Miami Marlins Rumors
For the latest on negotiations between MLB and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball on the posting fee arrangement -- which has major implications, in particular, for highly-regarded starter Masahiro Tanaka -- check out this update from Ben Badler of Baseball America. We'll round out the evening with a variety of links from around the National League:
- Alexander Guerrero is dealing with a hamstring injury in his Dominican Winter League stint, tweets Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, and GM Ned Colletti indicated that the missed time could postpone the Dodgers' decision as to whether he'll play short or second next year. That decision -- or, potentially, the inability to make it -- could seemingly have an impact on Los Angeles' off-season shopping list.
- The Diamondbacks are down on the free agent market, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. "I've spoken a little to our own free agents," said GM Kevin Towers. "But from the looks of where this free agent market is right now and where it's headed, it's not a place where I want to do a lot of business." Gilbert notes that the club has made an offer to infielder Eric Chavez, but that he is still mulling interest from other landing spots.
- The Rockies are implementing a new player development structure, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. In lieu of roving instructors, the standard in baseball, Colorado will employ "developmental directors" who will each be responsible for a given team and look to prioritize skill development rather than minor league game outcomes.
- Discussing the club's recent signing of Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak explained that a thin shortstop market left Peralta as the best fit for the club. While he said the club considered his PED suspension, he opined that "I don't think it's the Cardinals' responsibility necessarily to be the morality police on potentially future employment." As Peralta admitted his violation of the league's policy and paid his penance, said Mozeliak, "at this point in the game, there's nothing that says he can't go play or isn't free to go sign with another club."
- Mozeliak also said that the club looked around at possible trades, but found the cost prohibitive, tweets Stan McNeal of FOX Sports Midwest.
- In a well-argued set of responses to fan questions, Adam Kilgore and James Wagner of the Washington Post took stock of a wide range of issues facing the Nationals. Among the thoughts offered relate to the second base position. The Nats are well-situated to add Robinson Cano, says Kilgore, and the move makes some sense. But Kilgore explains that such a scenario remains largely unlikely. Meanwhile, fallen keystoner Danny Espinosa has relatively minimal trade value, Wagner offers. His value to the organization, in terms of upside and as a competitor/backup option to Anthony Rendon, probably outweighs what he'd return.
- The Marlins are mulling over a minor league offer to infielder Scott Sizemore, reports Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel. Certainly, Miami would figure to have the inside track on players looking for a legitimate chance to see big league time at second or third.
- Miami has not only lured "superscout" Jeff McAvoy away from the Rays, but sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that the club will add Mike Berger from the Diamondbacks in a vice president role (Twitter links). This makes for a quiet but outstanding off-season, opines Passan, who notes that the organization could look quite different if owner Jeffrey Loria gives new GM Dan Jennings more authority than was afforded predecessor Larry Beinfest.
It's not surprising that Miami called on Hughes, Jackson writes, because pursuing a player who had one bad year after a good one fits the club's profile. Demand for Hughes is a fraction of what it could have been before his slide in the latter part of last season and if he can replicate his 2012, he'd likely prove to be a bargain. The 27-year-old posted a 4.23 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in '12 but followed it up with a 5.19 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in '13. Some peripheral stats, including xFIP (4.39) would indicate that Hughes was partially the victim of bad luck. The Royals, Mets, and Twins are also among the clubs that have expressed interest.
Navarro, 29, hit .300/.365/.492 with a career-high 13 homers in 89 games for the Cubs last season. The Marlins would like to add an offensively-gifted catcher to complement defensively-skilled backup Jeff Mathis and the switch-hitting backstop offers just that. The market for Navarro hasn't quite unfolded yet but with top catcher Brian McCann off the board, the dominos could start falling soon. The Red Sox are said to have some interest in Navarro if Jarrod Saltalamacchia, now the No. 1 available backstop, goes elsewhere.
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves here:
- The Royals announced a series of minor league signings, including for third baseman Brandon Laird, outfielder Paulo Orlando and right-hander Wilking Rodriguez. Laird, 26, is the younger brother of Gerald Laird and joins the Royals from the Astros, where he received major league playing time in 2013. Orlando, 28, is re-upping with the Royals after six seasons in the organization. The 23-year-old Rodriguez will transition to the Royals after seven seasons in the Rays' farm system. He has a career 3.90 ERA, mostly as a starter, but has never reached Double-A.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Rockies will return Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, and have added righty Greg Burke. Headed to the Tigers is righty Jhan Marinez, while Gorkys Hernandez and Edinson Rincon will stick with the Royals organization. The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco. And the Dodgers inked utility infielder Brendan Harris. Other clubs with new signings include the Orioles, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and Athletics.
- The Cubs have signed outfielder Casper Wells, according to a tweet from Eddy. The team also added righties Paolo Espino and Carlos Pimentel, along with shortstop Jeudy Valdez. Wells got 102 plate appearances with three different clubs last year, posting a meager .126/.186/.147 line that is perhaps understandable given his constant movement and scant playing time. In 2012, over 316 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wells was good for a .228/.302/.396 slash.
- In addition to bringing back righty Benino Pruneda and catcher Jose Yepez on minor league deals, the Braves have added former Phillies backstop Steven Lerud, tweets Eddy. Lerud appeared in nine games for the Phils between 2012-13. At Triple-A last year, he had an interesting .217/.353/.311 line over 219 plate appearances, as he drew nearly as many walks (35) as he had hits (39).
- Cutting ties with a major international acquisition, the Nationals have released righty Yunesky Maya, Eddy tweets. Washington saw little return on its $6MM investment in Maya, who had been outrighted off of the club's major league roster early in the 2013 season. After struggling in two brief call-ups in 2011-12, Maya's last stint with the Nats was even more regrettable. In his only MLB appearance of the 2013 season, Maya retired one batter in the bottom of the tenth before surrendering a walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Dave Sappelt, tweets Eddy. As Eddy notes, Sappelt was one of the pieces -- along with lefty Travis Wood and second baseman Ronald Torreyes -- picked up by Chicago in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The 26-year-old Sappelt has a .251/.301/.343 slash line in 274 plate appearances spread over the 2011-13 seasons. He has spent most of his time in Triple-A over that time frame, and posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of his two years at Iowa.
The Blue Jays discussed a trade for Matt Kemp with the Dodgers at the GM meetings, reports Shi Davidi of SportsNet.ca. Those discussions appear to have gone nowhere, but Davidi says they are indicative of a trend throughout MLB -- teams are entertaining ideas of big trades (like the recent Prince Fielder / Ian Kinsler blockbuster) rather than diving into a free agent market that's become increasingly expensive. Here are more notes from around the East divisions.
- The Nationals are hunting for a starting pitcher, but they don't want to sacrifice their 2014 first-round draft pick (no. 20 overall) in the process, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. That could make Matt Garza or Ricky Nolasco, who did not receive qualifying offers because they were traded in-season, more attractive options than Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana or Hiroki Kuroda.
- The Marlins have made contact with free agent infielder Yuniesky Betancourt, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. The Marlins are looking for a third baseman, and Betancourt played 59 games there in 2013, a season in which he hit .212/.240/.355. One would think that the Marlins would be interested only on a minor-league deal, though it's worth noting that Betancourt has received near-regular playing time for most of his career despite not posting an on-base percentage above .300 since 2007.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledges the risk involved in signing soon-to-be-35-year-old catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three-year deal, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes. "Clearly this is a commitment that will be scrutinized," Amaro says. "Is it a risk to put three years into a catcher at this stage of his career? It can be, yes. But I think every signing is a risk and we hope that he remains productive throughout the three years and perhaps more." Ruiz hit .268/.320/.368 in a weak offensive season in 2013.
Former Marlins infielder Chris Valaika recently signed with the Cubs, and it's no surprise that he would leave Miami behind, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes. In August, the Marlins were about to promote Valaika from Triple-A New Orleans, but Valaika was among the players who had complained about harrassment by former hitting coach Tino Martinez. So Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria refused to allow the team to promote Valaika. Loria also blocked the promotion of second baseman Derek Dietrich. Spencer points to an innocuous-sounding comment from Valaika's agent Joel Wolfe following Valaika's signing with the Cubs (via FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal on Twitter): "Chris is very excited to be with a first-class organization." That seemingly mild statement might be a shot at the Marlins, Spencer suggests. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The Rockies have about $9MM to spend this offseason, Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post writes. That's a far cry from previous big-ticket expenditures like Mike Hampton, Renck points out, but their $63MM offer to Jose Dariel Abreu, who ended up signing with the White Sox, was a "bold move" in that direction. In any case, the Rockies could look to add talent at first base (where Justin Morneau, James Loney or Mike Carp might make sense), catcher and the pitching staff. The Rockies are seeking hard-throwing relief help, as well as an innings-eater in the rotation. At catcher, however, they could just decide to go with Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco.
- The Royals have been aware of newly-signed catcher Francisco Pena for many years, and not just because Pena's father Tony used to manage the Royals, MLB.com's Dick Kaegel reports. "We've got a long history with him, from the time he was an amateur and signed with the Mets," says assistant GM J.J. Picollo. The Royals feel Pena's offensive track record, defensive ability and youth are interesting enough to make him worth adding to their roster.
Jason Coskrey looks at the history of the posting system in an article for The Japan Times, arguing that it offers little for Japanese players in its current incarnation. "The [Japan Professional Baseball Players Association] thinks the current system is like an auction in which players are treated as if they’re products," Executive Director Toru Matsubara says. The posting system is a hot topic as of late, as a retooling of the arrangement is currently being negotiated by MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball. However, if Japanese players seek more favorable terms, they'll have to fight for it, Coskrey says.
Let's take a look around the AL and NL East:
- Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun dismisses suggestions that the Orioles should trade J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters before they reach free agency, writing that the defense they provide up the middle has been invaluable to the team's recent run of success. Instead, baseball operations head Dan Duquette is likely to look to supplement his current club with a midlevel free agent starter such as Tim Hudson, Schmuck writes.
- Derek Jeter could consider a more limited role for the Yankees if doing so helped the team, his former manager Joe Torre suggests in an article by Brendan Kuty of NJ.com.
- While painful, the 2012 trade that sent Marlins star Jose Reyes and others to the Blue Jays has positioned the team well for the future, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com says, writing that players such as Jake Marisnick could emerge as franchise cornerstones.
- The Marlins aren't considering trading righty Nathan Eovaldi, Frisaro writes in his Fish Pond blog, and told teams so at the recent GM meetings. Starter Jacob Turner and first baseman Logan Morrison could become trade chips, however. The team is also considering whether Cardinals third baseman David Freese is an option for their third base job, Frisaro says.
Here are today's minor moves, all via Matt Eddy of Baseball America (links to Twitter) unless otherwise noted ...
- Middle infielder Jeudy Valdez will join fellow former Padre Aaron Cunningham in moving to the Cubs organization, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 24-year-old, who has posted double-digit home runs and steals in each of the last four seasons, does not receive a Spring Training invite in the deal.
- The Marlins have signed shortstop Juan Diaz to a minor league deal. Eddy calls the 24-year-old a possible diamond in the rough.
- Righties Juan Gonzalez and Justin Souza have inked minor league pacts with the Dodgers. Gonzalez is a 23-year-old who just transitioned to the bullpen, where he put up a 2.14 ERA -- driven by a large drop in his career walk rates -- in 46 1/3 innings thrown for the Rockies' Double-A affiliate. Cotillo first reported the Gonzalez signing (via Twitter), nothing that he received a lot of interest. Souza, meanwhile, is a 27-year-old bullpen arm coming off of a 4.58 ERA over 55 innings pitched between the Double-A and Triple-A outposts of the Tigers.
- The Red Sox have reached minor league deals with lefty Tommy Layne and shortstop Mike McCoy. In his age-28 season, Layne put up a 4.50 ERA over 46 innings for the Pads' top affiliate in Tucson, but posted a 2.08 ERA in 8 2/3 big league innings (though he registered just 6.2 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9 in his 14 outings). McCoy has played in over a season's worth of MLB games, though spread over four years of brief apearances. His career triple-slash is .190/.273/.256 over 380 plate appearances.
- The Diamondbacks have signed minor league free agents Danny Dorn, an outfielder, and Mark Thomas, a backstop. Dorn is a 28-year-old fresh off a .258/.335/.460 campaign in 565 Triple-A plate appearances at Toledo. Thomas is known as a defensive whiz behind the dish, but hit just .151/.195/.274 in 202 plate appearances last year for the Rays' Double-A squad in his age-25 season.
- There are a host of new minor league deals out of Cincinnati, with the Reds inking lefty Lee Hyde, second baseman Rey Navarro, outfielder Mike Wilson, and catchers Rossmel Perez and Max Ramirez. Hyde, a 28-year-old former fourth-round pick, returns to the Cinci organization after a 1.98 ERA campaign in 54 2/3 innings spent mostly in Double-A. Navarro and Perez just played their age-23 seasons at Double-A. Wilson registered a sightly .300/.368/.472 slash in his age-thirty season at Triple-A in the Padres' organization. And Ramirez had a poor season at 28 years of age after putting up two straight better-than-.800 OPS years at the Triple-A level.
- Heading to the Rockies as minor league free agents are lefty Pedro Hernandez, righty Nate Striz, and second baseman Rafael Ynoa. Hernandez washed out of Minnesota after getting bombed in twelve big league starts, though he was much more effective in the minors and is still just 24. Striz just turned 25, but has only thrown three innings above the High-A level. At 26, Ynoa is coming off of a series of campaigns in which he's just topped the .700 OPS level at Double-A; the former Dodger farmhand gets on base at a solid clip, though, and has stolen a decent number of bags (though he's also been caught at a troubling rate).
- And staying with the Angels are righty Orangel Arenas, outfielder Julio Concepcion, and shorstop Jimmy Swift. Arenas made it to Triple-A for a brief stint last year at age 24 but was hit hard; Cotillo was the first to report the news of his signing (on Twitter). Concepcion has not moved past low-A ball and is 23 years old. And Swift, 25, was better at Triple-A (.303/.336/.422 in 118 plate appearances) than at Double-A (.259/.291/.367 in 324 plate appearances) in 2013.
Yesterday, MLBTR's Matt Swartz detailed why he projects Giancarlo Stanton will earn $4.8MM in arbitration this offseason. It's a number that could fluctuate, as Swartz notes that Stanton's salary could range between $4-6MM and that he could earn more from a new team if he's traded, as his new club would likely want to avoid "breaking rapport with an ugly negotiation." Here's some more on the team from South Beach...
- Logan Morrison is receiving a lot of trade interest, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report (Twitter links). Morrison was Miami's most asked-about player at the GM Meetings besides Stanton, and while no deal is close, the Marlins are listening to offers. Morrison is projected to earn a modest $1.7MM in his first time through the arbitration process and hit .242/.333/.375 in 333 PA last season.
- The Marlins are interested in re-signing right-hander Chad Qualls, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports. Qualls posted a 2.61 ERA, 2.58 K/BB, and 7.1 K/9 in 62 relief innings last season, and the veteran reliever "is weighing all of his options" in free agency.
- Also from Frisaro, closer Steve Cishek is "not available as a trade piece." The Marlins were adamant about keeping Cishek last summer and it appears their stance has not changed, even though Cishek will get expensive as a Super Two player. Cishek is projected to earn $3.2MM as a first-time arbitration eligible player this offseason.
- Michael Hill, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, told The Miami Herald's Clark Spencer that his club would prefer to acquire experienced players who still have three or more years of team control remaining. That Major League experience is key, Hill said: "We want talent, but we’ve done our prospect deals. We’re trying to get better and acquire players that help us now, and in the future."
- Hill also seemed to hint that Justin Ruggiano could be a trade chip this offseason.
- The Marlins weren't very close to signing Jose Dariel Abreu, Spencer reports. Miami "dropped out of the bidding early" after they "made a legitimate initial offer" for the Cuban slugger. Abreu eventually signed a six-year, $68MM deal with the White Sox.
Mark Trumbo is the Angels' most wanted player via trade, but the Halos are very reluctant to trade him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. "He fits us," said someone connected to the Angels. Meanwhile, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos and Chris Iannetta also are getting a fair number of trade inquiries, and they could move one of them. Here's more of Heyman's latest..
- One club with interest in Jacoby Ellsbury says that agent Scott Boras has set Carl Crawford's $142MM contract as a benchmark in discussions, Heyman writes. One rival GM who isn't in on Ellsbury argued that Crawford was better and more durable at the time of his deal.
- The Astros, Orioles, Rays, Brewers and Rockies all have checked in on Mets first baseman Ike Davis, despite his awful 2013 campaign, according to Heyman. In the case of Milwaukee, however, they may prefer re-signing Corey Hart instead.
- Heyman suggests that the Marlins and Cubs could discuss a swap of top prospects and officials from both sides agree that they could have something to discuss. The Cubs have high-end position prospects such as Kris Bryant (who may be untouchable), Javier Baez, and Albert Almora, while Miami has a stockpile of strong young arms.
- We learned last week that Ervin Santana's asking price was $100MM and today Heyman hears that agents Bean Stringfellow, Joe White, and Jay Alou are seeking a five-year, $112MM pact. The agents are going around with a book of arguments to support their case, including some comparisons to Dodgers star pitcher Zack Greinke.
- The A's have joined the fray for free agent Nelson Cruz, but the small-market club could run into problems when it comes to dollars and years, Heyman writes. Oakland has been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder after declining to pick up the option on Chris Young, but Cruz would be a much bigger splash than anyone anticipated.
Over the next few months, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.
Giancarlo Stanton has the types of skills that arbitration often rewards most, which is good news as he heads into his first year of eligibility. While players who get on base and play good defense contribute a lot of value to teams, and even get paid handsomely in free agency, they still do not get much recognition in arbitration. The rules of arbitration are not based on estimates of value, but rather on comparisons of salaries of previous players with similar performances (regardless of whether those salaries were fair or not). Stanton has the most important skill that the arbitration process values: power.
However, there is another way in which the arbitration process hurts Stanton. Although he contributes a lot of value while on the diamond, arbitration awards are based heavily on playing time, regardless of how much value was actually added above a hypothetical backup. Very good players who are often injured can get paid handsomely on the free agent market because of the value they do provide when on the field. However, arbitration panels are typically composed of labor lawyers, who see a lot of merit to the concept of “went to work every day,” so playing time is treated very differently and often treated as more important than the standings treat it.
Stanton has only played in 123 and 116 games the previous two seasons, although he did manage 150 games in 2011. As a result, he has barely cleared 500 plate appearances in each of the past two seasons. This makes predicting his salary somewhat challenging. Our arbitration salary model here at MLBTR pegs Stanton for a $4.8MM salary in 2014, but I could really see that missing in either direction because of how few comparable players there have been in recent years. Although gifted sluggers often get injured more as they age, it is not very common for players like Stanton to miss significant time early in their careers.
So, some of the more classic sluggers to go to arbitration in recent years have had considerably more plate appearances (and the counting stats that go with that). Stanton enters arbitration with 504 PA in his platform season, along with a .249 average, 24 home runs and 62 runs batted in. Prior to his platform season, he had 1498 PA and hit .270 with 93 HR and 232 RBI. Despite the 117 career home runs that Stanton has hit, he is probably going to fall short of the earnings of the three other most recent players to enter their first year of arbitration who can claim triple-digits in career home runs. These include Ryan Howard who had 129 career HR and earned $10MM, Prince Fielder who had 114 career HR and earned $7.5MM, and Miguel Cabrera who had 104 career HR and earned $7.4MM. Although Stanton’s very high service time (just missing Super-2 status last year) has led to similar cumulative career PA, he had far fewer platform-year PA (which are more important) than any of these three, who had 648, 694, and 676 PA respectively, compared with Stanton’s 504. As a result, I don’t expect that any of these three will make for good comparables in negotiations.
Instead, it might make sense to look at players who meet more Stanton-like criteria in terms of PA and HR. There have been a couple players who have fit the mold of having fewer than 600 PA, but at least 20 home runs in their platform season, as well as at least 50 home runs prior to then. One of these was Nelson Cruz in 2011, who had 445 PA, but hit 22 home runs to supplement his 55 home runs before his platform year. He earned $3.65MM, which could be a floor for Stanton, even though Cruz did hit .318, far better than Stanton’s .249.
Another possible comparable might be Carlos Quentin in 2010, who earned $3.2MM and hit only .236, while amassing 21 HR in 399 PA. Quentin only had 50 career home runs before his platform season, making him a more obvious floor than Cruz on all fronts.
Josh Hamilton could be considered a floor as well at $3.25MM, since he only had 11 home runs in his platform season, but had hit 51 leading into that year.
Another possibility is that the case may focus on pre-platform statistics. I looked for players who had hit between 10-29 home runs their platform year, but had hit 60 before their platform year. This produced only one player, Jeff Francoeur in 2009, who earned $3.375MM after struggling through a 2008 season in which he hit just .239 with 11 HR and 71 RBI. Francoeur did have 62 pre-platform HR though, which is still a far cry from Stanton’s 93. That would make a salary of $3.375MM look extremely low as well.
Between Cruz, Francoeur, Quentin, and Hamilton, we have four guys that all earned between $3.2-3.65MM and Stanton seems to have a leg up on each one of them. If nothing else, this should be able to convince all involved to see $3.65MM as a floor for Stanton, while Cabrera’s $7.4MM can serve as a ceiling. The problem is how few players seem to fit in that large window.
Few power hitters have fallen in that range. One exception is Dan Uggla, who is a second baseman, so he wouldn’t usually be used as a comparable but his low-average high-power history might make him a useful comparable. He earned $5.35MM after hitting .260 with 32 HR and 92 RBI in 2008, which followed up on a career .263 average, with 58 HR and 178 RBI prior to his platform-season. Given his 619 PA in his platform season, along with clearing 30 home runs, he might be seen as a ceiling for Stanton as well, but the fact that the projection is now five years old calls into question how useful it is or whether it would be taken seriously in negotiations.
Otherwise, it is very challenging to find good comparables for Stanton and that is why I think that he has such a tough case to guess. I do think that any offer under $4MM by the Marlins will probably be seen as too low, and any request of $7MM or more by Stanton’s team at Wasserman Media Group would be seen as overvalued. I also think that even inching up towards $6MM might be too much of a gamble as well. In the end, the model’s $4.8MM projected value doesn’t seem entirely out of whack, but if he came in closer to $4MM or $6MM, I also would not be surprised. As an added wrinkle, if Stanton does end up getting traded this offseason, and he gets traded before reaching an agreement, his future team may decide that breaking rapport with an ugly negotiation or a hearing is too risky and may offer him more money to avoid such a scenario. This may not end up happening anyway, but it shows how much of challenge it will be to guess Stanton’s 2014 salary.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.