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David Ortiz Rumors
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz doubled in his 425th plate appearance of the season today, triggering his 2016 option in the process, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The option is for an $11MM base salary and increases by $1MM for 475, 500, 525, 575, and 600 plate appearances. Ortiz is on pace to finish with about 625 plate appearances which would trigger the maximum $16MM payout.
Ortiz, 39, is in the midst of an up-and-down season. He’s batting .241/.333/.472 on the year, but his numbers have markedly improved since some mid-season adjustments in late May. After a brief benching on May 28 and 29, Ortiz has hit .261/.356/.546 in 239 plate appearances with 17 of his 23 home runs.
Ortiz has rarely played in the field throughout his career. The Red Sox designated hitter hasn’t started 10 games at a non-DH position since 2006. He does draw a handful of starts per season at first base thanks to Interleague games. He is a veteran of 19 seasons – six with the Twins and 13 with Boston. The Mariners originally signed him as an amateur free agent back in 1992.
Several notable players could see their 2016 statuses change depending on whether or not they unlock vesting options in their current contracts. As we enter the All-Star break, let’s check in on the progress each of these players are making towards those getting those options to vest. All stats are current heading into today’s action…
- Chase Utley: The veteran second baseman has a $15MM vesting option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he makes 500 plate appearances. (If he doesn’t, it becomes a team option worth between $5MM-$11MM depending on how much time Utley spends on the DL, with a $2MM buyout.) Utley, of course, is on the DL right now recovering from an ankle injury and will be out until late July or early August. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has openly stated that Cesar Hernandez has earned the everyday second base job, leaving Utley’s playing time in question for the remainder of the season. Utley is suffering through by far the worst season of his 13-year career with only a .179/.257/.275 slash line and four homers through his 249 plate appearances. If Utley isn’t back until early August, he’d be hard-pressed to reach 500 PA even in the increasingly unlikely event that he plays every day.
- Jonathan Papelbon: This Phillie‘s march towards his vesting option is going much more smoothly. His $13MM option for 2016 vests if he either finishes 55 games this year, or finishes 100 games combined between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Papelbon finished 52 games last year and has 29 finishes this season, so collecting those last 19 finishes over roughly two and a half months shouldn’t be difficult for the closer if he stays healthy. There’s a chance Papelbon could ask for his option to be guaranteed to facilitate a trade, yet he sounds so eager to get out of Philadelphia and pitch for a contender that he may not bother and instead bet on himself to finish those 19 games.
- David Ortiz: Big Papi has 340 plate appearances, making him a virtual lock to reach the 425 PA he’ll need (plus passing an offseason physical) for his 2016 option to vest. Ortiz will earn at least $11MM in 2016, plus more depending on how many PA past the 425-mark he ends up recording this season.
- Joaquin Benoit: With only seven games finished, Benoit has no shot at the 55 games finished he’s need to turn the Padres‘ $8MM club option into a guarantee for 2016.
- Marlon Byrd: If Byrd has 600 PA this season, or at least 550 PA this season and 1100 PA total between 2014-15, the $8MM club option on his 2016 services will become guaranteed. A DL stint limited Byrd to 262 PA thus far, so it’ll be difficult for Byrd to reach the 550 PA mark unless he stays healthy and the Reds play him virtually every day.
- Santiago Casilla: The Giants righty signed a three-year, $15MM deal in the 2012-13 offseason that contained a vesting option. MLBTR has learned that Casilla’s 2016 option will vest at $6.5MM with 55 games finished during the 2015 season. Casilla’s option could have vested at $7.5MM with 100 games finished between the 2014-15 seasons, including 55 in 2015. The option could also have vested at $8.5MM with 150 games finished from 2013-15, including 55 finished in 2015.
- Nori Aoki: The outfielder was one of the league leaders in plate appearances when he fractured his right fibula, so he already has 291 of the 550 PA he needs to turn the Giants‘ $5.5MM option for 2016 into a mutual option. If Aoki returns around July 24 (as Bruce Bochy estimates) and resumes his everyday spot atop San Francisco’s lineup, he stands a good chance of reaching the vesting point.
- Jonny Gomes: If Gomes receives 325 PA, his $3MM option for 2016 will become guaranteed. He’s just over halfway there with 166 plate appearances, so this one may come right down to the wire.
We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest, as the Phillies southpaw hasn’t pitched all season and is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery. Brandon League also hasn’t pitched this season and has been released by the Dodgers, so he won’t reach the games-finished total required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.
David Ortiz has ten-and-five rights and says there’s “no chance” he’d approve a deal to another club, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. There hasn’t been any credible suggestion that Boston would look to move one of team’s best-known players, of course, but it sounds as if that has no chance of becoming a realistic possibility. “This is the team I’ll be with the rest off my career,” said Ortiz.
Here’s more on the Red Sox, who entered play today at ten games under .500:
- Starting pitching prospect Henry Owens has struggled mightily this year at Triple-A, as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes. His walks have skyrocketed even as his strikeout numbers have lagged. Of course, the big southpaw is still just 22, and Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper says there’s still plenty of reason to believe that Owens can be a quality big league starter. That may well be true, but Boston probably hoped Owens would be ready to step in this year or next, and he has some work to do to get back on track.
- As the Red Sox front office gets ready to evaluate the summer trade market, the team could well face tough questions about whether contention is reasonably possible this season. As Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes, GM Ben Cherington did not directly answer the question whether the club could look to the future in structuring its moves. “Get better and be the best team we can be,” he said when asked whether the club would focus on current upgrades. “Not putting a date on it but just be the best team we can be. That’s what we would be geared toward. We haven’t considered anything other than that at this point.”
- Cherington said that he takes responsibility for the team’s sluggish performance to date, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. One key issue, of course, has been the poor overall work of major signings Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. “Look, we’ve had plenty of examples of guys who, 5 or 10 percent of the way through their contracts, there was an adjustment period and they didn’t take off quite yet and then in time it does,” Cherington said. “I’m not going to make any judgments on any specific decision or player based on that short amount of time. But I will certainly make judgments on myself for the overall performance and the team’s performance. That’s on me. If there’s any single person I’m focused on, it’s more my own decisions in total. If you want to talk about the total performance of the team, it’s got to be about me more than any individual out there.”
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues that Boston needs to do whatever it can — which would, surely, include eating quite a bit of money — to move both Ramirez and Sandoval. That seems a bit hasty, in spite of the obvious problems that have arisen, not least of which because the club would be selling quite low on both players. As John Tomase of WEEI.com writes, many of the team’s big contracts would be quite difficult to move without keeping a big piece of the salary obligations and/or including quality young talent to rid itself of those contracts. All said, from my view, the only course of action at this point is to wait and hope for better — though Cherington & Co. have shown plenty of willingness to jump on opportunities to get out from under bad contracts.
- Of course, the focus early on was on the team’s pitching, and while there have been some signs of improvement, all is not quite well on that front either. Justin Masterson has, of course, struggled after signing a one-year deal that he and the team hoped would coincide with a turnaround. Masterson is coming to the end of a rehab stint, and the team has given him the choice whether to accept a move to the bullpen or take another rehab start to allow more time for evaluation, Mastrodonato reports. That might not be a permanent move, skipper John Farrell emphasized. “If it were in the next 10 days and he was in the bullpen we feel like he’s built up enough pitches that if he didn’t start for five, six days, he could be inserted into the rotation if needed,” Farrell said. “Those are all things being discussed and factored.”
- In a longer-term matter, the Red Sox are increasingly considering whether it makes sense to shift good arms into bullpen roles earlier in their careers, Mastrodonato reports. “In the lower levels obviously we’re trying to get guys as many innings as possible and starting is the easiest way to do that, but there’s an exception,” explained Cherington. “And we’ve been a little more proactive recently at the upper levels of trying to identify guys we think might perform better in that role, move them into that role a tick quicker.” The Boston GM did make clear that starting pitching was the priority, but said that the organization wants to be realistic about how it can get assets onto its major league roster. Then, there are broader market considerations. “Part of it is you’re trying to get players ready for the big leagues,” said Cherington, “but part of it is an acknowledgement of the market. Free agency is treating non-closing major league relievers better than ever.”
Red Sox owner John Henry had a number of interesting comments yesterday, as he addressed his ballclub’s struggles. He noted, first of all, that GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell are not at risk of losing their jobs, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
Here’s more from the Boston owner and other notes from the team:
- The Red Sox seem as an organization to have identified some problems in their recent moves, but it’s not yet clear that they have a new, positive vision, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald suggests in his piece on Henry. Addressing last year’s increasingly questionable series of transactions (running from the trade deadline through the winter), Henry acknowledged that it is not to soon to wonder whether the right calls had been made. “At this point, you can question that, and you should, we should question that,” Henry said. “They’re going to have to prove it on the field that we made the right decisions, and they’ll prove us right or they’ll prove us wrong.”
- Looking further into Henry’s comments, Lauber’s colleague John Tomase writes that the Red Sox seem to be late in responding to some significant developments league-wide — particularly, the expanding strike zone and increasing availability of power relief arms. “The way you win games in 2003 is different from the way you win games in 2015,” Henry said. “And we have to make those adjustments as an organization. … The strike zone is larger than it used to be, so you can’t be as patient as you used to. The game of baseball has changed a lot. The standings reflect that.” The trouble, says Tomase, is that adapting will require a fairly drastic shift in the approach of numerous key hitters — along with longer-timeline changes in organizational thinking.
- DH David Ortiz says he still does not have set plans on when he’d like to retire, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports. Of course, that question has been asked with somewhat greater urgency given that the seemingly-ageless (but actually 39-year-old) slugger is off to a rough .224/.308/.379 start to the year. Ortiz dismissed those concerns with typical wit and wisdom. “A lot of people looked at me like that [six] years ago, and here I am still,” he said. “I don’t have no timetable for [retirement]. I don’t think anybody has it, either. If it happens, who cares, man, I’m just another player that comes in and comes out. Everybody’s time is up at some point. I don’t think that’s my problem, though. I’ll keep on trying like I normally do.”
Several notable players could see their 2016 statuses change depending on whether or not they unlock vesting options in their current contracts. With the opening month of the 2015 season almost in the books, let’s check in on the progress each of these players are making towards those getting those options to vest…
- Chase Utley: The veteran second baseman has a $15MM vesting option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he makes 500 plate appearances. (If he doesn’t, it becomes a team option worth between $5MM-$11MM depending on how much time Utley spends on the DL, with a $2MM buyout.) Utley has received 81 PA while playing in 21 of the Phillies’ first 22 games, so he is well on the way to having his option vest despite a very rough start — only a .398 OPS and two homers this season, thanks to an incredibly low .102 BABIP. There is little chance the Phils would let Utley walk for nothing this winter, especially when they could obtain something for him in a trade this summer if Utley agrees to waive his no-trade clause.
- Jonathan Papelbon: The Phillies closer’s 2016 vesting option is one of the reasons why he hasn’t yet been traded, as other teams have been wary about acquiring a reliever with such a potentially large price tag. Papelbon’s $13MM vests if he finishes 55 games this season, or posts a combined 100 games finished between 2014-15. The stopper finished 52 games last year and has seven finishes thus far in 2015, putting him on pace for that guaranteed salary next year.
- David Ortiz: If Ortiz makes at least 425 PA and passes a physical after the season, Boston’s $10MM team option on his services for 2016 will become guaranteed at $11MM (or more, depending on how many plate appearances Ortiz makes). Ortiz has only had less than 425 PA in two of the last 14 seasons, so barring any injury setbacks for Big Papi, this one seems like a safe bet to vest.
- Joaquin Benoit: The Padres hold an $8MM team option on Benoit for 2016, but the righty can turn that into a guaranteed option if he finishes at least 55 games this season. Benoit’s chances are pretty remote, as he was relegated to setup man duties after San Diego acquired Craig Kimbrel.
- Marlon Byrd: His original two-year, $16MM deal with the Phillies included an $8MM club option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he reaches 600 PA this season, or a total of 1100 PA over 2014-15 with at least 550 PA this season. Byrd received 637 PA last season and he has 74 PA over 20 games with the Reds in 2015. He should continue to get regular playing time for Cincinnati though Byrd is off to a slow start — a .441 OPS with no walks and 24 strikeouts.
- Santiago Casilla: The Giants righty signed a three-year, $15MM deal in the 2012-13 offseason that contained a vesting option, though little is known about the option’s value or specifics.
- Nori Aoki: The Giants’ $5.5MM club option on Aoki for 2016 will become a mutual option if Aoki reaches 550 PA. The outfielder is hitting well and his 102 PA currently leads the league, so he’s well ahead of the pace to vest his option.
- Jonny Gomes: The Braves outfielder can guaranteed another year on his contract (at a $3MM salary) if he makes 325 PA, and he can unlock higher salaries at the 425 PA and 500 PA plateaus. Gomes has thus far received 47 PA over 15 games, putting him in decent shape for at least the first level of his vesting option.
We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest. The Phillies southpaw is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery and is currently on the 60-day DL. Dodgers reliever Brandon League is also recovering from a right shoulder injury and thus stands virtually no chance of reaching the games-finished totals required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.
Full Story | 0 Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Boston Red Sox | Brandon League | Chase Utley | Cincinnati Reds | David Ortiz | Joaquin Benoit | Jonathan Papelbon | Jonny Gomes | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Norichika Aoki | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Santiago Casilla
The Red Sox are scouting Royals ace James Shields today, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets, noting that in September, teams typically keep eyes on impending free agents in whom they have interest. The Red Sox have spent much of the season pursuing hitting, signing Rusney Castillo and acquiring Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, and they’re expected to address their rotation this offseason. Shields is one possible top-tier option, with a return of Jon Lester being another. Previous rumors have connected the Red Sox to Shields. Here are more notes on the Red Sox.
- Prospect Eduardo Rodriguez has been so dominant since being acquired for Andrew Miller in July that there might be a chance he could be the Red Sox’ next ace, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier writes. “He has stuff that can possibly dominate a lineup a few times through,” says Triple-A Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles. “Plus arm speed, feel for three pitches. His velocity and the life out of his hand with his fastball, it’s explosive. He’s got swing-and-miss capability. … He looks like he’s one of our best guys.” Speier notes that getting a prospect of Rodriguez’s quality for a rental of a reliever is very rare. After arriving from the Orioles, Rodriguez was terrific in six starts for Double-A Portland before moving up to pitch for Pawtucket in the playoffs.
- One problem with projecting the Red Sox’ future is figuring out how long David Ortiz will continue to hit, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. At age 38, Ortiz has hit .264/.357/.517, with a number of high-impact home runs. As a big slugger in his late 30s who’s still relatively healthy and consistently productive, Ortiz is already a somewhat unusual player, and it’s unclear how long the Red Sox will be able to count on him.
Rusney Castillo will make his highly anticipated debut with the Red Sox tonight, and WEEI.com’s Alex Speier breaks down which Red Sox players will be impacted by his arrival. As Speier points out, Castillo batted .293/.370/.463 in his 11 minor league games prior to his summoning to the Majors. He will split time with Jackie Bradley in center field, but if Brock Holt returns from a concussion, Will Middlebrooks could lose some playing time as well.
Here’s more on the Red Sox…
- The one-year, $16MM extension (which comes with a pair of club options) that the Red Sox issued to David Ortiz has proven to be a good move, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Big Papi himself said as much to Bradford, noting that critics and doubters have gone eerily silent following a strong season: “It’s all about having the chance by this time [of the season] to say, ‘See, I told you it was wrong to sign him.’ That’s what it’s all about, so that’s why I don’t pay any attention to that,” said Ortiz. Papi would’ve joined a thin list of free agent hitters, and multiple execs tell Bradford that at least two years and $40MM wouldn’t have been an outlandish ask on the free agent market. Ortiz doesn’t seem to have any regret that he signed the deal, though he did note that “it would have cost [the Red Sox] more” to sign him had they waited until free agency. Ortiz has batted .263/.357/.508 with 32 homers this season.
- David Ross would like to return to Boston, he tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, but he knows that might not be in the cards. “I feel like if they really want me, they might’ve already come to me,” says Ross. The Red Sox are impressed with Christian Vasquez‘s glove behind the plate but may well feel the need to get more offense from their backstops, Lauber writes. Ross is hitting just .185/.264/.356 in 165 plate appearances this season. Lauber adds that Ross would like to play at least one more season for a contending team.
Miguel Gonzalez‘s name was mentioned in trade rumors this summer (most notably as part of a possible Jon Lester package) and yet as MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko points out, Gonzalez’s recent success could be another example of “how sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.” The Orioles right-hander has a 2.00 ERA over his last nine starts, including a complete game shutout of the Reds last Wednesday. Gonzalez has been a solid piece of the O’s rotation for the last three years and has a 3.38 ERA over 136 IP this season, which I suspect will earn him a nice salary bump this winter when he is arbitration-eligible for the first time.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Also from Kubatko, the Orioles are “hesitant” about making a long-term commitment to Nelson Cruz. Though the O’s have recently had some light negotiations with Cruz’s representation about a new contract, it isn’t hard to see why the club would be wary of guaranteeing multiple years to a 34-year-old who is a defensive liability and has a PED history. Of course, Cruz’s bat looks as potent as ever, given his .862 OPS and a league-high 39 homers this season. As you would expect, a one-year “qualifying offer appeals to the Orioles,” Kubatko writes, though surely Cruz feels his production merits a longer deal.
- Melky Cabrera has been scouted by at least one NL team for the last three weeks, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair reports. One of those scouts tells Blair that his team could be willing to offer Cabrera something in the neighborhood of a four-year, $53MM contract in free agency this winter, a deal akin to what Jhonny Peralta received from the Cardinals last offseason. Peralta’s deal was front-loaded, and Blair opines that a similarly-structured deal could await Cabrera given that both players have a PED suspension on their records.
- Blair also can’t figure out why the Blue Jays haven’t already re-signed Cabrera for 2015 and beyond, given how well the outfielder has hit this year. Cabrera, who is done for the season after fracturing his pinky finger on Friday night, has expressed an interest in staying in Toronto.
- It’s been a tiring season for David Ortiz, as the Red Sox slugger tells ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald that “it wears you out more than when you know you’re going to the playoffs — believe it or not. It wears you out more than when you know you have more games to play.” Ortiz isn’t sure how much longer he’ll play beyond 2015 (the end of his current contract), though when he does he hang it up, he said he’ll do it in the offseason rather than announce his retirement a year in advance like Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera.
- Red Sox righty Joe Kelly and the Orioles‘ Andrew Miller were two trade deadline acquisitions that have worked out very well for their teams, Peter Gammons writes in his latest piece for Gammons Daily. Boston hopes Kelly can be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in their 2015 rotation while Miller has continued his superb season since joining Baltimore’s pen.
- Also from Gammons, if the Orioles don’t bring back Nick Markakis, one possible replacement could be prospect Mike Yastrzemski. A 14th-round draft pick in 2013, Yastrzemski (Carl’s grandson) hit .288/.346/.490 with 14 homers, 34 doubles and 16 triples in 594 PA over three minor league levels this season, though he has yet to reach Triple-A.
The Red Sox have announced that they've signed David Ortiz to a one-year extension through 2015, with a team/vesting option for 2016 and a team option for 2017. Ortiz will reportedly receive $16MM next year, which (as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes on Twitter) matches the 2015 salary of Mike Napoli, the team's highest-paid player.
The options are designed to change in value based upon playing time (unlike the escalating terms of his prior deal, which were tied to time spent on the DL). For 2016, if Ortiz falls shy of 425 plate appearances the option will be a straight, $10MM club option. If he reaches that mark, the option vests and becomes guaranteed at $11MM. An additional $1MM guarantee is tacked on at each of the following PA thresholds: 475, 525, 550, 575, and 600. For the 2017 option, the value moves in the precisely the same way, except that it has no vesting element.
"With this agreement, we have near certainty that David Ortiz will finish his career in a Red Sox uniform, which is something we have all wanted and that we are all proud of," said Red Sox owner John Henry. "It is difficult to describe David’s contributions to our city both on the field and off the field, and we are so proud to have this ambassador of our game with us as he continues on this road to Cooperstown."
Though he's entering his age-38 season, Ortiz is fresh off yet another outstanding season at the plate in which he batted .300/.395/.564 with 30 homers in 600 plate appearances. Big Papi has been vocal about wanting to work out a one-year extension to remain with the club and has not shied away from telling reporters that he feels he's earned another significant payday as "The Man" in Boston's lineup at an age where many have been reduced to complementary roles. It's hard to argue that Ortiz's production isn't worthy of that salary, as he's been at least 34 percent better than a league-average hitter in each season from 2010-13, according to OPS+ and wRC+.
Via Twitter, ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was the first to report the two sides had reached agreement on an extension. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported that Ortiz would receive $16MM in 2015. FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi tweeted the extension could include a club option for 2016, which would become a vesting player option based on plate appearances. Edes tweeted there was also an option for 2017. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first tweeted details of the vesting and escalator provisions of the option years, with Alex Speier WEEI.com reporting the full terms of the options.
Steve Adams, Charlie Wilmoth, and Jeff Todd contributed to this post. Photo by USA Today Sports Images.