Drew Storen Rumors
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.
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.
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.
B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman all homered for the Rays tonight as Tampa Bay defeated Boston, 9-2, in the opener of a big four-game series. The Red Sox now have just a three-game lead over the Rays (and a four-game lead over the idle Angels) for the AL Wild Card.
Some notes from around the league....
- If Drew Storen is traded, Tyler Clippard shouldn't become the Nationals' closer since he's proven to be invaluable as the team's go-to reliever, argues Ben Goessling of MASNsports.com. It could be a moot point, though, since Goessling says it's "unlikely" that the Nats deal Storen.
- The Rays were the first team to discover Jacoby Ellsbury, drafting him in the 23rd round of the 2002 draft. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal talks to the scouts who pushed for Tampa Bay to pick Ellsbury, who instead decided to attend Oregon State.
- Frank Wren tells David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that no decision has been made about Alex Gonzalez's future with the Braves, but both the club and the shortstop sound open to Gonzalez returning in 2012. Gonzalez is popular in the clubhouse and would be an ideal bridge at shortstop to prospect Tyler Pastornicky.
- Mike Newman of Fangraphs profiles Braves minor league left-hander Ronan Pacheco, who "is simply too perfect an example of a pitcher who bucks just about every prospect stereotype on both the statistical and scouting sides to not discuss."
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America recaps this week's minor league transactions.
- David DeJesus "appears the least likely to return" of the Athletics' three free agent outfielders, writes MLB.com's Jane Lee. Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp are also free agents this winter and Willingham said earlier today that he would like to stay with Oakland.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins tells Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that he doesn't regret giving Bobby Abreu the $9MM option for 2012 that vested in July.
The Twins were willing to listen to offers for Francisco Liriano leading up to the trade deadline, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. However, Minnesota wanted a massive prospect return for the left-hander and no club met their asking price. Here’s the latest on the Twins with more of Stark’s notes from around MLB...
- The chances that the Nationals can restart talks with Minnesota about Denard Span over the winter are not good, Stark reports. Minnesota wanted Drew Storen for their bullpen in an attempt to win now, but the Twins’ sense of urgency figures to disappear this offseason.
- Rival teams say the Tigers and Red Sox each believed they were closing in on a deal for Hiroki Kuroda before the right-hander decided not to waive his no-trade clause.
- The Red Sox and Rockies discussed an expanded deal that would have sent Josh Reddick to Colorado and Seth Smith to Boston while considering possible moves involving Ubaldo Jimenez. Talks between the 2007 World Series foes had essentially stopped by Saturday, though.
- Though GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has publicly said Domonic Brown was not available, Stark hears from three different teams that the Phillies were willing to move the young outfielder in the right deal.
- Teams that have spoken with the Phillies don’t expect them to be active on the waiver wire this month, since they want to avoid paying MLB’s luxury tax.
Thanks to our loyal readers, MLBTR generated 3.1 million pageviews over the weekend! We appreciate you making MLBTR a regular stop, and have a lot of cool things planned in the coming months. On to today's links...
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson told ESPN New York's Adam Rubin that he tried to acquire a reliever before the deadline, but to no avail (Twitter link). He would not rule out a trade before August 31st.
- The Red Sox will not have interest in Lyle Overbay, reports Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). The Pirates designated Overbay for assignment today, and as Cafardo notes, he has great numbers in Fenway Park: .323/.395/.500 in 177 plate appearances.
- Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (via Twitter) doesn't envision Jason Isringhausen re-signing with the Mets this offseason.
- The Astros are very confident that they'll sign first-round pick George Springer, but it may come down to the last week, tweets MLB.com's Alyson Footer. Last week we learned that Springer's father met with the independent league Long Island Ducks.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick names a bunch of waiver trade candidates in his latest article.
- The Twins wanted closer Drew Storen and minor league second baseman Stephen Lombardozzi for center fielder Denard Span, and the Nationals declined, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. I think that would have been a solid deal for Washington.
- The Indians announced they signed infielder Argenis Reyes to a minor league deal; he'd been playing independent ball. In slightly more important news, Ubaldo Jimenez will debut for the Tribe Friday in Texas.
- The extent of Boston's interest in Ubaldo? Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald says exec Allard Baird put in a call on Thursday and the Red Sox weren't in touch after that.
- Both sides have denounced the $30MM figure that was floated for Dylan Bundy, tweets MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. Talks are expected to start this week for the Orioles' fourth overall pick. Ghiroli has more on the topic here. Bundy is advised by Jay Franklin at BBI Sports Group; the company also employs his father.
- The Rockies were close to trading third baseman Ian Stewart to an undisclosed National League team yesterday, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, but the deal fell apart with a half hour to go.
- The Mariners and Red Sox are sharing the costs of Erik Bedard's incentives, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
- Newly-acquired players Zack Wheeler and Jonathan Singelton head updated top ten prospects lists for the Mets and Astros, courtesy of Baseball America's Jim Callis.
2:46pm: The teams are not close on a Span trade, tweets Jon Paul Morosi.
7:59am: Nationals closer Drew Storen is in the Denard Span trade with the Twins, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the hangup is over the other players in the deal. Yesterday we heard names such as Roger Bernadina and Stephen Lombardozzi of the Nationals.
10:47pm: The Nationals are more likely to go after Span than Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton at this point, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the sides are in a "staredown" (Twitter link). The Twins want the Nationals to include Storen in their offer.
9:22pm: The deal is "no closer than any other day," an MLB official told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
6:31pm: A deal featuring Span and Storen continues to look close, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
5:18pm: There are lots of mixed signals about the talks, but no deal is close, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
3:28pm: The Nationals are making headway with the Twins on a deal for Span, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark. The Twins are insisting Storen be included along with a second player.
10:45am: The Nationals are pushing setup man Tyler Clippard on the Twins for center fielder Denard Span over closer Drew Storen, tweets Scott Miller of CBS Sports. He says the Twins won't trade Span for a setup man, however.
Aside from saves, Storen comes with one more year of team control than Clippard. Still, we're talking about 2015 and 2016, and there's no telling what can happen with relievers in the course of several years.
10:08am: The Twins are unhappy with the Nationals' offer, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the Nationals are worried about Span's concussion.
FRIDAY, 9:23am: Talks between the Twins and Nationals are ongoing, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Span and Storen are at the center of discussions, with Roger Bernadina and others in play. The Nationals aren't talking exclusively to the Twins as they search for a center fielder, but Span appears to be high on their list of targets.
THURSDAY, 12:52pm: The Nationals are not willing to trade Storen for Span, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
WEDNESDAY, 3:20pm: The Nationals continue to target Span, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and Storen may be in play.
MONDAY, 2:03pm: The Nationals have talked to the Twins about Span, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Nationals are unwilling to trade Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard, though Rosenthal feels Ian Desmond could be of interest to the Twins.
1:30pm: Twins center fielder Denard Span is high on the Nationals' list of targets, reports Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Span would fit the team's desire for a controllable center fielder/leadoff hitter, assuming there are no ill effects from a concussion suffered in June.
Span, 27, is hitting .294/.361/.385 on the season in 255 plate appearances. His center field defense has been a plus in recent years, according to UZR. His team-friendly contract has less than $15MM remaining through 2014, plus a club option for '15. It's not known whether the Twins consider Span expendable; Ben Revere has a .249/.287/.284 line filling in. The asking price would surely be significant.
The Nationals are listening on top relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but such a trade would have to fill a specific long-term need such as center field. Teams are calling on Storen, Clippard, and Todd Coffey.
Potential center field targets for Washington include B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Colby Rasmus, and Denard Span, writes Rosenthal. He believes that a reliever alone probably would not bring back a center fielder, but the Nats could also trade shortstop Ian Desmond since some club officials would like to move Danny Espinosa to shortstop.
Storen is under team control through 2016, Clippard and Desmond through '15. Desmond would be an interesting name for teams seeking shortstop help, though he's limped to a .226/.269/.311 line in 361 plate appearances this year.
The Nationals also have starting pitching to spare, as ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that they will move Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez, and Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny is a bit of a surprise, as he's got strong strikeout and walk rates and is under team control through 2013.