Eric Stults Rumors

NL East Links: Dunn, Phillies, McDowell, Alderson

Lefty Mike Dunn is the rare player who hopes to be criticized for signing a multi-year deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports.  “I want it to be a situation where, at the end of it, someone can say to me, ‘Well, that was a terrible deal. If you would have done it year to year, you could have made more money,’ ” Dunn said. “That’s what I want it to be. I want to prove I’m worth more than that. I want to live up to that two-year deal, and hopefully surpass it.”  The two-year, $5.8MM contract represents a rare multi-year commitment to a reliever for the Marlins, though they were comfortable giving Dunn two years because of his extreme durability.  Dunn has averaged 70 appearances a year since 2011 and never been on the DL during his nine-year professional career.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • Should the Phillies trade Cole Hamels sooner rather than later?  MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki makes the point that the club has already been burned by moving too quickly to deal other recent aces — Curt Schilling in 2000 and Cliff Lee in 2009 — and there’s no reason to rush into a Hamels deal just because of Lee’s current injury concerns.
  • The presence of highly-regarded pitching coach Roger McDowell was a big reason why Eric Stults and Jim Johnson signed with the Braves, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.
  • With Josh Edgin possibly facing Tommy John surgery, the Mets are even thinner on left-handed relief pitching options.  Manager Terry Collins is “disappointed” (according to ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin) with how his southpaws have performed in Spring Training and said he could even consider having an all-righty bullpen, though GM Sandy Alderson told reporters (including Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal) that he “can’t forsee” a pen without at least one left-hander present.
  • The lack of lefty bullpen depth is another example of how the Mets are hampering themselves by a lack of spending, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines.
  • Alderson spoke to reporters (including Adam Rubin) in order to clarify comments made in his biography about the Mets‘ payroll situation.  “Some people want to interpret the last four years strictly in terms of what financial resources were available or not available to the Mets….From that standpoint, that’s never been an issue for me,” Alderson said.  “I never talked about the payroll as an unfortunate limitation to us. I haven’t talked about it recently. I haven’t talked about it in the past. I don’t intend to. It’s not relevant to me….Look, our payroll is at $100 million right now, which is up about 20 percent from what it was last year.  I don’t think anybody has any complaints at all on our end.”

East Notes: Braves, Olivera, Span, Sabathia

In the course of a broader post, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported several opt-out dates for veteran Braves pitchers in camp on minor league deals. Lefty Eric Stults can exercise his clause on April 3, just prior to Opening Day, while Chien-Ming Wang does not have the right to make himself a free agent until July 1.

Here’s more from Atlanta and the rest of the NL East:

  • Though the Braves have had plenty of discussion with the representatives for Hector Olivera, the club is indicating that it will not spend a “huge” amount of money for the free agent infielder, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.
  • The Nationals will face an early-season challenge now that center fielder Denard Span is set to miss significant time after undergoing surgery for a “right core muscle” injury, as Chelsea James of the Washington Post reports. A “league medical official” tells James that the surgery is particularly concerning since it comes right on the heels of a December sports hernia procedure. The immediate effect of the injury is to provide a full-time audition for prospect Michael Taylor. Depending upon how it proceeds, it could impact Washington’s trade deadline needs and Span’s upcoming free agency.
  • Yankees starter CC Sabathia tells MLB Network Radio (audio link) that he is at “one hundred percent” health at this point. He expects his next outing to be live game action after throwing a simulated game today. Sabathia is just one of several high-variable starting pitchers in the New York stable. His ability to bounce back this year will go a long way not only towards determining the club’s short-term success, but also toward assessing the value the team can hope to return out of the $30MM in guaranteed money (and potential for $20MM more through a vesting clause) left on Sabathia’s deal.

Rosenthal On Rockies, Drew, Padres, Braves

Other teams asked Major League Baseball about the Rockies‘ decision to add John Axford to their roster so early in the spring, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Axford signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies in early February, but the team added him to its roster March 1, effectively turning a minor-league deal into a big-league one. To clear space on their roster, they moved Tyler Chatwood to the 60-day DL, a move they were not allowed to make in the offseason. The idea is that the team might have effectively agreed to a big-league deal with Axford but signed him to a minor-league deal purely to manipulate its roster. The Rockies, of course, could plausibly claim that they were impressed by Axford early in the spring and wanted to roster him so that he couldn’t exercise his out clause later in the month, perhaps making the decision early as a vote of confidence in Axford and in their team. Here are more highlights from Rosenthal’s latest notes column.

  • Scouts have doubts about Stephen Drew as the Yankees‘ second baseman, Rosenthal writes. The Yankees signed Drew for $5MM in the offseason with the idea that he would provide veteran stability in the middle infield, given that they’re going with youngster Didi Gregorius at shortstop and their backup plans at second, Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder, are also inexperienced.
  • The Padres are reportedly among the teams most interested in Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, but Rosenthal reports that they are unlikely to pay more than the $70MM Olivera expects to get.
  • Teams interested in starting pitching depth could turn to the Braves‘ collection of minor-league signees, including Eric Stults, Chien-Ming Wang and Wandy Rodriguez. Stults can opt out of his deal April 3, while Wang can opt out July 1. Whether Rodriguez has an out, and when, is unknown.


Braves To Sign Eric Stults

The Braves have agreed to sign left-hander Eric Stults to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (on Twitter). Stults is a client of Pro Star Management, Inc.

The 35-year-old Stults has spent the better part of the past three seasons in the Padres’ rotation, working to a 3.87 ERA with 5.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate just north of 40 percent. The past two seasons were his first full years in a big league rotation, and he averaged 190 innings between the two campaigns.

While all of that appears solid on paper, Stults saw his numbers take a step back in 2014, and he’s never fared particularly well away from the pitcher-friendly Petco Park (4.77 road ERA in 2013, 4.50 in 2014). Last season, Stults worked to a 4.30 ERA that metrics such as xFIP and SIERA feel is commensurate with his talent level, and the pristine command he showed in 2013 (1.8 BB/9) regressed toward his career mark, as he allowed 2.3 walks per nine.

Stults figures to compete with Michael Foltynewicz to see which of the two will round out a starting rotation that currently includes Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Mike Minor and Shelby Miller.


Eric Stults Elects Free Agency

Left-hander Eric Stults has chosen to become a free agent after the Padres outrighted him to Triple-A, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Twitter link).  Stults was designated for assignment by the Padres last week.

As Jeff Sanders of the Union-Tribune recently explained, the Padres’ decision to designate Stults was largely based on financial reasons (the $4.6MM he’d earn through the arbitration process, as projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz) rather than the southpaw’s performance as a Padre.  Stults has been a reliable innings-eater since joining the team in May 2012, posting a 3.87 ERA and 2.71 K/BB rate over 472 IP.  The advanced metrics, however, rank Stults as a below-average performer at pitcher-friendly Petco Park, so the Friars felt they could afford to let Stults go in lieu of their other pitching depth.

Stults, who turns 35 next month, has a career 4.12 ERA over 635 2/3 IP with the Padres, White Sox, Rockies and Dodgers over eight Major League seasons.


NL Notes: Stults, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Liriano

The Padres decision to designate left-handed pitcher Eric Stults for assignment was based on finances rather than performance, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Per MLBTR’s Matt Swartz, Stults was projected to earn about $4.6MM via arbitration after a season in which he posted a 4.30 ERA and 17 losses. Stults, 35 next season, represents a solid depth piece at the back of a rotation due to durability and decent stuff. However, the Padres are in need of offensive help and have plenty of pitching. The rotation is already filled without Stults, and Sanders names another five pitchers who can serve as additional depth. The cash savings will ostensibly be applied to the offense, and it’s possible Stults will return to San Diego on a lesser contract.

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart spoke with MLB Network Radio on a variety of topics. Arizona won’t be in the market for the top three free agent pitchers according to Stewart (tweet), but they may be more involved on Kenta Maeda (also Twitter). As for top prospect Archie Bradley, Stewart would like to see him get more seasoning at the Triple-A level before reaching the majors (via Twitter).
  • While Cubs GM Jed Hoyer downplayed the possibility of a “supercharged offseason” yesterday, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times believes they are poised for a spending spree. He figures they have $70MM in available payroll. The Cubs have an “acquisition window…through the 2015-2016 offseason,” so we shouldn’t expect all of that money to be used this winter. Howover, several of the biggest market clubs like the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, and Phillies are trying to be cost conscious this offseason, which makes now a good time to strike on top players.
  • Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano is still considering his qualifying offer and “several options,” tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That could hint to a possible multi-year contract offer from the Pirates or other clubs, although that’s just my speculation. MLBTR’s Steve Adams covered Liriano’s free agent profile earlier this week and ultimately estimated a three-year, $40MM deal.

Padres Designate Stults, Roach; Lose Jackson To Dodgers On Waivers

The Padres announced today that they have designated left-hander Eric Stults and right-hander Donn Roach for assignment, adding that catcher Adam Moore has been outrighted off the 40-man roster. Additionally, infielder Ryan Jackson has been claimed off waivers by the Dodgers.

The moves make room for the reinstatement of right-hander Casey Kelly, left-hander Cory Luebke, first baseman Yonder Alonso and outfielder Carlos Quentin from the 60-day disabled list.

Stults, who is nearing his 35th birthday, threw 176 innings of 4.30 ERA ball last season, tallying 5.7 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9. Those numbers represent a downtick from his work over 2012-13, when Stults carried a 3.60 ERA across 302 2/3 innings. The major difference in his year-over-year results comes in the form of an increasing rate of home runs allowed. ERA estimators have generally viewed him in much the same light: as a below-average starting pitcher. Stults had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4.6MM through arbitration, so the move is not terribly surprising.

Roach, meanwhile, made his MLB debut this year at age 24. He posted a 4.75 ERA in 30 1/3 frames while posting an unappetizing 5.0 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9. His numbers at Triple-A were no more promising, but Roach has had success in the lower minor league levels.

As for Moore, the 30-year-old backstop has seen action in parts of six MLB seasons but has only taken more than 24 plate appearances in one of them (back in 2010 with the Mariners). Once a well-regarded prospect, Moore has a .200/.241/.309 line over 283 trips to the plate in the majors. He did, however, have an excellent campaign at Triple-A this year, slashing .305/.367/.506 and swatting 13 long balls over 354 plate appearances.

The 26-year-old Jackson will present a utility infield option for his new club. He has scant major league experience, but owns a .274/.344/.369 slash in over 1,000 plate appearances at the Triple-A level and comes with a good defensive reputation at short. Jackson missed most of 2014 after undergoing wrist surgery.


Players To Avoid Arbitration

With tonight’s non-tender deadline looming, several players figure to not only be tendered contracts but agree to their 2014 salaries prior to 11pm CT. We’ll run down the players to avoid arbitration with their respective clubs in this post, and remember that you can track the progress on all arbitration eligible players by using MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker. For a reminder on the projected salaries for each of these players, check out Matt Swartz’s projections in MLBTR’s Arbitration Eligibles series.

  • The Nationals announced they’ve avoided arbitration with righty Ross Ohlendorf, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Ohlendorf’s deal will guarantee him $1.25MM and can reach $3MM via incentives that can be achieved as a starter or reliever, per the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with utility infielder Donnie Murphy, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com (via Twitter), agreeing to a one-year, $825K pact that includes incentives.
  • The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Steve Pearce for $850K, tweets Rosenthal.
  • The Padres have reached terms with pitcher Eric Stults on a $2.75MM deal to avoid arbitration, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He had been projected by Swartz to earn $3MM through arbitration. Unlike most arbitration deals, tweets Rosenthal, this one will be guaranteed.  Also getting a guaranteed deal from the Padres, per Rosenthal, is righty Tim Stauffer at $1.6MM.
  • The White Sox have avoided arbitration with catcher Tyler Flowers with a $950k contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • The Athletics have avoided arbitration with righty Fernando Rodriguez, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Rodriguez, who is represented by Metis Sports Management, LLC, will earn $600K plus award bonuses, MLBTR has learned.  The A’s will tender contracts to its remaining arb-eligible players, Slusser notes via Twitter.
  • The Indians have avoided arbitration with relievers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood, the club announced. Each player will earn $560k, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, which falls below their respective projections from MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.
  • Newly-acquired catcher George Kottaras has reached agreement on a one-year, $1.075MM deal to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The contract includes incentives, according to Heyman. A left-handed batter, Kottaras managed only a .180 batting average last year, but got on base at a .349 clip in addition to posting a .370 slugging mark in his 126 plate appearances.
  • The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nolan Reimold, sources tell Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (link to Twitter). The 30-year-old will get a one-year, $1.025MM deal that includes incentives. Reimold lost most of the last two seasons to injury, but has a career .252/.327/.439 slash in 1,056 plate appearances dating back to 2009. His salary will be guaranteed, tweets Connolly.
  • The Phillies have avoided arbitration with infielder Kevin Frandsen, the club announced. Frandsen will receive a one-year, $900k deal that includes performance incentives. Last year, Frandsen had a .234/.296/.341 slash line in 278 plate appearances. The deal is guaranteed, Rosenthal tweets.
  • The Braves announced that they have avoided arbitration with infielder Ramiro Pena and left-hander Jonny Venters (Twitter link). Pena, 28, batted a solid .278/.330/.443 in 107 PAs this season before shoulder surgery ended his season. Venters’ contract was first reported two weeks ago and is said to be worth $1.625MM.
  • MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with Don Kelly by agreeing to a one-year, $1MM contract for 2014. Kelly will turn 34 in February and batted .222/.309/.343 in 2013 — all numbers that are nearly mirrored by his career .229/.290/.344 batting line. He is represented by LSW Baseball.
  • The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal (on Twitter). Barbarisi reports that the trade sending Stewart to Pittsburgh was actually in place on Friday but was also contingent on Stewart agreeing to a new contract with the Pirates. Stewart, a client of James A. Kuzmich, PLLC, agreed to his new contract today, thereby finalizing the trade. He projected to earn $1MM, per Swartz.

Quick Hits: Baker, Varitek, LaHair, Padres, Berkman

Reds manager Dusty Baker suffered a minor stroke on Friday, the team told reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon).  Baker was already in hospital being treated for an irregular heartbeat and was supposed to be released on Friday.  The 63-year-old was released instead on Sunday and is reportedly in good condition, addressing the Reds clubhouse this afternoon.  Bench coach Chris Speier has managed the team in Baker's absence and will continue to do so at least through Cincinnati's weekend series with the Pirates, though Baker is hopeful of returning for the Reds' final series of the year.

Here's some more news from around the baseball world…


Padres Claim Eric Stults

The Padres have claimed left-hander Eric Stults off of waivers from the White Sox, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The White Sox had designated the 32-year-old for assignment earlier this week.

Stults had appeared in two games for the White Sox this year, allowing two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. He signed a minor league deal with Chicago this past offseason after spending most of the 2011 season as a reliever for the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate. Stults also appeared in six games for last year's Rockies team. He joins a Padres bullpen that includes left-handers Alex Hinshaw and Joe Thatcher.