Fernando Rodney Rumors

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.


NL East Notes: Harvey, Rodney, Wells, Adams

Matt Harvey knows he's not likely to pitch in 2014, but if it were up to him, he'd be taking the mound late in the season, the injured Mets ace told Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal"When you see stories of guys coming back in 10 months, I'm going to think, 'Hey, I can come back in nine,'" Harvey said. The 24-year-old is doing upper-body workouts and hopes to be playing catch by the end of February, Barbarisi writes. Harvey said that he was excited by the Mets' signing of Curtis Granderson, though he realizes it will be more than a year before he pitches in front of him. More news on the Mets and the rest of the division…

  • Though the Mets reportedly made a run at Grant Balfour prior to his new deal with the Rays, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that they're not likely to embark on a similar pursuit of Fernando Rodney.
  • MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports that the Marlins are interested in adding Vernon Wells. Though Brian Bogusevic projects to be the club's fourth outfielder, the Fish are interested in Wells as a right-handed bench bat and occasional starter. Over the weekend, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe noted near the end of his Sunday column that the Phillies have also expressed some early interest in Wells.
  • Phillies reliever Mike Adams is currently throwing from 100 feet and hopes to be ready for Opening Day, writes CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. The Phils inked Adams to a two-year, $12MM pact prior to last season, but a shoulder injury sidelined him for much of the 2013 campaign. Though the Phillies would like to salvage as much as they can from that investment, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Adams spend the first couple of weeks on the disabled list, Salisbury adds.


Nationals In Mix For Grant Balfour

The Nationals have interest in free agent reliever Grant Balfour, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Nats already have three relievers with closing experience in Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, but the addition of Balfour could make sense for a variety of reasons, Rosenthal writes.

According to sources, GM Mike Rizzo & Co. would like to trade Storen, who will earn $3.45MM in 2014.  Meanwhile, Washington almost certainly doesn't want Soriano to pitch enough games to trigger his $14MM option for 2015 and they'd probably like to keep Clippard as a setup man.

The Nationals saved about $3.5MM by signing shortstop Ian Desmond and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann to back-loaded, two-year extensions and major league sources say their aim was to create financial flexibility.  They want to add another bat off the bench, but they also would like to add Balfour.  They could also parlay those savings into settling their arb cases with Clippard and Doug Fister, but, of course, they'd rather not have to.

Balfour, of course, had agreed to a two-year, $15MM contract with the Beltway's other team before the O's called it off due to concerns about his knee and wrist.  Meanwhile, Balfour has been adamant that he is completely healthy.

While the Nationals like Balfour, they don't have interest in Fernando Rodney, the other top closer on the market, sources say.  


Orioles Focused On Starters, Unlikely To Sign A Closer

Though the Orioles were clearly interested in signing a closer at one point this offseason — they did reach a two-year agreement with Grant Balfour that ultimately fell through — the team will likely go with an in-house candidate in the ninth inning this season, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. According to Connolly, the Orioles "have seemingly walked away" from the idea of adding a high-priced ninth-inning option like Balfour or Fernando Rodney. The team is now focused on starting pitching and adding one more backup catcher to the mix, despite already having four catchers on its 40-man roster.

Connolly's piece makes Bronson Arroyo out to be the likeliest candidate from the group of him, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. The reasons, not surprisingly, are Arroyo's cheaper price tag and the fact that he is not tied to draft pick compensation. Connolly notes that if the demands of Garza, Jimenez or Santana drop below four years following resolution of the Masahiro Tanaka situation, the O's could be a factor there as well.

Baltimore already has Johnny Monell, Steve Clevenger and Michael Ohlman on its 40-man roster, but executive vice president Dan Duquette would still like a more experienced option to consider for Matt Wieters' backup. He lists John Buck, Miguel Olivo and Michael McKenry as potential options on the free agent market, noting that McKenry is the most intriguing of the bunch.


Orioles, Three Others Showing “Significant” Interest In Rodney

MONDAY: The Orioles are one of four teams showing "significant" interest in Rodney, Connolly reports. Baltimore's decision not to sign Balfour has "unquestionably" intensified the Rodney market, Connolly's source added. Baltimore likes Rodney's recent AL East success, but there's a sense that he could require a larger deal than the two-year, $15MM agreement with Balfour that crumbled, and that could be beyond the Orioles' comfort limit, says Connolly.

The team has also checked in on Francisco Rodriguez, Connolly adds. One source told him that the O's have reached out to K-Rod very recently, but the sense is that it was more due diligence than genuine interest. Rodriguez wasn't happy with his role in Baltimore's bullpen in 2013, as he rarely worked high leverage innings after being acquired from the Brewers for infield prospect Nick Delmonico.

FRIDAY: With the Grant Balfour decision in limbo, the Orioles are turning their attention to Fernando Rodney, an industry source tells Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).  The O's had discussions with and about Rodney earlier this winter but negotiations didn't progress (link).

Rodney is reportedly seeking as much as $10MM per year, which would make him a considerably more expensive option than Balfour.  However, with many closing vacancies already filled, Rodney's leverage may not be as great as it was early in the offseason.  By that same token, his agents at the MVP Sports group can make the case that Rodney is the best closer left on the market to try to get the Orioles to pay a premium.

Rodney is coming off a strong season in which he pitched to a 3.38 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 66 2/3 innings for the Rays.  Though he racked up another 37 saves, Rodney's history of command issues resurfaced in 2013 after it looked like he may have overcome that problem a year prior.  In his free agent profile of Rodney back on Nov. 1, our own Steve Adams predicted a two-year, $18MM contract for the soon-to-be 37-year-old.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


East Notes: Price, O’s, Balfour, Braves, Marlins

In an article with the latest on the David Price situation, the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin dismisses reports that the Rays are motivated to move the Cy Young winner by Dec. 31 to avoid having to pay $4MM in deferred money. "The payment isn't due until Oct. 1, and it is the Rays' obligation, so really a nonfactor, as including it would be the same as asking for cash in a deal and subject to MLB approval," Topkin writes. While the Mariners are often named as a likely suitor for Price, they "seem to talk more about what prospects they don't want to trade." Here's more from the AL and NL East:

  • The Orioles could fill their closer and second base vacancies from within, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Fans have been frustrated by the club's quiet offseason thus far, but the O's seem likely to pluck their next second baseman from what they already have, and they won't spend lavishly on another ninth-inning option if Fernando Rodney doesn't drop his price.
  • The Orioles' nullified deal with Grant Balfour could conceivably have ramifications for Baltimore, Kubatko writes.  It's possible that the reliever could decide to file a grievance with the Players' Association or that some free agents down the road may be leery of agreeing to terms with the club.
  • The Yankees could be back in on Balfour, along with the Tigers, Rockies, and Angels, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Earlier this week we heard that the Rays are also in the mix.
  • The Braves won't force the issue in their search of bullpen depth, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
  • The Marlins, meanwhile, are after a veteran presence to add to their pen, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Latest On Orioles’ Closer Situation

Here's the latest on the Orioles' pursuit of a closer courtesy of a series of tweets from MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. The Orioles are upset at the idea that they "backed out" of their agreement with Grant Balfour, as they don't have another closer in waiting. They heeded their doctors' recommendations after Balfour's physical, and now would not be comfortable signing him for more than a year plus an option.

With a deal with Balfour now unlikely, the Orioles could pursue Fernando Rodney, or just give their closer's job to one of their current pitchers. Free agent Chris Perez does not seem to be a possibility. The Orioles have discussed the possibility of a Jonathan Papelbon trade with the Phillies, but Papelbon's contract is an obstacle. The Phillies owe Papelbon $13MM in both 2014 and 2015, and he also has a $13MM vesting option for 2016.


Fernando Rodney Seeking $10MM Per Year

Closer Fernando Rodney is said to be seeking a deal worth $10MM per season over two years or possibly three, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  The Mariners are among the clubs with interest but they can't be enthused about that price, Heyman notes.

Rodney is coming off a strong season in which he pitched to a 3.38 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 66 2/3 innings for the Rays.  However, he has a history of command issues and they resurfaced in 2013.  ERA estimators FIP (2.46), xFIP (2.88) and SIERA (2.69) were all kind to Rodney in 2013.  The veteran ranks seventh among all qualified relief pitchers from 2012-13 in fWAR at 3.6.

Back in November, our own Steve Adams predicted that Rodney was in line for a two-year, $18MM deal.


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Mariners Interested In Fernando Rodney

The Mariners are interested in Fernando Rodney, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). As Morosi notes, Rodney is quite familiar with new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon from the duo's days together with the Tigers. They have a good relationship, according to Morosi.

A closer is known to be on the Mariners' wish list after struggling at the position in 2013. Tom Wilhelmsen lost the job midway through the season, though Danny Farquhar emerged as a solid option for the M's down the stretch.

Rodney is coming off a strong season in which he pitched to a 3.38 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 66 2/3 innings for the Rays. Though he racked up another 37 saves, Rodney's history of command issues resurfaced in 2013 after it looked like he may have overcome that problem a year prior.