Drew Storen Rumors

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.


Super Two Cutoff To Be 2.139

Players with at least two years and 139 days of service time will be eligible for the potentially lucrative arbitration process this offseason, according to the Associated Press (via FOXNews.com). The top 22% of players with between two and three years of MLB service qualify for arbitration under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.

Nationals reliever Drew Storen, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Mets catcher Josh Thole, Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin and Diamondbacks third baseman Chris Johnson are all eligible. 

Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders missed the cutoff by one day. Others, including Justin Smoak, Danny Valencia, Michael Brantley, Jordan Schafer, Giancarlo Stanton, Stephen Strasburg, Daniel HudsonDan RunzlerAndrew Cashner, Alex Burnett, Esmil Rogers and Alexi Ogando, came close to super two status without reaching the threshold.

Jonathan Lucroy, whose contract includes escalators related to super two status, will fall three days short of arbitration eligibility. The difference will cost him $2MM, as I explained last month.

Super two status entitles certain players to four years of arbitration eligibility, rather than the usual three. As a result, players who earn the super two designation generally earn more than their peers. The cutoff would have been two years and 144 days under baseball’s previous collective bargaining agreement, according to the AP. In previous years the top 17% of players with between two and three years of MLB service qualified. The players and owners agreed to a new system last fall.


Adam Jones Extension Reactions

The Orioles are nearing a six-year, $85MM contract extension with center fielder Adam Jones. The deal, which is the largest in Orioles franchise history, will cover his final arbitration season (2013) and five free agent years (2014-18). Here are some notes on and reactions to the deal:

  • The deal's a win-win for Jones and the Orioles, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs writes. Cameron points out that we can expect more walks from Jones as he gains experience and notes that $75MM — the amount Baltimore committed to the center fielder's free agent years — doesn't always buy much on the open market.
  • The Orioles could have acquired John Lannan, Drew Storen and Steve Lombardozzi from the Nationals for Jones over winter, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (on Twitter). Washington GM Mike Rizzo loves Jones, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter).
  • An NL executive says the Orioles did well to extend Jones instead of trading him last offseason, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes (on Twitter).
  • MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli‏ had been under the impression that the Orioles would have lost Jones to free agency after 2013 if they had waited until next offseason to discuss an extension (Twitter link).

Extension Candidate: Drew Storen

Long is the list of closers who've taken the circuitous route to ninth-inning stardom. Their stories makefor great narratives about perseverence. Some, like Sergio Santos, are failed position players who just so happened to be blessed with lightening bolts for right arms. Others, like Mariano Rivera, slogged through underwhelming starting careers before finding a home in the bullpen.

None of that applies to Drew Storen.

The Nats drafted the hot-shot closer out of Stanford with their second first-round pick in 2009 — you might have heard of their other first-rounder that year, Stephen Strasburg — at No. 10 overall. Storen made a grand total of 41 minor league appearances in late 2009 and early 2010 before getting The Call.

Some questioned the Nats' decision to take a closer so early in the draft, and many still would, but Storen hasn't disappointed on the promise he flashed as an amateur. He's logged a solid season of setup work as a rookie in 2010 (with five saves sprinkled in) and followed that up with an even better year as Washington's full-time closer in 2011. And with arbitration eligibility looming (as a likely Super Two) for Storen after what will presumably be another full season of closing in 2012, he's on the verge of getting pricey, which is why the Nats may be inclined to explore an extension for the right-hander.

As Matt Swartz explained in October, saves is one of the stats afforded substantial weight in arbitration hearings. Storen, if he gets through 2012 with his job and health intact, should head to arbitration with a conservative estimate of 80 career saves — and perhaps as many 95 or so. For reference, Brad Lidge, then of the Astros, was awarded $3.9MM as a first-time arbitration eligible closer after the 2005 season. Lidge, like Storen, was a setup man in his first big league season before spending the next two as a closer, during which time he piled up 72 saves. The Red Sox's Andrew Bailey also settled for $3.9MM this offseason after spending the first three years of his career as the Athletics' closer, netting 75 career saves, although he spent time on the DL in two of those three years.

So, Storen will likely seek about $4MM next offseason, and probably more. Of course, his salaries will only go up from there, likely breaking into the eight-figure range by his final year (or two) of arbitration eligibility, a la Jonathan Papelbon. The Nationals have deep pockets, but the idea of paying a closer that much — through arbitration, no less — can't sit well with many teams.

Interestingly, the Nationals have already shown a willingness to explore trading Storen, so I'd guess they're not interested in the kind of extension that would buy many, if any, years of free agency unless Storen were willing to surrender one or more at a pretty steep discount, which probably doesn't interest him in light of the kind of deals free-agent closers landed this offseason.

All that said, I think it would make sense for both sides to reach an extension of something like four years (beginning in 2013) and $22-24MM, which is similar to what Ben Nicholson-Smith recently prescribed for John Axford and the Brewers, with an extra year tacked on to account for Storen's likely Super Two status. At that rate, Storen would probably be leaving some money on the table — perhaps something like $10-12MM overall if he continues to produce like he did in 2011 — in exchange for security, but it's not a bad strategy for a 24-year-old who is slated to hit free agency in his prime but whose lifeblood is a role rather predisposed to volatility.

We haven't heard much about an extension for Storen yet, but whether such a deal would prove prudent for either team or player would largely depend on if this fast-riser is able to continue along on his path to elite-closer status.


Quick Hits: Yankees, Nationals, Playoffs

On this date in 1995, MLB owners and players agreed to end the strike that began in August of 1994. There hasn't been an MLB labor stoppage since, despite a close call in 2002. Here are some links for Friday evening…

  • The Yankees intend to lower payroll below $189MM by 2014, but GM Brian Cashman explained that the club will continue spending aggressively, according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link). "We’re still the Yankees,” he said. “We’re still going to outspend everybody else. That’s not going to change."
  • The Nationals announced that they renewed the contracts of right-hander Drew Storen and outfielder Roger Bernadina. The team has the right to unilaterally assign the players a 2012 salary, since they aren’t yet eligible for salary arbitration.
  • ESPN.com's Jayson Stark has a detailed breakdown of the recently-announced postseason schedule. Stark also answers some common questions about the new format and explains why he's in favor of it. "One game — with the entire season riding on it," Stark writes. "It's March Madness with bats and balls."
  • MLB and the MLBPA aren’t considering expanding the postseason beyond ten teams at this point, Stark tweets. Michael Weiner of the MLBPA says the sides "never seriously discussed" that option.

Quick Hits: Harper, Storen, Mets, Moore

It was on this day in 1953 that the Dodgers promoted their Triple-A manager to take over the Major League job on a one-year contract.  Walter Alston remained in the Dodgers' dugout for the next 23 years, winning 2,040 games and leading the club to four World Series titles.

Some news from around the Majors as everyone lets the turkey settle…

  • The new Super Two regulations in the new collective bargaining agreement shouldn't have much impact on Nationals uber-prospect Bryce Harper, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
  • Drew Storen will only become more valuable to the Nationals as the price of closers continues to rise, opines Ben Goessling of MASNsports.com, though "there's a logical argument to be made for moving Storen at the height of his value."
  • The Mets are "still in [the] exploratory stage" of their offseason moves and "aren't close on anything," reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter).
  • Royals general manager Dayton Moore tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he doesn't think his team will be negatively affected by the new CBA.  Dutton notes that the Royals spent much more than usual on draft signings and international prospects in the last year since the club was anticipating both avenues to be limited under baseball's new labor rules.