David Freese Rumors

Arbitration Notes: Ogando, Moreland, Russell, Parra, Descalso

Tomorrow night (11pm CT) is the deadline for teams to tender or non-tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR has previously identified a list of non-tender candidates as well as provided projected salaries for each arbitration eligible player of the offseason (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). In addition to those resources, you can follow along and keep track of players using our 2015 Non-Tender Tracker. We’ll cover some more of the specifics on non-tendering and arbitration tomorrow (though those who are new to the concept can check out last year’s post on explaining non-tenders), and already took a look at some notes earlier today.

Here’s the latest on the upcoming decisions:

  • Righty Alexi Ogando and first baseman Mitch Moreland are expected to be tendered contracts tomorrow, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Both players have some upside that Texas is surely loath to give up on, though each brings some uncertainty with their projected $2.6MM and $2.8MM arb costs (respectively).
  • As things stand, the Braves‘ only certain tenders are slated for Mike Minor and David Carpenter, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The team is still unsure exactly how it will proceed with respect to rehabbing starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy as well as pen lefty James Russell. The southpaw, who was added at the trade deadline, projects to earn a fairly meager $2.4MM and seems a decent value at that price tag.
  • Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash indicated that the team intends to tender Gerardo Parra a contract rather than cutting him loose, according to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Parra’s hefty $6.4MM projection is quite a sum for a fourth outfielder, though Ash noted that he has received plenty of playing time as a part-time starter and frequent reserve. And, of course, a trade could still be made.
  • It seems likely that the Cardinals will non-tender utilityman Daniel Descalso, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes. Descalso carries a $1.4MM projected salary but saw a reduced role last year and the organization has added several apparent pieces that would seem to be viable replacements.

Non-Tender Notes: Wood, Beckham, Mets

Tomorrow night (11pm CT) is the deadline for teams to tender or non-tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR has previously identified a list of non-tender candidates as well as provided projected salaries for each arbitration eligible player of the offseason (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). In addition to those resources, you can follow along and keep track of players using our 2015 Non-Tender Tracker. We’ll cover some more of the specifics on non-tendering and arbitration tomorrow (though those who are new to the concept can check out last year’s post on explaining non-tenders), but for the time being, here are some news and notes from a few borderline cases around the league…

  • The Cubs are expected to tender a contract to lefty Travis Wood despite the fact that is coming off a down season, reports ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. Wood, projected to earn $5.5MM in 2015, posted a 5.03 ERA in 173 2/3 innings. His command regressed (3.9 BB/9) but he did also see an uptick in strikeouts (7.6 K/9). Rogers notes that Wood could still be traded, as the Cubs did bring back a lefty to slot into the rotation in the form of Tsuyoshi Wada. Chicago is expected to pursue multiple starters on the free agent and trade markets this winter, so if they add enough in the way of upgrades, a team may be interested in taking on Wood at a reasonable price.
  • The Angels will tender David Freese and pay him something in the range of his $6.3MM projection but are expected to non-tender Gordon Beckham, Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times writes. However, the Halos will have interest in bringing Beckham back in a utility role on a smaller deal than the $5MM he is projected to earn. Of course, Beckham will be a free agent and can field offers from other clubs, and it’s perfectly possible that in a market that’s light on infielders, another club would offer either a larger guarantee or a starting role.
  • Ruben Tejada ($1.7MM projection) is expected to be tendered a contract by the Mets, but Eric Young Jr. could be cut loose, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. The Mets feel they can replicate Young’s production at a lower rate than his projected $2.3MM salary, but replacing Tejada may cost more than his modest projection. Rubin notes that the Mets feel Kirk Nieuewnhuis can be a serviceable fifth outfielder at a fraction of Young’s price. As for a fourth outfielder, they’ll look for a righty bat like Jonny Gomes or Ryan Ludwick. Presumably, either of them could handle left field versus lefty starters, with Michael Cuddyer shifting to first base to shield Lucas Duda from lefties.

Yankees, Blue Jays Inquired On Kendrick; Angels May Hold

The Angels remain open, but not committed, to dealing second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese if they can bring back an arm, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The former is unsurprisingly drawing more interest at the moment, with the Yankees and Blue Jays among the teams that have inquired into his availability.

According to Heyman, the Halos are more likely than not to keep Kendrick. The 31-year-old is coming off of perhaps his best season as a professional. He will earn $9.5MM this year before hitting the open market.

Nevertheless, the team is still listening to proposals that would help bolster its rotation depth, which remains an area of focus. The club is comfortable considering that possibility due to the presence of Gordon Beckham, says Heyman, though he also seems to be a plausible non-tender candidate. Presumably, Grant Green could be a factor as well if the Angels create an opening up the middle.



Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese

The Angels are likely to trade either second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Kendrick will make $9.5MM in the last season of a four-year deal after hitting .293/.347/.397 in 2014. Freese, who made $5.05MM last season after arriving from the Cardinals in a trade, will likely receive a raise in his last season of arbitration eligibility before free agency. He hit .261/.321/.383 in his first season in Anaheim.

The Angels would like to add starting pitching or left-handed relief help, and dealing a relatively expensive player in Kendrick or Freese would help with their luxury tax issues. Gordon Beckham, who the Angels acquired from the White Sox in a minor deal in August, could replace either player as a starter, or the Angels could use Grant Green at second. Beckham and Green would likely be downgrades, however, particularly if the Angels were to trade Kendrick.


AL West Notes: Avery, Freese, Trout

Let's take a look in at the American League West:

  • After being acquired at the trade deadline last year for Michael Morse, outfielder Xavier Avery of the Mariners has the attention of new manager Lloyd McClendon, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns. The speedy 24-year-old is very much in contention to join Seattle's outfield mix, said McClendon, who gushed that Avery "has a couple tools that are game-changing."
  • Another recently traded player, David Freese of the Angels, is all but assured a regular spot with his new club. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times recently reported, for Halos' GM Jerry Dipoto, getting Freese was in part about taking advantage of his former club's good work. "The Cardinals are in a pretty unique position of depth, like the Braves in the '90's," he explained. "That made Freese an expendable piece for them. Any time a player is traded, it doesn't mean it's a pending disaster for the other team." Dipoto said that the club is not expecting Freese to be "a gaudy, 30-home run third baseman," explaining that the team "understand[s] what we're getting."
  • The most irreplaceable player in the game, without question, is Angels center fielder Mike Trout. In an ESPN Insider piece, Dave Cameron argues that Trout should decline to accept an extension of the type rumored (giving up three or four years of free agency with a total $140MM to $170MM guarantee). As Cameron argues, Trout has done enough already that he'll earn a huge arbitration salary even if he suffers unexpected performance decline or takes a serious injury. With his downside protected in all but the most dramatic of scenarios, and the Angels' roster profile not inspiring much future confidence, Cameron says that the rewards are worth the risk of Trout waiting to sign a new deal.

Angels Avoid Arbitration With David Freese

The Angels have avoided arbitration with third baseman David Freese on a one-year, $5.05MM deal, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). The two sides bridged one of the largest relative gaps among big-value arbitration cases: Freese filed at $6MM, while the team countered at $4.1MM.

MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had pegged Freese's arbitration value at $4.4MM, which he beat by a fairly substantial margin. The Halos picked up Freese in an offseason swap for Peter Bourjos, who avoided arbitration with the Cardinals for $1.2MM. The third bagger will reach free agency after the 2015 season.

With Freese and Kevin Jepsen settling today, the Angels have no more remaining arbitration cases. 


Arbitration Filing Numbers

MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker is the place to go to see the arbitration contracts agreed upon thus far, as well as the figures exchanged between teams and players that were not able to reach agreement before today's noon deadline to swap salary positions. Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available here.

As MLBTR has previously explained, 146 players officially filed for arbitration (after some eligible and tendered players had alread reached agreement). Of those, 40 players will exchange figures with their clubs. Of course, those players can still reach agreements before their hearings (which will take place betwee February 1st and 21st). If the case goes to a hearing, the arbitrator must choose one side's figures, rather than settling on a midpoint.

For the Braves players listed below, however, Atlanta says it will cease negotiations and take all cases to a hearing. Two other teams that have swapped figures with some players — the Nationals and Indians — also have employed variations of the "file and trial" approach with their arbitration cases.

Though a tweet from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal indicates that the Reds have joined the list of teams employing "file and trial," GM Walt Jocketty did not seem to echo that position in comments today to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. It turns out that the team has only taken that position with respect to players whose deals were valued under the $2MM level, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

We will use this post to keep tabs on the the highest-stakes arbitration situations remaining — those where the player files for at least $4.5MM:


Cardinals, Angels Swap Freese For Bourjos In Four-Player Deal

The Angels and Cardinals have officially announced a trade that will send center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals in exchange for third baseman David Freese and right-hander Fernando SalasBourjos-Peter

Bourjos (pictured) turns 27 at the end of Spring Training and is a defensive wizard in center field that owns a career .251/.306/.398 batting line. He slashed .274/.333/.377 in an injury-shortened season after being hit by a pitch on the wrist and requiring surgery. He also posted an impressive .271/.327/.438 batting line with 12 homers and 22 steals in 2011, showing off that he's capable of being a plus offensive player in a full season as well. The speedster has a career 20.2 UZR/150 rating in more than 2,600 innings in center field. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $1.1MM salary for Bourjos in 2014.

Freese, 30, had a down season at the plate in 2013, slashing .262/.340/.381 with just nine homers. He was significantly better in 2012, when he belted 20 homers and batted .293/.372/.467 in 144 games. Freese is typically regarded as a solid defender at third base, but both The Fielding Bible and Ultimate Zone Rating graded his work poorly this season. Freese began the season on the DL with a back strain, and if that pain lingered throughout the season, it could explain his decline on both sides of the game. Swartz projects Freese to earn $4.4MM in 2014.

Grichuk, 22, was just added to the Halos' 40-man roster this week to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The Angels selected Grichuk 24th overall in the 2009 draft — their first of two consecutive picks. The second pick netted superstar Mike Trout. He ranks as Anaheim' No. 4 prospect, per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, who calls Grichuk "a solid defensive outfielder with a strong arm and still has the chance to be a good run-producing corner outfielder," noting that he's overcome injury issues that plagued him early in his career. Grichuk entered the season as the Angels' No. 6 prospect, per Baseball America, and BA's JJ Cooper tweets that he'd likely have ranked second on the upcoming 2014 version of the list. He's more likely to rank 10th on the Cardinals' list, adds Cooper.

Salas, 28, was solid in the first two seasons of his career with St. Louis but has struggled a bit more in 2012-13, posting a 4.36 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 86 2/3 innings. He's been a bit unfortunate in terms of balls in play and strand rate in the past two seasons, leading FIP to peg him at 3.60 in that same span. Swartz projects a $700K salary for Salas in 2014, as he will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter.

The Angels had a clear need at third base after trading Alberto Callaspo to the A's last July, and the Cardinals were in the market for a defensive upgrade from Jon Jay, whose center field defense has graded out as a negative over the course of his career. In that sense, the two sides line up well for a trade, though Freese comes with just two years of team control compared to Bourjos' three.

All told, the Angels are dealing three years of Bourjos and one of their top prospects for two years of Freese and three years of Salas in addition to agreeing to take on roughly $4MM in additional salary in the 2014 season.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Bourjos was headed to the Cardinals (on Twitter). MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez confirmed that the Angels would receive Freese in return. Yahoo's Tim Brown reported (via Twitter) that other players were involved, and the Angels would get Salas in the deal (Twitter link). Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was the first to report Grichuk's involvement (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Angels, Cardinals Have Discussed David Freese Trade

12:12pm: Rosenthal reports that the Cardinals are prioritizing outfield depth in their trade talks, and the two sides have not discussed shortstop Erick Aybar or the Cardinals' top young pitchers. The two sides are still in the "discussion phase," according to Rosenthal (Twitter links).

The Angels do have quite a bit of outfield depth, and names like Peter Bourjos, J.B. Shuck and Kole Calhoun could all make sense for the Cardinals. Of course, Mike Trout is unavailable.

9:43am: The Angels and Cardinals have had discussions about a trade that would send David Freese to the Angels, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

The Angels have been primarily focused on acquiring pitching this offseason, but they have a need at third base as well after trading Alberto Callaspo to the A's this July. Of course, it's possible that Anaheim GM Jerry Dipoto could try to convince the Cardinals to part with some of their young arms in the deal as well, though that's just my own speculation at this point.

Freese, 30, had a down season at the plate in 2013, slashing .262/.340/.381 with just nine homers. He was significantly better in 2012, when he belted 20 homers and batted .293/.372/.467 in 144 games. Freese is typically regarded as a solid defender at third base, but both The Fielding Bible and Ultimate Zone Rating graded his work poorly this season. Freese began the season on the DL with a back strain, and if that pain lingered throughout the season, it could explain his decline on both sides of the game.


East Notes: Orioles, Yankees, Marlins

Jason Coskrey looks at the history of the posting system in an article for The Japan Times, arguing that it offers little for Japanese players in its current incarnation. "The [Japan Professional Baseball Players Association] thinks the current system is like an auction in which players are treated as if they’re products," Executive Director Toru Matsubara says. The posting system is a hot topic as of late, as a retooling of the arrangement is currently being negotiated by MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball. However, if Japanese players seek more favorable terms, they'll have to fight for it, Coskrey says.

Let's take a look around the AL and NL East:

  • Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun dismisses suggestions that the Orioles should trade J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters before they reach free agency, writing that the defense they provide up the middle has been invaluable to the team's recent run of success. Instead, baseball operations head Dan Duquette is likely to look to supplement his current club with a midlevel free agent starter such as Tim Hudson, Schmuck writes.
  • Derek Jeter could consider a more limited role for the Yankees if doing so helped the team, his former manager Joe Torre suggests in an article by Brendan Kuty of NJ.com.
  • While painful, the 2012 trade that sent Marlins star Jose Reyes and others to the Blue Jays has positioned the team well for the future, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com says, writing that players such as Jake Marisnick could emerge as franchise cornerstones.
  • The Marlins aren't considering trading righty Nathan EovaldiFrisaro writes in his Fish Pond blog, and told teams so at the recent GM meetings. Starter Jacob Turner and first baseman Logan Morrison could become trade chips, however. The team is also considering whether Cardinals third baseman David Freese is an option for their third base job, Frisaro says.