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Francisco Rodriguez Rumors
The Marlins have scratched top prospect Andrew Heaney from tonight’s start, but Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes that fans shouldn’t read too much into the move. Marlins VP of player development Marty Scott tells Spencer that the move is just a precaution against having to shut Heaney down in September and isn’t related to a current call-up. Heaney himself told Darrell Williams of the New Orleans Advocate that he feels he’s ready to pitch in the Majors but doesn’t want to be called up as a fill-in, but rather to help the team win: “They’re in first place,” said Heaney. “I don’t want them to bring me up as an experiment.”
Here’s more from the NL East…
- Francisco Rodriguez told Newsday’s Marc Carig that he and the Mets exchanged numbers shortly before New York signed Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde, and following those two moves, he made his decision to return to the Brewers (Twitter link). K-Rod, signed to be a setup man in Milwaukee, has instead turned back the clock with his best season in years, pitching to a 2.01 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 20 saves to this point as the team’s closer.
- The Mets are “caught between the reality of needing patience and the desire to finally start winning again,” writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Kepner spoke with Jon Niese, who said he’s not sure how Mets prospects such as Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Travis d’Arnaud deal with the pressure and expectations placed upon them by fans and media alike. Niese, who didn’t break out until his fifth season with the Mets, added that he’s thankful that the team gave him, Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell time to develop, but he’s not sure the newest wave will be afforded the same opportunity.
- James Wagner of the Washington Post examines Nationals prospect Michael Taylor‘s breakout at Double-A Harrisburg. Taylor, not to be confused by the former Top 100 prospect of the same name, has worked with hitting coach Mark Harris to tweak his approach at the plate and is recognizing breaking pitches better and thriving at the plate. His strikeout rate is still a problem, but it dropped from April to May, and if he can continue that trend he could be on a fast track to Washington’s outfield.
The injury-riddled Brewers may have suffered another knock today when Matt Garza was removed from today’s 9-3 loss to the Cardinals. Garza suffered a bruised right thumb while batting in the top half of the fourth inning, and came out of the game after facing one batter in the bottom of the fourth. With Ryan Braun, Jean Segura, Aramis Ramirez and now Garza all facing nagging injuries and the bullpen piling up appearances, some roster moves may be in order for the Crew, as you’ll read in this edition of Brewers Notes…
- Rule 5 draft pick Wei-Chung Wang could be the odd man out if the club calls up a fresh bullpen arm, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Wang has a 15.00 ERA over six innings of work, and he made only his fourth appearance of the season in today’s game. Manager Ron Roenicke hinted that his club wouldn’t put a player on the DL in order to call up a reliever, though that didn’t necessarily mean they were giving up on Wang. The Brewers would have to offer Wang back to the Pirates for $25K if he isn’t on Milwaukee’s 25-man roster for the entire season.
- Francisco Rodriguez always had a return to the Brewers on his mind when testing the free agent market last winter, the closer tells MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby. “I had two or three offers before the Brewers, but I told my agent to wait and see what the Brewers decided to do,” Rodriguez said. “As soon as their offer came, I said, ‘I want to take it. It’s where I want to be.’ “
- Despite today’s loss, the Brewers still have the best record in baseball at 20-8, and Grantland’s Jonah Keri examines how the club has rebounded from a poor 2013 thanks to better health and improvement in virtually all areas. GM Doug Melvin cited the Brewers’ core of young talent getting a chance to play last season as a big reason why this year’s club has gotten off to such a strong start.
The Brewers and right-hander Francisco Rodriguez are in agreement on a one-year, Major League contract, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported not long ago that the two sides were making significant progress on a deal, and MLB.com's Adam McCalvy added that they were discussing a Major League pact (Twitter link). Rodriguez, who is represented by Scott Boras, will earn $3.25MM with another $550K available via incentives, according to McCalvy.
This marks the third one-year deal that K-Rod has inked with the Brewers. Milwaukee originally acquired him (and cash) from the Mets in July of 2011 for a pair of players to be named later that turned out to be Danny Herrera and Adrian Rosario. Rodriguez inked a one-year deal with the Brew Crew that offseason and agreed to a one-year contract with Milwaukee again in April of last season, joining the club midway through the year.
While it's surprising to some, Rodriguez is entering just his age-32 season. The longtime Angels closer broke into the league as a 20-year-old in 2002, and he's pitched at least 46 2/3 innings in each season dating back to 2003.
Last year, Rodriguez was outstanding for manager Ron Roenicke, firing 24 2/3 innings of 1.09 ERA ball to go along with a 26-to-9 K:BB ratio. Rodriguez picked up 10 saves for the Brewers — including the 300th of his illustrious career — before being flipped to the Orioles in a deadline deal for infield prospect Nick Delmonico. Rodriguez would struggle a bit in Baltimore, pitching to a 4.50 ERA in 22 innings for the Birds. However, he maintained his strong K:BB numbers, whiffing 28 batters against just five walks. He didn't have the consistent 94-96 mph heat he had in his heyday, but Rodriguez still averaged 91.4 mph on his heater last season.
In 767 1/3 career innings, K-Rod has authored a 2.70 ERA with 304 saves, 10.9 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 for the Angels, Mets, Brewers and Orioles. His 304 saves are tied for 21st all-time, and he trails only Joe Nathan among active pitchers in that department.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin drew some ire from fans for his lack of activity on the free agent market, as just a few weeks ago, the Brewers were the only team in the Majors not to have signed a free agent to a Major League deal this offseason. Since that time he's added Matt Garza on a four-year, $50MM contract with a vesting/club fifth-year option and brought K-Rod back to solidify the bullpen.
This post was originally published on Feb. 7.
Joey Votto is well known not only for his massive, ten-year contract, but also for being one of the game's most dedicated and thoughtful hitters. He is also known as a reserved presence, making his lengthy interview with Lance McAlister of Cincinnati's 700 WLW well worth a listen (hat tip to the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay.) Among other things, Votto dismissed the concept of lineup protection, but says that he did see noticeably better pitches when speedster Billy Hamilton got on base in front of him last year. His favorite stat? wRC+. Touching on roster construction and player evaluation, Votto said that he values all aspects of the game, and finds it is telling that both of last year's World Series contestants featured well-rounded rosters of well-rounded players. Here's more from the NL Central:
- After missing all of 2013 due to arm injuries, Pirates prospect Rinku Singh tells MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom that he is working on his arm strength and still plans to reach the Major Leagues. Singh, 25, famously won a pitching reality show in India in 2008 and subsequently signed a minor league deal with the Bucs. The story of Singh (and Dinesh Patel, the reality show runner-up) will be told in the upcoming film Million Dollar Arm.
- The Cardinals lost a number of notable relief arms and could be lacking some depth, Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Gordon lists several minor leaguers who could emerge in Spring Training and be in the bullpen on Opening Day.
- The Cubs are unlikely to participate in a "bidding war" for Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Though Chicago saw Yoon pitch along with multiple other teams, it sounds as if the club's interest is heavily conditioned on price.
- The Brewers are "kicking tires" on several free agent relievers, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter links). Milwaukee is waiting for the asking prices to come down. Two names that Haudricourt wouldn't be surprised to see added are ex-Brewer Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Marmol, who is a good friend of Aramis Ramirez.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
A series of significant, albeit not top-shelf, free agents could soon be coming off the board, according to a report from Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Agent Scott Boras tells Morosi that he is "very close" to inking contracts for four of his clients: Oliver Perez, Jeff Baker, Francisco Rodriguez, and Suk-min Yoon.
Each of these names could represent an interesting opportunity to obtain a significant impact for a relatively limited investment. Rumors have been picking up steam of late on both Baker and Yoon. Baker, a 32-year-old lefty masher, has been said to be nearing a deal and could prove an important bench piece. The South Korean Yoon, meanwhile, has reportedly drawn a good bit of interest; Boras says that six or seven clubs are still involved. While he may not offer massive upside in the sense of becoming a dominating MLB pitcher, Yoon could end up delivering good value if he can stick at the back of a rotation, especially given his young age (27).
Then, there are the two enigmatic relivers: Perez and Rodriguez. Their long MLB tenures (each tasted the bigs at age 20) leave one surprised to learn of their relative youth (both are just 32). Despite flashes of brilliance as a starter, Perez utimately had to reinvent himself as a reliever. And after a stretch as one of the most dominating late-inning men in the game, Rodriguez was forced to settle for a minor league deal last season. Yet the numbers show that both offer very real upside. In the last two seasons, the southpaw Perez has thrown 82 2/3 innings of 3.16 ERA ball (with 10.7 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9). And Rodriguez registered a 2.70 ERA last year in 46 2/3 innings while striking out 10.4 per nine and walking a career-low 2.7 per nine.
With an unfavorable TV deal, the Braves are becoming the Rays, SB Nation's Grant Brisbee argues. That's a bit hyperbolic, as Brisbee acknowledges, but the Braves' payroll has fallen from third in the big leagues in 2000 to 16th in 2013, because their payroll hasn't really risen since then, while it has for most other teams. That's a trend that could continue, unless the Braves' new stadium dramatically changes their fortunes. That means they have to rely more on making smart moves than on spending money. Here's more from around the East divisions.
- James Loney says the Rays, Brewers, Pirates and Astros all made him similar offers, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets. "I felt [Tampa Bay] was going to be the best option and this is where I wanted to be," Loney says.
- If the Rays keep David Price in 2014, they will have a higher payroll than they had in 2010, when it was $72.8MM, Mooney reports. That's not a sustainable figure in the long term, Rays GM Andrew Friedman says, but the team has a chance to be "great" in 2014 (Twitter links).
- The Orioles are still interested in re-signing Francisco Rodriguez, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. The Orioles could then use him as a backup plan at closer in case Tommy Hunter struggles. Fernando Rodney might cost too much for them, Kubatko suggests.
- Orioles executive Dan Duquette says newly-acquired outfielder Quintin Berry is a strong defensive outfielder and "he's shown good on-base capability, particularly against RH pitching," Kubatko tweets.
- It's not likely the Red Sox will sign or trade a starting pitcher before the beginning of spring training, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Boston currently has a solid set of starting pitching options in Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront, plus Brandon Workman, Allen Webster and others. Lauber's tweet suggests the Red Sox will not attempt to trade someone like Lackey, and they will not sign Masahiro Tanaka.
The Orioles' claim of Liam Hendriks today was, like many waiver claims, an acquisition made with depth in mind — Orioles executive Dan Duquette sees Hendriks as a possible spot starter, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. But Duquette also likes Hendriks' control. Hendriks struggled in the Majors in 2013, but he walked only 1.4 batters per nine innings in 98 1/3 frames for Triple-A Rochester, and since he was only 24, Duquette is optimistic that he might be able to post strong control numbers in the big leagues. Here are more notes on the Orioles.
- Hendriks' acquisition won't stop the Orioles from pursuing starting pitching. The O's continue to look for starters in both free agency and the trade market, Encina tweets. Baltimore has been connected to starters including Ubaldo Jimenez, Johan Santana and A.J. Burnett.
- Don't expect a big move before Christmas, however — Duquette indicates that most teams will begin their holiday breaks after today (via MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko on Twitter).
- The Grant Balfour "fiasco" could be an issue for the Orioles as they pursue free agents, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. The O's backed out of their agreement with Balfour over concern regarding his medicals, a concern some other teams did not share. That wasn't the first time the Orioles had voided a deal for medical reasons, as Rosenthal describes. "This will factor into every competent agent's thought process going forward," an agent tells Rosenthal.
- The Orioles do not seem to be interested in re-signing Francisco Rodriguez, Kubatko writes. Instead, they'll likely go with Tommy Hunter or free agent Fernando Rodney for their closer role.
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.
We learned earlier this morning that two recent Orioles players — Taylor Teagarden and Jairo Asencio — will hit the open market and could be playing elsewhere in 2014. Of course, neither of those players figured prominently in the club's plans. Here are a few notes of somewhat greater importance to the Baltimore franchise:
- Trade deadline acquisition Francisco Rodriguez never really fit in with the club, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Dubroff says the O's will not bring back Roriguez, who was the last to show up and first to leave the clubhouse and never found a prominent role in manager Buck Showalter's pen. The O's largely got what they hoped for with Rodriguez: he posted 11.5 K/9 against just 2.0 BB/9 in 22 innings, though his ERA ended up at a middling 4.50. But he was used in just seven games that the team ultimately won, making the price (prospect Nick Delmonico) seem tough to swallow in retrospect.
- One of the Orioles' other big mid-year adds was starter Scott Feldman, who could be re-signed as a free agent. To do so, says MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko, the club may need to be willing to offer a three-year deal. (MLBTR's Steve Adams pegged three years and $25MM as Feldman's ceiling, but opined that he is likelier to end up in the neighborhood of two years and $17MM.) Whether or not Feldman is pitching in Camden Yards next year, Kubatko says that the trade by which he was acquired was a good one. Though Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta have both enhanced their value since going to the Cubs in that deal, says Kubatko, the former couldn't be trusted in the late innings and lacked options, while the latter clearly needed a change of scenery to get his career back on track.
- Another candidate for the 2014 Baltimore rotation could be the under-the-radar T.J. McFarland, says MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski. The O's have now established control over the Rule 5 pick after carrying him on their active roster for all of 2013. McFarland, a 24-year-old lefty, ended the year with a 4.22 ERA in 74 2/3 innings, the vast majority of which came in relief. But the former Indians farmhand spent his entire minor league career in the rotation, and will throw in Venezuela over the winter to add innings in the hopes of competing for a starting gig with Baltimore next season.