Devin Mesoraco Rumors

Reds Extend Devin Mesoraco

The Reds have locked up one of their core young pieces, agreeing to a four-year extension with catcher Devin Mesoraco the team has announced.  With three years and 28 days of Major League service, the 26-year-old backstop had been arbitration eligible for 2015 for the first time and had been under team control through 2017.  Mesoraco is a client of Jet Sports Management.

Devin Mesoraco

Mesoraco will receive a $28MM guarantee, MLBTR has learned. He receives a $500K signing bonus and will earn $2.4MM in 2015, $4.9MM in 2016, $7.2MM in 2017 and $13MM in 2018.  The contract also contains an additional $2MM worth of performance bonuses for a max of $30MM over the four-year term.

Mesoraco’s 2018 salary will jump by $400K each time he reaches 502 plate appearances from 2015-17, and he’ll earn $150K for each All-Star nomination, Gold Glove or Silver Slugger he picks up.  Mesoraco can also receive $200K for finishing in the top 5 of the MVP voting, $150K for finishing sixth through 10th, $100K for finishing 11th through 15th and $50K for finishing 16th through 20th.  While there are more than $2MM worth of incentives present in that breakdown, the contract places a $2MM cap on what he can earn.

A first-round pick by the Reds out of high school in ’07, Mesoraco broke out in a big way in 2014.  He hit .273/.359/.534 with 25 home runs in 440 plate appearances, making the All-Star team for the first time and earning a pair of down-ballot MVP votes.  Mesoraco led all catchers in home runs and slugging percentage, and ranked fifth in wins above replacement and on-base percentage.

The Reds cleared a path to more playing time for Mesoraco last offseason by flipping longtime backstop Ryan Hanigan to the Rays in a three-team deal that also netted them lefty David Holmberg from Arizona, and the move looks to have paid off handsomely for both team and player.  The four-year term on Mesoraco’s deal allows him to secure his first fortune by locking in a year of free agent money while still allowing him to hit the open market at the age of 30.

Mesoraco had exchanged arbitration figures with the Reds earlier this month.  The $3.025MM midpoint of those figures exceeded MLBTR’s projection of a $2.8MM salary for Mesoraco in 2015.

MLBTR was the first to report that the two sides were nearing a deal (via Twitter). C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer confirmed that there was an agreement (Twitter link), and Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith first reported the four-year term (on Twitter). MLBTR was the first to report the financial terms (on Twitter) and bonus structure of the contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.

Ohio Notes: Jimenez, LaPorta, Masterson, Reds

Here's the latest baseball news from the Buckeye State's two teams…

  • "We talked about a lot of different ways to bring Ubaldo [Jimenez] back,” Indians GM Chris Antonetti told reporters (including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer).  Hoynes interprets this as meaning that the Tribe made Jimenez a multiyear offer in addition to the $14.1MM one-year qualifying offer, but Jimenez is very likely to sign elsewhere.
  • Once a top prospect and the key part of the Brewers' trade package to the Indians for C.C. Sabathia in 2008, Matt LaPorta is now a minor league free agent and may not return to the Tribe.  Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at LaPorta's career and talks to Indians director of player development Paul Atkins, who doesn't sound optimistic about LaPorta re-signing with the organization.
  • Also from that piece, Antonetti didn't comment on whether the team was looking to sign Justin Masterson to a multiyear extension.  “I will tell you how much we value Justin and what he’s brought to this team since we acquired him in 2009,” Antonetti said.  Masterson emerged as the Tribe's ace last season and is a free agent next winter.
  • The acquisition of Brayan Pena means that the Reds "are obviously up to something" in regards to a catcher trade, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.  The consensus has been that Ryan Hanigan will be dealt but Fay wonders if "a major trade" is in the works that would send Devin Mesoraco elsewhere.
  • Fay also notes that if the Reds trade Brandon Phillips, speedster Billy Hamilton could be a potential replacement at second base.  Hamilton was originally drafted as a shortstop but was seen by some in the Reds organization as a future second baseman.
  • The Reds will hire Jay Bell as their new bench coach, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  Bell was serving as the Pirates hitting coach and previously worked as the Diamondbacks' bench coach.  Bell and new Cincinnati manager Bryan Price both worked in Arizona's organization at the same time.


Ohio Notes: Hernandez, Bourn, Mesoraco, Hannahan

The Indians are still pursuing free agent Kevin Youkilis and still trying to work out a multi-team trade involving Asdrubal Cabrera and the Diamondbacks, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link).  The Tribe is also looking at alternative moves in case Youkilis signs elsewhere or the complicated trade fails to materialize.  We collected the latest items about the Tribe's pursuit of Youkilis and Nick Swisher earlier today on MLBTR and yesterday looked at the latest mountain of speculation surrounding this rumored multi-team deal that also reportedly involves the Rangers, Rays, Mariners, Justin Upton, Derek Holland and a number of young players.

The Reds have generated a lot of buzz this offseason as well, so let's check in on the latest from both of Ohio's clubs…


Rays Still Seek Catcher

The Rays continue “poking around” for a catcher, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). They asked at least one team about the possibility of working on a three-way trade that would send Devin Mesoraco from Cincinnati to Tampa Bay.

Mesoraco, 24, appeared in 54 games with the Reds this past season, posting a .212/.288/.352 batting line in 184 plate appearances. He entered the season as the 16th-best prospect in MLB, according to Baseball America. The Rays currently have Jose Molina, Jose Lobaton, Robinson Chirinos and Chris Gimenez as internal catching options.


NL Central Rumors: Lee, Soriano, Cardinals, Brewers

The latest on several NL Central teams…

  • The Reds are talking about a lot of trade possibilities and talking about a whole range of players, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.  It is a possibility the Reds use Yonder Alonso as a trade piece to fix other needs, manager Dusty Baker told Jim Bowden on MLB Netowrk Radio.  Baker indicated the Reds will keep prospects Yasmani Grandal and Devin Mesoraco, as well as star first baseman Joey Votto.
  • The Reds outrighted lefty Jeremy Horst, dropping their 40-man roster count to 39, according toMLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that the Astros are letting teams know Carlos Lee is out there.  Lee, 35, is owed $18.5MM for 2012 and has ten-and-five rights.  A source close to the Astros' ownership tells Stark interim GM David Gottfried has autonomy to make trades this week.
  • Speaking of mistakes from the 2006-07 offseason, the Cubs are getting a bit of interest in left fielder Alfonso Soriano, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.  Soriano, 35, is owed $54MM through 2014 and has a full no-trade clause.  I think the Cubs would have to eat over $40MM to move Soriano.
  • World Series revenue is not a game-changer for the Cardinals, owner Bill DeWitt Jr. told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the team's payroll is expected to remain around $110MM.  The Cardinals have about $80MM committed to eight players under contract for 2012.
  • The Brewers are in on everyone at several positions, including shortstop and third base, but are not down the road at all on any of them, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  The Brewers are also known to be actively seeking relief help.

Central Notes: Fister, Pence, Cubs

A few items of note regarding teams from MLB's Central divisions, as the Cards fall behind the Phils in Game 1 of the NLDS.

  • The Tigers preferred Doug Fister to Ubaldo Jimenez when they were shopping for a pitcher before the trade deadline, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Whether that's true, we'll probably never know, but Fister certainly pitched better for Detroit than Jimenez did for Cleveland after the deadline. The Mariners were originally hesitant to move Fister, according to Knobler, but Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski was persistent in pursuing the right-hander.
  • The Reds tried to acquire Hunter Pence from the Astros, according to Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, and GM Walt Jocketty has said he thought he made a better offer to Houston than the one it eventually accepted from the Phillies. McCoy reports that the Astros wanted Devin Mesoraco and adds that lefty Aroldis Chapman was not available.
  • The Cubs remain in limbo while waiting to hire a new general manager, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, who notes that the fates of manager Mike Quade, his coaches, and several players are up in the air until someone takes the helm. The Cubs are unlikely to spend lavishly this offseason, according to Sullivan.

Heyman On Rangers, Mesoraco, Marlins

Jon Heyman breaks down the likely playoff teams at SI.com, where he also passes along some notes and rumors. The latest:

  • The Rangers tried ‘extremely hard’ to obtain Carlos Beltran from the Mets before the Giants traded for him in July.
  • Devin Mesoraco may be more ‘universally beloved’ by scouts than any other September call-up.
  • Davey Johnson can manage the Nationals again in 2012 if he wants to, but Jack McKeon of the Marlins may not be so lucky.
  • Heyman hears that the Marlins and McKeon have decided someone else will manage in 2012, though McKeon can remain with the organization in some capacity forever (Twitter links). However, McKeon told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that that's not the case (Twitter link).
  • White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf wants to keep manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Kenny Williams together at this point.

Prospects Mesoraco, Hamilton Untouchable For Reds

Yesterday, Reds GM Walt Jocketty explained to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, "There are guys I will not trade.  I will not give you names. But they’re are certainly guys I will not trade."  Today Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has two of those prospects' names: catcher Devin Mesoraco, and shortstop Billy Hamilton (Twitter link).

Fay is under the reasonable belief that Aroldis Chapman is also off-limits.  Would the Reds still have enough to pull off a deal for Ubaldo Jimenez?  They could assemble an offer around prospects Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal, plus pitchers Homer Bailey and Travis Wood.


NL Central Rumors: Brewers, Hernandez, Cardinals

The latest buzz from the NL Central…

  • The Brewers have discussed Clint Barmes, Coco Crisp and Jerry Hairston Jr., according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
  • Ramon Hernandez of the Reds is "not on the block," according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).
  • "We're still exploring both [starters and relievers]," said Cardinals GM John Mozeliak to MLB.com's Matthew Leach. "But when it comes down to it, I think the reliever market’s got more opportunities." Mozeliak also indicated that the team could conceivably add payroll both this year and next in a trade.
  • An AL executive told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that while the Astros asked for a big return for lefty Wandy Rodriguez a few weeks back, they now "will take little at deadline to get rid of most of his contract" (Twitter link).  Rodriguez has about $38MM left on his contract if he exercises his 2014 player option.  He's a bit overpaid, but presents a nice opportunity for a team to add a solid starter without giving up top prospects.
  • The Reds are not close on any deals, GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link).  While Jocketty would not reveal his list of untouchable prospects, he laughed when Fay mentioned catcher Devin Mesoraco.  Earlier today we learned that the Rockies asked for Mesoraco and Aroldis Chapman in an Ubaldo Jimenez trade.  Jocketty seems disinclined to trade prospects for rentals.
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin seeks a left-handed reliever, but told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the market "isn't very strong."  It's a similar story with the Brewers' other main needs, shortstop and third base.