Fausto Carmona Rumors

Quick Hits: Hernandez, Hamels, Grabow, Wells

In what has to be one of the more unusual clubhouse transactions in baseball history, Carlos Beltran has come through on his promise to pay for ex-Mets teammate Jonathon Niese's nose job.  Beltran footed the $10K bill for Niese's rhinoplasty, which, as Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld famously observed, is a pretty unusual name for such a procedure.

Some news from around the majors…

  • The terms of Roberto Hernandez's restructured contract with the Indians have been reported by The Associated Press.  The pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona will now earn $2.5MM in 2012 (down from $7MM) with another $2.7MM available in roster and performance bonuses.  The Tribe's $9MM option on Hernandez for 2013 drops to $6MM, though Hernandez can earn that money back based on innings pitched and bonuses carried over from 2012.  Cleveland also holds a $14MM team option on the right-hander for 2014 that is apparently still intact.
  • Cole Hamels feels bad that his friend Ryan Madson will miss the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but Hamels said that Madson's situation won't cause him to rethink his own plans for free agency, reports Scott Miller of CBS Sports.  "If you're in the game long enough, nothing can push you in a different direction and make you worry," Hamels said.  "If you're able to reach free agency, you've obviously had success in the big leagues, and there are going to be teams that trust you….Surgeries are a lot better today, they're not as scary as they were 10 or 12 years ago."
  • The Pirates haven't yet expressed interest in left-hander John Grabow, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  Grabow exercised an out clause in his Dodgers contract earlier today and is now a free agent.  Grabow was originally drafted by the Bucs in 1997 and pitched for the club from 2003-09.
  • Right-hander Kip Wells threw for the Mets a few weeks ago and hit 93 mph on the radar gun, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).  Wells hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009 but recently signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks.
  • I’ve been a Red for 10 years now,” Joey Votto tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I don’t daydream about playing for another team. I don’t.”  Votto is scheduled to hit free agency after 2013 but again reiterated that he hopes to remain with the Reds and is only focused on the upcoming season.

Dolan On Indians, Hernandez, Sizemore, Free Agents

Indians CEO Paul Dolan recently spoke to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a number of topics concerning business both on and off the field…

  • Dolan wasn't "shocked" to hear about Roberto Hernandez (a.k.a. Fausto Carmona) living under a false identity, saying that the team had heard an unsubstantiated rumor about the situation last year.
  • Grady Sizemore will miss at least one month of the regular season after undergoing minor back surgery, but Dolan doesn't regret re-signing the outfielder.  "It's disappointing that he got hurt again," Dolan said.  "But we thought it was worth the risk because no one else on the [free agent] market had even close to Grady's upside for that price."
  • Though recent long-term signings like Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Jake Westbrook have suffered injuries, Dolan said he is still open to signing players to such deals, though not without some caution.  "If Chris [Antonetti] and Mark [Shapiro] comes to us with a long-term deal they want to make, we will seriously consider it. They have not done that [lately]," Dolan said.  "We will remain open, but in totality, how successful have those kind of deals been? More often than not, they have been failures."
  • Dolan disputed a recent Forbes article that claimed the Indians made a $30MM profit in 2011, arguing that while the club "made a little bit" of profit, that money went back into the team.  Dolan said the MLB Players Association cited the Indians as a franchise that was properly using the league's revenue sharing system.
  • Dolan was surprised when GM Chris Antonetti approached him about the Ubaldo Jimenez deal last summer.  "Like most fans, I'm used to us trading for prospects — not trading some of our best prospects," Dolan said.  "I was happy to see us take that approach and try to win."
  • It doesn't concern Dolan that the Indians don't have any players under contract past 2013, as the CEO notes that the team has control over many of its young stars like Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis for years to come.
  • Dolan didn't address rumors that the team was looking to sell cable network Sports Time Ohio, but said, "We are always looking to add revenue on the TV side of things."
  • It doesn't sound as if Dolan was totally satisfied with baseball's new collective bargaining agreement.  "We achieved labor peace," said Dolan. "But we didn't address the fundamental problems [such as a lack of a salary cap]."
  • Dolan said that there have been no "serious buyers" interested in purchasing the team during his ownership stint.  He would possibly have interest in a minority investor, should such an interested investor come forward.
  • The Tigers' signing of Prince Fielder dwarfed the Tribe's modest payroll increase of $50MM to $70MM.  "I understand that makes us look bad," Dolan said. "I don't understand the foundation of what they are doing … OK, in the short term, I do understand it, but long term …"  The Tigers' desire to win now makes them "operate much different than most franchisesEven the teams in major markets tend to operate as we do — they spend what they take in and don't go way above that."

Central Notes: Floyd, Garza, Baker, Hernandez, Pirates

Here's the latest from both of MLB's Central divisions…

  • MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm doesn't put much stock in the latest Gavin Floyd trade rumors between the White Sox and the Blue Jays because of the Jays organization's "cone of silence" under Alex Anthopoulos.  "There’s a general rule of thumb Toronto’s GM likes to use in these type of situations," Chisholm writes. "If a report gets out that a deal is done then it very likely is done. If a report comes out that two teams are discussing something, or that a team and agent have begun serious negotiations, more often than not it’s false." 
  • Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer declined to comment on whether the team was any closer to a multiyear extension with Matt Garza, reports Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com.  We heard last month that the two sides planned to talk contract during Spring Training.
  • Dusty Baker was non-committal about his future with the Reds as he enters the last year of his contract, Baker told the media (including MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom).  "This year, it's my decision, as well as a [Reds] ownership decision. It depends whether I'm asked back. It depends on my feelings," Baker said. "You get to that certain point in your life. We'll see at the end of the year or before it, depending on how things go."
  • Indians right-hander Roberto Hernandez (a.k.a. Fausto Carmona) has agreed to complete a work program in the Dominican Republic in exchange for having the false identity charges against him dropped, reports The Associated Press.  Hernandez is currently on Cleveland's restricted list while the matter is being investigated.  It is still unknown when Hernandez will be allowed to obtain a new visa and resume his baseball career.
  • The Indians are interested in Jorge Soler, but Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer thinks the Tribe will be outbid for the Cuban outfield prospect.  At least nine teams are known to have some level of interest in Soler, with the Cubs considered by "most in the industry" to be the favorites.
  • The Pirates' process of rebuilding their minor league system in order to restock their team's talent base is slowly beginning to pay dividends, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.
  • Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole's first pro Spring Training experience and his road to being the first overall pick in last summer's amateur draft are profiled by J. Brady McCollough of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

AL Central Notes: Inge, Royals, Hernandez, Twins

Happy birthday to former White Sox farmhand Michael Jordan, who turns 49 years old today.  Jordan played one season of Double-A ball with the Birmingham Barons in 1994, hitting .202/.289/.266 in 497 plate appearances.  On the strength of those numbers, Jordan was named ESPN's greatest athlete of the 20th century.  In hindsight, it's possible ESPN may have also taken Jordan's basketball career into consideration, but you'd have to take that argument up with the gang at MLBTR's new sister site Hoops Rumors

Here's the latest from around the AL Central…

  • Brandon Inge will be given a chance at the Tigers' second base job during Spring Training, manager Jim Leyland told reporters (including John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press).  Inge joins Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago in battling for playing time at second.  With Miguel Cabrera now playing third, Inge finds himself without a position.  Inge has been a strong defensive third baseman throughout his career (a +5.6 UZR/150) but he has never played second during his 14-year professional career.
  • Rany Jazayerli thinks the Royals should have acquired at least one more proven starting pitcher this offseason, arguing that such a move could have possibly given Kansas City a shot at the division title.
  • Roberto Hernandez (a.k.a. Fausto Carmona) is visiting baseball camps in the Dominican Republic to teach young players not to lie about their identity or true age, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Jorge Brito, Hernandez's agent, didn't say whether these visits were necessary for Hernandez to regain his ability to leave the Dominican and rejoin the Indians.
  • MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger gives his thoughts about what the Twins' Opening Day roster could look like.

Indians Notes: Lugo, Cabrera, Perez

Before Spring Training begins, the Indians will work to settle two unresolved arbitration cases and the uncertainty that surrounds Fausto Carmona/Roberto (Heredia) Hernandez. Here are some notes from Cleveland…

  • Talks between the Indians and Julio Lugo have fallen apart, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. The sides agreed to terms earlier this month, but it no longer appears that the move will become official. Bastian suggests a physical issue may have surfaced.
  • The arbitration hearing dates for Asdrubal Cabrera and Rafael Perez have been set, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. The Indians haven’t had an arbitration hearing since 1991, Hoynes writes.
  • No one is sure how long it will be before Carmona/Hernandez can join the team, Bastian explains. It seems unlikely that the Indians will have him by Opening Day since obtaining a visa and sorting through legal issues will take time.

Indians Place Roberto Hernandez On Restricted List

The Indians have placed Roberto Hernandez (better known as Fausto Carmona) on the restricted list according to Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain-Dealer (on Twitter). The move clears a spot on the team's 40-man roster, and Hernandez will not accrue service time or get paid until he reports.

Hernandez's true age and identity was revealed last week, and although he's since been released by the Dominican court, it's unclear if he'll be able to secure a visa and make it to the United States in time for Spring Training or the regular season. The team is reportedly doing all it can to help expedite the process, though they recently acquired Kevin Slowey to provide some rotation depth.

Quick Hits: Zimmerman, McCutchen, Cespedes, Sano

MLB has announced that Tony La Russa will manage the NL team during the All-Star Game in 2012, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). La Russa retired from managing earlier this offseason, but he'll continue the tradition of the pennant winning managers from the prior year managing the two All-Star clubs. Here's the latest from around the league…

  • Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post reports that Ryan Zimmerman is open to a creative contract extension that would allow the Nationals to build a strong team around him. "We want to do a deal so it helps me and the team at the same time, so they can go out and sign guys like Prince Fielder or other free agents," said Zimmerman. Fielder is off the table now, and the Nats know what it'll take to sign their star third baseman long-term.
  • "Never say never," said Pirates GM Neal Huntington to Jeff Nelson and Jim Memolo of MLB Network Radio when asked about a potential Andrew McCutchen trade. "If someone wants to back up the truck and give us one of those organization-altering deals, it's something that we'd have to listen to…It would have to be a dramatic overpay on the part of the other club."
  • The Nationals consider Yoenis Cespedes a corner outfielder or even a first baseman, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson (on Twitter). Earlier today we learned that Cespedes has gained residency in the Dominican Republic, and now awaits MLB's approval to become a free agent.
  • The Indians are "making the necessary moves to get [Robert Hernandez Heredia] to the United States," reports the AP (via ESPN). Heredia, better known as Fausto Carmona, faces a judicial process in the Dominican Republic after lying about his identity.
  • Twins top prospect Miguel Sano has changed representation according to SI.com's Melissa Segura (on Twitter). He is now with SFX agent Troy Caradonna.

AL Central Notes: Eldred, Gordon, Carmona

It was on this day in 1993 that Tigers legend Charlie Gehringer passed away at the age of 89.  Gehringer spent his entire 19-year career in Detroit, finishing with a .320/.404/.480 career line, the 1937 AL MVP Award, a 1935 World Series championship and induction into the Baseball Hall Of Fame.  Gehringer is still among the Tigers' franchise leaders in virtually every offensive category and is widely regarded as one of the game's greatest second basemen.

Some items from Detroit and elsewhere in the AL Central…

  • The Tigers signed first baseman Brad Eldred to a minor league contract that doesn't include an invitation to the team's Major League Spring Training camp.  Eldred, 31, has an .870 OPS and 227 homers over 10 minor league seasons but has seen just 282 plate appearances in the bigs, his most recent cup of coffee coming with the Rockies in 2010.  Eldred hit .278/.351/.536 for the Giants' Triple-A affiliate last season.
  • The Royals shouldn't wait to sign Alex Gordon to an extension, argues Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star.  Mellinger thinks Michael Cuddyer's three-year, $31.5MM pact with the Rockies could be "the general framework" for a new Gordon deal, and both Gordon and Cuddyer are represented by agent Casey Close.  Mellinger thinks a four-year, $35MM contract would fair to both sides; that's about $5MM higher than what MLBTR's Tim Dierkes guessed a Gordon extension would look like last August.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com thinks the Indians should release Roberto Hernandez Heredia (a.k.a. Fausto Carmona) and use the saved salary on an available pitcher like Roy Oswalt, Edwin Jackson or Livan Hernandez.
  • Melissa Segura of Sports Illustrated looks at how teams pay much larger median bonuses to 16-year-old Latin American prospects, when a much smaller percentage of those young prospects actually reach the majors.  While players like Carmona have knowingly committed age and identity fraud, Segura argues that "by placing such high premiums on 16-year-olds, teams are fooling themselves."

Dominican Police: Carmona Using Assumed Name

FRIDAY: Carmona was released from court in the Dominican and asked for the forgiveness of fans, the U.S. government and the Indians, the Associated Press reports (via ESPN). It appears unlikely that the Indians will void Carmona's contract, but the right-hander has to get to the U.S. to get paid this year, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.

THURSDAY, 3:25pm: The Indians issued the following statement regarding Carmona: “We were recently made aware of the situation that occurred today in the Dominican Republic and are currently in the process of gathering information,” GM Chris Antonetti said. “We are not prepared to make any additional comment at this time.”

2:23pm: Police in the Dominican Republic say Fausto Carmona's real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia, Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes tweets. Dionisio Soldevila of the AP tweets that Carmona is 31, not 28 and Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN.com tweets that the right-hander's chances of obtaining a visa quickly don't seem good. Yancen Pujols first tweeted news of the identity issues.

The Indians exercised Carmona's option after the season, so he'll earn $7MM in 2012. The ground ball pitcher posted a 5.25 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 188 2/3 innings in 2011. The Marlins placed Leo Nunez/Juan Carlos Oviedo on the restricted list because of issues related to his assumed name. It's not clear whether Carmona will be able to pitch in the U.S. by Opening Day.

AL Central Notes: Twins, Royals, Pena, Kotchman

Earlier today we learned that 28-year-old Fausto Carmona is actually 31-year-old Roberto Hernandez Heredia, and that the right-hander might not be able to secure a visa to the United States anytime soon. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian says (on Twitter) that it's unclear if the Indians will be able to void Heredia's contract, plus he's not sure they would do that even if it is an option. Here's the latest from the AL Central…

  • Twins GM Terry Ryan told MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger that he's not ruling out the possibility of adding some more pitching (Twitter link). "I don't think you should ever say you're set to go," said Ryan.
  • A top Royals official told Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star that he'd "be really surprised" if the team signs or trades for another starting pitcher before Spring Training (Twitter link). Dutton says the team wants to get a look at its in-house options.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore confirmed Dutton's report, telling Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports: “We could have probably jumped in there on some pitchers who were traded, but we need another year to find out what we have here with guys like Chris Dwyer, Jake Odorizzi and [Mike] Montgomery … We may be more receptive to a deal like that next year"
  • The Indians remain interested in Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). We've heard about their interest in both players throughout the offseason.
  • The Indians signed Jeremy Accardo to a minor league contract earlier today, and Tom Withers of The AP has the details (on Twitter). Accardo will make $825K if he's on the 40-man roster, with another $300K in incentives.
  • Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN provides the details of Joel Zumaya's contract with the Twins (on Twitter). The right-hander is guaranteed $400K of his $850K base salary, and he'll get all of it if he makes the team to start the season.