Detroit Tigers Rumors
Even though most of Alex Rodriguez's 2014 salary will be wiped out by his season-long PED suspension, the controversial slugger's contract is still ranked as the worst in baseball by Grantland's Jonah Keri. Of Keri's list of the 15 worst contracts in the sport, the Dodgers have four, the Yankees, Angels and Braves each have two and the Reds, Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays and White Sox have one each.
Here are some items from around the baseball world...
- The Reds and Homer Bailey are "still talking" about a multiyear contract, GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "There has not been a lot of progress, but good conversations anyhow," Jocketty said. Bailey's arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 20 and there is a $2.9MM gap ($11.6MM to $8.7MM) between his demands and the Reds' offer for a 2014 contract. This is Bailey's last season under contract with Cincinnati and the two sides are reportedly far apart on a long-term deal. Sheldon suggests that the Reds will be watching the Indians' case with Justin Masterson, as he and Bailey have posted comparable numbers over the last three years and Masterson is also scheduled to be a free agent next offseason.
- The Pirates offered A.J. Burnett a $12MM contract for 2014, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). This obviously fell short of the $16MM Burnett received from the Phillies earlier today.
- The Twins aren't one of the teams interested in Emilio Bonifacio, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter). Bonifacio cleared release waivers and became a free agent earlier today. The Orioles are known to be one of at least nine teams interested in the speedy utilityman.
- Also from Wolfson, a Twins official said that the club "had extensive talks" about Erisbel Arruebarruena but he was judged to be too expensive. The Cuban shortstop agreed to a deal with the Dodgers today that could be worth as much as $25MM.
- The Cubs can afford to be patient in trading Jeff Samardzija, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan argues, as teams may be more willing to meet Chicago's large asking price once the free agent pitching market thins out and teams get more desperate once the season begins.
- Right-hander Josh Roenicke is drawing interest from a "handful of teams" and could be signed soon, a source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Roenicke posted a 4.35 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.25 K/BB rate in 62 relief innings with the Twins in 2013 before being outrighted off Minnesota's roster in November.
- Also from Cotillo, right-hander Blake Hawksworth has retired. Hawksworth posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.85 K/BB over 124 games (eight as a starter) with the Cardinals and Dodgers from 2009-11 before elbow and shoulder injuries derailed his career. Hawksworth has taken a job with the Boras Corporation, his former agency.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed the club's recent signing of Carlos Marmol with Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
- Luis Ayala chose to sign a minor league deal with the Nationals since they (as the Expos) were the franchise that originally signed him and he still has many friends in the organization, the veteran reliever tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Several teams were linked to Ayala this offseason but the bidding came down to the Nats, Tigers and Phillies.
Happy birthday to former Tigers outfielder Chet Lemon, who turns 59 years old today. Lemon, the 22nd overall pick of the 1972 draft, spent his first seven seasons with the White Sox before he was traded to Tigers prior to the 1982 season. "Chet The Jet" went on to be a staple in the Detroit outfield for the next nine seasons, hitting a solid .263/.349/.437 with 142 homers in 1203 games as a Tiger and earning himself a ring as part of the 1984 World Series championship team.
Here's the latest from Motown...
- Miguel Cabrera told reporters (including MLB.com's Jason Beck) that he hasn't talked to his agents about contract extension talks with the Tigers, though the two-time AL MVP isn't concerned given that he still has two years remaining on his current deal.
- Catcher Ronny Paulino has been suspended for 100 games after testing positive for exogenous testosterone, Major League Baseball announced. Paulino was originally acquired by the Tigers from the Orioles last August and Detroit re-signed the veteran backstop to a minor league deal in November. This is the second PED suspension for Paulino, who was suspended for 50 games spanning the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He last played in the Majors in 2012, appearing in 20 games with Baltimore.
- Justin Verlander isn't planning on talking fellow ace Max Scherzer into remaining with the Tigers once his contract is up. "Max is his own guy....He’s going to make his own decisions, but I don’t think I need to be a recruiter," Verlander told reporters, including Beck. "I think from what he’s been saying, he’s made it loud and clear that that he wants to stay in Detroit....I think what this organization has done has recruited him — not just the players here. I think he enjoys being part of this team." Verlander also discussed such topics as the Tigers' offseason moves and the rise of salaries across baseball during his chat with the media.
Five years ago today, Alex Rodriguez admitted and apologized for using PEDs during his tenure with the Rangers. Rodriguez blamed the pressure of trying to fulfill the expectations created by his then-record 10-year, $252MM contract. Two days ago, Rodriguez voluntarily dismissed his federal lawsuit against MLB, the Commissioner's Office, and the MLBPA and will serve his 162-game suspension stemming from his role in the Biogenesis affair. Here's the latest from the American League:
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) he doesn't expect anything to happen with Stephen Drew before the start of Spring Training; but, out of respect for the shortstop, has maintained a dialogue with agent Scott Boras.
- Cherington also told the pair he is working the phones to add another reliever (via a Bowden tweet).
- The Red Sox's starting rotation, currently flush with experienced hurlers, could take on a much younger and cheaper look in the next 12-18 months, writes the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber. Left-hander Henry Owens headlines the list of Boston's pitching prospects on the verge of reaching the Majors, according to Lauber.
- Having lost out on Bronson Arroyo and entering the second week of February without a truly significant free agent acquisition, the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck opines it's fair to wonder how much the Orioles really want to win this year.
- Tigers President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters recently, including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade set the tone for the other moves he made this offseason. "If that move wasn’t made, you’re really in a position where you’re kind of back to where you were. It was one move that set off our plans in place." One part of that plan has received much scrutiny: dealing Doug Fister to the Nationals. Dombrowski said Fister was expendable because the Tigers have six solid starters with three of them (Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Drew Smyly) under contract for at least the next four years while also proclaiming he'd love to have Max Scherzer "stay as a Tiger for a long time."
- Johnny Damon, whose last MLB appearance was with the Indians in 2012, is open to managing or resuming his playing career, but only on the Major League level, reports the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin.
Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio spoke with multiple agents and executives over the weekend and got contradictory takes on the reasons for so many top free agents remaining unsigned (ESPN Insider required and recommended). Agents told Bowden that they (and the MLBPA) feel that the heightened media coverage resulting from social networking has damaged players' market values. Reports from media members about how teams value players and whether or not they've made offers to players could be violations of the CBA, those parties told Bowden. Meanwhile, executives said to Bowden that the market is simply full of players with baggage (draft pick compensation, PED usage, inconsistent performance) and added that agents entered the offseason with unnatural expectations for their clients.
Here are just some of the highlights from a jam-packed column from the former Nationals and Reds GM...
- Max Scherzer and Jon Lester are the two most likely candidates from next year's crop of free agent starting pitchers to sign an extension, Bowden writes. Despite the fact that Scherzer is a Scott Boras client (Boras prefers his clients to test the open market), Scherzer seems to want to remain loyal to the Tigers. However, Bowden notes that an extension would still need to be somewhere close to Scherzer's market value, which Bowden pegs at a whopping $196MM over seven years.
- The Red Sox have made a two-year offer to Stephen Drew, one source told Bowden. The value of that reported offer is unclear, as is the date on which it was made.
- The Nationals have discussed Jose Lobaton trades with the Rays as they look to add a backup catcher for Wilson Ramos. Lobaton figures to be expendable for the Rays, as they project to have a strong defensive tandem of Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina behind the dish. Shedding Lobaton's $950K salary would seem to be more beneficial to the tight-budgeted Rays than most teams, particularly if they don't have a roster spot for him.
- The Dodgers are pushing for an infielder over another starting pitcher and hope to have a deal done within the next 48 hours. Los Angeles isn't likely to bid on any of the remaining free agent starters unless they're willing to take a short-term deal, as Dan Haren did to play near his hometown.
- Kendrys Morales is the most likely free agent to be this year's version of Kyle Lohse, writes Bowden. He notes that the Orioles -- who still have about $15MM to spend -- and Mariners remain interested in the switch-hitting Scott Boras client. Both are still in on Nelson Cruz as well. MLBTR readers seem to agree with the Morales/Lohse comparison; in the poll I conducted earlier this morning asking which Top 50 free agent would be the next to sign, he drew the fewest votes.
- The Royals and Indians are both highly unlikely to be able to lure back their respective free agent pitchers, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. The Blue Jays are a likely landing spot for both pitchers.
The Tigers announced, via press release, that they have avoided arbitration with catcher Alex Avila by agreeing to a one-year contract for the 2014 season. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Avila receives a $4.15MM salary for 2014, and the Tigers have a $5.4MM club option with a $200K buyout for the 2015 campaign. The option can vest if Avila is named to the 2014 All-Star team, finishes Top 15 in the MVP voting or wins a Silver Slugger award (Twitter links). Avila is a client of Excel Sports Management.
Avila and the Tigers exchanged arb figures two weeks ago, with Avila submitting a $5.35MM salary and the club countering at $3.75MM. That places Avila's $4.35MM guarantee slightly below the $4.55MM midpoint. All figures are higher than the $3.7MM mark projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Avila, who turned 27 just two days ago, batted .227/.317/.376 with 11 homers in 102 games (379 plate appearances). It's been a rough couple of seasons for the former fifth-round pick, but in 2011 he met all three of his vesting option criteria when he made the All-Star team, won a Silver Slugger and finished 12th in the AL MVP voting. Avila also played a whopping 133 games at catcher that season, and since that time, he's had some issues with his knee and hamstring. He also missed time in 2013 with a concussion.
The Tigers have likely locked in Avila's final two years of arbitration with this deal, and they've also avoided an arbitration with any of their eligible players, as Avila was their last remaining unsigned case.
In the midst of a lack of rumors surrounding lefty Oliver Perez, Fangraphs' Mike Petriello outlines the 32-year-old as a potential bargain. While Perez's career once looked to be over, he's reinvented himself as a bullpen arm. Petriello points out that Perez's contact rate over the last two seasons is within one percent of Max Scherzer and Glen Perkins. Perez's swinging-strike rate is better than that of Clayton Kershaw or Michael Wacha and on par with Joe Nathan, and he pounds the strike zone at nearly the same rate as Hisashi Iwakuma. Petriello is quick to point out that these positive indicators don't guarantee success from Perez, but with Boone Logan and J.P. Howell signing lucrative multiyear deals, Perez could be a value add late in the offseason. Other relief market notes...
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports (via Twitter) that left-hander Tony Sipp is moving closer to a deal with an unidentified team. The 30-year-old Sipp posted a 4.78 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks in 2013 but elected free agency after Arizona designated him for assignment earlier in the offseason.
- The Mets are still looking to add a reliever, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. New York is likely looking at someone on a low-base salary deal, but with multiple irons still in the fire, nothing is expected in the next couple of days.
- George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press writes that if former top prospect Casey Crosby again makes it to the Majors with the Tigers, it will most likely be as a reliever and not a starter. "I think he’ll adapt to pitching out of the bullpen," Pithching coach Jeff Jones told Sipple. "I think he’ll do fine with that. A lot of times, you take guys who started all their lives and you put them in the bullpen and they just flourish."
Here's the latest from around the AL Central...
- Victor Martinez wants to remain with the Tigers beyond this season, the veteran slugger told reporters (including Tom Gage of the Detroit News), though he realizes the club may have other payroll priorities to be addressed, such as new deals for Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera. Martinez, who turned 35 last month, is entering the final year of his four-year, $50MM deal with the Tigers. After missing all of 2012 with a torn ACL, Martinez returned to hit .301/.355/.430 with 14 home runs in 668 PA in 2013.
- The Indians looked at Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon earlier this offseason but weren't willing to meet Yoon's price, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (Twitter link). Yoon has reportedly received offers from four MLB teams and he is in talking to two of them. The Twins have long been linked to Yoon and they continue to "monitor" him, though there haven't been any meetings between the two sides.
- The Royals' wealth of upcoming minor league talent is cited by Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan as a counter to the oft-stated belief that the club's only "window of contention" is only open for as long as James Shields is in Kansas City. Shields is entering his last year under contract and since it is believed the Royals won't be able to afford him, the team has been criticized for acquiring Shields in the deal that sent Wil Myers and others to Tampa Bay.
- In AL Central news from earlier today, the Twins signed righty Matt Guerrier to a minor league deal and the Royals both acquired outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Mariners for cash and designated southpaw Everett Teaford for assignment.
Today's glimpse at the AL Central..
- Bob Dutton of the The News Tribune (via Twitter) hears from industry insiders that Matt Garza's reported four-year, $52MM agreement with the Brewers means that former Royals ace Ervin Santana is unlikely to get more than $40MM over three years and maybe much less. If there is a drop in price, that could put many more teams in play. Meanwhile, Garza's deal with Milwaukee - agreed upon on Thursday - has yet to be completed.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan says that he's still got "his eye" on position players as he feels that the club is a little lean that area, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
- Prospect Robbie Ray, now with the Tigers, wasn't initially in the trade talks that sent Doug Fister to the Nationals, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. That fits with an opinion just after the trade from an American League talent evaluator, who suggested the Nationals would not have traded Ray for fellow Tigers starter Rick Porcello.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told fans at TigerFest today to expect a different style of Detroit baseball now that he's completed his offseason retooling of the club's roster, Jason Beck of MLB.com writes. "We'll play better defense. We'll score from first or second on base hits or extra-base hits more than we have in the past," Dombrowski predicted, while noting that the 2014 Tigers won't have as much power as some of his previous teams. "It's a different type of club. … What you try to do is give your club a chance to win a world championship every year," the GM commented. Here's more late-night MLB links:
- Other comments from Dombrowski at TigerFest implied that the Tigers won't pursue Nelson Cruz, Beck reports. While smaller, depth-oriented signings are possible, Dombrowski said he'd be "surprised if we made any major moves."
- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki says he's ready to step into a leadership role for the club now that Todd Helton has retired, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports.
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune offers an early look at how new Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller will go about addressing the team's offensive struggles.
- Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego rounded up scouts' comments on the seven-player trade that saw Padres utilityman Logan Forsythe shipped to the Rays. "I would say San Diego gave up some fringe quantity that Tampa has probably liked a lot in the past for better quality," one scout offered. Another labeled minor-leaguers Matt Andriese and Jesse Hahn as "the two biggest X-factors in the trade."
- U-T San Diego's Bill Center grades the Padres' offseason moves, assigning an "A" to the Joaquin Benoit signing.
Let's take a look at the latest out of the AL Central:
- Twins star Joe Mauer told reporters, including Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, today that former teammate Justin Morneau was among those who urged him to make the switch to first base. "He actually told me, 'Joe, you need to move. It's just not worth it,'" Mauer reported. Morneau, of course, suffered a career-altering concussion in 2010.
- Justin Verlander may not be ready to pitch the Tigers' season opener on March 31 after undergoing core muscle surgery earlier this month, GM Dave Dombrowski disclosed Thursday (via Chris Iott of MLive.com). However, Dombrowski added that the ace is "doing great" in his recovery, and if he is out of action at the start of the season, it "would only be a very short time period."
- Alex Avila doesn't expect to go to an arbitration hearing, despite being the Tigers' only arbitration-eligible player to swap contract figures with the club, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. "Filing numbers just basically gives you more time to negotiate," the catcher commented on Thursday. As the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker shows, Avila filed for $5.35MM, while the Tigers countered with $3.75MM.