Drew Stubbs Rumors
Leaving the Reds behind and heading to the Indians in the Shin-Soo Choo deal was bittersweet for outfielder Drew Stubbs, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. "There were definitely some mixed emotions," says Stubbs. "The toughest part for me was, when you're comfortable in a place, having to leave a bunch of great people behind." Stubbs will move from center field to right (after Cleveland's signing of Michael Bourn) and from one corner of Ohio to another, but Bastian notes that Stubbs' spring training home has scarcely changed, since both the Indians and Reds train in Goodyear, Arizona. Here are more notes on the Indians.
- So far, Terry Francona is impressed with Trevor Bauer, who also came to Cleveland in the Choo trade, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon-Journal writes. "When you tell him something, you have to have a reason, which you’re supposed to have anyway," says Francona. "It was like managing Doug Glanville [for the Philadelphia Phillies]. You would want to say, 'I know you’re smarter than I am. You don’t have to apologize for it.'" Bauer appears unlikely to make the team out of camp, however.
- After a pair of offseason trades, the Indians' Mike Aviles seems to be happy to be reunited with former Red Sox manager Francona, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. "I've talked to Tito numerous times, and he's assured me I'm going to get a lot of at-bats," says Aviles, who looks like he'll serve as a utility infielder in Cleveland. "That's really the main focus, to get on the field as much as possible." In October, the Red Sox shipped Aviles to Toronto for David Carpenter and manager John Farrell. The next month, the Blue Jays sent Aviles to the Indians with Yan Gomes for Esmil Rogers.
The latest links from around MLB...
- The Indians are getting calls on Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs following their four-year deal with Michael Bourn, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Though the Indians currently plan to keep both Brantley and Stubbs, some people suspect Stubbs will be dealt.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka said part of the reason he signed with the Indians was the chance to compete against his former team, the Red Sox, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports (on Twitter).
- Andrew Bailey told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that he loves playing with the Red Sox, even if he's not the team's closer.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn't sure if Andy Pettitte will retire after 2013, Jack Curry of the YES Network reports (Twitter links). "I think Andy still loves to compete," Girardi said, acknowledging that it’ll ultimately be up to the left-hander himself. Pettitte will celebrate his 41st birthday this summer and while he doesn’t seem ready to retire, he said he doesn’t intend to decide until after the 2013 season.
- Mariano Rivera said he has decided whether 2013 will be his final season, according to Curry (Twitter links). The Yankees closer won’t reveal his decision just yet, but will do so before the regular season begins.
- Homer Bailey said he and the Reds would prefer to avoid an arbitration hearing if possible, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. “It’s kind of a slow process. We’ll see how it goes and go from there,” Bailey said. The right-hander has a hearing scheduled for Monday after filing for $5.8MM. The Reds, who recently avoided arbitration with Mat Latos and Shin-Soo Choo, offered $4.75MM.
It’s been an uncharacteristically busy offseason for the Indians, who are typically modest spenders in free agency. They added Nick Swisher, Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds earlier in the winter and agreed to sign Michael Bourn to a four-year, $48MM contract last night. Here’s the latest from Cleveland...
- To the surprise of many, the Indians responded to an increase in TV-related revenue by spending aggressively on free agents. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Indians are suddenly a must-see team, even if their pitching staff does have shortcomings.
- The Indians and Rangers are still in the mix for free agent infielder Ryan Theriot, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Theriot’s main concern is playing time, and he could have trouble getting into the lineup in Cleveland and Texas.
- Drew Stubbs is "eminently available" and "very likely the odd man out" in the Cleveland outfield, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote last night that it doesn't appear Stubbs or Michael Brantley will be moved.
- It's believed that three of the final four teams in on Bourn had top ten draft picks that would have been protected, Heyman reports.
- MLBTR’s Steve Adams compiled some more signing reactions last night.
The Indians agreed to a four-year deal with Michael Bourn earlier tonight, presumably capping an offseason spending spree that saw GM Chris Antonetti dish out $117MM in guaranteed contracts. Here are some reactions from around the baseball world pertaining to tonight's news...
- It doesn't sound like the signing will prompt the Indians to trade Drew Stubbs or Michael Brantley, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link).
- In the event of a trade, Stubbs is the most likely to go, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who notes that the Mets are a logical landing place.
- Heyman also writes that the Mets' credibility took a hit with their inability to sign Bourn. He opines that the team should've have filed a grievance weeks ago to attempt to keep their first-round pick, even if it meant risking increased leverage for Scott Boras in negotiations.
- The contract is good for both Bourn and the Indians in the mind of Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan. He adds that Cleveland's protected first-round pick meant they were sacrificing less value to sign Bourn, as he cost them only a competitive balance draft pick. Because they didn't have to give up as much value as others would have to sign Bourn, they were willing to spend more on the contract itself.
- It's a fair contract, and Bourn immediately becomes one of Cleveland's best players, but the move is still a head-scratcher according to ESPN's Keith Law. Law feels that Cleveland's pitching isn't improved enough to make them a .500 team, which makes all of this spending a curious decision unless it's with an eye toward stockpiling affordable talent for future trade assets.
- Law also notes that the Royals are losers in this deal, as part of their rationale for parting with Wil Myers was that the weakness of the AL Central could make them Wild Card contenders: "...every move that Cleveland, Minnesota or the White Sox make to get better hurts the odds of Kansas City getting to the 88-win territory."
The Indians avoided arbitration with Drew Stubbs, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter). The LSW Baseball client will earn $2.825MM in 2013 on a deal that includes $50K in performance bonuses.
Stubbs had a projected salary of $2.9MM following a season in which he posted a .213/.277/.333 batting line with 14 home runs in 544 plate appearances as Cincinnati's starting center fielder. The Indians acquired the 28-year-old from the Reds in a three-team trade last month.
Was a better bargain than Andruw Jones signed this winter? The White Sox added him on a one-year deal worth $500K, and all he's given them so far is a batting line of .260/.360/.604. Meanwhile, the man patrolling his old Atlanta center field home, Nate McLouth, checks in at .167/.302/.271, and Gary Matthews Jr., who will make twice what Jones does from the Mets this year (and next year!), is hitting .152/.235/.196.
The problem is, this hasn't allowed the White Sox to move into contention. Thanks to a 14-20 start, combined with Minnesota's 22-12 beginning, Chicago is already eight games out, with Memorial Day still weeks away. So it may well be that the White Sox can, and should flip Jones to a contending team down the stretch. And that reasonable short-term deal means some of the smaller-market contenders are likely to be in the Jones sweepstakes.
What are some possible destinations?
- Washington could be a good fit. Willie Harris is hitting just .182/.313/.418, and with Willy Taveras also getting outfield at-bats, so Jones could be a good fit for regular corner outfield time. The Nationals have several pitchers set to join the big league team, but little in the way of outfield prospects at the top of their system. For now, the Nationals say they're content with Harris and Roger Bernadina.
- Cincinnati has seen Drew Stubbs struggle in center field so far; he's hitting just .196/.283/.321. It shouldn't be hard to convince Dusty Baker to play the veteran Jones over Stubbs, either. It's not clear that Jones is still an every day center fielder, but Chicago has already played him there four times in 2010.
- The Padres have Kyle Blanks in left field, Tony Gwynn Jr. in center field, and Will Venable in right field. Of the three, only Blanks profiles as a top prospect, so the other two could be vulnerable to a Jones acquisition, should San Diego remain in the race.
- With Eric Chavez and Jake Fox struggling, and Rajai Davis reverting to form, the Athletics could use Jones in either center field or at designated hitter to support an imposing starting rotation. The move sounds a lot like acquiring Frank Thomas, doesn't it?
- And don't fall asleep on Seattle, either. Currently 6.5 games out, the Mariners have the talent to climb back into the race, but their DHs, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney, simply aren't hitting. Jones could also slot into left field.
To put it mildly, this has been a rough year for Reds fans. Edinson Volquez had the Cincinnati faithful buzzing after posting a 3.21 ERA with 9.5 K/9 in his first full season in 2008. After logging just nine starts in the 2009 campaign, Volquez needed surgery to repair damage in his right elbow. The Reds faded fast as their depleted staff wasn't getting much of a lift from their sagging offense. Injuries to Joey Votto and Edwin Encarnacion (prior to being dealt to Toronto) certainly didn't do them any favors.
However, if the team's recent performance is any indication of what lies ahead, Reds fans might have something to cheer about in 2010. Dusty Baker's squad has gone 19-11 since September 1st, thanks in part to stronger pitching (3.39 team ERA) and the return of Jay Bruce, who missed two months with a broken wrist.
Buster Olney, Baseball Prospectus and the ESPN Insider staff compiled a glance at this past season and what to expect next year in Cincy. An ESPN Insider account is needed to read the article, but here are the brass tacks for those without:
- It's no secret that the Reds don't have a top-flight budget. They opened this season with a payroll of $73MM and owner Bob Castellini isn't going to "go all Steinbrenner" and tack-on much more.
- Further exacerbating their financial woes are their pricey commitments to Bronson Arroyo, Francisco Cordero, Aaron Harang and Scott Rolen. Combined, these four players are owed $46.5 million next season.
- Olney says that considering their lack of flexibility this offseason, Homer Bailey might be their best chance for improvement as he recorded a 2.41 ERA in September. The velocity that made Bailey such a highly-coveted prospect has returned, with his fastball being clocked at an average of 94.5 MPH this year. This is a big step-up from his previous big league work and could spell an even bigger jump in 2010.
- Baseball Prospectus says that their "acceptable" rate of 4.5 runs allowed per game is due in part to their much-improved defense. It will be interesting to see if defensive-minded yet weak-hitting shortstop Paul Janish will be the Reds' starter next season. Manager Dusty Baker said on Friday that a "definitive decision" hasn't been made yet.
- Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus notes that the combined efforts of all Reds batting in the top two lineup spots resulted in a slash line of .245/.301/.354. When Willy Taveras hit the DL in August, Dusty Baker put rookie Drew Stubbs and the aforementioned Janish at the top of the order. The team has gone 27-15 since then, but Jaffe attributes most of the credit for that to the improved performance of the pitching staff.
- The "Rumor Central" portion of the piece encourages Reds fans that are anxious to see the team acquire a big bat to consider what the offense is capable of if they are healthy. Injury-free seasons from Bruce and Votto should give Cincinnati a major boost.
- The report says to expect the Reds to tender Jonny Gomes an offer as he is arbitration-eligible. This should come as no surprise as Gomes has belted 20 HRs in 311 plate appearances while posting .266/.338/.540.
- Jaffe says that Jocketty could deal Arroyo or Harang to give the team room to make a mid-level signing this winter. He adds, "...It's difficult to envision this team breaking out of the middle of the pack without keen vision and bold steps."