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Geovany Soto Rumors
In the aftermath of Geovany Soto's big 2010 season, the catcher was being looked at as extension candidate, in line for a healthy multiyear contract. The Cubs held off extending Soto and instead chose to go year-to-year in arbitration, which may have proven to be a wise decision. Soto followed up his .280/.393/.497 performance in 2010 with a disappointing .228/.310/.411 slash line in 2011, and has thus far gotten off to a slow start this season, with just a .526 OPS entering tonight's play. (Though, in fairness, Soto's .157 BABIP indicates he's been very unlucky.)
Soto earned $3MM in 2011 and $4.3MM this season during his first two arb-eligible years and is due for one more trip through the arb process before hitting free agency after the 2013 campaign. We can tentatively predict Soto to earn around $5.5MM next year since even if he continues to hit poorly, I think the Cubs will still tender him a contract. Soto's big 2010 season and his Rookie Of The Year campaign in 2008 are still too fresh in everyone's memory, and since solid-hitting catchers are such a commodity in the game, the Cubs will likely give Soto another chance to regain his past form.
"Likely," however, is not a certainty. Soto is a middling-to-below average defender, so unless his bat heats up, he has little value. Chicago has another catching prospect in 25-year-old Welington Castillo, who has posted an .852 OPS in 590 Triple-A plate appearances and is currently serving as the Cubs' backup with Steve Clevenger on the DL. Jed Hoyer could go in a different direction next year, using Castillo and Clevenger (who also has some good minor league numbers) in a righty-lefty platoon, possibly with a veteran brought into the mix during Spring Training to add depth.
If the Cubs do give up on Soto, it's more likely that they would try to deal him at the trade deadline rather than non-tendering him for nothing in return. The Rays are the most notable contender with a clear need at catcher, though a number of other teams could develop a hole behind the plate by the end of July. If Soto can't get his bat going, expect him to be dealt for a low-level prospect to a team in need of a backup catcher. If Soto does hit, however, he'll keep his job in Chicago for at least one more season, though the Cubs will still be right to hold off on an extension until they see what Soto does in 2013.
Photo courtesy of Howard Smith/US Presswire
The Cubs avoided arbitration with catcher Geovany Soto by agreeing to a $4.3MM deal, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. MLBTR had projected the Wasserman Media Group client for $4MM. The Cubs still have a slew of unsettled cases.
When George Kottaras hits for the cycle, left-hander Tom Milone homers on the very first pitch he sees in the Major Leagues and the Tigers come back from an 8-1 deficit for a 9-8 win over the White Sox, you know it's been a wild day in baseball. Let's end it off with some news items…
- The Rangers should offer C.J. Wilson a five-year contract worth between $92.5 and $97.5MM, writes Jean-Jacques Taylor for ESPN Dallas, but not any more than that since Wilson isn't quite one of the game's elite aces. If you think that Wilson isn't worth that kind of money, remember that unless C.C. Sabathia opts out of his deal, Wilson will be clearly the best free agent arm on the market this winter. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes thinks Wilson could even score a $100MM contract.
- Kaja Whitehouse of the New York Post isn't impressed by the Mets' plan of offering ownership "units" worth $20-$30MM to several different investors. She believes the club will find it hard to find investors willing to buy in without getting any say in the franchise's operations.
- Johan Santana threw 30 pitches for Class A St. Lucie today in his first minor league appearance since July 28, reports Adam Rubin for ESPN New York. Mets manager Terry Collins didn't rule out the possibility that Santana could pitch in a Major League game this season.
- The Cubs' new general manager may have a difficult decision to make about Geovany Soto, writes Patrick Mooney for CSNChicago.com. While Soto will have to rebound in 2012, it's hard to imagine any new GM immediately getting rid of a catcher who has performed very well in two of four Major League seasons.
- Bruce Chen tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that he wants to return to the Royals next season, what he's learned from pitching for 10 different organizations and how he wants to be like Jamie Moyer. Will MLBTR still be writing posts about Chen in 2025?
- Juan Rivera's performance for the Dodgers has convinced the team that it needs another big bat for next season, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. That big bat is intended for first base or left field, which would mean that the Dodgers would part ways with either Rivera or James Loney.
The Giants like Ramon Hernandez, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). San Francisco has been looking for catching help since Buster Posey got injured in late May, but the front office is not talking to the Cubs about Geovany Soto or Koyie Hill, Schulman reports.
The Reds have the depth to part with Hernandez, who earns $3MM this year and is hitting .307/.368/.500 with eight home runs. Cincinnati could rely on Ryan Hanigan and prospect Devin Mesoraco if they trade Hernandez in an attempt to return to .500 and repeat as NL Central champions.
Extension season might not be over yet, but if recent history is any indication, we've seen most or all of this spring's extensions. You have to go back to 2008 to find an extension completed in May or June, so there's a chance that Ryan Braun's deal will be the last one of its kind for a few months.
If that's the case, 37 players will have signed extensions since the beginning of the 2010-11 offseason. Exactly one of those players, Ryan Hanigan of the Reds, is a catcher. It's noteworthy, if not downright surprising, that no starting catchers signed extensions when you consider that dependable catching is hard to come by and that teams spent aggressively last winter.
Unlike the 2009-10 offseason, when the Twins extended Joe Mauer, no backstop was an obvious candidate for an extension. Mike Napoli is getting expensive and he doesn't have a reputation as a good defender. Matt Wieters hit just .249/.319/.377 last year, so it's understandable that the Orioles didn't commit to him on a mutliyear deal. And it would have made little sense for the Indians to extend Carlos Santana, who had an operation to repair a damaged knee ligament (his LCL) last August.
Buster Posey was an extension candidate, but there's no rush for the Giants to extend him, since he's under team control through 2016. Perhaps the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year will be in line for a long-term deal after 2011 if he repeats his breakout rookie performance.
Geovany Soto would have been a more traditional candidate for an extension. He hit .280/.393/.497 with 17 homers last year and was arbitration eligible for the first time in his career after the season. Soto is young enough for the Cubs to want him to keep him around (28) and close enough to free agency that they might be thinking about securing his services for an extra season or two (Soto is eligible for free agency after 2013). They didn't agree to terms on a long-term contract and instead signed a one-year, $3MM deal.
Given the circumstances surrounding each extension candidate, it's easier to see why Hanigan was the only backstop to sign long-term. Next year, however, more catchers, including some of the ones above, could sign extensions. Elite catchers don't hit free agency often, so the teams that develop catching may choose to keep it in place long-term by offering promising catchers extensions.
The Cubs and catcher Geovany Soto have avoided arbitration, reaching an agreement on a one-year contract worth $3MM, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Soto, who turns 28 next week, is represented by WMG.
Soto was the NL's Rookie of the Year in 2008, and bounced back from a sophomore slump in 2009 with an impressive .280/.393/.497 line in 397 plate appearances last season, though he was plagued with a shoulder injury that eventually required arthroscopic surgery in September. He earned $575K for that performance and obviously was in line for a big raise in his first year of arbitration eligibility. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith looked at Soto as an extension candidate in September, but it appears as though Chicago wants to see if Soto can remain consistent before making a longer-term commitment to the catcher.
The Cubs have four remaining arb-eligible players — Matt Garza, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall. You can follow their cases plus those of every other arbitration-eligible player this winter on MLBTR's Arb Tracker.
Links for Sunday, as the Padres, Giants, and Rockies find themselves separated by a single game in the NL West standings….
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe hears from a pair of Mets officials that the team may make a run at Jacoby Ellsbury this winter.
- GM Neal Huntington discusses the Pirates' nine arbitration-eligible players with Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Geovany Soto will have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder tomorrow, tweets Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Soto will be looking at a three-month recovery, so he should be fully healthy for spring training.
- J.D. Drew isn't sure what the future holds after his current deal expires, writes WEEI's Rob Bradford. Drew is under contract through 2011 and indicates that he's considering the possibility of retiring after that.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer outlines a few of the Indians' needs, and addresses the possibility of Josh Byrnes joining the team's front office.
Wednesday night links, as Daniel Hudson attempts to keep his NL ERA under 2.00….
- David Ortiz tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he thinks Carl Crawford will sign with the Yankees or Angels this winter.
- Joe Girardi doesn't expect Alfredo Aceves or Damaso Marte to be back with the Yankees in 2010, tweets MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
- The chances of lifetime Angel Scot Shields returning to the club's bullpen next season are "less than remote," says Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Whether Scott Kazmir will be a part of the Angels' rotation also remains to be seen, DiGiovanna writes in a separate piece. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith examined the team's 2011 rotation yesterday.
- The Astros are looking into the possibility of signing Barret Loux, but haven't made an offer yet, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
- Carlos Guillen would like to play second base for the Tigers next season, write Jason Beck and Alex DiFilippo of MLB.com.
- Jack Moore of Fangraphs looks into the outstanding numbers Geovany Soto is putting up this year. Earlier today, we looked at Soto as a possible candidate for an extension.
Geovany Soto is having a fantastic offensive season and, as Joe Mauer, Kurt Suzuki, Chris Iannetta and many others will tell you, catchers who can hit are sometimes offered extensions once they qualify for arbitration. Soto will head to arbitration for the first time this winter and barring a September slide, he'll be coming off a big season.
The 27-year-old ranks among the top five catchers in baseball when it comes to batting average, on base percentage and home runs. He has hit well before, but even when he won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2008 his batting line wasn't as high as it is now (.284/.399/.521).
The Cubs may prefer to go one year at a time with Soto, but they could opt for cost certainty and lock their catcher up. As the table below shows, both Soto's rate stats and his cumulative stats fall between the numbers Brian McCann and Chris Iannetta had going into their first arbitration season.
Both McCann and Iannetta signed extensions covering their arbitration years, so they are reasonable comparables for Soto. McCann ($15.5MM) earns more than Iannetta ($7.85MM) for his three seasons of arbitration eligibility and it seems likely that Soto will earn somewhere in between if the Cubs lock him up. McCann signed his deal early in his career, when he had less leverage, so it seems likely that Soto could command nearly as much for his three arbitration seasons as McCann got for his, especially given Soto's massive 2010 numbers. Perhaps the Cubs could buy Soto's 2011-13 seasons for $14MM or so.
They're not involved in the chase for Roy Halladay, but the Cubs could still add players before next week's trade deadline, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Cubs apparently have enough payroll flexibility to add a "mid-level" player and Wittenmyer suggests the team could pursue relievers such as George Sherrill and Chad Qualls. GM Jim Hendry said the Cubs can make moves "if something comes up," but didn't discuss specific needs.
The Cubs, who nearly acquired Chris Coste earlier in the month, could also pursue catching help if Geovany Soto's injury lingers longer than expected.