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Drew Storen Rumors
The Nationals entered the trade market yesterday to add Jonathan Papelbon from the division-rival Phillies. Before moving on Papelbon, the Nationals looked into both Craig Kimbrel of the Padres and Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. But the team moved on when it was quoted an asking price of two top young players (from among Trea Turner, Michael Taylor, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Joe Ross). It’s no surprise, then, that the team moved on to Papelbon — who was a “backup” trade target, per the report.
Here’s more on the deal:
- In exchange for Papelbon (and for keeping $4.5MM of his contract), the Phillies will get righty Nick Pivetta. Per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, the righty has a good arm and frame that bodes well, though he has the upside of a back-of-the-rotation starter. If he can’t reach that level, though he figures to be a middle relief piece down the line. ESPN.com’s Keith Law largely concurs in that assessment, noting that Pivetta lacks significant upside. It’s easy to see, then, how the deal made sense for both clubs: the Phillies could use a mediocre starter at the back of their rotation, while the Nationals have enough current and future options to make that a largely unnecessary luxury.
- The move generated some controversy, owing to the fact that the club reportedly promised to use Papelbon as its closer despite the presence of high-performing reliever Drew Storen. The thrice-deposed 9th-inning man declined to say much about the move, but did indicate that he and his agent are having ongoing discussions with GM Mike Rizzo. As Svrluga writes in an even-handed take on the matter, it’s clear that Storen did not deserve to be demoted out of the ninth inning. But the club also had a valid desire to bolster its late-inning relief corps, and adding Papelbon was a good piece for the team to add. As he notes, teams have increasingly recognized the value of filling high-leverage innings with quality arms, regardless of who actually takes the closer role.
- Jonah Keri of Grantland writes that the trade checks plenty of boxes for the Nats at a reasonable cost. In spite of the off-field risk involved with replacing Storen, it seems to Keri like a worthwhile gamble.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues that the Nationals have shown a lack of confidence in replacing Storen. He says that the move might be more palatable had the club added a clearly superior pitcher, such as Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel, but suggests that bringing in a similarly effective reliever was something of a slap in the face to a player that the Nats drafted and developed.
- From my perspective, adding Papelbon says less about how the Nationals feel about Storen than it does the club’s desire to maximize the impact of a bullpen addition with a minimal expenditure of resources. As Rosenthal has observed (Twitter link), Washington seemed reluctant to add significant salary obligations to this year’s payroll at the deadline. It likely would have cost more in salary, prospects, or both, to add a different arm that could simply be slotted into a set-up role. And the team may well have ascribed some value to adding a player with Papelbon’s late-inning and big-game experience, whether or not that was tied to Storen’s own spotty track record in very limited postseason innings. It’s true that Storen did not “deserve” to lose his role, of course, and that he’ll sacrifice some earning capacity through arbitration with the lack of save opportunities. But we see such moves happen all of the time from clubs looking to save money, make upgrades, and otherwise improve their short and long-term position. While the clubhouse aspect and Storen’s feelings certainly should factor in the team’s decisionmaking, then, I’m not sure there’s a compelling fairness point to be considered.
The Phillies and Nationals recently discussed a trade involving Jonathan Papelbon, but a deal between the two teams does not seem likely, Jake Kaplan of the Inquirer writes. Papelbon would need to approve a trade to Washington, but his preference is to remain a closer, and the Nats already have an excellent one in Drew Storen. Here are more quick notes on relievers.
- Rival executives think that if the Nationals do make a move this week, it will be a big one, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets. Stark speculates that could mean a pursuit of the Padres‘ Craig Kimbrel or the Reds‘ Aroldis Chapman. Neither of those pitchers have no-trade restrictions. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi wrote last month that the Nationals and Reds had discussed Chapman.
- Trading for Chapman might be tricky, however. Stark also tweets that the Reds have asked other teams for three “higher-level” prospects in return for their closer. The significance of that information depends on how good those higher-level prospects are, but it appears they’re in no rush to part with him lightly. The Reds could certainly wait to deal Chapman, who isn’t eligible for free agency until after next season.
The Nationals announced today that closer Drew Storen underwent surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand (Twitter links). Storen, a right-handed thrower, will be down for about two or three days before resuming his throwing program and is expected to be ready for Opening Day, however, according to the Nats.
A bit more on the Nationals and their division…
- Injured Nationals center fielder Denard Span tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he began to feel pain in his abdomen about six to seven weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia in December. However, Span says he had both good days and “so-so” days an expected that the pain would eventually go away. Instead, of course, Span underwent core muscle surgery earlier this week and will now “optimistically” be back in the lineup by May, writes Ladson, indicating a fairly significant DL stint for the free-agent-to-be. However, Span says that he’s more disappointed to be missing part of a season where the Nationals could make a run at the World Series than to be injured in a contract year. “This is probably the last year this ballclub has a chance to be together,” Span tells Ladson. “We have a chance to do something special. That hurts more than the fact that I’m going to be a free agent.” Span and teammates Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister will all be free agents next winter.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post questions the persistent claims of Mets GM Sandy Alderson when he says he has the financial flexibility to make roster moves as needed. As Sherman points out, the Mets didn’t invest any guaranteed money in left-handed relief pitching this winter, and they’re now facing the possibility of losing their top lefty reliever, Josh Edgin, to Tommy John surgery. Alderson told Sherman that the financial requests of the available left-handed relievers this winter didn’t match up with their quality, but he’ll have financial flexibility to add to the roster this season if the Mets are contending.
- Phillies lefty Cliff Lee threw again today and said he still felt discomfort in his left elbow, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Lee is trying to pitch through a torn flexor tendon in his elbow but will have to opt for season-ending surgery if some of the discomfort does not eventually dissipate.
- Meanwhile, Zolecki adds that offseason signee Aaron Harang was scratched from his upcoming start due to lower back discomfort. Manager Ryne Sandberg said he’s not worried and called it a “muscular thing,” but this is the second time Harang has been scratched for a back issue this spring. The Phillies will need a healthy Harang given their thin rotation depth. The veteran signed a one-year, $5MM contract with Philadelphia this offseason.
The Nationals and Drew Storen have avoided arb by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.7MM, according to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post (Twitter link). That salary is just a hair off from the $5.8MM that MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected for the CAA Sports client.
Storen, 27, was dominant in 2014, working to a 1.12 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 56 1/3 innings for the Nats. The former No. 10 overall pick began the season as a setup man for Rafael Soriano but inherited the ninth inning when Soriano struggled at season’s end. Storen figures to be the primary closer in 2015, particularly with Tyler Clippard having been traded to the Athletics and Soriano departing via free agency. As a Super Two player, this marks Storen’s third trip through the arbitration process, and he’ll be eligible one more time next offseason before hitting the open market following the 2016 season.
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.
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).
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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.
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.
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.
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."
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