Eric Young, Jr. Rumors

Added To The 40-Man Roster: Sunday

The rosters for Opening Day have been officially submitted this afternoon. Several minor league signees have won jobs with their clubs and earned 40-man roster spots. Here are today’s additions:

  • The Orioles will purchase catcher Ryan Lavarnway‘s contract on Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. The 25-man roster that the Orioles announced today included Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger at catcher, but not Lavarnway, who they had reassigned to the minors.
  • The Padres have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of catcher Wil Nieves. With Tim Federowicz out with a knee injury, Nieves will back up Derek Norris. As we noted when Nieves signed, his big-league salary will be $850K.
  • Ryan Madson has made the Royals‘ Opening Day roster, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Madson caps his comeback from multiple elbow injuries and his first appearance for Kansas City will be his first in the Majors since 2011.
  • The Nationals have announced on Twitter that second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Reed Johnson have made their Opening Day roster.
  • The Braves announced they have officially purchased the contracts of outfielders Eric Young, Jr. and Kelly Johnson, left-hander Eric Stults, and right-hander Cody Martin. The Braves cleared space on their 40-man roster by placing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino and outfielder Dian Toscano on the restricted list.
  • One name missing from the Braves‘ roster is Pedro Ciriaco, who was reported yesterday to have made the club. This is likely a procedural move, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter links), because the Braves placed Josh Outman on the 25-man roster instead of releasing him after the left-hander complained of shoulder tenderness. The move will also buy the Braves some time to look for an upgrade over Ciriaco, tweets Bowman.
  • The Phillies have announced outfielder Jeff Francoeur and infielder Andres Blanco have made the team. Francoeur is just one of four outfielders on Philadelphia’s Opening Day roster, so he could see time as Grady Sizemore‘s platoon partner in right field. The Phillies are now at their 40-man limit.
  • The Marlins have selected the contract of utility player Don Kelly, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Kelly earned his spot with solid Spring Training line of .270/.357/.324 in 42 plate appearances. Frisaro reports the 35-year-old will backup both the corner infield and outfield spots, as well as serving as the team’s emergency third catcher.

NL East Notes: Murphy, K-Rod, Yunel, Braves

News broke earlier today that the Mets weren’t planning to discuss extending Daniel Murphy‘s contract, and Newsday’s Marc Carig has some more details on the team’s decision.  Murphy rates as a below-average second baseman and the Mets are worried he’ll inevitably have to be moved to a corner infield position.  While Murphy hits well for a second baseman, the Mets don’t believe he has the bat necessary for third base or first base, not to mention the fact that David Wright and Lucas Duda have those positions covered for at least the next few seasons in New York.  The Mets also aren’t likely to make Murphy a qualifying offer, unless he enjoys a huge year.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • Also from Carig’s piece, he hears from two rival executives that Murphy will draw a lot of interest on the free agent market.  “There will be a nice line of suitors for him.  Some will want the bat and accept the below-average glove if necessary.  He’s young enough, the bat is strong enough to warrant a multi-year [deal],” one official said.
  • The Marlins made a multi-year offer to Francisco Rodriguez before he agreed to terms with the Brewers, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports (on Twitter). However, McCalvy spoke to one of K-Rod’s teammates and was told that Rodriguez “likes it a lot” in Milwaukee and was hoping to return to the club. The amount that was offered to Rodriguez isn’t known, though previous reports had indicated Miami was comfortable with something in the two-year, $10MM range.
  • Yunel Escobar wasn’t happy to be traded away from the Rays, nor was he pleased about moving from shortstop to second base, James Wagner of the Washington Post writes.  The veteran infielder changed his mind after discussions with Nationals management, however, and is looking forward to playing for a contender.  “I want to help them win a World Series. If the missing piece is me playing second base, then I’m here for anything,” Escobar said.
  • Non-roster invitees in camp on minor league deals could play a significant role in the Braves‘ plans this year, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Asked about the team’s collection of NRIs, manager Fredi Gonzalez listed Eric Stults, Jose Veras, Matt Capps, Brady Feigl, Kelly Johnson, Eric Young and John Buck as players with a legitimate chance, noting that he was probably leaving a few out. Gonzalez seemed particularly excited about Young. “I think the world of Eric Young,” Gonzalez said. “He can really bring a different dynamic that we haven’t had here since Michael Bourn, leading off against right-handed pitching or whatever you want to do. So that’s an exciting non-roster invitee, really.”
  • In NL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, we shared some Phillies notes.

Braves, Eric Young Jr. Agree To Minor League Deal

TODAY: Young will receive a $1MM base salary if he makes Atlanta’s Major League roster, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).  The contract also contains $750K “in easily attainable incentives.”

FEB. 13: The Braves and outfielder Eric Young Jr. have agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, tweets MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The fleet-footed Young will compete with Zoilo Almonte for a role as Jonny Gomes‘ platoon partner in left field, Bowman notes. Young is represented by MVP Sports Group.

Young, 30 in May, offers blistering speed but struggled with the bat in 2014, hitting .229/.299/.311 in 316 plate appearances. Despite the low on-base percentage and limited at-bats, however, Young still managed to swipe 30 bases, and he stole 46 bags the year prior in 598 PAs. Over the life of his career, Young has batted .252/.320/.332 with 138 steals in 171 attempts (81 percent).

Left field has been Young’s primary position over the past two seasons, and it’s also his best position, per both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating. Last year, DRS valued him at +5 runs, while UZR pegged him at 8.8 in 577 innings. UZR has generally graded Young’s left field work better than DRS, pegging him at eight runs per 150 games, but DRS has given him a positive mark for three consecutive seasons. Young also has some experience at second base, and given Atlanta’s unstable situation at the keystone, it’s possible that he’ll see some time there as well over the course of the 2015 campaign.

The Mets non-tendered Young this December rather than pay him a projected $2.3MM salary (via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz), and he was one of a handful of free agents with arbitration eligiblity remaining that I identified last week. Because he has just four years, 123 days of big league service, Young can be controlled next winter via arbitration if he performs well. He is eligible for free agency following the 2016 campaign.



Free Agents With Team Control Remaining

The free agent cupboard is mostly bare, with James Shields, Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano representing the only three available names that made MLBTR’s Top 50 list heading into the offseason. However, there are still some remaining names that provide a certain level of intrigue, and each of the names in question in this post was ineligible for the list at the time it was released.

Each year, teams non-tender players (or, in some cases, tender the player but ultimately release him) in order to avoid paying a significant raise in arbitration. These players hit the open market like any other name, but so long as they have less than five years of service time, they come with an added bonus: they’re controllable beyond the coming season, even upon signing a one-year deal. Examples of players to have already done this are Alexi Ogando (Red Sox), Josh Outman (Braves) and Justin Smoak (Blue Jays). Each player received a one-year big league deal but will be controllable through at least the 2016 season via arbitration. Here’s a quick look at four others who come with that same perk…

  • Brandon Beachy: The 28-year-old Beachy has four years, 104 days of Major League service time and would be controllable through the 2016 season upon signing a Major League deal. He missed the 2014 season after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery but comes with plenty of upside, even if he’ll likely sit out the first few months of the season while he rehabs. Beachy possesses a 3.23 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 267 2/3 career innings at the Major League level. He’s not likely to provide a significant boost for a team in 2015 — he could contribute some usable second-half innings — but he could be a very strong rotation arm in 2016 when he is two years removed from surgery. Beachy’s agent has said his client will not sign until Spring Training is nearer.
  • Everth Cabrera: Cabrera, also 28, performed quite well as the Padres’ everyday shortstop from 2012-13, hitting .264/.339/.352 with 84 steals in 100 tries. The switch-hitter possesses some of the best speed in the game and is capable of handling either middle infield position. However, he also was suspended 50 games in 2013 after being tied to the Biogenesis scandal, and he’s currently in legal trouble as he faces potential jail time after being charged with resisting arrest. He also hit just .232/.272/.300 in 391 PAs last season. Still, given the dearth of talent at shortstop, Cabrera could be a boost to several clubs if he’s able to take the field for the bulk of the 2015 season. He, too, is controllable through 2016.
  • Dayan Viciedo: Released by the White Sox earlier this week, Viciedo has the most team control remaining of anyone on this list. With just three years, 123 days of service under his belt, the 25-year-old could be controlled through the 2017 season, in theory. He’d likely need to tap into some of the to-date dormant potential that made him such a high-profile signing in the first place, but the powerful Cuban isn’t without his value. He’s a lifetime .291/.331/.507 hitter against lefties and could, at the very least, be a serviceable source of power off a team’s bench.
  • Eric Young, Jr.: The 29-year-old Young hasn’t hit much in recent seasons, but he offers blistering speed on the basepaths and is a solid, if not somewhat above-average defender in left field. Young can handle center field in a pinch and also has some experience at second base, giving him some defensive versatility that could appeal to clubs. Over the past two seasons, he’s batted just .242/.306/.327, but he’s also swiped 76 bags in 93 tries — a success rate of nearly 82 percent. He’s controllable through the 2016 season.

Of course, not all of these players will sign Major League deals. Young, in particular, seems like a candidate for a minor league pact, in my estimation. However, upon making the club, the same service time caveats would apply. On a free agent market that is rapidly thinning out, these four players offer a bit of upside that could secure them a job beyond the 2015 campaign, as was the case with Justin Turner, Michael McKenry and Garrett Jones last offseason.


Free Agent Rumors: Furcal, Grilli, Young, Mets

Free agent infielder Rafael Furcal could be a fit for the Royals on a minor league deal thanks to his connection with GM Dayton Moore, according to Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (via Twitter).  Here are some of the latest free agency rumors out of San Diego..

  • Jason Grilli has multiple offers from teams in major markets but the Tigers are not one of them, his agent tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter).
  • The Rangers have interest in Eric Young Jr., but they may have already been outbid, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is considering bidding in the posting of Jung-ho Kang, but he’s unresolved as to whether he will, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • The Orioles could be a landing spot for former Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter).
  • After signing Jon Lester, the Cubs are now pursuing outfielder Jonny Gomes in an apparent effort to get the band back together, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
  • Catcher David Ross tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) that he’s not close on a deal with any club even though he has interest from the Red Sox, Cubs, Braves, D’Backs, and Padres.

2014-15 National League Non-Tenders

Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2015 season. We’ll run down the list of National League non-tenders here, and update it as reports come in. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR’s Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates (in the estimation of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). Also important for reference is the set of arbitration salary projections from MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz. Click here for an explanation of the process, and be sure to check out this piece featuring some interesting observations from Tim regarding non-tender considerations.

  • The Rockies have non-tendered lefty Kraig Sitton, the team announced.
  • The Pirates have non-tendered Gaby Sanchez and Chaz Roe, the club announced. Sanchez was in DFA limbo.
  • The Cardinals will non-tender Daniel Descalso, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. That move seemed rather likely, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reported last night.
  • Lefty Wesley Wright and catcher John Baker have been non-tendered by the Cubs, the team announced. Wright certainly qualifies as a surprise, as the 29-year-old was solid for the Cubs and was projected to earn just $2MM.
  • The Reds have non-tendered righties Logan Ondrusek and Curtis Partch, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports.
  • Meanwhile, the Giants have tendered all arb-eligible players contracts, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News reports on Twitter.
  • The Mets have announced that Eric Young Jr. has been non-tendered, ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin tweets.
  • The Braves have dropped the biggest non-tender news of the day thus far, releasing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to the open market. Otherwise, the only teams announcing to this point have decided to tender all of their players.
  • There will are no non-tenders to report for the Diamondbacks, who have announced that they have tendered contracts to all eligible players (via MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, on Twitter).
  • The same holds true for the Marlins, per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (Twitter link).
  • The Nationals have announced that they have tendered contracts to all ten eligible players, per Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com (via Twitter). Washington had previously agreed to avoid arbitration with one other player from the packed class (Kevin Frandsen).

Non-Tender Notes: Wood, Beckham, Mets

Tomorrow night (11pm CT) is the deadline for teams to tender or non-tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR has previously identified a list of non-tender candidates as well as provided projected salaries for each arbitration eligible player of the offseason (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). In addition to those resources, you can follow along and keep track of players using our 2015 Non-Tender Tracker. We’ll cover some more of the specifics on non-tendering and arbitration tomorrow (though those who are new to the concept can check out last year’s post on explaining non-tenders), but for the time being, here are some news and notes from a few borderline cases around the league…

  • The Cubs are expected to tender a contract to lefty Travis Wood despite the fact that is coming off a down season, reports ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. Wood, projected to earn $5.5MM in 2015, posted a 5.03 ERA in 173 2/3 innings. His command regressed (3.9 BB/9) but he did also see an uptick in strikeouts (7.6 K/9). Rogers notes that Wood could still be traded, as the Cubs did bring back a lefty to slot into the rotation in the form of Tsuyoshi Wada. Chicago is expected to pursue multiple starters on the free agent and trade markets this winter, so if they add enough in the way of upgrades, a team may be interested in taking on Wood at a reasonable price.
  • The Angels will tender David Freese and pay him something in the range of his $6.3MM projection but are expected to non-tender Gordon Beckham, Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times writes. However, the Halos will have interest in bringing Beckham back in a utility role on a smaller deal than the $5MM he is projected to earn. Of course, Beckham will be a free agent and can field offers from other clubs, and it’s perfectly possible that in a market that’s light on infielders, another club would offer either a larger guarantee or a starting role.
  • Ruben Tejada ($1.7MM projection) is expected to be tendered a contract by the Mets, but Eric Young Jr. could be cut loose, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. The Mets feel they can replicate Young’s production at a lower rate than his projected $2.3MM salary, but replacing Tejada may cost more than his modest projection. Rubin notes that the Mets feel Kirk Nieuewnhuis can be a serviceable fifth outfielder at a fraction of Young’s price. As for a fourth outfielder, they’ll look for a righty bat like Jonny Gomes or Ryan Ludwick. Presumably, either of them could handle left field versus lefty starters, with Michael Cuddyer shifting to first base to shield Lucas Duda from lefties.

Mets Make Bartolo Colon Available

The Mets have made Bartolo Colon available in trades, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports.  The team isn’t thought to be seriously negotiating a Colon trade at this time, though a Major League source thinks the Mets will start hearing more offers on the veteran right-hander over the next week.

It was reported last week that the Mets were listening to offers for the 41-year-old Colon, who fits as a trade chip given his contract ($3.75MM remaining this season and $11MM in 2015) and the fact that New York has the young pitching depth to take Colon’s spot in the rotation both this season and next.  The Mets could wait until past the July 31st deadline to move Colon and “it is not a foregone conclusion that he will be dealt” at all, Rubin writes.

The Mets’ deadline needs include a power-hitting left fielder and a shortstop who can supplant Ruben Tejada, Rubin reports, though these pieces wouldn’t necessarily come from a Colon trade.  (While Colon is still pitching effectively, his age will likely prevent the Mets from landing a true impact young player in return.)  The Diamondbacks and Cubs stand out as teams with a possible surplus at shortstop, and the Mets have been connected to Didi Gregorius in the past, though Rubin hears that Tony La Russa is still evaluating Arizona’s roster and may wait until the offseason for major moves.

As for the Cubs, the addition of Addison Russell to an organization that already has Starlin Castro in the bigs and star prospect Javier Baez at Triple-A would seem to make them trade partners for the Mets as well.  Rubin says that Baez “is believed to be a more realistic target” for the Mets, though it would take a major deal to get Chicago to part with a player who is a consensus top-10 prospect in baseball, despite Baez’s underwhelming Triple-A numbers this season.

To create room in the outfield, the Mets are trying to find trades for Chris Young and Eric Young Jr.  Neither player is enjoying a particularly strong season, though Young Jr. will be more attractive to other teams due to his speed (25-for-28 in steals) and two remaining years of team control, whereas Chris Young is owed over $3MM for the rest of the year.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Detwiler, Young, Snider

Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections. We'll use this post to keep tabs on players avoiding arbitration today:

  • The Nationals announced on Twitter that they have avoided arbitration with lefty Ross Detwiler. The New York Post's Joel Sherman reports (also on Twitter) that Detwiler received a $3MM salary and can earn an additional $50K for reaching 180 innings.
  • Sherman reports that the Mets and Eric Young Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.85MM (Twitter link). Young batted .251/.318/.329 in 418 plate appearances for the Mets in 2013 after he was acquired from the Rockies. He also swiped 38 bases in 45 tries, showing off his blazing speed.
  • Sherman tweets that the Pirates have avoided arbitration with Travis Snider by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM contract. The former Top 10 overall prospect batted just .215/.281/.333 in 285 plate appearances in 2013, though he's a solid defender and is still entering just his age-26 season.
  • Sherman also reports that Tim Collins agreed to a one-year, $1.3625MM contract with the Royals, thereby avoiding arbitration (Twitter link). Collins has a strong 3.51 ERA in 190 career innings with 9.7 K/9 in his first three seasons, but he's struggled with command, as evidenced by his 5.2 BB/9 in that time. His control has improved a bit over the past two seasons.
  • The Yankees and Francisco Cervelli have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $700K, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Cervelli, who turns 28 in March, is a career .271/.343/.367 hitter in 623 plate appearances.

(more…)


Alderson On Shortstop, First Base, Rotation, Murphy

Mets GM Sandy Alderson met with reporters in Orlando on the eve of the Winter Meetings. Here are the highlights (all links go to Twitter):

  • Alderson acknowleded the Mets will not add another free agent of Stephen Drew's caliber and price tag unless a contract is moved, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets the Mets are telling clubs any other noteworthy deals will come via trades, not free agency.
  • The Mets are bracing themselves for the possibility Ruben Tejada will be the Opening Day shortstop, tweets the New York Post's Mike Puma.
  • "If we have to go into the season with Tejada as our shortstop, we need to make sure we're happy with that given what else we've done," Puma quoted Alderson as saying.
  • Alderson wouldn't say how far along the Mets are in resolving their first base situation, Rubin tweets. Sources tell Martino the Mets' strong preference remains trading Ike Davis and keeping Lucas Duda and a deal could happen this week. In a separate tweet, Martino adds the Mets feel Davis could have more trade value in January, but are eager to settle the matter now. 
  • Alderson isn't totally comfortable with having two prospects in the starting rotation, tweets Rubin.
  • Alderson indicated Eric Young, Jr. is more than a reserve leading Rubin to believe Daniel Murphy could still be traded. Martino tweets one team has already been told the Mets are willing to move Murphy this week.