Felipe Lopez Rumors

Rosenthal’s Full Count: Beltre, Scioscia, Crawford, Lopez

Ken Rosenthal has his Saturday Full Count Video up over at FOX Sports. Let's check out the highlights:

  • The Red Sox would love to keep Adrian Beltre around, but at the right price. The alternative is still attractive: shift Kevin Youkilis to third base, find a first baseman for a season, and then pursue one of the big-name free agents such as Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, or Prince Fielder. My own speculation here, but the Red Sox could of course look to trade for Fielder this offseason and then extend him.
  • Angels manager Mike Scioscia's ten-year contract extension with the Angels that he signed in 2009 is worth a whopping $50MM. Rosenthal had the dollar amount confirmed by two different sources. Scioscia can opt out after 2015, and each of the last three seasons is worth $6MM. That's one pricey manager.
  • If Carlos Lee's move to first base becomes permanent, the Astros will have an opening in left field for Houston native Carl Crawford. As Rosenthal points out though, it's pretty hard to envision the Astros outbidding other suitors like the Angels and Red Sox.
  • The Cardinals felt it was so important to get Felipe Lopez out of the clubhouse, that they forfeited the chance to acquire a supplemental round pick for him and simply released the infielder. The Red Sox reaped the benefits of that decision when they signed him for around $50K.

Felipe Lopez’s Value To Boston

After rejecting a waiver claim from the Padres, Felipe Lopez instead chose to sign in Boston for the final few games of the season. Earlier today, we learned that Lopez opted for his new destination because his ineligibility for the postseason roster wouldn't have let him feel like part of the team in San Diego.

Alex Speier of WEEI.com informs us that the Red Sox will pay Lopez around the same figure he would've made in San Diego (approximately $50,000) to finish out the season, and also points out that there's more value than simply depth for the end of the season.

Lopez could qualify as a Type B free agent, meaning that if the Red Sox choose to offer him arbitration following the season, and he declines, Boston would net a supplemental round pick. Obviously, Lopez's meager slash line of .231/.310/.340 is hardly anything to write home about, but he also signed for a low base salary of just $1MM in 2010.

Offering arbitration would be a low-cost risk that could pay out high dividends in the form of a supplemental round draft pick in 2011. If Lopez decides that he likes his surroundings in Boston and accepts the deal, he won't see a significant raise and the Red Sox can retain him as a utility player. He may have had a poor season, but he's just a year removed from a .310/.383/.427 season between the Diamondbacks and Brewers in which he was worth 3.9 wins above replacement.

Red Sox Sign Felipe Lopez

Felipe Lopez has joined the Red Sox for the remainder of the 2010 season, reports Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.  Lopez was released by St. Louis on Tuesday and was claimed on waivers by the Padres earlier today.  Lopez chose to veto San Diego's offer and instead signed with the Red Sox. 

A source tells Miller that one of the reasons that Boston was interested in Lopez was because, as a Type B free agent, the team can get a compensation pick if Lopez signs elsewhere in the winter (provided he turns down Boston's offer of arbitration).  As Miller points out, it's odd that Lopez would pass on the chance to play in a pennant race with San Diego, even though he wouldn't have qualified for the Padres' postseason roster anyway.

Padres Claim Felipe Lopez

The Padres placed a waiver claim on Felipe Lopez and are waiting to see if they will be awarded the claim according to MLB.com's Corey Brock. The Cardinals released the infielder earlier in the week, partly because he was late more than once. Lopez didn't hit particularly well either, posting a .231/.310/.340 line as a utility player in St. Louis.

Some teams might hesitate to add an apparently unmotivated player in the thick of a pennant race, but the Padres are just a half game behind the Giants in the NL West and they need all the support possible, especially now that Jerry Hairston Jr. is on the disabled list again. Lopez played all four infield positions in St. Louis and his versatility could help Bud Black's Padres over the course of the season's final nine games.

Cardinals Notes: Westbrook, Carpenter, La Russa

In a recent chat, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that few appreciate how much turnover could occur if Tony La Russa does not return to the Cardinals next season.  Let's see what else he has for us..

  • Offering Jake Westbrook arbitration would be a risky move for the Cards as he is virtually guaranteed to receive an increase over this year's $11MM salary.  If St. Louis does want to keep the soon-to-be 33-year-old in the fold, Strauss believes that they will open talks before the free agency filing period like they did with Joel Pineiro and and Kyle Lohse.  However, the club locked up Pineiro and Lohse with multi-year deals at market or above-market rates, something that they're probably not capable of doing at this time with Westbrook.
  • Speaking of starters, it's hard to imagine the Cardinals giving Chris Carpenter similar money to what he makes now if they re-sign Albert Pujols.  Carpenter's contract calls for him to earn $15MM next season with a $15MM club option ($1MM buyout) for 2012.
  • It's fair to say that Felipe Lopez found himself unmotivated to perform after the Cards acquired Pedro Feliz last month.  The infielder struggled at the plate this season, hitting just .231/.310/.340 with seven homers in 425 plate appearances.  The club sent Lopez packing yesterday afternoon.
  • Strauss expects to see La Russa back in St. Louis unless he hears something that he doesn't like from the ownership or front office.

Cardinals Release Felipe Lopez

The Cardinals released Felipe Lopez, according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach. When GM John Mozeliak signed the infielder to a one-year $1MM deal late last offseason, it appeared that he had found a bargain. Instead, Lopez was a disappointment, batting .231/.310/.340 as a utility player for the Cards.

The 30-year-old played all four infield positions for the Cardinals and, in one wild game that took place long before his team's playoff hopes had disappeared, Lopez actually pitched a scoreless inning. The Cardinals decided to release Lopez because he was late again yesterday, according to FOX Sports Midwest (on Twitter).

Mozeliak: Cardinals’ Payroll Might Increase

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told fans at tonight's social media event that the team's payroll might increase over the next couple of seasons (Twitter link). St. Louis started the season with a payroll just north of $94MM according to Cot's, right in line with where the club has been since 2005.

Obviously the elephant in the room is Albert Pujols' upcoming contract extension. He'll earn the same $16MM next year that he's earned since 2008 once the team picks up his option, but 2011 is the last season the team will enjoy that discount. His salary is then expected to soar over $20MM, perhaps as much as $10MM more annually than he's pulling down right now.

The only significant contract coming off the Cardinals' books this offseason is Brad Penny's one-year, $7.5MM deal, but they'll also save marginal amounts thanks to the expiring contracts of Jason LaRue and Felipe Lopez. Ryan Franklin's $3.5MM salary will disappear after next season, but that money will just be redistributed to Adam Wainwright when his 2012 option ($9MM) is inevitably picked up. It's worth noting that St. Louis did save itself a nice chunk of change both this year and next when it traded Ryan Ludwick to the Padres. 

Clearly, if the Cardinals plan to retain Pujols and field a competitive team long-term they're going to have to expand the payroll. Jumping into nine-figure payroll territory seems inevitable for the foreseeable future.

Odds & Ends: Phillies, Orioles, Nats, Rangers, Lowell

Monday night linkage..

Execs Name Best, Worst Moves Of The Offseason

Recently MLBTR spoke to several MLB executives to gather their nominations for the best and worst moves of the offseason.

Free agent signings that received mention for the best moves: Felipe Lopez, Adrian BeltreAdam LaRoche, Chone Figgins, Hideki Matsui, and Aroldis Chapman.  Said one exec on Chapman: "He might truly live up to the hype."  It's hard not to praise the Cards for getting Lopez on a one-year, $1MM deal.

Three trades came up as choices for the best moves of the offseason: the Mariners' acquisition of Cliff Lee, the Royals' trade of Mark Teahen, and the Rangers' trade of Kevin Millwood.  One exec noted that the Mariners "didn't trade anyone that can hurt them in the next couple of years" for Lee, while another believed that "trading Lee and Kyle Drabek in the Roy Halladay deal will hurt [the Phillies] in the long run."  The Royals received props for "getting some value for Teahen," while the Rangers' increased payroll flexibility from the Millwood deal was noted.

Nominated for the worst moves: free agent deals for Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Brandon Lyon, Jason Kendall, Aubrey Huff, Jason Marquis, Randy Wolf, and Garrett Atkins.  All the execs polled mentioned Holliday's seven year, $120MM deal when choosing their worst deals of the winter.  Said one: "The fear that he would sign a one-year deal elsewhere and take his chances a year from now — that just doesn't make sense to me."

Aside from Kendall and Huff, there was a vibe of "like the player, hate the contract" with the panned free agent signings.  One exec felt the Royals downgraded behind the plate with Kendall.  Huff was nominated as a small-scale misstep, in that the exec felt that "Hank Blalock is better and he couldn't get half that salary on a non-roster deal."

International Links: Ohka, Chen, Gotay, Jamaica

All the best in non-Cuban baseball news…

  • Scouts from eight teams recently gathered to watch Taiwanese pitching prospect Min-Tzu Chen, according to Taiwan Baseball. Chen, a converted outfielder, has only been pitching for three months but reportedly already has offers in hand from the Royals and Padres.
  • Tomo Ohka has agreed to a deal with the Mexican League Quintana Roo Tigers, reports Japanese Ball Players.
  • Ruben Gotay isn't often mentioned in discussions about who will man third base for the Cardinals this season, and his .255/.315/.371 career numbers don't scream "slugging corner infielder." But the 28-year-old Puerto Rican utilityman tells Primera Hora's Esteban Rivera that the Cardinals signed him and invited him to spring training exclusively with the hot corner in mind. Gotay played his first full season at third at Triple A in the Diamondbacks system last season, showing newfound patience with a .272/.429/.450 line including 102 walks in 479 PAs. While he is fourth at best on the depth chart, the first two candidates, David Freese and Tyler Greene, have 150 Major League PAs combined, and Felipe Lopez has played 13 games at third in the last five years, all for the Cardinals in 2008.
  • In 11 Major League seasons, Ricardo Rincon managed a 3.59 ERA and logged 565 appearances in the "G" column, but look one column to the right at "GS," and cue the rolling tumbleweeds. That's changing in the Mexican League, where the 39-year-old is trying to crack the starting rotation of the Minatitlan Oilers, according to the league site.
  • MLB is partnering with the Jamaican government to build a stadium on the north side of the island in Trelawny, reports the Jamaica Observer. The complex will be the league's first-ever investment in the country, which is looking to expand its presence in international sports following the success of Usain Bolt. One current big league player, Indians pitcher Justin Masterson, was born in Jamaica.