Elvis Andrus Rumors
Earlier today, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs explored a hypothetical swap of super-prospects: Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar and Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras. Even if one were to prefer the upside of Taveras to the floor of Profar, Cameron says, the present value of Profar to the middle-infield-hungry Cards tilts clearly in favor of such a deal for St. Louis. For the Rangers, though, Taveras is not quite as clean a fit, as the club would presumably need to move Nelson Cruz to first. And giving up Profar now could hurt the team's chances of landing another hypothetical trade target: Giancarlo Stanton. If Texas asked for the Cardinals to kick in something more to sweeten the deal, however, it would begin to look less attractive to St. Louis. Thus, while St. Louis GM John Mozeliak says he'd have to consider such a deal (Twitter link), Cameron concludes that it is unlikely to materialize.
- MLBTR has learned of some additional provisions contained in Elvis Andrus's recent extension, each of which would figure in if the Rangers ever looked to trade the shortstop. In addition to a limited no-trade clause, Andrus would obtain full no-trade protection for the balance of the contract if he is traded at any point. Further, the previously reported vesting club option for 2023 would instead become a player option if Andrus is with a different team when the contract expires in 2022 (assuming, of course, that the deal has not already terminated via one of its opt-out clauses.) The potential club option and player option both vest upon the same 2021-22 plate appearance thresholds.
- The Astros, firmly in rebuilding mode, may well have the right baseball operations leadership to make it successful. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals' scouting director from 2005-11, is credited with drafting more 2013 Opening Day major leaguers (21) than any other scouting director. Baseball America's Conor Glassey broke down Luhnow's many successes, which make up a sizeable portion of St. Louis's current (and likely future) roster.
As Rangers GM Jon Daniels explained, the club has officially agreed to "an unusual deal" with 24-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus. The deal is nominally an eight-year, $120MM extension, bringing the team's total commitment to Andrus to $131.275MM over the next ten seasons. But that is far from the entire story.
Andrus's previous three-year, $14.4MM contract expires after 2014. His new deal provides that he will receive $15MM for the following six years (2015-2020) and $14MM for the final two seasons (2021-22). Andrus also received a $2MM signing bonus.
However, the contract also includes two opt-out clauses that give Andrus the right to become a free agent after either the 2018 or the 2019 season. If Andrus opts out at the first possible chance, as the club anticipates, then the deal will effectively revert to a four-year, $62MM extension.
In effect, then, the Rangers have ensured control over Andrus for the next six years. The Rangers now have an enviable surplus of middle infield talent locked up with Andrus, Jurickson Profar and Ian Kinsler all under team control through at least the 2018 season. (The Rangers have a team option over Kinsler for 2018, and Profar would not be eligible for free agency until 2019 at the earliest.) The Rangers could move Kinsler to first base or outfield next season, or look to trade him this offseason. Of course, the club could also consider dealing Profar for prime talent in the outfield or rotation.
While Texas has obtained security and flexibility up the middle, the opt-out clauses also add risk, as Andrus gets two chances at a walk year. In essence, if Texas has six years of control over Andrus, then the player has control over the final four seasons. Should Andrus suffer injury or see his abilities slip, he could decide not to opt out and leave the Rangers on the hook for an additional $58MM over 2019-2022.
There is one other (perhaps unlikely) major scenario that the contract contemplates. If Andrus chooses not to opt out but remains an effective everyday player, the deal could expand by another year and another $15MM. Here's how: Should Andrus stay in Texas and make either 550 plate appearances in 2022, or 1,100 appearances combined in 2021-22, then a $15MM team option vests for 2023. But, if Andrus reaches those PA targets and instead plays out the contract with another club (presumably as a result of a trade or waiver claim), then a $15MM player option vests for 2023.
The possibility of a 2023 player option vesting is one potential deterrent to a future trade involving Andrus. The extension also provides Andrus with direct protection through a ten-team, partial no-trade clause that kicks in for 2016. Also, if Andrus is traded, he receives full no-trade protection (against his new team) over any subsequent deals for the duration of the contract.
As MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows, Andrus' contract is unprecedented for a player of his type. His $120MM guarantee in new money is $1MM more than the $119MM that was guaranteed to Troy Tulowitzki following his last contract extension, but Andrus' bat isn't nearly as potent. While Tulowitzki's overall contract is still larger (he signed that extension midway through a six-year, $31MM contract), Scott Boras has managed to secure the largest extension ever for a shortstop in terms of new money. Indeed, despite being years away from the open market, Andrus bested the $106MM guarantee achieved by Jose Reyes in free agency last offseason.
Andrus has a career .274/.342/.352 batting line and just 14 homers in 2595 plate appearances, but the Rangers are clearly paying him based on his elite defense and baserunning. Ultimate Zone Rating pegs Andrus as having saved 29 runs with his defense from 2009-12, while The Fielding Bible has him at 23. Fangraphs ranks his baserunning ability second only to Michael Bourn over that same four-year stretch.
Boras typically encourages his clients to test free agency, but the Andrus deal marks the second time in the past three weeks that a Boras client has signed a long-term extension before hitting the open market. Carlos Gomez recently signed a three-year $24MM contract Brewers despite already being controlled through the 2013 season. Perhaps frustration over free agents Kyle Lohse and, to a lesser extent, Michael Bourn this offseason have prompted a change in Boras' philosophy.
Andrus was the subject of trade rumors all offseason as a result of Profar's presence in the minor leagues and the Rangers' heavy interest in Justin Upton. General manager Jon Daniels maintained all along, however, that he refused to include Andrus in a deal. The new contract serves as an exclamation point on Texas' faith that Andrus will continue to be an elite defender whose offensive game will grow.
This is the second extension of the calendar year for the Rangers, who inked Opening Day starter Matt Harrison to a five-year, $55MM deal in January.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were nearing an agreement. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to report an agreement had been reached. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan added details surrounding the opt-out clause and option year. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the deal would include two out clauses (Twitter link). Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweeted Andrus's signing bonus and annual salary, and reported on the official press conference.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The changing nature of free agency has been a hot topic of late, as MLBTR noted earlier today. A series of high-profile extensions this spring have reinforced an apparent new trend towards teams retaining their best young players with long-term deals. As Larry Stone of the Seattle Times posits, this trend also increases the importance of scouting and developing young players, with MLB's recent spending limits potentially leveling the playing field between large and small-market clubs.
- Alex Rodriguez's record-breaking 2007 contract extension with the Yankees was re-visited in a piece on Saturday from David Waldstein of the New York Times. Waldstein reports on the events that ensued after Rodriguez exercised the opt-out clause in his contract, with the announcement infamously coming in the midst of what turned out to be the final game of the World Series. After receiving counsel from people ranging from Mariano Rivera to Warren Buffett, Rodriguez apologized to Hal and Hank Steinbrenner to pave the way to a new deal with the Yanks. The unprecedented contract included a $265MM salary guarantee over ten seasons, a $10MM signing bonus, and career home run milestone payments of up to $30MM. With Rodriguez now suffering from some combination of ineffectiveness, injury, and intrigue, Waldstein writes, New York may be exploring a variety of ways to get out from under the deal.
- An opt-out clause could play a big role in another potential ten-year commitment: the recently-inked eight-year, $120MM extension between Elvis Andrus and the Rangers. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains, the deal's opt-out clause is likely to turn the Andrus extension into a four-year, $60MM deal. While this seems to be a big concession by Texas, Rosenthal says it was necessary to lock up four of the Scott Boras client's free agent years. The club will pursue insurance to protect itself in the event that Andrus does not exercise the opt-out clause due to injury. The deal also gives the Rangers plenty of flexibility to take advantage of super-prospect Jurickson Profar, either in their lineup (at second base) or via trade.
- While still not conforming his new deal, Andrus commented today on his relationship with Boras, as reported by T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Discussing his agent's penchant for testing the market, Andrus said: "We're the boss. I know everybody thinks that about Scott but it's different if you're the one in that position. He works for us. I know he tries to get the best deal that he can but it comes down to my choice and what's better for me and my family."
- Scott Kazmir appears close to coming all the way back to the big leagues after being activated by the Indians, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. In a corresponding move, the club optioned left-hander Nick Hagadone to Triple-A. Kazmir, who will now receive a $1MM base salary after initially signing a minor league deal, may still have to wait to actually make an appearance after straining his ab. As the Indians noted on Twitter, today's transaction allows the club to back-date a Kazmir DL stint if he is not ready to go.
- The Red Sox are signing infielder Brandon Snyder to a minor league deal, as first reported by Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Alex Speier of WEEI.com confirmed (via Twitter) that Snyder, who was recently released by the Rangers, has signed with Boston and is headed to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Earlier today it was reported that the Rangers and Elvis Andrus have agreed to an eight-year extension that will keep Andrus in Texas through the 2022 season and pay him $120MM in new money ($131.275MM total). Here's a look at some media reactions to the game's newest nine-figure player...
- Extensions will continue to become more and more frequent as the average team revenue from national TV contracts will jump from $25MM to $52MM in 2014, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal writes that it will be interesting to see how this affects the Yankees' negotiations with Robinson Cano, who, like Andrus, is represented by Scott Boras.
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington post tweets that the Andrus contract likely "throws a pipe bomb" into the Nationals' negotiations with Ian Desmond.
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs calls Andrus one of the game's best examples of how defense and baserunning can make up for lack of power, and notes that the deal means Jurickson Profar is now the second baseman of the future in Texas. Ian Kinsler will likely move to first base, the outfield or another team, in Cameron's mind.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus and the Rangers are "close" on an eight-year deal that could be worth $120MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Andrus is a Scott Boras client, as shown in MLBTR's Agency Database.
Andrus, 24, has hit .275/.342/.353 in four big-league seasons, but he also provides significant and consistent value with his fielding and his baserunning. He had his best offensive year so far in 2012, hitting .286/.349/.378 in 711 plate appearances. Andrus is currently in the second year of a three-year, $14.4MM contract that covers all three of what would have been his arbitration-eligible seasons. He is currently set to make $4.8MM in 2013.
If Andrus were to reach agreement on a new deal with the Rangers, it would cap a span of just a few days in which Justin Verlander, Buster Posey, Adam Wainwright and Paul Goldschmidt all also signed big-money deals to remain with their current teams. An Andrus mega-contract would be somewhat novel, in that position players with his lack of offensive firepower (he has virtually no home run power and has yet to post an OPS+ higher than 91) rarely get such deals, but Andrus' youth and fielding ability make him a very valuable commodity.
An eight-year deal would put Andrus in line for free agency at the age of 33, an idea that isn't appealing to the shortstop's camp, a source tells Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram (on Twitter). However, a deal of this magnitude could put those concerns to rest.
The Rangers also have top prospect and fellow shortstop Jurickson Profar at Triple-A, and it's unclear how an Andrus extension might affect his future. The Rangers could keep them both and use Profar at second base, with Ian Kinsler, who is signed through 2017, moving to DH or first base.
Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels worked out one other extension this winter when he inked Matt Harrison to a five-year, $55MM deal, according to MLBTR's Extension Tracker. Texas has also shown that they aren't afraid to hammer out a contract after Opening Day as they gave Ian Kinsler his five-year, $75MM deal in early April last year.
The Rangers have enviable shortstop depth, but that doesn't mean they're planning to make a trade. GM Jon Daniels indicated that Elvis Andrus is not being moved, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (on Twitter).
"We're not breaking up our strengths, and one of biggest strengths is the left side," Daniels explained.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported last week that the Rangers will look to trade Andrus next offseason if the sides don't reach a long-term extension. Rangers people aren't "overly optimistic" about signing the Scott Boras client to a new contract, Heyman reported. Andrus, 24, will earn $4.8MM in 2013 and $6.475MM in 2014 before hitting free agency.
Top prospect Jurickson Profar looms as a possible replacement for Andrus. There's no clear starting role for Profar presently, though opportunities generally emerge over the course of a six month season. Profar, who entered the season as Baseball America's top-ranked prospect, turned 20 last month.
The Cardinals would presumably be atop the list of potentially interested teams should Daniels revisit his stance and listen to offers on Andrus.
The Rangers will look to deal shortstop Elvis Andrus next offseason if the club can't sign him to a multiyear extension, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. People within the Texas organization are reportedly not "overly optimistic" they can extend Andrus, who is scheduled to hit the free agent market following the 2014 season. The Rangers, of course, already have a ready replacement at shortstop in Jurickson Profar, the consensus top prospect in baseball.
Andrus, 24, enjoyed his best offensive season yet in 2012 (.286/.349/.378 with 21 steals and 85 runs) and also provided very strong defense (9.1 UZR/150) at short. He is entering the second year of a three-year, $14.4MM extension signed in February 2012 that covered his three arbitration years.
While Andrus recently said he wants to stay in Texas, the team hasn't been able to come to terms on a major extension. The Rangers have twice offered Andrus long-term deals in recent years, Heyman reports. Andrus is represented by Scott Boras, whose clients often eschew extensions in favor of testing free agency (though this is not always the case, as evidenced by recent high-profile examples as Carlos Gonzalez and Jered Weaver). There was a great deal of trade speculation over Andrus this offseason, most notably from the Diamondbacks as they and the Rangers attempted to work out a trade for Justin Upton. Texas, however, declined to move either Andrus or Profar.
Heyman says the Rangers haven't approached Andrus about an extension this winter, though if the two sides did work out a multiyear deal, it would likely mean that Profar would have to change positions. There was speculation that Ian Kinsler could be moved to first or the outfield to make room for Profar at second base, though Kinsler said in January that he wasn't yet comfortable with a position switch. Nelson Cruz, David Murphy and Lance Berkman could all be free agents following the 2013 season so that could create space for Profar in the outfield, or Kinsler could be moved then to make way for Profar at second.
On this date two years ago, Chuck Greenberg resigned as the Rangers' CEO after encountering philosophical differences with others in the team's ownership group. The Rangers' leadership structure is again making headlines, as ownership looks to determine what Nolan Ryan's role will be going forward. Here are some links from around MLB, starting in Texas...
- Dan Szymborski of ESPN Insider explains why the Cardinals are a perfect fit for Elvis Andrus of the Rangers. St. Louis needs a shortstop after losing Rafael Furcal to injury and the Rangers could part with Andrus to create space for Jurickson Profar. The Rangers could look to acquire a pitching prospect such as Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller or Carlos Martinez from the Cardinals' top-ranked farm system.
- Atlanta GM Frank Wren told James Wagner of the Washington Post that most of the Braves' offseason moves revolved around their own needs, rather than the Nationals' roster. Wren explained that he wanted to add right-handed balance to a lineup that had become too left-handed. "I can’t say that anything we did this offseason was reactionary,” he said.
- FanGraphs' David Laurila spoke with Sig Mejdal, the Astros' director of decision sciences, about his role in Houston and the place of analytics in baseball.
Here's the latest news out of Surprise, Arizona, as the Rangers begin their Spring Training preparations...
- Elvis Andrus told reporters (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that he'd be happy to continue exploring a multiyear extension with Texas. “If they want to keep talking and get to a point where there is a really great offer for my future, yeah, I’d do it for sure,” Andrus said. The team has interest in locking Andrus up, though Grant notes the two sides haven't made much progress in limited negotiations this winter.
- Grant speculates that Andrus and agent Scott Boras' idea of "a really great offer" might be an eight- or ten-year contract with an average annual value of around $15MM. The Yankees could be a "looming" factor in negotiations, Grant writes, as Andrus is under contract through the 2014 season, which is also when Derek Jeter's contract will be up.
- Lance Berkman talked to MLB.com's Alyson Footer about his decision to sign with the Rangers, his injury concerns and how close he came to retiring this offseason. Health permitting, Berkman said that he would like to play two more seasons before calling it a career.
- Julio Borbon is facing a make-or-break situation in Spring Training but the outfielder told reporters (including ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett) that he changed his offseason regimen and is confident of making the Opening Day roster. Borbon is out of options and would have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors, though the Rangers may not have room for him with Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin and Mike Olt all in the mix for part-time outfield jobs.
The MLBPA announced that Dave Prouty has been promoted to the position of general counsel, replacing executive director Michael Weiner in that role. The 54-year-old Prouty becomes the fourth general counsel in the history of the MLBPA. “I am confident that Dave will excel in his new role and that the players will continue to receive the high level of legal representation they have come to expect from their union,” Weiner said. Here are some links from around MLB...
- While emphasizing that GM Brian Sabean decides which players to sign, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy won't rule out a return for Brian Wilson, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. "I can't say that [Wilson] will be back." But, Bochy added, "I can't say the door's closed on Brian Wilson. ... I don't think that's completely shut."
- The Mets are still hopeful on Michael Bourn and General Manager Sandy Alderson talking about him publicly is a positive sign, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, nothing appears to be imminent between the club and the top remaining free agent left on the open market.
- In an appearance on ESPN Dallas’ the Ben & Skin Show, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said he hopes to stay in Texas long-term (story via Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com). However, the Scott Boras client said he’s prepared to “see what happens” when his contract expires following the 2014 season. “We’re still talking about it. That’s all I can say. For sure, I would love to stay here.”
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti suggested on MLB Network that free agent third baseman Scott Rolen will "probably end up some other place than Los Angeles,"Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. The Dodgers had “some interest” in bringing Rolen on to provide depth at the corner infielder positions, Colletti acknowledged.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has the details on the incentives included in the contracts for Kyle Farnsworth and Kelly Johnson. The Rays announced their deals with both players yesterday.
Zach Links contributed to this post.