Geovany Soto Rumors
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.