems like the logical course of action for a team like the A’s, which embraces these extensions.
But in practice, Braden and Gonzalez are A’s property through at least 2013 even though they don’t have formal extensions. Braden is under control for 2012-13 (estimated $14.5MM total cost through arbitration) and Gonzalez is under control for 2012-15 (estimated $26MM total cost through arbitration).
Essentially the A’s have two club options for Braden and four club options for Gonzalez without guaranteeing either pitcher a dime beyond 2011. Beane can release or non-tender either starter at his convenience if he determines they’re no longer worth what they’d make through arbitration. As is usually the case with players who have yet to hit free agency, the team has most of the power.
There are potential advantages to signing Braden or Gonzalez to an extension. Long-term deals cap arbitration earnings, often provide the team with extremely valuable options for free agent years and allow the players to focus on performing, rather than earning.
At some point, however the risks associated with extensions outweigh those advantages. Extensions usually provide players with guaranteed money through their arbitration years, instead of rewarding them according to their performance. As a result, the deals can backfire when players get injured or perform poorly.
The A’s could emerge with more team-friendly contracts by signing Braden or Gonzalez to the right long-term deal. But they are no doubt aware that there’s no pressing need for extensions, since their rotation is already under long-term control.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
Jeremy Guthrie, Matt Garza, Chad Billingsley and John Danks all went to arbitration for the first time before last season and all settled for contracts in the $3-4MM range. The four pitchers went to arbitration again this offseason and settled for contracts within the $5.75-$6.3MM range. A year from now, they will become points of reference for the class of pitchers just behind them (those currently entering their first seasons as arbitration eligible players). Here's a list of pitchers who could be compared to the quartet above after the 2011 season:
- Mike Pelfrey, $3.925MM in 2011 - Pelfrey already has a tremendous amount of big league experience and a fourth consecutive season of 30-plus starts could push his 2012 asking price past the $6.28MM Billingsley will earn in 2011, especially considering Pelfrey's high 2011 salary. Pelfrey doesn't have particularly impressive strikeout numbers or ERAs, however, which will help the Mets keep the right-hander's salary in check.
- Dallas Braden, $3.35MM in 2011 - Garza was working from the same base salary in 2010 and he earned a $2.6MM raise after logging 204 2/3 innings of 3.91 ERA ball in the AL East with a 2.4 K/BB ratio. If Braden wants to match Garza's raise, he'll have to earn it with another big year.
- Jair Jurrjens, $3.25MM in 2011 - Jurrjens is well-positioned to ask for a salary in the $6MM range next year if he returns to his 2008-09 level of productivity.
Guthrie, Garza, Billingsley and Danks all had relatively healthy, productive seasons in 2010, which kept their 2011 salaries within a $600K range. A poor performance would have disrupted the pattern and the same applies to this year's class. They have to pitch well and stay healthy to earn raises to the $6MM range. Meanwhile, others will have the chance to prove they belong in the same discussion as Pelfrey, Jurrjens and Braden if they have big years.
- Phil Hughes, $2.7MM in 2011 - Hughes, who has just one full season as a Major League starter, is starting from a lower base salary than the others, so he'd likely need a standout season to approach $6MM in 2012.
- Brandon Morrow, $2.3MM in 2011 - Morrow doesn't have the bulk numbers his peers do, so he's at a disadvantage. But he has flashed dominant stuff and if he continues pitching the way he did from June on last year, he could justify asking for a larger-than-usual raise.
Other starters, including Edinson Volquez and Kevin Slowey, are also entering their first seasons as arbitration eligible pitchers, but raises to the $6MM range seem extremely improbable given their current salaries and career numbers. The same goes for super two players Armando Galarraga, Kyle Kendrick, Ross Ohlendorf and Luke Hochevar.
Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. The sides will then settle on a salary between the team's proposed number and the player's proposed number or go to an arbitration hearing. Arbitration eligible players are under team control, so the clubs don't risk losing them – it's a question of how much the players will earn.
Yesterday, 11 players avoided arbitration. We could see just as many agreements trickle in today and we'll keep you posted on them right here and with our Arb Tracker. The latest updates will be at the top of the post:
- The Angels have agreed to terms with Reggie Willits and Howie Kendrick, tweets Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times. Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register tweets that Kendrick will earn $3.3MM, Willits $775K (on Twitter).
- The Giants agreed to terms with Santiago Casilla on a one-year deal worth $1.3MM with incentives, according to ESPN Deportes' Enrique Rojas (on Twitter). The team also announced that they avoided arb with Jonathan Sanchez and Ramon Ramirez (on Twitter). Sanchez will earn $4.8MM with incentives tweets Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle while Ramirez will earn $1.65MM according to Janie McCauley of The Canadian Press.
- The Braves agreed to terms with Peter Moylan and Eric O'Flaherty, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman (on Twitter). Moylan gets $2MM, O'Flaherty gets $895K according to Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter).
- The Mariners agreed to terms with Brandon League, David Aardsma and Jason Vargas, the team announced. Aardsma will earn $4.5MM with plenty of incentives, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (plus Twitter link).
- The Rangers agreed to terms with C.J. Wilson and Nelson Cruz, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan (Twitter links). Cruz gets $3.65MM, and Wilson gets $7.05MM with a chance to earn another $100K according to his agent Bob Garber, via email.
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