Freddy Garcia Rumors
With the general manager carousel moving at full speed and free agency approaching quickly, there are plenty of rumors in Major League Baseball. Jon Heyman weighed in today at SI.com; here are some highlights:
- Heyman’s sources doubt the Angels would waste Andrew Friedman’s time if they weren’t prepared to offer him a job. However, someone close to Friedman doubts he would leave the Rays. Friedman tops the Angels’ long list of GM candidates.
- One general manager expects C.J. Wilson to sign a deal worth $75MM over five years.
- Yu Darvish is undecided about making the jump to MLB, but he’ll be in line for lots of money if he does make the leap. One general manager suggested Darvish would cost about $100MM between his contract and his posting fee and another GM agrees that he’ll cost “big bucks.”
- The Yankees and GM Brian Cashman are making progress in their discussions about a new contract.
- Free agent starter Freddy Garcia is popular with the Yankees’ front office and could return in 2012. The right-hander barely qualifies as a Type B free agent, according to our rankings.
Among free agent starters with at least 100 innings pitched in 2011, C.J. Wilson, C.C. Sabathia, and Mark Buehrle unsurprisingly comprise the top three in ERA. Erik Bedard snags the fourth spot with a 3.62 ERA, the bigger surprise being the lefty's health rather than his performance. But just a hair behind Bedard in the free agent ERA rankings is a man who had to sign a minor league deal in late January: Freddy Garcia.
After the 2006 season Garcia had tallied 200+ innings in six consecutive years. Seeking a front-rotation arm, Phillies GM Pat Gillick acquired Garcia from the White Sox for Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez at the Winter Meetings that year. Biceps soreness set in that spring for Garcia, who began the year on the DL. The big righty threw 56 innings for the '07 Phillies, at which point a serious shoulder injury was diagnosed. He had surgery in late August, and became a hot commodity as a free agent a year later. Garcia gave the '08 Tigers three September starts and planned to participate in the Venezuelan Winter League to further prove his health.
Garcia's shoulder flared up at that point, but he was healthy enough to land a $1.5MM base salary with $6.5MM in incentives from the Mets in January of '09. Mets GM Omar Minaya convinced Garcia to accept a minor league assignment to begin that season, but he was released by the end of April. It was a low point for Garcia, who signed back with the White Sox in June of that year on a minor league deal. Garcia closed out his season with nine starts for the Sox, pitching well enough to prompt the team to exercise a $1MM option in October.
In 2010 we saw a full season of the new Garcia. The results: a 4.64 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.32 HR/9, and 40.7% groundball rate in 157 innings. It wasn't enough to merit a big league deal, so the Yankees signed him to a minor league contract in January and he soon became the favorite to be the team's fourth starter. An August finger injury cost Garcia a few starts, but he ended up with similar numbers: a 5.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9, and 36.4% groundball rate in 146 2/3 innings. If you count a minor league start and a postseason start, Garcia pitched 156 innings.
SIERA says Garcia's skills suggest an ERA around 4.28, rather than his actual 3.62 mark. That's still an improvement over 2010. Garcia slightly improved his strikeout rate, perhaps due to some changes in his mix of pitches. Garcia still profiles as a back-end starter, but his new level of performance should result in a guarantee at least matching the $3MM given to the likes of Brad Penny and Brandon Webb last winter.
Garcia appears to have earned over $4MM this year including incentives, and the Yankees must decide whether to offer arbitration if his fringe Type B status holds up. Perhaps the Yankees can convince him to decline arbitration, as otherwise the process could lead to a $5-6MM guarantee should the pitcher accept. Garcia has shown he can provide that amount of value, but despite the lower ERA this year the market perception would probably put him below a $5MM base salary as a free agent.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
With a month and a half remaining in the regular season, Joel Sherman of the New York Post takes a look at a few subplots facing the Yankees as they prepare for the playoffs and the subsequent offseason. Let's check out the highlights....
- Nick Swisher's OPS sat at .649 heading into June, but he's posted a .941 mark since then. Given his improved play, the Yankees will likely view his $10.25MM option for next year as reasonably priced, and bring him back.
- It's nearly a certainty that C.C. Sabathia exercises his opt-out at season's end. Sherman sees the 31-year-old asking for a raise, from the four years and $92MM he'll have left, to no less than the seven years and $161MM he originally signed for.
- Rafael Soriano has allowed one baserunner in six outings since coming off the DL, leading Sherman to wonder if the righty's opt-out could become a factor this winter. Considering how strong the relief market will be, I can't imagine even Scott Boras finding a deal better than the two years and $23MM Soriano has remaining on his current contract.
- There's no guarantee Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia are Yankees next season, but Garcia projects as a Type B free agent, meaning the club figures to at least offer him arbitration.
- Speaking of starters facing free agency, Jason Marquis tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he'd love to represent his hometown and pitch for the Yankees or Mets. Taking into account their divisions and home parks, the Mets may be more appealing for Marquis than the Yanks, but either way, Marquis suggests he'll "explore that avenue when the season is done."
A few items from the Bronx Bombers' camp...
- Bartolo Colon has looked very good this spring, but lingering doubts about his conditioning and his durability are the only reason the Yankees haven't officially given him a rotation job, writes Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
- The other veteran contender for that open rotation spot, Freddy Garcia, has offered to be a long reliever if it will get him on the Yankees' roster, reports Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger.
- Also from Carig, he thinks Gustavo Molina could be a legitimate contender to start the season as New York's backup catcher while Francisco Cervelli is on the DL. Molina, signed to a minor league deal in December may get the nod given that the Yankees' more vaunted catching prospects (Jesus Montero and Austin Romine) haven't stood out this spring.
- Brian Cashman tells Chad Jennings of the LoHud blog that he's received a few calls from other general managers in regards to the extra pitchers in New York's camp. "It’s been very quiet for the most part....Everybody’s just picking the phone up and checking in with each other, myself included," Cashman said.
Rotation battles are being decided left and right. Here's the latest.
- Scott Baker will serve as the Twins' fifth starter and Kevin Slowey will work out of the bullpen, tweets Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Slowey was highlighted by MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith as a potentially available starter, and the Twins appear willing to listen. With Kyle Gibson on the horizon, can the Twins spare the depth?
- Barry Enright made the Diamondbacks' rotation, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. Assuming Joe Saunders makes the cut, that leaves Armando Galarraga and Aaron Heilman duking it out for the right to fill in for Zach Duke. If Heilman sneaks into the rotation, the D'Backs have to decide by March 28th whether they want to pay Galarraga $2.3MM as their long man. If they cut him by then they'd only owe him about $569K.
- Bartolo Colon went six strong innings for the Yankees last night, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports figures this means he'll make the team somehow. Colon and Freddy Garcia have opt-out dates of March 31st and March 29th, respectively. Ivan Nova probably has the fourth starter job, leaving Colon, Garcia, and Sergio Mitre for two spots.
- The Cubs are meeting today and could decide on their fifth starter, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. If Andrew Cashner gets the nod, I can see the Cubs trying to dump Carlos Silva.
The Yankees discussed ways of strengthening their pitching staff this offseason, but now that we're just weeks away from Opening Day, the team is no longer exploring potential deals. GM Brian Cashman told Marc Carig of the Star- Ledger that "there's nothing hot. I've got nothing going on. Zero" (Twitter links).
That's not particularly surprising since the challengers for the two jobs at the back of the club's rotation have been progressing well. Cashman declared that no pitchers were available late last month and the market figures to remain barren for months (you can forget about Felix Hernandez and Francisco Liriano for now).
Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, two of the pitchers in competition for the available rotation spots, have clauses in their contracts that allow them to opt out at the end of the spring. However, Colon is willing to pitch in long relief, according to Carig.
The Cardinals are expected to receive some bad news pretty soon, as it appears as though right-hander Adam Wainwright will miss the 2011 season with Tommy John surgery. Manager Tony LaRussa told Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that they "have to overcome this," though St. Louis still has a formidable front of the rotation featuring Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Jake Westbrook.
Reliever Kyle McClellan is already working under a starter's program this spring according to Goold, so he could be first in line for the vacated rotation spot. The team could also turn to Brian Tallet, Miguel Batista, Ian Snell, P.J. Walters, or Lance Lynn if needed. What about external options? Let's take a look...
- Kevin Millwood - The 36-year-old free agent is said to be "waiting for the right widespread panic," and Wainwright's injury would certainly qualify. Millwood was rumored to be seeking $4-5MM, and recently declined a minor league offer from the Yankees.
- Joe Blanton - It's long been speculated that the Phillies would try to unload the $17MM owed to Blanton over the next two years, though St. Louis' payroll is said to be "leaking." Philadelphia would likely have to eat a significant portion of Blanton's contract to facilitate a trade, defeating the point of moving him.
- Jeremy Bonderman - Still just 28, Bonderman has been connected to the Indians recently but is still without a job for 2011.
- Chad Durbin - At least one team (the Red Sox) have interest in him as a starter, but he'd have more of an opportunity with the Cardinals. Durbin has 75 big league starts to his credit, but none since 2007. He could also provide bullpen depth if McClellan moves into the rotation.
- Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia - both right-handers are with the Yankees on minor league contracts that allow them to become free agents if they don't make the team out of Spring Training.
There's no way to replace a pitcher of Wainwright's caliber, so the Cardinals will have to hope that whoever takes his place in the rotation simply provides quality innings while the rest of the team takes their game up a notch.
The Angels considered the possibility of trading for Carlos Beltran before they acquired Vernon Wells from the Blue Jays, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Here are the details on the Angels' interest in Beltran and other notes from New York City:
- Sherman hears that the Mets and Angels discussed Beltran, but the Angels preferred Wells despite the $86MM remaining on his contract. The Angels had more confidence in Wells' health and defense.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman tells Sherman that he doesn't want to have to rely on pitching prospects Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances in the majors this season. “They shouldn’t be caught up in our major league problems,” Cashman said. But as Sherman points out, the Yankees have summoned prospects like Phil Hughes to the majors earlier than expected; once the season starts, it's tough to predict what will happen.
- In conversations with Yankees people, Sherman never got the impression that they liked Freddy Garcia that much. The team agreed to a minor league deal with Garcia Monday.
- There's "a pretty good likelihood" that Andy Pettitte returns and the Yankees trade for a starter during Spring Training, Sherman writes.
The Yankees have agreed to sign Freddy Garcia to a minor league contract, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The deal will pay Garcia $1.5MM if he makes the Major League roster, and the total value of the contract could be worth $5.1MM if Garcia reaches all his start-based incentive plateaus, up to 30 starts. Garcia is represented by Peter Greenberg.
Garcia, 35, expressed his preference to pitch for the Yankees earlier this week, saying it would be "an inspiration" to pitch in the pressurized environments of both New York and the AL East. The Mets, Orioles and White Sox all showed some degree of interest in Garcia this winter, though Garcia ruled out a return to Chicago earlier today.
The veteran right-hander posted a 4.64 ERA, 1.98 K/BB ratio and a 40.7% ground ball rate in 28 starts with the White Sox last season. Garcia threw 157 Major League innings in 2010 -- he pitched in just 129 innings combined over the prior three seasons due to nagging shoulder injuries.
Garcia joins the likes of Bartolo Colon, Ivan Nova, Andrew Brackman, Sergio Mitre and even Mark Prior in the battle for the final two starting spots in the Yankee rotation. This competition could be limited to just the number five spot, of course, should Andy Pettitte announce his return.
Freddy Garcia continues to indicate that he'd prefer to spend 2011 playing outside of Chicago, despite recent reports that the White Sox are still considering him. Last Wednesday, he stated his goal to pitch for the Yankees this season, while not explictly ruling out out Chicago or any other team. But in a recent interview with Leonardo Mendoza and Francisco Zambrano from the Venezuelan paper Lider en Deportes (link in Spanish), Garcia seemed ready to say goodbye to the South Side:
"I would love to stay in Chicago because I like the city and I have friends here, but I don't think I'm going to come back," Garcia said. "In any case, I appreciate them for trusting me last year; however, a team like New York would be ideal, and would match up with this stage of my career."
Were he to head East, Garcia would presumably slot behind Phil Hughes in the Yankees' rotation, leaving the fifth spot open for contention among a group including rookies Ivan Nova and Andrew Brackman and veterans Bartolo Colon and Sergio Mitre. With Andy Pettitte's return far from a sure thing, and Joba Chamberlain looking more like a trade chip than a starter, a healthy Garcia could help the Yankees buy time in the short term to continue weighing their long-term options.