Dan Wheeler Rumors

Quick Hits: Padres, Snider, Wheeler

Let's take a look at some tidbits from around the majors on this Thursday evening..

  • Be wary when considering radar gun readings.  Former Padres GM (now Diamondbacks GM) Kevin Towers told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that the club would tinker with the pitch speeds from time to time.  Every time Brad Penny pitched for the Dodgers in San Diego, the club would dial down the radar gun to frustrate him.
  • The Blue Jays caught some off guard by demoting promising outfielder Travis Snider earlier today.  MLB.com's Todd Wills writes that the club sent him to Triple-A to make adjustments to his swing.
  • Red Sox newcomer Dan Wheeler is still working to carve out a niche for himself in the bullpen, writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal.  Last year with the Rays, Wheeler posted a 3.35 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.

2012 Vesting Options

Vesting options are always worth keeping track of during the season, especially since they can often have consequences that are less than desirable. Last year Magglio Ordonez ($15MM), Kerry Wood ($11MM), and Brian Fuentes ($9MM) all had big money options that did not vest, though Darren Oliver ($3.25MM) and Trever Miller ($2MM) had some smaller ones that did. 

Here is a list of 2012 vesting options to keep an eye on this summer…

  • Bobby Abreu, Angels: $9MM option vests with 433 plate appearances. Abreu hasn't come to the plate fewer than 589 times in a season since 1997, his rookie year.
  • Adam Wainwright, Cardinals: His $9MM option for 2012 and $12MM option for 2013 will lock in as long as he does not finish 2011 on the disabled list. His second place finish in the 2010 Cy Young voting was step one of the vesting process.
  • Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: $16MM option vests if he is named MVP of either the regular season or League Championship Series, or if he is traded at some point in 2011.
  • Rafael Furcal, Dodgers: $12MM option vests with 600 plate appearances. Furcal has come to the plate 600+ times just once in the last three seasons (2009) due to injuries.
  • Jon Garland, Dodgers: $8MM option vests with 190 innings pitched. Garland hasn't thrown fewer than 191 1/3 innings since becoming a full-time starter in 2002.
  • Francisco Rodriguez, Mets: $17.5MM option vests with 55 games finished and if doctors declare him healthy at the end of the season.
  • Koji Uehara, Orioles: $4MM option vests with either 55 appearances or 25 games finished. Uehara hasn't reached either milestone in his first two big league seasons, though he came close in 2010: 43 appearances and 22 games finished.
  • Arthur Rhodes, Rangers: $4MM option vests with 62 appearances and if he's not on the disabled list at the end of the season.
  • Joakim Soria, Royals: $6MM option vests with 55 appearances, which he's done in three of his four big league seasons. The chances of it coming into play are microscopic, but Soria has a $6.5MM option for 2012 that could vest with 334 1/3 innings pitched (400 IP in 2010 & 2011). That was obviously put into his contract in case the team ever moved him into the rotation.
  • Dan Wheeler, Red Sox: $3MM option vests with 65 games; increases to $3.25MM with 70 games.  Wheeler reached 64 games in 2010, but had at least 69 in each of the previous five seasons.

Mark Buehrle is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2011 season and although he doesn't have a traditional option in his contract, he gets an extra year at $15MM tacked onto his current deal if he's traded at some point this season. 

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

Odds & Ends: Rangers, Wheeler, Red Sox

Links for Thursday, exactly one year after the D'Backs signed Kelly Johnson. Former Arizona GM Josh Byrnes deserves credit for this shrewd addition. Here are today's links…

Odds & Ends: Rauch, Rays, Jenks, Rockies, Rangers

On this date in 1997, the Red Sox traded Tony Armas Jr. and Carl Pavano to the Expos for reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez. A case can be made that Pedro's 1999 and 2000 seasons were the two best pitching seasons in baseball history, in which he held batters to a .186/.231/.274 batting line with 597 strikeouts in 430.1 innings.

It's highly unlikely that we'll see a pitcher of Pedro's caliber traded anytime soon, but that Zack Greinke kid is pretty good in his own right. Here are today's links…

  • Two days ago we heard that the Rockies had interest in David Aardsma, Grant Balfour, and Todd Coffey, and now Troy Renck of The Denver post throws Jon Rauch's name into the mix.
  • Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times has some quotes from Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who called the size of free agent contracts being handed out this winter "discouraging." He also commented (briefly) on the team's 2011 payroll.
  • Bobby Jenks will take his physical on Monday, tweets Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. It was originally scheduled for today but was pushed back, and it's necessary to finalize his contract with the Red Sox.
  • Renck also has the goods (Twitter links) on two recent Rockies signings.  Ty Wigginton took less money to sign in Colorado, earning $3.5MM in 2011, $4MM in '12, and a club option for $4MM in '13 ($500k buyout).  Meanwhile, pitcher Eric Stults has an out in his $435k minor league deal that will allow him to sign with the Hiroshima Carp if he does not make the big league roster.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPN.com applauds the Rangers' efforts to bolster their starting depth.
  • Dan Wheeler is happy to be a member of Boston's improved bullpen, writes MLB.com's Ian Browne.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Seth McClung's deal with the Rangers will pay him $700K if he makes the team. There are another $700K available in bonuses tied to the number of starts he makes.
  • Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a report (via Twitter) indicating that Hideki Matsui's contract with the A's has a limited no-trade clause preventing trades to the Mariners, Orioles, Twins, Blue Jays, Indians, and Royals.
  • Mariano Rivera told Erik Boland of Newsday that he plans to give long-time teammate Andy Pettitte a call to try to convince the lefty to come back for another season.
  • Finding a left-handed bat off the bench is one of the last remaining items on the Marlins offseason agenda, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says they might already have that guy on their roster. Catcher John Baker, who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, said he would be up for the job until he's cleared to catch again.
  • Former Mets GM Omar Minaya told Ian Begley of ESPN New York that he plans to sit down with new GM Sandy Alderson after the holidays to discuss a potential new role with the team. Minaya said he has several offers on the table, including interest from the Diamondbacks.
  • Hey iPhone users, do you have the MLBTR app yet? Jason Bartlett does, and that's how he found out his trade to the Padres was in the works.

Red Sox Sign Dan Wheeler

The Red Sox have signed reliever Dan Wheeler to a one-year contract worth $3MM guaranteed. The deal includes a $3MM option (no buyout) for 2012 that can vest with 65 appearances. Another $250K can be earned with 75 appearances. Wheeler has passed his physical. He is represented by Myles Shoda of Diamond Sports Management, Inc.

Wheeler, 33, spent the last three-and-a-half seasons pitching out of the Rays bullpen, where he posted a 4.32 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 268.2 innings. If we remove intentional walks, his walk rate drops all the way down to 2.4 BB/9. Wheeler has a very pronounced platoon split, holding righties to a .217/.270/.365 batting line in his career while lefties tagged him for a .275/.341/.491. It's worth noting that he held left-handed batters to a .154/.227/.436 line in 2010.

The move is a homecoming of sorts for Wheeler, who was born in Providence and went to high school in Warwick, Rhode Island. He joins Bobby Jenks as the newest members of Boston's rebuilt bullpen. In a winter that has featured many three-year contracts for relievers, the Red Sox managed to land both Jenks and Wheeler for three contract years combined.

Although Wheeler was a Type-A free agent, the Rays did not offer him arbitration and will not receive any draft pick compensation. Tampa declined his $4MM option for 2011, instead choosing to pay him a $1MM buyout.

The agreement was originally reported by ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes (Twitter link). WEEI.com's Alex Speier and AOLFanHouse's Steve Phillips added the contract details.

Red Sox Want A One-Year Deal With Wheeler

The Red Sox have added Bobby Jenks, Matt Albers, Andrew Miller, and others to their list of bullpen options over the last few days, but Dan Wheeler is still on their wish list.  We heard yesterday that Boston was talking with the veteran right-hander, and now CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam (via Twitter) reports that the Sox "likely won't go beyond" a one-year contract offer.  Wheeler is a native of Providence, Rhode Island, so McAdam speculates that Wheeler "might prefer being home" rather than seeking a multi-year deal elsewhere.

Wheeler, 33, has been a very solid bullpen option in five of his last six seasons.  Over the last three years with Tampa Bay, he posted a 3.24 ERA and a 3.06 K/BB ratio in 203 games.  Wheeler became a Type A free agent when the Rays declined his 2011 option, but since they also didn't offer him arbitration, other teams are free to sign Wheeler without giving up a compensatory draft pick.

Relievers On Boston’s Radar

4:23pm: The Red Sox are having ongoing discussions with Dan Wheeler about a possible deal, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. One of Speier's sources is optimistic about the negotiations.

1:16pm: The Red Sox liked Matt Guerrier well enough to offer him a two-year deal, but the Dodgers offered a third guaranteed year and the right-hander has agreed to play for Los Angeles. The Red Sox will have to move on to other targets as they look to round out their 'pen. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has the details on what he says is the biggest challenge of the offseason for GM Theo Epstein.

Two former Twins, right-hander Jesse Crain and left-hander Brian Fuentes are the team’s priorities now. The Red Sox are also considering trades and would “love” to reacquire Justin Masterson, according to Cafardo. The Indians have been reluctant to part with Masterson, whom they acquired in the 2009 Victor Martinez trade.

There are a number of alternatives for Epstein to pursue, including Indians relievers Joe Smith and Rafael Perez, who “could be on Boston’s radar.” The A’s are likely willing to listen on their relievers and the Mariners would listen on David Aardsma, Cafardo writes.

Odds & Ends: Garland, Tigers, Manny, Astros

Links for Saturday, exactly six years after the Pirates traded Jason Kendall to the Athletics for Mark Redman, Arthur Rhodes, and cash…

  • The Rockies offered Jon Garland a similar deal to the one he agreed upon with the Dodgers, tweets Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
  • Tigers owner Mike Ilitch is willing to spend in order to make Detroit a winner again, writes Peter Gammons for MLB.com.
  • The Yankees have signed right-hander Brian Anderson and left-hander Andy Sisco to minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Anderson was recently cut by the Royals and is new to pitching after playing the outfield his entire career. Sisco threw 66.2 innings for the Giants Double-A affiliate this year after having Tommy John surgery in 2008.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney asked several talent evaluators for their opinion of Manny Ramirez (Insider req'd). Most see him as a designated hitter (unsurprisingly) that is good offensively but no longer elite. One compared him to a healthy Nick Johnson, meaning good average, great OBP, some power. Almost everyone Olney polled suggested an incentive-laden deal, which is what Scott Boras is seeking.
  • Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle says the Astros need to make a big move in free agency if Drayton McLane really hopes to sell the team for $800MM. He throws the names of Carl Pavano, Jorge de la Rosa, Jeff Francis, Rafael Soriano, and Dan Wheeler out there as possibilities.
  • Jonathan Albaladejo finalized a one-year contract with the Yomiuri Giants that will pay him $950K according to the AP (via ESPN New York). The Yankees released Albaladejo at his request earlier this month.

American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.

Rays Decline Options On Aybar, Wheeler

The Rays have declined their 2011 options on utilityman Willy Aybar and reliever Dan Wheeler, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. 

Aybar's option was worth $2.2MM, and he will instead receive a $275K buyout from the Rays.  As Topkin points out, Aybar is still under team control and has two more years of arbitration as a Super Two player.  In three seasons in Tampa Bay, Aybar has a .715 OPS in 1007 plate appearances.  He's filled in at first, second and third, though the vast majority of his plate appearances last year were as a DH or pinch-hitter.

Wheeler will receive a $1MM buyout of his $4MM 2011 option.  The right-hander has pitched very well over the last three seasons in Tampa Bay (203 appearances, 3.24 ERA, 3.06 K/BB ratio, 7.5 K/9) but a set-up man earning $4MM is a luxury for a team that's planning to cut payroll.  Wheeler is also a Type A free agent and thus if he turns down arbitration from the Rays and signs elsewhere, Tampa Bay will receive two high draft picks.