Garrett Richards Rumors

AL West Notes: Hamilton, Angels, Darvish, Mariners

The Major League Baseball Players Association yesterday voiced its displeasure that information pertaining to Josh Hamilton‘s treatment program and potential disciplinary situation has been leaked to the media. Per an MLBPA press release: “It is regrettable that people who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally have started leaking information about the status of his treatment program and the confidential processes under our Joint Drug Agreement. These anonymous leaks are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate. The Major League Baseball Players Association will use every right we have under the collective bargaining agreement to make sure Josh gets the help he needs, and the fair and confidential process to which he is entitled.”

Some more news from Hamilton’s division…

  • Garrett Richards is progressing well and could get into a Cactus League game for the Angels as soon as March 13, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. While there was initially some fear that Richards could miss more than a month to open the year, Fletcher writes that he could be ready to pitch by the season’s second or third week. Fletcher also notes that Josh Rutledge got the first start at second base this spring and entered camp as the favorite to win the second base competition. Others in the mix include Grant GreenJohnny Giavotella and Taylor Featherston.
  • Rangers ace Yu Darvish will have an MRI on his right triceps tomorrow after experiencing tightness in his first outing of Spring Training yesterday, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Darvish first felt tightness when warming up, and it did not improve (though it also did not worsen) during his outing. Darvish, who threw just one of 12 pitches above 90 mph, said he felt much better today, but assistant GM Thad Levine said the team will proceed with the MRI anyhow as a precaution.
  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick spoke to a scout who likes the Mariners‘ offseason moves enough to label Seattle a 93-win club. While that’s just one opinion, Crasnick writes that the Mariners did indeed drastically change their roster this winter, but the moves came without all of the fanfare of the Padres’ retooling. Of course, aside from Nelson Cruz, most of the names added by the Mariners were of the complementary variety, whereas San Diego more household names. Crasnick also spoke to the Mariners’ players about their excitement for the coming year, with Robinson Cano giving a glowing review of his friend and now-teammate Cruz.

Pitching Notes: Gee, K-Rod, Soriano, Marlins, Uehara, Richards

Right-hander Dillon Gee is likely the odd man out and headed to the Mets‘ bullpen this season, and ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin was among the reporters to speak with him today regarding the move (video link). Gee says he is ready to contribute in whatever role he is asked, even though he obviously prefers to stay in the rotation. Though he did not ever speak with anyone in the front office, he relayed that his agent did, and was seemingly left with the impression that a trade was never quite as likely as was believed in some quarters.

Let’s have a look at a few segments of the pitching market where action still seems open:

  • It would still be unwise to bet against two other well-known closers — Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano — landing substantial contracts, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Notably, both free agents are represented by Scott Boras, who Rosenthal says not to bet against. As Rosenthal rightly points out, it will be interesting to see whether that pair of big-named arms manages to top the guarantees given to names like Pat Neshek ($12.5MM) and Zach Duke ($15MM).
  • As previously reported, Rodriguez has drawn interest from the Marlins, who have also had discussions about fellow free agent righty Joba Chamberlain, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). And those aren’t the only arms still under consideration in Miami, per Heyman. The club is seemingly casting a wide net — waiting for a good value, perhaps — in adding a final piece before camp.
  • Red Sox closer Koji Uehara said today that his mid-season swoon was due in part to injury issues, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. The trouble was related to Uehara’s lower back, GM Ben Cherington said. Obviously, the club believes that he will be able to return without issue, given the contract it gave the veteran relief ace.
  • Breakout Angels starter Garrett Richards threw his first pen session since undergoing knee surgery last year, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Reports were solid on the 26-year-old righty, whose return — and ability to match his outstanding results from last year — will go a long way toward defining the club. Anything close to his 2014 showing would seemingly make Richards a prime extension target.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Garrett Richards

Here’s the rundown of players who avoided arbitration today:

  • Starting pitcher Garrett Richards has settled with the Angels for $3.2MM, Mike Perchick of WAPT tweets. Richards, who’s eligible for arbitration for the first time as a Super Two player, was in the midst of a breakout season (with a 2.61 ERA, 8.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 168 2/3 innings) when he suffered a season-ending knee injury from which he’s now recovering. He’s set to begin throwing off a mound in the next two weeks. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, Richards had asked for $3.8MM, and the Angels had countered with $2.4MM, so $3.2MM is a bit above the $3.1MM midpoint. With Richards’ signing, Matt Joyce is the only Angel remaining with a pending arbitration case.


Angels Open To Extensions With Street, Iannetta, Richards

The Angels are planning to discuss an extension with closer Huston Street in Spring Training and are also open to extensions with catcher Chris Iannetta and budding ace Garrett Richards, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The Halos, in fact, have already approached Street about the possibility, Gonzalez adds.

An extension with Street has been a known possibility for some time, as GM Jerry Dipoto told Gonzalez back in November that the two sides would talk during Spring Training. However, interest in extending Iannetta had not surfaced publicly prior to this point.

Interestingly, Street will represent himself in any contract negotiations, the reliever himself told Gonzalez in that same November piece by Gonzalez. A former client of Hendricks Sports, Street earned $7MM in both 2013 and 2014, and he’ll earn the same amount in 2015.

Street’s strikeout rate rebounded from a career-low 7.3 K/9 in 2013 back up to a more typical 8.7 K/9 in 2014, and he enjoyed his second sub-2.00 ERA campaign of the past three seasons. Although his ERA has fluctuated significantly over the past four seasons, his efforts have netted a 2.49 ERA in 213 1/3 innings with 8.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. ERA estimator SIERA has pegged Street as a sub-3.00 ERA reliever in five of the past six seasons, with the lone exception being the aforementioned 2013 season in which his strikeout rate dipped.

As for Iannetta, it makes sense to see the Halos interested in retaining him, given the fact that the soon-to-be 32-year-old is slated to be one of the top backstops available on next year’s open market, alongside Matt Wieters and Alex Avila. Iannetta offers not only respectable pop from behind the dish (.148 ISO with the Angels) but also has posted gaudy OBP numbers for much of his career thanks to a lifetime 14.2 percent walk rate. He does leave something to be desired in terms of pitch framing and is a bit below average in terms of career caught-stealing rate, but he’s a consistently valuable option behind the dish.

Richards and the Angels have to hammer out his arbitration salary — he filed for a $3.8MM salary, while the team countered at $2.4MM, as can be seen in our Arbitration Tracker — and talks are said to be progressing slowly, per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link). DiGiovanna adds that to this point, there’s been no discussion of a multi-year pact with Richards’ representatives at Relativity Baseball, and Gonzalez did caution that such negotiations might not even begin until after Opening Day.

However, as MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows, Relativity has been amenable to extensions for young starters in the past, as they negotiated long-term deals for Chris Archer, Julio Teheran, Madison Bumgarner and Jon Lester prior to those players reaching three years of big league service. Of course, Richards is a Super Two player and already eligible for arbitration, so he figures to be a more expensive commodity than the aforementioned names, who signed prior to arbitration.

Uncertainty surrounding Richards’ health as he recovers from knee surgery may be a factor in potentially delaying talks until the season begins, though Gonzalez reports that the right-hander is running on 75 percent of his body weight and should progress to 100 percent next week. He’s expected to be ready to begin throwing off a mound around the time the club begins its workouts in Spring Training. GM Jerry Dipoto wouldn’t comment on extension talks with Richards (or any other player), but he expressed confidence that the Angels would avoid an arbitration hearing with Richards, Matt Joyce and David Freese, Gonzalez writes.


Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.

Richards, Shoemaker, Castro, Furbush, And Morrison Change Agencies

Relativity Sports has added an even handful of new clients, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). In addition to Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker of the Angels, Relativity has taken on Jason Castro of the Astros along with Charlie Furbush and Logan Morrison of the Mariners as clients. Each of those players had been with Octagon, but it appears that they followed agent Fred Wray to his new agency.

Among this group of players, only Shoemaker has yet to reach arbitration eligibility. He and fellow breakout Angels starter Richards (who will be entering his first arb year as a Super Two) could well become extension candidates if they maintain their form. Meanwhile, Castro could be a somewhat difficult-to-peg arbitration case, as he looks to improve on his $2.45MM salary after a rough year.

Morrison, too, could require some effort from his new firm. He managed to bridge a large gap in filing figures last year, settling on a $1.75MM deal. But Morrison’s future remains unclear after putting up a solid, if unspectacular, .262/.315/.420 slash over 365 plate appearances. He could be ready to go through another (relatively) high-stakes round of arbitration negotiations, find himself dealt to a new club, or even be set loose to find a new club on the open market.

Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for the most up-to-date information on player representation.


Garrett Richards Out Six To Nine Months For Knee Surgery

Angels right-hander Garrett Richards has been diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee and will undergo surgery that will come with a recovery time of six to nine months, the Angels announced (Twitter links). Given the length of the recovery period, it’s possible that the Halos’ breakout star could miss the beginning of the 2015 season as well.

Richards is the second young pitcher that the Angels have lost this month, as they also received the news that lefty Tyler Skaggs required Tommy John surgery. If there’s a slight silver lining for Angels fans, it’s that Richards will almost certainly be able to contribute next season, whereas Skaggs is unlikely to do so.

Nonetheless, it’s a crucial blow to an Angels team that is in a close race with the Athletics for the AL West division title. The 26-year-old Richards has been an anchor for manager Mike Scioscia’s rotation this season, pitching to a 2.61 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent ground-ball rate in 168 2/3 innings of work.

The Angels will now lean even more heavily on Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson atop their rotation, with likely contributions from Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago and perhaps Wade LeBlanc at the back of the starting five. LeBlanc was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake today after posting a 4.00 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 123 2/3 innings this season, but the 30-year-old veteran hasn’t seen consistent time in a  big league rotation since 2011 with the Padres. He has a career 4.56 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 424 1/3 Major League innings.

The Richards injury will only further speculation that the Halos could look outside the organization to add an arm for the stretch drive. Reports yesterday indicated that Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon has yet to hit the waiver wire, and he would be a logical target for the Angels if he reaches them (a team like the Mariners, however, could block their division rivals by placing a claim). MLBTR’s list of players that have reportedly cleared revocable waivers does include a few pitchers, but it seems highly unlikely that any of Yu Darvish, Jon Niese or Gio Gonzalez would truly be available. Hypothetically speaking, Niese is the most realistic option, as the Mets aren’t contending. However, the Angels’ depleted farm system likely doesn’t have the necessary chips to make such an acquisition.

Richards’ injury could also have an impact on GM Jerry Dipoto’s offseason strategy, as it likely increases the importance of adding veteran pitching depth — even on minor league deals. Of course, for the time being, Dipoto and his lieutenants will be focused on the next two months as they hope to make a postseason appearance, which would be their first since 2009.


AL West Notes: Richards, Altuve, Athletics

Angels pitcher Garrett Richards suffered what appeared to be a significant knee injury while trying to make a play at first in the second inning of a game against the Red Sox Wednesday. He fell while still running to first and spent several minutes on the ground in obvious pain before being removed on a stretcher. There’s no word yet on the severity of the injury (which the Angels described as a “left knee/patellar injury“) but if it’s as serious as it appears to be, it would be a big blow to the Angels. Entering tonight’s game, Richards had posted a 2.53 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 167 innings this season, and the Angels are currently fighting the Athletics for first place in the AL West. Here are more notes from the division.

  • Diminutive Astros star Jose Altuve has made it big despite his size, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “He’s an anomaly,” says Astros assistant GM David Stearns. “He’s tough to explain, other than the fact he works as hard or harder than anyone, he’s got freakish hand-eye skills, he loves baseball and he wants to be great.” History indicates that Altuve is, in fact, very unusual, Kepner writes — there isn’t anyone in the Hall of Fame listed at 5-foot-6 or shorter who debuted in the Majors since the early 1940s. Altuve signed for just $15K as an amateur out of Venezuela.
  • The Athletics have struggled since their surprising trade of Yoenis Cespedes and a draft pick for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, John Branch of the New York Times notes. It’s not clear that the trade is to blame, however. “We were struggling some before the trade as well, and we haven’t been as good offensively as we have been for the better part of a season,” says manager Bob Melvin. “But I expect us to get much better offensively because we still do have a very deep lineup.”

Zack Greinke Rumors: Thursday

The Brewers are looking to sell and, based on his most recent start, Zack Greinke is healthy. The right-hander figures to continue drawing heavy interest in the days leading up to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. He’s clearly the top arm available with Cole Hamels locked up to an extension in Philadelphia. The Rangers, Angels, Braves and White Sox are interested in Greinke and the Red Sox and Nationals might be considered suitors too. Here are the latest rumors surrounding the Greinke with the most recent rumors up top…

  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin's comments this evening were measured compared to ones made earlier today where he sounded certain of a Greinke trade, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.  "I just said there was that possibility," Melvin said. "I don't think there's any secret, with the Trade Deadline, that this is a possibility. Zack knows that. We know that. Other teams know that."  McCalvy writes that the Rangers, Angels, and Braves appear to be the most serious suitors for Greinke.
  • The Dodgers aren't pursuing Greinke at this point, sources tell Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • The White Sox seem completely focused on trying to get Greinke, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • Greinke will be traded before the July 31st deadline, GM Doug Melvin told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Melvin said Greinke could handle pitching in a large market. "There are so many good things about him, it's going to be difficult when we trade him,'' Melvin said. GMs and executives agree Greinke is the prize pitcher available in trades, Nightengale reports.
  • One source believes Greinke will be traded before Ryan Dempster, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin confirmed on WTMJ radio that he's taking phone calls and acknowledged that Greinke could be traded before his next start (transcript via Tom Haudricourt). "At this point we have to listen to opportunities to improve the ball club for the future and still try to win ball games now," Melvin said.
  • Melvin added that the Brewers haven't had recent extension talks with Greinke.
  • The Brewers are taking calls from teams interested in acquiring Greinke, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. "It sounds like he's as good as gone," one person told Haudricourt. 
  • Haudricourt offers a detailed look at which prospects interest the Brewers’ decision makers. Milwaukee would love to have Rangers shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar, but the Rangers consider him untouchable. The Brewers would be very interested in Rangers left-hander Martin Perez and have scouted right-hander Justin Grimm.
  • The Brewers are thought to rank Braves right-hander Julio Teheran ahead of Randall Delgado and Mike Minor, according to Haudricourt. The Brewers want pitchers who can contribute at the MLB level soon.
  • Milwaukee prefers Angels shortstop prospect Jean Segura to Garrett Richards, Haudricourt writes.
  • The White Sox also appear to have considerable interest in Greinke.

Angels Notes: Morales, Richards, Santana, Hunter

The Angels continue to seek relief help, even as they pursue high-end rotation upgrades, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. They have talked to the Nationals about bullpen help and could have interest in Royals closer Jonathan Broxton, Knobler adds. Here’s the latest on the Angels, who now have a 50-41 record:

  • The Angels are willing to offer Peter Bourjos for the right reliever and they're suggesting to teams that they would also deal Kendrys Morales, according to Knobler. Starter Garrett Richards could be available in a deal for a top starter such as Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels or Francisco Liriano.
  • Adam Katz of WMG now represents Angels right-hander Ervin Santana, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports (on Twitter). Agent Bean Stringfellow had represented Santana in the past. Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for any information about player representatives.
  • Torii Hunter told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that there hasn’t been any progress toward a contract extension that would keep him in Anaheim beyond this year. The 37-year-old would like to remain with the Angels, though he would consider other clubs if Los Angeles doesn’t have interest in bringing him back. “If my time is up here, then you think about Minnesota, think about Texas,” Hunter said. “The Angels are No. 1 for me.”