Fernando Rodney Rumors

AL Notes: Orioles, Rodney, Sabathia, A’s Catchers

We just looked at the latest from the AL Central; here are some notes from the rest of the American League:

  • The Orioles will not discuss contract extensions during the season, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “We’re not going to be exploring any extensions during the season,” said Executive VP Dan Duquette. “… Once the season starts, I think it benefits the team and the players and the fans to keep the focus on the field and the players on the field.” While star center fielder Adam Jones was inked to a mid-season extension back in 2012, Duquette explained that was a different situation since “we started that discussion during the winter, and it extended into the season.” The team is not presently in talks with any of its current crop of pending free agents, Duquette said. While shortstop J.J. Hardy had been linked to contract chatter during the spring, he and fellow free-agents-to-be Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis will seemingly be allowed to test the open market. (MLBTR’s Steve Adams just took a look an early look at the free agent case of Markakis.)
  • Mariners closer Fernando Rodney said today that he wanted to stay with the Rays but never received a contract offer, reports Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link). Rodney added that he received two-year offers from the MetsOrioles, and Indians, in addition to a one-year offer from the Yankees, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Of course, Rodney ultimately went to Seattle for two years and $14MM.
  • Yankees hurler C.C. Sabathia is headed to see Dr. James Andrews, tweets Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, though thankfully the issue is in his knee rather than his left elbow. As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch writes, the visit is viewed as precautionary, as a recent MRI showed no structural issues. “The best-case scenario is, CC gets the knee drained, rests for five days and gets a couple of bullpens under his belt and he takes the start after he comes off the DL,” said GM Brian Cashman. “That’s the best-case scenario. I’m not saying that’s the scenario we’re dealing with yet, but that’s the best.” The club will hope that proves to be the result, as its rotation is already dealing with several notable injuries. Needless to say, any ongoing issues with Sabathia would only further enhance New York’s starting pitcher needs at the trade deadline.
  • The Athletics have gained more production from the catching spot than any other American League club through the combination of Derek Norris and John Jaso, writes John Hickey of Bay Area News Group. Heading into today’s action, the platoon pair had combined for an impressive .338/.419/.507 triple-slash. Indeed, that line has actually been good enough to vault the A’s catching unit into the league lead by measure of fWAR, with a healthy 1.9 wins above replacement through just 184 plate appearances. Both players came to Oakland through trades involving the Nationals, with Norris a piece in the Gio Gonzalez trade and Jaso heading down from the Mariners in the three-team Michael Morse deal.

AL West Notes: Angels’ Stadium, Astros, A’s, Mariners

Angels owner Arte Moreno spoke with Tustin, Calif., officials last week about the possibility of building a new stadium, a team spokesman confirmed today (via Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times). The club is attempting to work out a deal for a new Angel Stadium lease with the city of Anaheim, but talks are "at a stalemate," Moreno comments. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has hesitated to accept a proposed deal in which the Angels would spend $150MM to renovate the ballpark but receive a 66-year, $1-per-year lease to develop a 155-acre space in the parking lot, according to DiGiovanna. Marie Garvey, a consultant employed by the Angels, said the club's "preference is to remain in Orange County.Here's the latest out of the AL West:

  • Nolan Ryan's new position with the Astros could lead the club to switch its Triple-A team, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. While the Round Rock Express is currently a Rangers affiliate, Ryan is a co-owner of the team. The Astros' deal with their current affiliate will expire after the 2014 season.
  • Athletics reliever Ryan Cook is on track to be ready for Opening Day after being shut down for several weeks with shoulder inflammation, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. Cook appeared in 71 games for the A's in 2013, posting an ERA of 2.54.
  • Fernando Rodney says the Orioles, Mets and Indians all expressed interest before he agreed to terms with the Mariners, according to Jose M. Romero of The Associated Press. The signing reunites Rodney with manager Lloyd McClendon, who served as bullpen coach in Detroit during Rodney's tenure there.

Quick Hits: Fregosi, Trout, Garcia, Mets, Rodney

Keep former big league shortstop and manager Jim Fregosi in your thoughts and prayers tonight. The six-time All-Star suffered multiple strokes while on a cruise and has been taken off life support in a Miami-area hospital, writes MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby. As a player, Fregosi played in parts of 18 seasons with the Angels, Rangers, Mets and Pirates, batting a collective .265/.338/.398. He went on to manage the Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays over parts of 15 seasons, taking Philadelphia to the World Series in 1993. He is currently the Senior Advisor of Player Personnel for the Braves — a role he has filled for 13 years. Fregosi's larger than life personality has endeared him to teammates, media members and colleagues for decades. We at MLBTR are keeping Fregosi, his family and his many friends in our thoughts tonight and wishing for the best. As you do the same, here are some notes from around the league…

  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines what a potential Mike Trout extension could look like, ultimately concluding that while the end result would be a shocking sum, the Angels would be wise to sign him to a nine-year, $260MM or ten-year, $300MM extension if possible. The longer the team waits, says Cameron, the closer it comes to getting into a free agent bidding war over Trout, which could push his price tag up toward $400MM.
  • Freddy Garcia did not decide to sign with the Braves until the team offered him a March 25 opt-out clause, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, and that clause will create an interesting battle for the team's final two bullpen spots in Spring Training. That Garcia would rather return to his family than pitch at the Triple-A level makes him a favorite to earn a spot on the team if he pitches reasonably well, and he could even temporarily push Alex Wood to the bullpen, writes Bowman.
  • "Impatient is an understatement," Mets third baseman David Wright told Tim Rohan of the New York Times in discussing his desire to be a part of a winning club. However, Wright went on to say that he believes in GM Sandy Alderson's plan. Wright says he'd like to win before he feels like he cannot compete at a high level anymore. Rohan also spoke with Alderson and was told that there are no constraints on the club's payroll, and any lack of spending right now is a philosophical choice.
  • In addition to the two-year, $14MM offer from that Mariners that he accepted, Fernando Rodney had offers from the IndiansMets and Orioles, according to MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom (on Twitter).


Mariners Sign Fernando Rodney

FEBRUARY 13: The deal is official, tweets Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. 

FEBRUARY 6: The Mariners have agreed to a two-year, $14MM deal with reliever Fernando Rodney, reports Jonah Keri of Grantland (via Twitter). Rodney, a client of MVP Sports Group, could earn up to $15MM if he meets the deal's incentives.

Rodney

Soon to turn 37, Rodney established himself as one of the game's most dominant relievers during a 2012 career renaissance in Tampa Bay. Notching 48 saves for the Rays, Rodney threw 74 2/3 innings of 0.60 ERA ball that year, striking out 9.2 per nine while walking just 1.8 per nine. Though he was less dominant last year, Rodney still produced a 3.38 ERA over 66 2/3 innings, upping his strikeouts to a career-best 11.1 K/9 while surrendering 4.9 BB/9 (much closer to his career mark than the year prior). 

As MLBTR's Steve Adams explained in his profile of Rodney at the onset of the off-season, Rodney had shown some of the most overpowering stuff of any of the free agent closers.  Nevertheless, he was the last to sign of the premier bunch, and lands shy of the $18MM that Adams predicted he would get on a two-year pact. He checked in at 32nd on the list of the top fifty free agents, per MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.

Rodney's new deal bests that given by his former club to Grant Balfour (two years and $12MM), but falls short of the two-year, $15.5MM pact awarded Joaquin Benoit by the Padres. Amongst 2014 free agent closers, Joe Nathan (two years, $20MM) and Brian Wilson (two years, $19MM) have received the largest guarantees.

The Mariners were said to be one of the clubs most interested in Rodney, joining the Orioles and Mets in that regard. Though Danny Farquhar remains under team control for six more years after saving 16 games for Seattle last year, he will presumably bump down to a setup role now that Rodney is in the fold. Rodney represents the second-largest free agent commitment made by the Mariners this year, following Robinson Cano's massive ten-year, $240MM deal.

Seattle will hope that it gets the Rodney of the last two seasons rather than the less-than-stellar version of his earlier career. After strong seasons in 2005-06 in Detroit, Rodney posted five straight years in which he allowed over four runs per nine, though he saved 68 games for the Tigers and Angels over that stretch. Both the Steamer and Oliver projection systems like Rodney to produce solid results going forward, with each projecting him to post an ERA and FIP just north of 3.00.

In addition to control, one area to watch is Rodney's performance against left-handed batters. The righty has exhibited fairly minimal career platoon splits, allowing a .641 OPS to same-handed hitters and a .698 mark to lefties. Last year, however, those splits became more pronounced: he limited righties to a .169/.250/.288 line while posting a 3.00 K:BB ratio, but left-handers slashed .248/.363/.353 against Rodney and fared better in terms of true outcomes (1.92 K:BB). (Of course, the third true outcome — home runs — remains one of Rodney's calling cards: he has allowed just 0.32 long balls per nine over the last two years, one of the best rates in the game.)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Free Agent Links: 2015 Starters, Rodney, Marmol, Gourriel

Though plenty of good arms are still free on this year's open market, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs proposes a look ahead at next year's crop of starters. By Cameron's reckoning, the current market price to buy out a free agent year of a top-level starter is between $20MM and $28MM, over a five or six year term. There are two tiers among the five best starters, according to the ZIPS and Steamer projection systems: Max Scherzer, James Shields, and Jon Lester in the first grouping, and Homer Bailey and Justin Masterson, in the second. Of course, several of those hurlers could be locked up by the time the market opens anew next fall. You can find a fully updated list of players set to become free agents next year right here.

Here are some notes on some other free agent situations around the game:

  • The Mariners appear to be "very much in [the] mix" for right-handed reliever Fernando Rodney, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Seattle was recently said to be showing strong interest in Rodney, who stands as the last of the premium late-inning relievers on the open market.
  • Fellow reliever Carlos Marmol is in talks with three teams and could soon reach agreement on a deal, tweets Heyman. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported a month back that the talented-but-turbulent Marmol had been speaking with three clubs and that a big league deal was being discussed.
  • Cuban third baseman Yulieski Gourriel hopes to have a chance to play outside of his native island, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The 29-year-old looked to be a major international target after the 2006 World Baseball Classic, but never defected. (Last MLBTR checked in on Gourriel, there were incorrect rumors that he had done so.) Gourriel still has MLB-caliber ability, Pirates international scouting director Rene Gayo tells Sanchez, though his luster has faded somewhat as he has exhibited signs of "playing a little bit bored" in his current setting. Gourriel says he is hoping for Cuban authorities to permit him to play abroad, as was allowed Cuban star Alfredo Despaigne, but was not granted permission when he tried last year.

Mets Still Pursuing Reliever With Closing Experience

7:23pm: While the Mets are indeed looking for a late-inning reliever, and could give out a MLB deal to get one, the club is unlikely to land Rodney, a source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter). 

4:44pm: Though the Mets recently announced the signing of Kyle Farnsworth to a minor league deal, the team still has some money allotted for a "closer type" reliever, reports ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin, citing a source that is not affiliated with the club.

Fernando Rodney is believed to be New York's top target, but Rubin's source wouldn't rule out Kevin Gregg, Joel Hanrahan or Ryan Madson either. Other relievers on the market that come with closer experience include Carlos Marmol, Andrew Bailey and Brandon Lyon, though Lyon spent last season with the Mets with less than favorable results (4.98 ERA in 34 1/3 innings). Those next three names are just my speculation, not names that were mentioned by Rubin or his source.

Rubin writes that incumbent closer Bobby Parnell is confident that he will be healthy following surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. However, as Rubin points out, the Mets have little in terms of a fallback plan should Parnell go down with another injury. Hard-throwing Vic Black projects to be next in line for the closer's throne, and he has a total of 17 big league innings under his belt.


Cafardo’s Latest: Arroyo, Cruz, Burnett, Middlebrooks

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe shares a few hot stove items in his latest Sunday column…

  • Bronson Arroyo has been looking for a three-year deal or at least a vesting option for a third year, which could be holding up his market.  If Arroyo was willing to settle for a flat two-year contract, Cafardo opines, he could find a deal, possibly with the Diamondbacks; Cafardo reported earlier this week that Arizona was "beginning to kick the tires" on the veteran right-hander.  Arroyo recently said that he has yet to receive a concrete offer from any team, despite a lot of interest from around the league.
  • The Dodgers are another team who "are very interested" in Arroyo but don't want to give him a guaranteed third year.
  • Nelson Cruz's market is beginning to heat up, and “there could be up to four or five teams who could take the plunge in the end," a Major League source tells Cafardo.  This interest could manifest itself into a multiyear deal for Cruz, though Cafardo notes that the slugger could still have to settle for a one-year contract.  We've recently seen the Mariners, Orioles, Rangers and Twins linked to Cruz in rumors, though Texas and Minnesota only seem interested at a greatly reduced price.
  • Cafardo thinks the A.J. Burnett sweepstakes is down to the Pirates, Phillies and Orioles, though he wouldn't be surprised if the Yankees were also exploring a reunion with the veteran right-hander.  The Rays and Blue Jays have also been connected to Burnett, though it seems more likely that Burnett will choose a team located closer to his home in Maryland.
  • The Marlins have "asked a lot" about Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks but there doesn't seem to be a trade fit.  Miami is one of several teams who have asked Boston about Middlebrooks' availability, but the Sox don't want to give up on Middlebrooks' power potential.  Even if the Red Sox re-signed Stephen Drew to play shortstop and Xander Bogaerts took over at third, Middlebrooks would still receive playing time alternating between third and first base.
  • While Jon Lester recently said he would take a hometown discount to remain with the Red Sox, Cafardo points out that it might not be a huge discount, as Lester also noted that "you never want to be the guy that takes the market backward."
  • The Red Sox will experiment with Ryan Lavarnway as a first baseman during Spring Training, GM Ben Cherington confirmed.  Since Boston is so deep at catcher at both the Triple-A and Major League levels, Lavarnway's only chance at continued playing time may be as a Triple-A first baseman.
  • "There’s a feeling that a team like the Yankees may pluck Fernando Rodney, or someone of his ilk, to ensure they have another closer in case David Robertson breaks down or isn’t up to the task," Cafardo writes.  Rodney was reportedly drawing interest from four teams, though the Yankees hadn't spoken with him since November and may not have enough remaining payroll space to add to the bullpen.

Rosenthal’s Latest: M’s, Cruz, Rodney, Reds, Drew

The Mariners are "back in business, showing strong interest" in Nelson Cruz and Fernando Rodney again, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest column. The Mariners, who are said to have some financial leeway by new team president Kevin Mather, is also looking at the trade market for starting pitchers, though they're not currently focused on David Price or Jeff Samardzija. Rosenthal also notes that the Indians aren't having any conversations on Justin Masterson, nor are the Reds inclined to move any of their starters, further limiting the list of trade targets. More highlights below…

  • Cruz could be a fallback option for the Rangers, but probably only if he's willing to sign a one-year deal. Bringing Cruz back would allow the Rangers to deal Mitch Moreland.
  • Rosenthal wonders if the Reds should be thinking about dealing a starter. While they're trying to extend Homer Bailey, that seems to be a tall order as he's just one year from free agency. Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto are all only controlled through 2015, and as Rosenthal notes, not all can be long-term pieces.
  • The Athletics aren't considering making a run at Stephen Drew and shifting Jed Lowrie from short to second base. The A's are comfortable platooning Eric Sogard and Nick Punto.
  • A rival executive wondered to Rosenthal if the Braves would match up with the Mariners on a Dustin Ackley trade, but Rosenthal hears that the Braves aren't looking for a second baseman. They currently have Dan Uggla, who is owed $26MM through 2015, and three fallback options in Ramiro Pena, Tommy La Stella and Tyler Pastornicky.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren said he doesn't hold any ill will toward players who go to arbitration hearings — such as the ones he could face with Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman: "We don’t look at it as an antagonistic process. We look at it as a solution to a disagreement on a player’s salary."

East Notes: Kimbrel, Rodney, Yanks, Phils, Red Sox

TheScore.com's Drew Fairservice examines the likely arbitration trial the Braves will undergo with closer Craig Kimbrel, noting that it's difficult to imagine the Braves coming out on top of that hearing. Fairservice points out a number of Kimbrel's feats, including the fact that he has the lowest ERA and highest strikeout in history for a pitcher with 200+ games as well as the lowest ERA ever for a reliever through his first four seasons. More from baseball's Eastern divisions…

  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that it makes little sense for Fernando Rodney to go to the Mets. Team insiders tell Martino that Bobby Parnell has been assured the ninth inning is his, so Rodney would likely only pitch as the closer in the event of a setback in Parnell's recovery or further injury.
  • Also from Martino, the Yankees haven't had any talk with Rodney since one "very preliminary" discussion back in November. While the team is aware of its bullpen holes, a Major League source tells Martino that they lack the payroll flexibility to address the 'pen after signing Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees are hoping that Dellin Betances can serve as a power reliever, Martino adds.
  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg will have many decisions on his hands in Spring Training as he looks to sort out the team's bench, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sandberg said Freddy Galvis is a lock for the bench, and Gelb notes that Wil Nieves' $1.1MM salary makes him the likely backup catcher. Beyond that, there are no certainties. Gelb writes that John Mayberry could be traded in Spring Training, and the team would prefer a left-handed bat to back up Ben Revere in center.
  • General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. also told Gelb that the Phillies do not have any standing Major League offers to free agents at this time.
  • In response to David Ortiz's comments that he would play elsewhere if he couldn't work out a multi-year deal with the Red Sox, second baseman Dustin Pedroia told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that the team should give Ortiz "whatever he wants." Pedroia spoke not only about how productive Ortiz is, but how much he likes Ortiz's passion and attitude as well as what Big Papi means to the team.
  • Pedroia also told Bradford that he "hates" the business side of baseball and is glad he doesn't have to worry about it for the rest of his career. On a related note, he said he doesn't fault Jacoby Ellsbury for signing with the Yankees: "He got an offer he couldn’t refuse. I don’t think anyone would fault him for going where he went and that’s that. I’m happy for him. That guy, he played his butt off for us. We won two championships together."

Four Teams Pursuing Fernando Rodney

FRIDAY: Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports that despite reports that a match between Rodney and the Mets was "unlikely," the team is indeed in talks with the right-hander. Talks between Rodney and the Mets are believed to be about the closer's role, Rubin adds. He notes that this does not mean Bobby Parnell has had a setback in his recovery from surgery, but rather that there is at least some degree of uncertainty surrounding Parnell's health status.

Meanwhile, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports also hears that the Mets are in, adding that the Orioles still have interest in addition to a pair of unnamed teams (Twitter link).

THURSDAY, 3:57pm: One source tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that the Orioles haven't had dialogue with Rodney's representatives in weeks. While a match is still possible — the O's have money and no established closer — Connolly gets the sense that starting pitching is still their priority (Twitter links).

1:24pm: The Orioles are "making progress" with free agent closer Fernando Rodney, tweets Jonah Keri of Grantland.com. In addition to adding a closer, Baltimore is expected to make one additional "significant" move, Keri writes.

After dealing away incumbent closer Jim Johnson, the O's have been looking for a replacement. Baltimore originally agreed to terms with Grant Balfour on a two-year, $15MM deal, but ultimately declined to go through with the deal after finding issues with Balfour's medicals. With Balfour now settling in with the Rays, Rodney is clearly the premier name remaining among free agents with significant closing experience.