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Teams are perpetually searching for effective left-handed relievers, so here are five southpaws who could become useful pieces at a bargain price next year. Some of the pitchers below are inching closer to 40, but Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver proved this year that there's no age limit for lefty specialists. The list focuses on pitchers who will likely sign for a couple million dollars at most, so I haven't included Hisanori Takahashi, Scott Downs and others:
- Randy Choate – The 35-year-old hits the open market as your prototypical 'left-handed one out guy.' He made 85 appearances in 2010, but logged just 44.3 innings. His numbers are strong (8.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 4.23 ERA) and suggest he could play anywhere, but teams that play in homer-friendly parks such as the D'Backs, Rockies and Brewers may take note of Choate's ability to keep the ball on the ground. His 60% ground ball rate ranked 15th among big league relievers with at least 20 innings.
- Will Ohman – Ohman, 33, recovered from a poor 2009 season and posted a 3.21 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 between the O's and Marlins. He's going to walk hitters, but he can still get lefties out.
- Ron Mahay – Mahay turns 40 in June, but that didn't stop him from posting a 3.44 ERA this year and striking out three times as many batters as he walked. He's not in position to demand a multi-year deal, but he could help someone's bullpen in 2011.
- Taylor Tankersley – The 27-year-old is the least predictable of the options listed, but possibly the most intriguing. Tankersley, a former first rounder, has struck out nearly a batter per inning in his big league career and has held lefties to a .223/.313/.372 line. There are drawbacks – he missed the 2009 season with a stress fracture in his pitching elbow and has trouble against righties – but Tankersley would be a good fit for the Pirates, Mets or Mariners at the right price. Why those clubs? As a fly ball pitcher, he probably fits best in a park that limits home runs and as an unproven pitcher, he fits best on a non-contender. That makes Pittsburgh, New York and Seattle potential fits.
- Brian Tallet – Unlike the pitchers above, Tallet won't necessarily hit the free agent market, but the 33-year-old is a non-tender candidate so he may be available by early December. Tallet, another fly ball pitcher, limited lefties to a stellar .176/.228/.343 line this year with a 28/6 K/BB ratio.
Dennys Reyes' 2010 numbers look OK, but don't let that 3.55 ERA fool you. Reyes posted a 0.54 ERA through May and a 5.91 ERA afterwards. He can induce grounders, but he walks more than one batter per two innings pitched.
MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports that St. Louis has between $6MM and $7MM worth of "wiggle room" in their payroll that may have to last the club through the rest of the season. But, as Leach notes, "the Cardinals aren't holding onto money for a midseason trade as much as they are for an acquisition during camp."
St. Louis GM John Mozeliak hinted that he may make another move during Spring Training if none of the team's young players step up to adequately fill the Cards' problem areas: "As we move forward and get into spring, we should have a better idea of what that [greatest need] might be. It may be nothing. But it usually is always something and more than something."
Matt Holliday dominated the headlines in St. Louis over the winter, but aside from that major re-signing, the Cardinals were fairly quiet in the offseason; only Brad Penny and possibly Rich Hill could be considered major additions to the club. As Leach pointed out, however, the Cards have signed two free agents over the last two springs (Kyle Lohse and Dennys Reyes) and are still looking for backup outfielders, a left-handed pinch-hitting option and possibly another reliever or two.
Links for Friday…
- The Dodgers designated Justin Orenduff for assignment to make room for Manny Ramirez, according to Tony Jackson.
- The A's contracts with Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra are official.
- WEEI's Alex Speier talked to Marlins prospect Mike Stanton and manager Fredi Gonzalez about the near-acquisition of Manny last summer.
- In another column, Speier looks at the players the Red Sox and Yankees have battled for in recent years.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says a bunch of relievers are vying for one bullpen spot for the Cardinals, now that they've signed Dennys Reyes.
- Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star suggests there's a chance the Royals release first baseman Ross Gload and eat the $1.9MM owed to him in 2009. Rany Jazayerli talks about Gload as well as the chances of the Royals competing this year.
- Tom Tango says Juan Pierre would have to defer his contract for 50 years to be worth acquiring.
- Tracy Ringolsby of Inside The Rockies says the Rox offered Joe Beimel more than $1MM but so far he's passed. Beimel's home run prevention trend might be challenged at Coors Field. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle says the A's are in on Beimel but "have not yet have substantive talks" with his agent.
- Check out a Giants Spring Training preview from the guys behind El Lefty Malo and McCovey Chronicles.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Boston Red Sox | Colorado Rockies | Dennys Reyes | Giancarlo Stanton | Joe Beimel | Juan Pierre | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Manny Ramirez | Miami Marlins | New York Yankees | Nomar Garciaparra | Oakland Athletics | Orlando Cabrera | Ross Gload | San Francisco Giants | St. Louis Cardinals
8:50pm: Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the signing of Reyes was a really big piece for the Cards and GM John Mozeliak came up huge again with a March deal. It reminds Gordon of the Kyle Lohse signing a year ago.
4:21pm: According to the AP, Reyes gets a two-year deal worth $3MM.
3:12pm: According to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, the Cardinals have agreed to a deal with lefty reliever Dennys Reyes. Reyes, 32 in April, held lefties to a .202/.250/.287 line last year in 101 plate appearances.
Since Reyes was a Type B free agent offered arbitration, the Twins will receive a supplemental draft pick for their loss (#46 overall).
THURSDAY: Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch talks about the Cardinals’ pursuit of a lefty reliever:
Internal support exists for pursuing Beimel, but [GM John] Mozeliak recently denied making contact with Beimel’s agent, Joe Sroba.
Speaking of Beimel, Pirates president Frank Coonelly commented on him during an MLB.com chat yesterday:
He is someone who we have considered this offseason and have had discussions with his representative. To date, Joe has not been receptive to the type of contract we have discussed.
WEDNESDAY: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Cardinals are "exploring the remaining lefties on the free agent market." So far this offseason they’ve imported Trever Miller, Royce Ring, Charlie Manning, and Ian Ostlund. Perhaps they’re attracted to the possibility of a bargain, with three solid southpaws remaining on the market.
Rosenthal notes that Dennys Reyes‘ agent Casey Close is telling teams his client is close to a decision. Furthermore, he won’t be signing with Oakland. The A’s could move on to Joe Beimel. Rosenthal adds that the Cardinals are interested in Reyes as well as Will Ohman.
According to Yahoo’s Tim Brown, the A’s signed shortstop Orlando Cabrera to a one-year, $4MM deal. Since Cabrera was a Type A free agent offered arbitration, the White Sox will receive Oakland’s second-round pick this June as well as a supplemental pick. The move leaves Bobby Crosby ($5.5MM) as a pricey backup infielder. ESPN’s Buster Olney adds that the A’s "have had substantial talks with Nomar Garciaparra in the last 48 hours." They also remain in talks for Dennys Reyes.
The A’s have been flirting with Cabrera for a while now, and I didn’t think they’d go as high as $4MM (which is still a bargain in general). Perhaps recent reported interest by the Blue Jays forced them to make a move.
Now seems like a good time to bust out some quotes from John Dewan’s awesome new Fielding Bible Volume II. Here’s his opinion on Cabrera’s defense:
"Cabrera is a fundamentally sound shortstop who plays with a lot of energy and does everything well. He has above-average range and makes a lot of sliding plays, but he also led all shortstops in 2008 in defensive misplays (56)."
On this date 21 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles traded Ray Knight to the Tigers, only one year after signing the World Series hero as a free agent. The O’s received Mark Thurmond, who would go 1-8 in 1988 with an 85 ERA+. Knight would only play 105 games for the Tigers before retiring. With spring training now in full swing, several veteran free agents are still without contracts or guaranteed jobs and may be on the verge of retirement. Let’s take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere…
- More Hardball puts together a 25-man roster of veteran players in camps on minor league deals.
- 6 Pound 8 Ounce Baby Joba spoke with Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch about a number of topics including what the will happen once the current contracts for Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter expire.
- Sully Baseball makes a case for a team, any team, signing Oil Can Boyd.
- The Phrontiersman takes a look at the possibility of the Phillies trading for Roy Halladay at some point during the season.
- Megamets argues for the Mets adding Dennys Reyes, over the other available lefty relievers.
- The Sports Banter puts together their own list of off-season winners.
- Midwest Sports Fans project the Twins opening day roster.
12:56pm: Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has confirmed that his club is no longer interested in Garciaparra (courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Murphy):
"I would not view him as someone who will be with us," Amaro said. Murphy doesn’t expect the Phillies to add any more free agents before the start of the regular season.
9:47am: According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, free agent infielder Nomar Garciaparra is deciding between retirement and a one-year contract with the A’s.
The Phillies have apparently moved on. The A’s are also currently working on deals for shortstop Orlando Cabrera and left-hander Dennys Reyes, and Rosenthal heard from a source that the club could "increase their pursuits" of those two players "due to their uncertainty over Garciaparra."
Garciaparra, 35, hit .264/.326/.466 with eight homers and 28 RBI in 163 at-bats last season. It sounds like he needs to make a career decision fairly soon.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the agents for left-handers Joe Beimel and Will Ohman are prepared to offer more flexibility in contract negotiations with clubs.
"I would suggest any team holding back on some last-minute interest step forward and express it," Beimel’s agent, Jeff Sroba said Wednesday. "Not that anything is imminent, but we are offering flexibility." Beimel, who turns 32 in April, has drawn interest primarily from the Dodgers this offseason. He went 5-1 with a 2.02 ERA for Los Angeles last season.
Ohman, 31, has deals on the table from the Pirates, Marlins and Padres, but is reportedly hoping the Phillies, Dodgers or Mets will come calling. He finished 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA last year for the Braves. "We’re offering flexibility, too," said Ohman’s agent, Page Odle. "We’re hoping one of the playoff teams will want that shutdown lefty."
Dennys Reyes is another left-handed reliever without a job. He went 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA for the Twins last season.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland Athletics and Nomar Garciaparra are "in serious talks" about a bench spot for the team. Slusser notes that the Phillies are likely competing for Nomar’s services as well; I myself would also mention the Cubs as a team in need of a right-handed bench bat.
Additionally, Slusser points out that signing Garciaparra would not preclude the Athletics from also going after Orlando Cabrera. However, it seems as though the two parties continue to have difficulty in bridging the salary gap, despite Cabrera’s reducing his salary demands from $9MM to roughly $5.5MM at this point.
Also on the A’s radar are a pair of relievers: lefties Dennys Reyes and Andrew Sisco.