Drew Storen Rumors

Nationals In Mix For Grant Balfour

The Nationals have interest in free agent reliever Grant Balfour, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Nats already have three relievers with closing experience in Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, but the addition of Balfour could make sense for a variety of reasons, Rosenthal writes.

According to sources, GM Mike Rizzo & Co. would like to trade Storen, who will earn $3.45MM in 2014.  Meanwhile, Washington almost certainly doesn't want Soriano to pitch enough games to trigger his $14MM option for 2015 and they'd probably like to keep Clippard as a setup man.

The Nationals saved about $3.5MM by signing shortstop Ian Desmond and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann to back-loaded, two-year extensions and major league sources say their aim was to create financial flexibility.  They want to add another bat off the bench, but they also would like to add Balfour.  They could also parlay those savings into settling their arb cases with Clippard and Doug Fister, but, of course, they'd rather not have to.

Balfour, of course, had agreed to a two-year, $15MM contract with the Beltway's other team before the O's called it off due to concerns about his knee and wrist.  Meanwhile, Balfour has been adamant that he is completely healthy.

While the Nationals like Balfour, they don't have interest in Fernando Rodney, the other top closer on the market, sources say.  


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).

(more…)


Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard Drawing Interest

3:54pm: MLB.com's Bill Ladson spoke with a source who said that Storen is more likely to be dealt than Clippard. Rizzo told MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko that trade talk of Storen and Clippard is overblown, as he's yet to receive an actual offer (Twitter link).

11:08am: Talks between the Cubs and Nationals regarding Storen and Clippard are dead, according to Kilgore (on Twitter).

TUESDAY, 10:34am: Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that both Storen and Clippard are generating interest on the trade market, with Clippard being the more popular name (Twitter link). GM Mike Rizzo would need to have his "socks knocked off" to move either reliever, however, according to Kilgore.

MONDAY, 4:28pm: Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (Twitter links) hears from a source that the Nats would listen to offers on Storen, though any talks with the Cubs are in the very early stages at this point. Kilgore identifies Nate Schierholtz and James Russell as a couple possible fits for Washington if negotiations became more serious.

4:00pm: The Cubs are looking to the trade market in their search for relievers and have eyed both Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen of the Nationals, among others, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (on Twitter).

Clippard, 28, is controlled through the 2015 season and has a 2.73 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over the past five seasons. Storen, 26, may have fallen out of favor to an extent with the Nats in 2013 following a career-worst 4.52 ERA and a brief demotion to the minors. The former No. 10 overall pick owns a career 3.40 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 since being promoted in 2010, however.



Overnight Links: Braves, Uribe, Red Sox, Nationals

As we gear up for Day Two of the Winter Meetings, let's take a look at the latest from around baseball..

  • There are mixed opinions in the Mariners' front office when it comes to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  The Mariners have been heavily linked to the 29-year-old who boasts great talent but also comes with injury concerns.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren doesn't expect to make a blockbuster trade or a massive signing, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But in the case of our club, I don’t see necessarily a frontline move," Wren said. "I see more support moves, where you’re adding a bat that can give you power off the bench, or adding to our bullpen, or adding to the depth of our rotation. I see more of those kind of moves than a big frontline move.
  • MLB.com's Scott Merkin (on Twitter) hasn't heard much regarding a rumor that the White Sox are in the process of trying to bring third baseman Juan Uribe back to Chicago.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was noncommittal when asked about the possibility of the team going into luxury tax territory, suggesting that to even consider that option, the club would need to have a "really compelling reason." Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com has the details.
  • A lot of teams have asked the Nationals about set-up men Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, a baseball source tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com. As of right now, however, talks have not heated up. Yesterday we heard that the Cubs have interest in the duo.
  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that his club has the prospects to get any player that is available (Twitter link).
  • Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that the Giants aren't a fit as trade partners for teams looking to deal an outfielder in exchange for Major League ready talent.

Luke Adams and Steve Adams contributed to this post.


NL East Notes: Brown, Utley, Byrd, Storen, Nats

Earlier today, the Phillies placed Domonic Brown on the seven-day disabled list with concussion-like symptoms. The move was retroactive to July 24, meaning he'd be eligible to return next Wednesday. As general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. noted to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the speed with which Brown can return will have an impact on the team's decision to buy or sell heading into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Here's more on the Phillies and the rest of th NL East…

  • Also from Salisbury's piece, Amaro was hesitant to discuss reports that he and his staff are working on an extension for Chase Utley. Salisbury writes that if the Phillies don't think they can sign him long-term, they'll probably move him. When asked if Utley will be a Phillie after the deadline, Amaro replied, "I would think so."
  • Many teams are keeping an eye on Marlon Byrd whether they admit to it or not, a Major League executive told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The Mets are still planning to hang onto both Byrd and Bobby Parnell, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported today. Martino cites a source "with direct knowledge of the Mets' plans" as saying the pair will remain with the team unless they receive an offer they simply can't turn down.
  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post examines the uncertainty that surrounds the Nationals' bullpen, noting that it's possible the team could option former closer Drew Storen to the minors to rediscover himself. Storen has a 5.40 ERA and 1.46 WHIP with 9.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 41 2/3 innings this season.
  • Kilgore also notes that it's likely the Nationals will trade one of their relievers this offseason. Rafael Soriano is set to make $14MM in 2014, while Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard will both receive raises on their respective 2013 salaries of $2.5MM and $4MM via arbitration. Kilgore notes that the Nats could do what would've seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago by trading one of their relievers now in order to maximize the return.

Stark’s Latest: Brewers, Ruggiano, Young, Storen

ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a number of executives who feel the trade deadline has lost its luster since many teams have locked up their top young players, teams are reluctant to acquire rental players who carry no draft pick compensation as free agents, and the second wild card has narrowed the market of outright sellers to just a few teams.  That said, Stark still has lots of hot stove items for us in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column

  • Ryan Braun's suspension could drastically change the Brewers' perspective on trading some veteran stars.  While Francisco Rodriguez was indeed traded just a day after Braun's suspension was announced, Stark hears that the Brewers are asking for a lot in deals.  "One of the problems with dealing with Milwaukee is that [their] trade for [Jean] Segura last year was so one-sided that they want another tilted deal. Not going to happen," an AL executive said.
  • The price for Kyle Lohse, for instance, involves the price of a first-round pick.  The Crew gave up as first-rounder as compensation for signing Lohse as a free agent in the spring.
  • Three scouts who have recently seen Yovani Gallardo say he's been pitching like a fourth or fifth starter.  Gallardo in his prime was "close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back," one scout said.  Gallardo has a 4.58 ERA and a career-worst 7.2 K/9 in 21 starts this season, plus he's lost two miles of velocity off his fastball.
  • We'd heard that the Yankees and Rangers had checked in on Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and Stark adds the Phillies and Giants to the list of a half-dozen interested teams.  The Marlins weren't too keen on dealing Ruggiano but he could be expendable now that Christian Yellich and Jake Marisnick have been called up.
  • The Phillies' next five games "will determine Michael Young's fate more than anyone else on their roster," said one executive who has talked to the club.  Young is seen as "pretty much a lock" to be dealt if the Phils struggle during their road trip through St. Louis and Detroit this week.  The Phillies dropped a 4-1 result to the Cardinals last night.
  • Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been made available by the Phillies but even if he was, one AL executive thinks Papelbon's contract makes him "practically untradable."
  • Stark thinks the Phillies and Marlins are good trade partners on paper since the Phils could use Ruggiano or any of Miami's good relievers.  The Marlins aren't willing to move anyone unless they get a great offer, however, and the Phillies aren't willing to move any of their top prospects to facilitate a deal.
  • The Nationals could listen on a good offer for Drew Storen, the former first-round pick who is struggling through a tough year.  The Nats are in a tough spot trade-wise, however, since the team is largely set at every position yet are still in need of hitting.
  • Alex Rios' long slump has lowered his trade value and the White Sox will be hard-pressed to find a team to meet their asking price for the right fielder.  The Rangers still have some interest in Rios, as they're looking for an outfielder that can be controlled beyond this season.
  • The Red Sox are seen as very likely to add pitching before the deadline.  Boston has been linked to Jake Peavy and were interested in Francisco Rodriguez before the Orioles got him. 
  • The Braves have targeted Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Scott Downs of the Angels, Mike Dunn of the Marlins and James Russell of the Cubs in their search for left-handed relief pitching.  While Atlanta has been looking at these names and others, however, Stark says the team isn't close to a deal.
  • In regards to the Biogenesis scandal, Stark hears from an attorney who believes "virtually every case will be settled by a plea deal.  You're going to see a lot of pleas. You're going to see a lot of deals."

Cafardo On Morneau, Perez, Cishek, Bard, Papelbon

NIck Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked 30 people from around baseball who they would build their team around, regardless of age or experience.  The leading vote-getter was Yadier Molina, with Buster Posey in second place.  Here's more from today's column..

  • There's a lot of uncertainty in the Twins' organization surrounding Justin Morneau.  People wonder what happened to his power, which hurts his trade value.  The Twins are a very loyal organization so they certainly won't give him away.  If a deal for a prospect comes up, however, they would likely let him go.
  • When closer Chris Perez is back in action he may be a piece the Indians would look to move.  Despite his troubles, he would draw interest considering the shortage of available closers out there. “If a team can get him and he’s amped up because of a change of scenery, that’s all they’re looking for,” said one special assistant to an American League GM. “It’s all about getting bang for your buck during those two months-plus after you acquire him, if you don’t have to give up a lot of inventory to get him.
  • Speaking of closers, the Marlins' Steve Cishek is garnering attention and the Red Sox seem to have interest.  However, clubs will have to consider whether he can handle the adjustment of going to a bigger market like Boston or Detroit.
  • One National League GM believes that the Red Sox will have to give up on Daniel Bard at some point if things don't turn around.  Because of his natural talent, a lot of teams would line up to trade for him in hopes that a change of scenery would turn him around.
  • The Phillies declared last week that Jonathan Papelbon was not available, but Cafardo cautions not to believe it, especially in the wake of his public criticism of teammates.
  • Nationals right-hander Drew Storen is an interesting alternative for a team looking for a closer. Storen was the Nationals’ closer two years ago but hasn't been as sharp in 2013 as he was in years past.
  • Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco could be the first pitcher dealt as we near the deadline, even ahead of Bud Norris.  Cafardo says not to be shocked if teams like the Orioles or Giants make a move on him sooner rather than later.
  • One scout who saw Manny Ramirez in Taiwan said, “He can still hit with the best of them.”  That doesn't mean that a team will be bold enough to sign him, however.

NL Notes: Cubs, Bailey, Rolen, Braves, Nats Bullpen

Thirty-one years ago today, the Cubs and Phillies swapped shortstops with Ivan DeJesus heading to Philadelphia and Larry Bowa going to Chicago. The Cubs also acquired a 22-year-old prospect by the name of Ryne Sandberg. This prospect managed to be named the 1984 National League MVP, played 16 years, finished with a career slash line of .285/.344/.452, and was enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. Let's take a look at the news and notes involving the Cubs and the rest of the Senior Circuit:

  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio "never say never…but likely this is the team we go to Spring Training with," Bowden tweeted.
  • Regarding Matt Garza, Hoyer told Bowden and Duquette the focus is to get him healthy and into the Cubs' rotation; but, that could change since Garza will become a free agent after the 2013 season and the team needs to collect talent (Twitter link).
  • Homer Bailey says "nothing has been mentioned at all" about a long-term contract with the Reds, but "it would be something to consider," reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The arbitration eligible right-hander says the arb process has been slower this year because of the Reds' large arbitration class, but "it will all work itself out." You can follow all arbitration cases by using the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has reached out to Scott Rolen to express the team's interest in him, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Mattingly said he spoke to Rolen about what the Dodgers envision his role would be, but did not ask Rolen specifically about his decision making or timing. The Dodgers see the 37-year-old as insurance if Luis Cruz fails at third base, as well as a potential right-handed-hitting backup to Adrian Gonzalez at first base.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren sat down for an interview with Bill Shanks of the Macon Telegraph and spoke in great detail about the Justin Upton trade, the financial flexibility the deal gives the Braves, and whether future payrolls will be increased from the current $98MM.
  • Nationals relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were both surprised by the signing of Rafael Soriano, but believe he makes the team better, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. GM Mike Rizzo met with Storen and Clippard this weekend to reassure them that acquiring Soriano was not a reflection on their abilities, Comak added. 

Rosenthal On Felix, Upton, Rangers, Nationals

The Mariners continue discussing an extension with Felix Hernandez, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The sides aren’t close to a deal, and are now “dancing.” However, Seattle is at least considering a four-year, $100MM offer, according to Rosenthal. It’s not clear if the Mariners have offered a nine-figure deal to Hernandez, whose current contract expires at the end of the 2014 season. The 26-year-old Octagon client would presumably want a longer commitment, as Rosenthal points out. Here are more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • The Mariners’ willingness to add veterans approaching free agency suggests GM Jack Zduriencik senses an urgency to win now in the view of some rival executives.
  • Justin Upton won’t be traded for Chase Headley, an official from one of the teams involved told Rosenthal. Headley is two years away from free agency, however, and Rosenthal suggests that the Padres figure to move him eventually. Upton, another trade candidate, is under contract through 2015.
  • The Diamondbacks and Rangers haven’t revived Upton-centered trade talks since the Mariners’ failed attempt at acquiring the 25-year-old right fielder. Rosenthal reports that the sides agreed to “move on.” When the teams were last in contact the Rangers offered a four-played package led by Mike Olt that would have included shortstop prospect Leury Garcia and either Martin Perez or Cody Buckel plus a fourth prospect.
  • The Rangers continue pondering one significant move. They are viewed as possible destinations for Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn, and could also pursue relief help. The Rangers discussed right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard with the Nationals earlier this offseason, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Nationals could trade Clippard or Drew Storen now that they’ve signed Rafael Soriano. One rival executive suggested Washington could sign Lohse, but Rosenthal writes that a deal with free agent right-hander Javier Vazquez seems more likely.

Nationals Avoid Arbitration With Drew Storen

The Nationals have avoided arbitration with Drew Storen by reaching agreement on a one-year, $2.5MM contract, according to his representatives at CAA Sports (on Twitter).  The contract also includes $1MM in performance bonuses.

Storen, 25, was eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter thanks to his Super Two status.  The former tenth-overall pick of the 2009 draft posted a 2.37 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 37 appearances last season.  The newly-acquired Rafael Soriano will close for the Nats in 2013 but GM Mike Rizzo made it known today that he is still confident in Storen's abilities.

Swartz projected that Storen would earn $1.7MM through the arbitration process.  The reliever will be eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

The Nationals have six remaining unsigned arbitration eligible players: Roger Bernadina, Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen, and Jordan Zimmermann.  They're currently regarded as a file and trial team by case, and past history shows the team is certainly willing to go to a hearing.