Garrett Jones Rumors

NL Central Notes: Jones, Pirates, Parra, Hart

Let's round up the latest items out of the NL Central, which, like the rest of baseball's divisions, now features just five teams….


Quick Hits: Stanton, Jones, Hanrahan, Rodney

Let's take a quick look around the league for a few of the morning's odds and ends out of Nashville….

  • Giancarlo Stanton remains unhappy with the direction of the Marlins, agent Joel Wolfe tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). "It wasn't a reaction," Wolfe said, referring to Stanton's post-trade tweet last month. "It's a state of mind." Wolfe declined comment when asked if Stanton has requested a trade, according to Heyman (Twitter link).
  • The Orioles may have some interest in Garrett Jones and could dangle pitching in trade talks with the Pirates, says Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Biertempfel adds within the same blog post that at least two American League teams weren't interested when the Pirates came to them to discuss Joel Hanrahan. According to Biertempfel, there are some concerns about Hanrahan's physical conditioning and his late-season performance in 2012.
  • The Indians had been "seriously interested" in James Loney before he signed with the Rays, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
  • Fernando Rodney, who will be a free agent next winter, has switched agents, leaving ACES and hiring Dan Lozano, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
  • The Royals' interest in Brett Myers is at the "kicking the tires" stage, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
  • With a plethora of catchers in the mix, the Red Sox will field offers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, tweets Jon Heyman.

Mariners Interested In Garrett Jones

The Mariners have talked with the Pirates about first baseman/right fielder Garrett Jones in recent weeks, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  Baker stresses that it was just one of the many conversations the M's have had with clubs, but the discussion went beyond just one phone call and names were batted back-and-forth. 

One proposal had Jones and Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan and possibly another player going to the Mariners in exchange for first baseman Justin Smoak, catcher John Jaso, and starting pitcher Hector Noesi.  The Bucs have let other teams know that Hanrahan is available and were said to be seeking rotation help in return.

Jones, 31, had a .274/.317/.516 batting line with 27 home runs in 515 plate appearances for the Pirates last year.  We saw the first baseman/right fielder on the pages of MLBTR last offseason as the Yankees reportedly had interest in trading for him.

Hanrahan, also 31, posted a 2.72 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 last season in Pittsburgh.  The closer earned $4.1MM last season and is in line to earn $6.9MM for 2013 in his final year of arbitration.  Jones earned $2.25MM in 2012 after heading to arbitration in his first year of eligibility and is projected to make $4.4MM.  Baker writes that the Pirates may be motivated to make a deal like this in order to ease their payroll burden.



Pirates Beat Garrett Jones In Arbitration

The Pirates beat Garrett Jones in yesterday's arbitration hearing, the team announced. Jones will earn $2.25MM in 2012, instead of the $2.5MM salary he and his representatives at SFX had asked for.

Jones posted a .243/.321/.433 line with 16 home runs in 477 plate appearances for the Pirates last year and drew some trade interest from the Yankees this offseason. I examined his case in some detail yesterday. Teams won five of the seven arbitration cases that took place this offseason, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows.


Examining Garrett Jones’ Arbitration Case

In the context of nine-figure player contracts and billion dollar TV deals, $250K isn’t all that much money, yet the Pirates and Garrett Jones went to an arbitration hearing over that sum earlier today. A panel of arbitrators must decide whether the first-time arbitration eligible outfielder/first baseman will earn $2.25MM or $2.5MM in 2012. Let’s take a look at some players who could have figured into the discussion today.

Garrett Jones - Pirates

Recent first-time eligible position players who agreed to one-year deals in the $2.25-2.5MM range would have had the most clout in the hearing room. From the current class of arbitration eligible players, Dexter Fowler ($2.35MM), Nyjer Morgan ($2.35MM) and Seth Smith ($2.415MM) qualify and from last year’s class we have Ian Stewart ($2.29MM), Chase Headley ($2.325MM) and David Murphy ($2.4MM). Those who played long ago, signed at different price points or agreed to extensions as first-time eligible players are generally less relevant. 

The midpoint for Jones’ case sits at $2.375MM — more than Fowler, Morgan, Stewart and Headley obtained their first time through arbitration. The Pirates likely argued that Jones is no better than such players, while SFX would have explained that their client has accomplished more than relevant players below the midpoint. 

In terms of career power numbers, which matter a great deal for position players, SFX had a case. Jones has more career homers than any of the six players above had at parallel points in their careers, and more RBI than everyone but Murphy.

Smith recently obtained a salary above the Jones midpoint, just as Murphy did a year ago. The Pirates may have attempted to show that these players are superior to Jones, but SFX could have countered that Jones is at least as accomplished as Smith and Murphy.

There’s ample room for interpretation — arbitration is both an art and a science. Take Headley, for example. The Pirates could have suggested that Jones’ 2012 salary should stay below the $2.375MM midpoint because he doesn’t measure up to Headley in terms of key stats like average and on-base percentage. SFX could have responded by pointing to Jones’ superior power numbers, both for his career and in his platform season.

In other words, the sides would have highlighted different attributes of the same players in order to make their respective cases. If your head is spinning over the $250K question, you won’t have to wait long for resolution — the verdict should arrive tomorrow.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI. For a look at Jones in relation to teammate Casey McGehee, click here.


Garrett Jones Had Arbitration Hearing Today

Pirates outfielder/first baseman Garrett Jones had his arbitration hearing today, the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com). Jones and his representatives at SFX asked for $2.5MM, while the Pirates offered $2.25MM. Arbitrators Margaret Brogan, Dan Brent and Matt Goldberg are expected to reach a decision by tomorrow.

Jones posted a .243/.321/.433 line with 16 home runs in 477 plate appearances for the Pirates last year and drew some trade interest from the Yankees this offseason. Casey McGehee, whose numbers and salary demands are comparable to those of Jones, is scheduled for the last arbitration hearing of the offseason. So far this winter teams have won four of six arbitration cases, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows.


Yankees, Pirates Talking A.J. Burnett Trade

9:50pm: Talks were ongoing as of Friday evening, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and do not include Garrett Jones. Brink adds that Bucs are more receptive to taking on salary than moving a player or prospect.

4:14pm: The Yankees are telling the Pirates that absorbing $10MM isn't enough, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.

3:47pm: The Pirates appear to be willing to absorb $10MM in a trade, Heyman tweets. The Yankees have been pushing for an even split and seek an OK prospect in return. Heyman tweets that the chances of a deal remain "decent." The clubs are talking, but aren't close to a deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The Pirates are also looking at other starters.

12:34pm: There seems to be a fair amount of optimism about a deal, Heyman tweets.

10:28am: The Pirates haven't yet offered to pay $10MM of the $33MM remaining on Burnett's contract, Heyman tweets.

7:57am: The Yankees and Pirates continue discussing a possible A.J. Burnett trade, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The Yankees are willing to pay a substantial portion of the $33MM remaining on the right-hander’s contract through 2013, but the teams are still a few million apart. The Yankees first asked the Pirates to pay well over $11MM, Heyman writes.

The Yankees want to create payroll room for a designated hitter and appear to be leaning toward Raul Ibanez, perhaps because they prefer his ability to play the outfield. Johnny Damon and Eric Chavez also intrigue the Yankees as possible free agent additions, according to Heyman. The Pirates rejected the Yankees’ request for Garrett Jones, Heyman writes.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Burnett’s no-trade list includes all of the teams on the West Coast (Twitter links). Sherman expects the Yankees to trade Burnett before Spring Training and suggests the team is waiting to see if the Pirates or another club offers to absorb more money.


East Links: Yankees, Jones, Cespedes, Rays, O’s

Mets GM Sandy Alderson joined Twitter with the handle @MetsGM today, opening with a joke about the team's financial situation. He told Newday's David Lennon (Twitter link) that he'll "probably keep doing it for a while … or at least until [I run] out of material." Here's the latest from baseball's two east divisions…

  • The Yankees want Garrett Jones from the Pirates in any trade involving A.J. Burnett reports ESPN's Buster Olney, but Pittsburgh isn't interested in moving him and talks haven't progressed (Twitter links). Yesterday we learned that the Pirates are not on Burnett's no-trade list.
  • Yoenis Cespedes met with the Marlins and toured their new ballpark on Wednesday, but he could head back to the Dominican Republic as soon as today according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. Agent Adam Katz said "nothing is scheduled for now" when asked about meetings with other clubs.
  • Rays GM Andrew Friedman said it was a "dream scenario" to make the upgrades they did without sacrificing depth during an interview with 620AM radio, says Marc Topkin of The Tampa Times (Twitter link). Tampa added free agents Carlos Pena, Luke Scott, and Jose Molina this offseason.
  • The Orioles merged their pro and amateur scouting departments under new GM Dan Duquette, but the club will now have two more scouts covering the minor leagues according Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.

Pirates Linked Through Arbitration

Casey McGehee and Garrett Jones haven’t teamed up on the field yet, but they’re already linked through the arbitration process. McGehee and Jones, the Pirates’ two remaining unsigned arbitration eligible players, would have been comparables for one another this offseason even if Pittsburgh hadn’t traded for McGehee in December. 

Garrett Jones - Pirates

To this point, they have similar career arcs: a cameo appearances in the big leagues followed by a change of teams, a strong first full season, votes in the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year balloting and solid but unspectacular production from corner positions ever since. Parallels like that don’t have to exist for the players to be relevant to one other in arbitration, but the similarities extend to their statistical production.

McGehee has a .265/.320/.426 career line with 52 home runs and 242 RBI in 1689 plate appearances across 437 games. Jones has a .254/.323/.450 career line with 60 home runs and 193 RBI in 1573 plate appearances across 419 games. McGehee's platform year included 13 home runs, 67 RBI and a .223 average, while Jones' platform season featured 16 home runs, 58 RBI and a .243 average. 

Not surprisingly, the first-time arbitration eligible teammates are positioned for similar 2012 salaries. McGehee and his representatives at Meister Sports Management asked for $2.725MM, while the Pirates offered $2.35MM (midpoint of $2.538MM). Meanwhile, Jones (pictured) and his representatives at SFX asked for $2.5MM, while the Pirates offered $2.25MM (midpoint of $2.375MM). 

McGehee, who is one year younger than Jones, has 49 more RBI for his career, including one season with 100-plus driven in (like it or not, RBI matter). Jones, a super two player, had a stronger platform season, with more home runs and doubles than McGehee and a considerably better battling line. 

The Pirates teammates are obvious comparables, but many other players are also relevant to the discussion. Should a hearing or two take place, recent first-time eligible position players such as Seth Smith ($2.415MM), Colby Rasmus ($2.7MM), Ian Stewart ($2.229MM) and David Murphy ($2.4MM) could figure in to discussions as well.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


Pirates Notes: Maholm, Lee, Ludwick, Jones

Despite the Pirates' midseason flirtation with the pennant race, they're going to finish below .500 again, barring a late-season surge. Here's the latest on the 62-71 Pirates from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

  • The Pirates still haven’t approached Paul Maholm about a possible extension, according to Biertempfel. The club has a $9.75MM option for Maholm in 2012 and they expect to keep him around, despite the shoulder strain that currently has him on the disabled list. "It's a no-brainer to want to try to keep him here," GM Neal Huntington told Biertempfel.
  • Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick will get lots of playing time when they return from the disabled list, since it could affect the Pirates' ability to attract players to Pittsburgh. "How you treat players is a recruiting piece," Huntington said.
  • The Pirates haven’t given up on Garrett Jones, who is hitting well in August and now has a .249/.331/.452 season line with 15 homers.
  • Right-hander Chris Leroux would like to move from the bullpen to the rotation, but that seems unlikely, according to Biertempfel. Leroux, who has been excellent in 13 innings out of the ‘pen this year, is out of options.