Gerald Laird Rumors
10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Scott Downs (A) Jason Frasor (A) Kevin Gregg (B) Miguel Olivo (B), according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisolm (on Twitter).
- The Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano (A), Jesse Crain (B) and Orlando Hudson (B) and declined to offer arbitration to Matt Guerrier (A), Brian Fuentes (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Rays offered arbitration to Grant Balfour (A), Carl Crawford (A), Rafael Soriano (A), Randy Choate (B), Brad Hawpe (B) and Chad Qualls (B), according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. They did not offer Dan Wheeler (A) or Carlos Pena (B) arbitration. It seems possible that Hawpe has agreed in advance to turn down arbitration.
- The Orioles won't offer arbitration to Koji Uehara (B) or Kevin Millwood (B), according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links).
- The Angels declined to offer Hideki Matsui (B) arbitration, the team announced.
- The Rangers offered arbitration to Cliff Lee (A) and Frank Francisco (A), but not to Vladimir Guerrero (A) and Bengie Molina (A), according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- The Yankees will offer arbitration to Javier Vazquez (B), but not to any of their other free agents, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday on Twitter. Andy Pettitte (A), Derek Jeter (A), Mariano Rivera (A), Lance Berkman (B) and Kerry Wood (B) were the team's other ranked free agents. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the Yankees would offer Vazquez arbitration and noted that the right-hander has agreed to reject the offer, a common gentleman's agreement that can take place with Type B free agents. Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger first reported on Twitter that the Yankees would not offer Jeter arbitration.
- The Red Sox offered arbitration to Adrian Beltre (A), Victor Martinez (A) and Felipe Lopez (B), but not to Mike Lowell (B) or Jason Varitek (B), according to the team.
- The White Sox offered arbitration to Paul Konerko (A) and J.J. Putz (B), but not to A.J. Pierzynski (A) or Manny Ramirez (A) according to the team (on Twitter).
- As expected, the Tigers announced that they will not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, including Scott Boras clients Magglio Ordonez (A), Johnny Damon (B), and Gerald Laird (B).
Steve Adams already looked at the stock of one impending free agent in A.J. Pierzynski earlier today, now let's turn our attention to another AL Central catcher. The Tigers informed Gerald Laird that they will not attempt to re-sign him after the season just a week ago, so the soon-to-be 31-year-old backstop will hit the open market for the first time in his career.
Let's see what his stock looks like heading into the winter...
- Laird is arguably the best in baseball when it comes to shutting down the opponent's running game. His 34% caught stealing rate was second base among AL catchers this year with at least 650 innings caught this season, and over the last five years he's thrown out a studly 37.6% of base runners.
- He's extremely durable for a catcher, hitting the disabled list just once since 2004. Like all other catchers though, he'll occasionally miss a day or two with bumps and bruises. It comes with the territory.
- As a Type-B free agent, a team will not have to surrender a draft pick to sign Laird. It's unlikely that the Tigers would offer him arbitration anyway.
- Laird isn't much of a hitter these days, bottoming out at just .207/.263/.304 in 299 plate appearances this year. Over the last three seasons he's put together a .238/.303/.342 batting line.
- Laird's a Scott Boras client, so negotiations don't figure to be easy.
The offensive bar for catchers is pretty low right now, with backstops around the league hitting just .249/.319/.381 in 2010. Given the lack of offense found at the position, teams are focusing more on defense behind the plate, so Laird's cannon arm has definite value.
Jose Molina, a similar no-hit/all-throw catcher, was only able to find a one-year deal worth $400K guaranteed (plus incentives and an club option) last offseason, and even then he had to wait until mid-February. Laird is likely facing a similar situation; a one-year, low base salary contract with some performance bonuses to be a backup somewhere. Catchers are always getting hurt, so even if he settles for a minor league deal he'll probably get an opportunity at some point next summer.
GM Dave Dombrowski announced that the Tigers will not pick up Magglio Ordonez's $15MM club option for 2011, reports Tom Gage of The Detroit News. Dombrowski did say that the team remains open-minded about bringing Ordonez back, however.
Meanwhile, Dombrowski also said the team wants to bring third baseman Brandon Inge back, and confirmed that the two sides have discussed a multi-year deal. Jhonny Peralta is another player they'd like to bring back according to Gage. The Tigers did however inform Johnny Damon and Gerald Laird that they will not be re-signed, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter). Dombrowski added that they "most likely" will choose not to pursue Jeremy Bonderman either.
Ordonez's option was likely to vest if not for a season ending-ankle injury in late-July. He hit .303/.378/.474 with more walks (40) than strikeouts (38) in 365 plate appearances before the injury, a nice rebound from a down 2009 campaign. Inge is in the final season of a four-year, $24MM deal, though his .247/.321/.392 batting line is the worst of any full season of his career. Thankfully his defense at the hot corner is strong, with a +10.3 UZR since 2008. A multi-year offer might be too good for Inge to pass up.
Peralta was acquired from the Indians at the trade deadline, and hit .254/.315/.399 in 238 plate appearances for Detroit. He played mostly shortstop after the trade, the most action he's gotten at the position since 2008. The Tigers hold a $7MM club option for his services next season, but they'll likely buy that out for $250K and attempt to negotiate a lower salary.
Damon hit .271/.355/.401 after signing a one-year, $8MM deal last offseason, while Laird mustered just a .218/.289/.313 batting line in his two seasons with Detroit. He's fantastic defensively though, having thrown out 72 of 189 potential base stealers (38.1%) during that time. The 27-year-old Bonderman stayed healthy for the first time since 2007 this year, though he posted a 5.53 ERA in 171 innings. He's just wrapping up a four-year, $38MM deal and will hit free agency for the first time.
Sunday links, as the Rays look to extend their league-best winning streak to five games....
- Andy Pettitte tells Newsday's Ken Davidoff that his participation in the government's indictment of Roger Clemens won't impact his baseball future. The 38-year-old also says he doesn't expect to still be playing at age 40.
- Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post tweets that the Marlins have no timetable for when they'll hire a permanent manager, though they have a short list of four or five candidates.
- Like teammate Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird isn't sure whether he'll be a Tiger next year. "If a better opportunity presents itself, I'll probably take that route," the backstop told Tom Gage of the Detroit News (Twitter link)
- GM Neal Huntington discusses the Pirates' upcoming offseason with Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, noting that the club may pursue a platoon partner for Garrett Jones at first base.
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun wonders if the Orioles will aggressively go after an impact bat this winter.
- John Ely may be pitching himself out of the Dodgers' 2011 plans, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
As the Giants pick up a major win over the Rockies tonight, here are some news items....
- The Marlins face a tough decision with the out-of-options Andrew Miller, writes Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post.
- Gerald Laird is looking for regular playing time next season, so it could mean the end for his time in Detroit what with Alex Avila having locked down a regular catching job, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck.
- "I think there’s probably a better chance that [Prince Fielder]’s not with us than he is [next season]," Ryan Braun said to Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel before what could be Fielder's last home series as a Brewer.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter) predicts that Miguel Olivo will return to Colorado next season even if he doesn't reach his vesting option.
- C.C. Sabathia doesn't think his friend and former Indians teammate Victor Martinez will re-sign with Boston this winter, tweets Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman.
- Matt Cerrone of the MetsBlog would like to see Bobby Valentine managing the Mets next season, with Wally Backman (who's been rumored as another managerial candidate) as the team's bench coach.
- Now that we know Stan Kasten won't be back as Washington's president next season, MASNSports.com's Phil Wood thinks Kasten would be a prime candidate to be baseball's next commissioner. Wood also thinks the Nationals will promote their next president from within the organization.
- With Yadier Molina shut down for the rest of the season with a knee injury, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks the Cardinals should look for a veteran backup for the workhorse catcher over the winter.
- A number of Padres coaches are being interviewed for open managerial jobs, writes MLB.com's Corey Brock.
Let's continue our look at each club's top trade chips today with the AL Central...
- Indians: The Tribe have dealt their Opening Day starter in each of the last two seasons, and there's a good chance they'll do it again with Jake Westbrook in 2010. The 32-year-old righty will earn $11MM this season, the last one on his contract. After dumping Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez in cost-cutting moves last year, expect them to shop Westbrook around for prospects this summer.
- Royals: All four of Kansas City's outfielders come off the books after this season (assuming some options are bought out for six figures), so Rick Ankiel, David DeJesus, Scott Podsednik, and even Jose Guillen could be moved in a deal for a young player. The team would obviously have to eat a lot of money to move Guillen. The contracts of relievers Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth also expire after the season, so there might be some interest in them.
- Tigers: Detroit isn't going to move any of their young power arms, but if they eat a large chunk of salary like they did with Nate Robertson, there might be interest in Jeremy Bonderman and/or Dontrelle Willis. Young backstop Alex Avila could make Gerald Laird expendable as well. The Tigers have four lefty relievers on their 40-man roster (Phil Coke, Fu-Te Ni, Daniel Schlereth, and Brad Thomas), and that demographic is always in demand.
- Twins: Minnesota has one of the best trade chips in the league, blocked catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Lefty Glen Perkins is pitching in Triple-A and seems to have fallen out of favor with the club after filing a grievance, so he could be made available as well. He has four years of team control left.
- White Sox: GM Kenny Williams isn't shy about emptying out the farm system in a trade for an established big leaguer, which has left him with little minor league ammo. Their best young prospects are catcher Tyler Flowers and starter Daniel Hudson, who would seem to have a future with the club, but I'm not going to put anything past Williams. Flowers could make A.J. Pierzynski or Ramon Castro expendable, ditto Hudson and Freddy Garcia. Gordon Beckham should be untouchable, obviously.
Some links on the last day of a year we'll remember for Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols and the World Series Champion New York Yankees...
- Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother Brandon Laird, a prospect in the Yankees farm system, were arrested following a brawl at the Celtics-Suns NBA game in Phoenix, Arizona, according to the Associated Press. Gerald lives in Arizona during the offseason while Brandon played in the Arizona Fall League this past year.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (via his newly minted Twitter account) that Chan Ho Park's name has come up in the Giants' front office.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears that Jason Bay was indeed interested in joining the Mets. The two sides didn't go longer than a day without talking once negotiations got started. An interesting note: Speier hears that the Mets never offered Bay a guaranteed five-year deal.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs considers Marlon Byrd an average player, but likes the Cubs' decision to sign him.
- Cameron tweets that the Mariners are "kicking the tires" on Francisco Liriano.
- Mike Lowell's thumb surgery was a success, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Lowell appears to be available, but health concerns may prevent the Red Sox from dealing the third baseman and some of his $12MM salary (the D'Backs face a similar challenge with Chris Snyder).
- Just because Lowell's still in Boston doesn't mean the Red Sox won't consider other third basemen. Adrian Beltre is one option and R.J. Anderson of FanGraphs doesn't think $10-15MM is an unfair asking price for the Scott Boras client.
- Justin Duchscherer tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he returned to the A's because he's comfortable in Oakland and appreciates the club's support through his struggles with depression. Slusser also has details on the incentives in the righty's contract.
- Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues wants the Yankees to stay away from free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Pirates' failure to sign Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano was one of the club's low points this year. As Kovacevic says, "not every signing can be an absolute steal."
The Rockies are just $400K apart on a new contract with catcher Yorvit Torrealba, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Torrealba wants to match Ivan Rodriguez's deal (two years, $6MM) while the Rockies are at two years and $5.6MM.
With the Royals apparently focused on Jason Kendall, Torrealba's other options are the Mets and Giants. The Mets have an offer out to Bengie Molina, but Renck notes that Torrealba is "scheduled to travel to New York next week to resolve his pending grievance" with them. He says the Giants like Torrealba on a one-year deal, and also made an inquiry on Detroit's Gerald Laird.
Steve Kornacki takes a late-night look at what Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski needs heading into the Winter Meetings. Not surprisingly, help at the back of the bullpen, a spark plug at the top of the lineup, and a shortstop top Kornacki's list. Here's the highlights of the piece:
- With Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney expected to receive multi-year offers, Detroit will need to address its bullpen. Kornacki doesn't like the Tigers chances to sign the two. Lyon's agent has "guaranteed" his client will receive multiple years.
- The Tigers could re-sign glove man Adam Everett if a shortstop can't be had via trade. Everett had yet another strong season at shortstop, posting a 13.6 UZR/150. They've also been linked to Bobby Crosby, but I don't think any team would feel comfortable entering the season with Crosby as their primary shortstop option.
- Kornacki would be surprised to see Miguel Cabrera dealt anywhere. "Nothing even remotely possible has been reported," writes Kornacki.
- If Edwin Jackson or Curtis Granderson is dealt, it will be in to make the team better and not to slash payroll. With Seattle's recent agreement with Chone Figgins pending, if the Angels want to acquire Granderson to fill the leadoff spot, the price may have just gone up.
- Kornacki says the biggest offensive need is a leadoff man, and suggests scenarios for both Juan Pierre and Carl Crawford.
- Kornacki suggests packaging Jackson and Carlos Guillen to bring Pierre and George Sherrill to Detroit.
- He suggests a one-for-one swap of Granderson for Crawford, provided Dombrowski can extend Crawford. The thinking there is that Granderson will be more affordable for the Rays down the line.
Kornacki opines that the biggest move will come somewhere we're not looking, which always makes for fun discussion. Any thoughts on what Dombrowski may have up his sleeve? If you're still up with me, let's hear it in the comments.
While the Edwin Jackson trade rumors are the biggest item out of the Motor City today, here are a few other Tiger-related tidbits...
- The FOX Sports team of Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal are reporting that Detroit is also shopping Gerald Laird. The catcher hit .225/.306/.320 last season while making $2.8MM, and the Tigers would like to save some money by finding another catcher who can hit the same (or, as they surely hope, better) for a lesser contract.
- Michigan native J.J. Putz would be an attractive local-boy candidate for the Detroit bullpen, but Putz told MLB.com's Jason Beck that he is interested in playing for several teams, not just his home-state club. Putz and his agent said they had yet to be contacted by the Tigers.
- MLive.com's Steve Kornacki reports there is "mutual interest" between the Tigers and free agent reliever Brandon Lyon about the right-hander returning to Detroit. Lyon had a strong 2.86 ERA in 65 appearances for the Tigers last season and said that they are "the first team [he] will talk to," though he stressed that he wants a multi-year contract.