Freddy Garcia Rumors
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.
Links in Spanish as the 2011 Caribbean Series inches closer...
- The White Sox may be considering Freddy Garcia, but Garcia had a different team in his sights when he spoke yesterday with Israel Pacheco Velásquez from the Venezuelan paper Meridiano. "My preference is to be with the New York Yankees, and it's not unreasonable to have that in mind, because I've demonstrated that I can be useful," Garcia said. "A team like New York would be ideal for my age, [as would ] playing in a successful, media-heavy, demanding division. Without doubt it would be an inspiration." Garcia's only previous sojourn to New York came in January 2009, when he signed with the Mets, only to be released in April after a disastrous spring. Garcia insists the team simply never gave him a chance, but his successful 2010 campaign should guarantee a longer leash. Garcia said he plans to sign soon, no matter the team.
- The Marlins have had discussions internally about signing Cuban outfielder Yasiel Balaguer, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. The 18-year-old has worked out for the Cubs and had a recent tryout for the Mariners rained out, reported Michael Miller at the Miami New Times yesterday. However, lest we get ahead of ourselves, Balaguer's agent Carlos Perez at Miami Sports Consulting informed El Nuevo Herald's Jorge Ebro that Balaguer has yet to be unblocked by the State Department after defecting in November.
- The high percentage of Latino players on the Rangers' roster helps the team to maximize on the potential of its prosects, general manager Jon Daniels told Julio E. Castro at the Dominican paper El Caribe. "[Latino players] are the ones that are in charge of advising our prospects, especially those from the Dominican Republic," Daniels said. "Thanks to them, we were able to advance to the World Series last season, and this year, they're key to our goals once again." The Rangers' current 40-man roster includes eight Latino players, down from 12 on last season's roster. Vladimir Guerrero noted last year that the Latino "heart and soul" of the team and its Spanish-friendly clubhouse were key attractions to him as a free agent.
12:09pm: The White Sox are considering Freddy Garcia, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The White Sox will have starting options even if they don't sign the right-hander, since Chris Sale could join the rotation and Jake Peavy is recovering from July shoulder surgery and should return midseason.
Garcia logged 157 innings for the White Sox last year, posting a 4.64 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. He was a key member of the 2005 White Sox team that won the World Series and started 33 games for the club the following season.
Chicago expressed interest in re-signing Garcia back in September, but the sides haven't been publicly linked since. The Yankees and Orioles were interested in Garcia earlier in the month and both clubs could still have interest. Over 14% of 18,293 MLBTR voters say Garcia is the best free agent starter remaining at this point in the offseason.
Pitchers and catchers are due to report in about three weeks, and by now all of the high-end free agents have come off the board. Heck, even second tier options have signed by now. That leaves just reclamation-type projects and players with considerable flaws, especially when it comes to pitching.
As MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows, starters like Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Bonderman, Freddy Garcia, Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez, Todd Wellemeyer and Brian Moehler remain unsigned. Andy Pettitte is clearly the best of the unsigned bunch, but it's the Yankees or retirement for him, and right now it looks like the latter is winning out. Neither Pedro Martinez, Braden Looper, or Jarrod Washburn have appeared in a big league game in over a year. John Maine, Justin Duchscherer and Jamie Moyer are coming off injuries, Tommy John surgery in Moyer's case.
There are still a number of teams looking for rotation help, including the Yankees, Orioles, Nationals, Pirates and Indians. Which of those unsigned starters represents the best option?
Teams are still hunting for pitching even as the free agent pool continues to shrink. The Padres, Cardinals, Pirates and Mets are looking for arms, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick notes that the Rays and Nationals have not stopped shopping, either (Twitter link).
Two AL East clubs, the Orioles and Yankees have some interest in Freddy Garcia, according to Heyman.
Over in the NL East, the Nationals and Mets have made progress on deals for pitchers today. The Nationals are set to acquire Tom Gorzelanny from the Cubs and the Mets are nearing a deal with Chris Young.
Some news items to take us into the weekend....
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer hears from some player agents that Joey Votto will submit an arbitration number between $8.5-$9.5MM, while the Reds' counter-offer will be around $7MM. Back in August, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith suggested that Votto would ask for $7MM, but since then Votto has added a playoff appearance and the NL MVP Award to his resume. Of course, arbitration talk could be moot if Votto and the Reds agree to an extension.
- The White Sox don't have room in the rotation to bring back Freddy Garcia, says MLB.com's Scott Merkin as part of a reader mailbag.
- The Royals' agreement with Jeff Francis is "the best deal of the winter in free agency," according to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark examines at the high number of expensive and/or long-term contracts signed this winter.
- Lance Berkman talks to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about his offseason training regiment and how much pressure he's putting on himself to perform for the Cardinals. "If I have a repeat of last year I'm probably out of the game," Berkman says.
- The top ten most favorable trades in Reds history are counted down by the Cincinnati Enquirer's Nick Hurm. Recent deals for Brandon Phillips and Bronson Arroyo are included, but it's hard to top the Cincinnati/Houston trade that installed Joe Morgan into the Big Red Machine.