David Price Rumors
Here's a look at the latest out of the AL East..
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com has the details of Mike Napoli's contract with the Red Sox. The base of the deal is $5MM but incentives could boost the overall value to $13MM. The catcher can either hit the $13MM mark by achieving benchmarks in days on the active roster and plate appearance bonuses or can simply nail a "catch all" by being on the active roster for more than 165 days.
- The Rays would obviously like to keep ace David Price in the fold, but they may not be able to hold on to him long-term. Price says that he would like to find middle ground with the Rays on a contract extension, but cautions that he won't "sell himself short", writes Yahoo's Tim Brown. The American League Cy Young Award winner is set to hit the open market three seasons from now.
- The Red Sox have a logjam behind the plate but they have yet to ask Jarrod Saltalamacchia about playing first base in 2013, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. For his part, Salty says that he feels that catcher is his natural position. The 27-year-old would appear to be a trade candidate given Boston's surplus.
Jeff Frye, Darren Oliver's agent, was apparently not speaking for his client when Frye said earlier this month that Oliver wanted a raise to return to the Blue Jays or else the veteran southpaw would retire, Oliver said during a conference call with reporters (including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca). "I was out of town when that article was written, and I didn't say those things, that was coming from Jeff Frye," Oliver said. "Obviously if I had something to say, I would have said it a long time ago, not once did I ever demand anything from the Blue Jays or Alex [GM Alex Anthopoulos]." The Jays announced today that Oliver would return to pitch in Toronto in 2013.
Here are some more items from around the AL East...
- David Price's one-year deal with the Rays was structured in a way that both saved Price several hundred thousand dollars in taxes and also gave the Rays the ability to potentially save $4MM in salary deferred to Price in 2014 if the southpaw is dealt by then, reports Jon Paul Morosi for FOX Sports.
- Price loves playing in Tampa Bay but knows the franchise has financial limits and feels a responsibility to get a fair multiyear contract, the Rays ace tells Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown. "I don't want to mess up for the future of other guys that could be in my position as well," Price said. "You don't want to do that, because that's not only affecting you, that affects everybody else. I want to be happy. I don't want to sell myself short. I guess 'appreciation' is the word I could use the most. I just want to feel appreciated."
- The Red Sox talked to the Nationals about Mike Morse but Washington's asking price was too high, reports Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Now that Morse has been dealt to the Mariners, Abraham wonders if Mike Carp is now expendable in Seattle and could fit as left-handed bench depth in Boston.
- Xander Bogaerts is "as close to untouchable as any player in the Boston organization," writes CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam in an interview with the highly-touted Red Sox prospect. Sox GM Ben Cherington reportedly turned down several trade offers involving Bogaerts this winter.
- Mark Hendrickson looked good during a tryout at the Orioles' minicamp today and will pitch again for the team on Friday, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. We heard earlier this week that Hendrickson is trying to return to the Major Leagues as a sidearm pitcher.
- In AL East news from earlier today, the Orioles extended Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette, the Yankees avoided arbitration with Phil Hughes and the Red Sox made progress with Mike Napoli.
We heard yesterday that the Mets won’t trade Zack Wheeler to acquire Justin Upton from Arizona, and that there's not much momentum in talks between the Mets and Diamondbacks. Here are today’s Upton-related rumors, with the most recent updates up top...
- Some MLB people say teams such as the Rangers may prefer to keep their prospects for now in order to make stronger offers if and when David Price and Giancarlo Stanton become available in trades, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter links). Price, the defending AL Cy Young winner, will earn $10.11MM in 2013 and won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season. It won't be surprising if the Rays consider trades for him next winter. Stanton could also be available a year from now, when he becomes arbitration eligible for the first time and his salary increases substantially.
- Olney believes the Braves “could and would” part with a strong package of prospects for Upton and could be the best match for the 25-year-old right fielder.
Earlier today, we learned that the Nationals are interested in free agent starter Javier Vazquez, who is considering a return to MLB. The Red Sox are also set to watch Vazquez pitch in Puerto Rico on Friday, but they're not the only team out of the American League East with an eye on the veteran. More on that and other news from the division..
- Alex Cora, who serves as the GM of Vazquez's team in Puerto Rico, told WEEI's Hot Stove Show that the Blue Jays have also been scouting the 36-year-old, according to Alex Speier on Twitter. It's not clear if the Red Sox or Blue Jays would be willing to give Vazquez a big league contract, but the Nationals aren't believed to be considering it.
- Cy Young winning left-hander David Price was happy to avoid arbitration with the Rays and says that he is open to a contract extension, writes Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. “If it’s right, we’ll do it,” Price said. “If not, I have to understand it’s a business first and foremost. (The Rays) want to win this year but also be able to win in the future as well. They have to do what’s best for the franchise.” Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman won't rule out an extension, but acknowledged that there are a number of variables to consider.
- Also on WEEI's Hot Stove Show, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein opined that the Red Sox's haul of prospects in their blockbuster deal with the Dodgers was more valuable than the financial flexibility they gained in the deal, Speier writes. The former Boston GM spoke very highly of right-handers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa.
Earlier this week the Rays avoided arbitration with David Price, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $10.1125MM for 2013. The left-hander remains under team control through 2015, but as his salary continues to rise, the chances of a long-term deal with the Rays appear to diminish. Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman addressed the possibility of an extension for the left-hander, and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has the details...
- Friedman said there are many variables to consider when assessing a possible extension for Price, but didn’t rule the possibility out. “We could certainly add another larger contract, but ... it puts a lot more pressure on our remaining funds, which would be much smaller to fill out 23 guys around [Evan] Longoria and whoever that contract is [for], to be able to win.”
- The Rays continue seeking at least one bat and some bullpen help, according to Topkin. However, Friedman suggested nothing is imminent. "I wouldn't say anything is close," he said.
- As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, the Rays have four remaining arbitration eligible players: Sam Fuld, Matthew Joyce, Jeff Niemann and Ryan Roberts. Friedman said he hopes to resolve the cases relatively soon if possible.
The Rays have officially signed David Price to a one-year contract, the team announced. The deal is worth $10.1125MM and allows the two sides to avoid arbitration. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner is a Bo McKinnis client.
Price, 27, earned $4.35MM last season and was projected to earn $9.5MM in 2013 according to Matt Swartz's arbitration model, which was developed exclusively for MLBTR. The $10.1125MM salary is a new record for a second-time eligible pitcher, soaring past the $7.37MM earned by Jered Weaver in 2011. Price will be arbitration-eligible a total of four times as a Super Two, and he is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2015 season.
At $10.1125MM, Price also becomes the highest paid player in Rays' history, surpassing the $10MM earned by Carl Crawford in 2010. James Shields briefly held that record before he and his $10.25MM salary for 2013 were traded to the Royals a few weeks ago.
In 31 starts for the Rays last season, Price pitched to a 2.56 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. The first overall pick in the 2007 draft owns a 2.93 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in his three full seasons as a starter, eclipsing the 200-inning plateau all three times. In addition to winning the award this season, Price also finished second in 2010 Cy Young voting behind Felix Hernandez.
The Rays still have four unsigned arbitration-eligible players, as our Arbitration Tracker shows: Sam Fuld, Matt Joyce, Jeff Niemann, and Ryan Roberts. Tampa is one of baseball's "file and trail" teams, meaning if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement before the deadline to exchange salary figures (January 18th), the Rays cut off talks and go to a hearing. The team is 6-0 all-time in arbitration hearings and 5-0 under Andrew Friedman.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick first reported the agreement while Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com later added details (Twitter links). Mike Axisa and Ben Nicholson-Smith also contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
ESPN.com's Buster Olney explains that the Angels, Rangers, A's and Mariners could benefit from Houston's presence in the AL West. The Astros, losers of 100-plus games in 2011 and 2012, project as a sub-.500 team again in 2013. Conversely, NL Central teams such as the Reds and Cardinals might miss their former rival. Here’s more from Olney’s ESPN.com column...
- Olney ranks the game's top infields, starting with the Rangers, Tigers and Reds.
- There's an assumption within the industry that the Rays will trade David Price sometime in the next calendar year, Olney writes. The left-hander recently avoided arbitration with Tampa Bay, agreeing to a one-year, $10.1MM contract.
- The Mariners have called the Dodgers repeatedly to ask about potential trades involving Andre Ethier, Olney reports. The Dodgers intend to hold onto Ethier, but would listen to offers on him. The Mariners haven't presented Los Angeles with a formal proposal, according to Olney.
Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors (read more about it here), but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. To see projected salaries for all arbitration eligible players, click here. To follow all the deals in advance of the January 18th exchange of figures, bookmark our arbitration tracker.
I’ll start by looking at the reigning American League Cy Young, David Price. This post was written before Price's agreement was announced today, so we decided to publish before his salary is announced. My model predicts that Price will earn $9.5MM in arbitration in 2013, a $5.15MM raise over his 2012 salary. Price earned $4.35MM last season while compiling a 20-5 record, thanks to a 2.56 ERA in 211 innings. Price and the Rays presumably were looking for comparable players in the pitcher’s service class—second-time arbitration eligible starting pitchers. There are very few players like Price, so they needed to stretch the criteria to find eligible players. Cy Young Awards are very important in arbitration cases, but pitchers who win them rarely reach a hearing or even settle for one-year deals. Even among players with the approximate three to six year service time window for arbitration, many elite pitchers who win Cy Youngs had already been signed to multi-year deals before winning (e.g. Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez). The last time a reigning Cy Young Award winner became eligible for his second year of arbitration was eight years ago, when Johan Santana got a $3.9MM raise as part of a multi-year deal. Cases that old are rarely considered in hearings, especially if they were part of multi-year deals.
The only pitchers in recent years who have been eligible for arbitration after getting a Cy Young have been Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw, both of whom were only eligible for their first year of arbitration and both of whom signed multi-year deals in lieu of reaching an agreement. Neither is a good comparison for Price. However, it is worth noting that Lincecum’s and Kershaw’s first-year salaries of $9MM and $7.75MM are between $3.4 and $4.65 million more than the next two non-Cy Young winners in recent years (Cole Hamels in 2009 and Price himself in 2012). Since Lincecum’s larger raise was partly due to having two Cy Youngs already, this suggests that the extra value in winning a Cy Young is probably about a couple million dollars. Remember that Lincecum’s and Kershaw’s numbers were also much better than Hamels’ and Price’s, so not all of the salary gap can be explained by the Cys.
There have been no second-time arbitration eligible starting pitchers in the last several years to earn a raise like the $5.15MM that I have projected for Price, which makes sense because there have been no comparable pitchers. The largest single-season raise in the last six years for a second time arbitration eligible starter went to Jered Weaver in 2011, who got a $3.105MM raise. However, he only had a 13-12 record and a 3.01 ERA in 2010, making him clearly a poor match. Weaver was not the only pitcher who got a pretty big raise in his second year of arbitration on a one-year deal—slightly smaller raises went to Shaun Marcum ($3.1 million), Francisco Liriano ($2.7 million), and Jonathan Sanchez ($2.7 million).
Felix Hernandez might have been a better comparable in 2010, when he and the Mariners exchanged arbitration figures to follow up on his $3.85 million salary. Hernandez had just finished second in Cy Young voting, with a 19-5 record and a 2.49 ERA in 238.2 innings. The Mariners proposed a $3.4MM raise to $7.2MM, while he instead asked for a $7.7MM raise to $11.5MM. He ended up signing a five-year deal, which paid him just $6.5MM in 2010, but splitting his signing bonus between his two remaining arbitration eligible years, this can best be treated as an $8.25MM salary, a $4.4MM raise. Obviously, multi-year deals are different than one-year deals, so they are not ideal comparisons, but in the case of Price, this could be useful. The Mariners proposal of $3.4MM could be cited as a floor as well, since he did not have a Cy Young and Price does. Technically, if my assumption about how to distribute Hernadez’s signing bonus is correct, I could see an argument for a $4.4MM floor for a potential raise for Price.
Justin Verlander could also be a clue as to the floor for Price’s raise. He finished third in Cy Young voting in 2009, while receiving a $3.675MM salary in his first arbitration year. Verlander signed a multi-year deal in lieu of a one-year agreement, but beforehand he had proposed a $5.825MM raise and the Tigers had suggested a $3.215MM raise, which was pretty close to what he received in his multi-year deal.
It’s also worth noting that the largest salary raise for any arbitration eligible starting pitcher (other than first-time players) went to Cole Hamels in 2012, who got a $5.5MM raise. However, he was eligible for the fourth year, so he is definitely not a comparison. Raises grow over time. While hitters are not comparable either, it’s worth noting that the largest raise for a second-time eligible hitter was $5.65MM for Jacoby Ellsbury in 2012.
All of this points to a number that is considerably larger than a $3.5MM raise for Price, while the floor is much less clear. The Cy Young Awards of Lincecum and Kershaw in their first year of eligibility seemed to add close to a couple million to their salaries, so it seems like Price could probably get something like a $5MM raise, but really anything in the $4.5-6MM range would not surprise me for a case as unique as his.
As the third day of the 2012 Winter Meetings gets underway, let's round up a few items out of the AL East...
- Keppinger was the Yankees' first choice as the right-handed part of a third base platoon, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. With Keppinger signing with Chicago, the Yankees are forced to move on to Plan B.
- Teams that have spoken to the Rays have come away thinking Tampa Bay is more likely to move James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson than David Price, says Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
- With Darren Oliver still uncommitted to returning for the 2013 season, the Blue Jays continue to seek bullpen help, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
- The Yankees are one of six teams vying for Jeff Keppinger's services, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Although we heard overnight that Keppinger could receive a three-year deal worth around $4MM annually, Sherman suggests that something in the two-year, $10MM range could work too
- Within the same column, Sherman writes that he's receiving "strong indications" the Yankees don't intend to pursue A.J. Pierzynski
- The Red Sox and Phillies haven't engaged in talks for Jacoby Ellsbury, a source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link)
- Despite agreeing to three-year deals for Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino already this week, the Red Sox still have plenty of room to spend, says Alex Speier of WEEI.com
- WEEI.com's Kirk Minihane believes the Victorino signing was a mistake by the Red Sox
- The Orioles met with Nick Swisher's agent in Nashville, and Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if there's a fit there.
- The Red Sox announced that they've signed 26-year-old right-hander Anthony Carter to a minor league deal, writes Speier at WEEI.com.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the buzz at the Winter Meetings suggests that Zack Greinke could be in line for a bigger payday than initially expected -- one competing agent thinks the right-hander could land a seven-year, $185MM deal. Given the high price tags on free agent starting pitchers, it's becoming increasingly likely that the Rays take advantage by dealing one of their starters, says Heyman.
James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson have been the names mentioned most in trade discussions and speculation, but the Rays will listen on anyone, including Cy Young winner David Price, says Heyman. Rays people view their chances of locking up Price beyond his current deal as "nil," according to Heyman, so if he isn't moved this winter, Price figures to be at the center of plenty more trade rumors down the road.
The Rays' arms are viewed as possible options for teams that miss out on the Greinke sweepstakes. The Dodgers, Nationals, and Rangers are among the clubs that been in contact with the Rays so far.