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Gordon Beckham Rumors
The White Sox announced that they have signed infielder Gordon Beckham to a one-year, $2MM contract and designated outfielder Dayan Viciedo for assignment in order to clear a space on the 40-man roster. Earlier today, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that a reunion between the Sox and Beckham was a possibility.
Chicago is of course more familiar with Beckham than any other club, having formerly drafted him eighth overall and watched him on their big league roster from 2009 through this past August, when he was traded to the Angels. Beckham never lived up to a strong rookie season and batted a fairly pedestrian .241/.300/.361 from 2010-14. However, the Sox were known to be looking for a utility infielder that can handle left-handed pitching, and Beckham will presumably fill that role with the team.
The White Sox and Viciedo had already agreed to a one-year, $4.4MM contract to avoid arbitration, however that salary is not fully guaranteed. This situation is the same in which Emilio Bonifacio found himself with the Royals last winter, when he was designated after agreeing to a salary. (Coincidentally, Bonifacio had a solid season and signed a $4MM contract to join the White Sox this offseason.) The White Sox are able to cut Viciedo for roughly one sixth of his agreed upon salary at this point, meaning they’ll be on the hook for roughly $733K of that $4.4MM sum, should he ultimately be released. Of course, a team could claim the entirety of Viciedo’s $4.4MM salary on waivers (which seems unlikely) or trade for him, with Chicago kicking in some cash as well.
Viciedo, 26 in March, has never provided much in the way of defensive value and saw his offense slip to a .231/.281/.405 triple-slash in 2014 — his worst full season of production to date. I was a bit surprised to see that the team tendered him a contract, but the Sox likely did so with the intent of flipping him to a club that was still enticed by his right-handed power. However, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets, the Sox tried unsuccessfully to trade Viciedo all offseason. Now, with Melky Cabrera in the fold in left field, Avisail Garcia expected to man right field and Jose Abreu/Adam LaRoche sharing time at first base and DH, there wasn’t a good fit on the roster for Viciedo.
Beckham will join Bonifacio as an option at second base, though he’s also capable of serving as a platoon partner for Conor Gillaspie at third base, shielding Gillaspie from his weakness against southpaws. Should Beckham finally tap into the potential that made him the eighth pick in the 2008 draft, he’d be able to fill in at second base on an everyday basis, with Bonifacio shifting into the role of a super utility player.
Right-hander Brandon Beachy is mulling over six offers and hopes to make a decision by Friday of this week, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Beachy has thrown for seven teams over the past 10 days, according to Cotillo. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are not one of the teams with an offer out. The 28-year-old Beachy was non-tendered by the Braves in December due to the fact that he underwent his second Tommy John surgery last spring. Any club that signs Beachy to a one-year deal would have the right to control him via arbitration, though a team certainly could offer a second year option or even two guaranteed years as a means of enticing him. In 267 2/3 innings at the Major League level, Beachy has a 3.23 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 (all with the Braves).
Here are some more notes on free agents, including the top name on the market…
- There’s no timetable on a decision for Max Scherzer, agent Scott Boras tells MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Boras told Beck that Scherzer is an ownership-level decision, and as Beck points out, Boras has worked out deals with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch for both Prince Fielder and Johnny Damon in years past — both of which came late in the offseason. Nonetheless, Detroit appears to have a full rotation, and their long-term payroll outlook is already questionable. I personally have a hard time envisioning a reunion between the two sides.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters tonight, including Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link), that he isn’t pursuing any free agent pitchers, and that includes both Scherzer and James Shields. The Halos have speculatively been mentioned as fits for both, although as we’ve pointed out here in the past, that seems to be a stretch given their desire to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold.
- DiGiovanna also notes (Twitter link) that a reunion with Gordon Beckham now looks unlikely for the Angels. “We’ve built up quite a bit of infield depth,” Dipoto told reporters. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was also on hand, and he tweets that Dipoto said the team is “playing it by ear” regarding Beckham. Fletcher, too, feels that Beckham will sign elsewhere.
- Japanese shortstop Takashi Toritani was on the Mets‘ radar briefly last month, but the team no longer has any intention of pursuing him, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. This report only further support the widespread belief that Wilmer Flores is ticketed for the Amazins’ Opening Day shortstop gig. As for Toritani, he’s been connected to the Blue Jays and Padres as well, though neither seems to have particularly serious interest at this juncture.
The Angels have at least a little interest in Red Sox infielder Brock Holt, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston tweets. After non-tendering Gordon Beckham, the Angels are on the lookout for a backup infielder, and GM Jerry Dipoto has said that a trade for one is a possibility. Holt would be a good get for the Angels — he hit a solid .281/.331/.381 last season while playing seven positions. Here’s more from the American League.
- Rays GM Matt Silverman told reporters, including Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (via Twitter), that clubs are calling about outfielders. Now that some of the notable free agents have signed, demand has increased.
- The Rays are in active search mode for a second catcher, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. According to Silverman, the club is active on both the free agent and trade front. They’re remaining open-minded about both veterans and youngsters. Tampa currently has Ryan Hanigan, Curt Casali, and Justin O’Conner on the 40-man roster.
- The Mariners are keeping their eyes on former outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who they could bring back on a minor-league deal, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes. Gutierrez spent the 2014 season on the restricted list while dealing with a nerve condition, but he’s currently playing winter ball in Venezuela. “I have not talked to him myself,” says GM Jack Zduriencik. “I plan to, but I’ve not done that yet. He missed a whole year, so we’ll see. I don’t know where he is physically or mentally.” Gutierrez’s exceptional defense once made him very valuable, but the 31-year-old struggled with injuries even before the 2014 season.
Here’s the latest on the Halos:
- It was reported over the weekend that the Angels have C.J. Wilson on the trade block, but GM Jerry Dipoto denies that’s the case, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). Dipoto said that he has not made a call nor has he received a call on the pitcher.
- Dipoto added that he has not engaged any free agents, aside from Gordon Beckham, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).
- Dipoto indicated that a trade for a backup infielder is also a possibility, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- It sounds like the Angels will be signing a left-handed reliever to a minor league deal this week, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).
Luke Gregerson could be a sensible addition to the Astros‘ bullpen, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. The former Athletics reliever doesn’t have a significant track record as a closer, but he worked with new Astros manager A.J. Hinch when both were with the Padres, and he might only require a three-year deal, as opposed to four for David Robertson. While Andrew Miller‘s new deal with the Yankees took deals for non-closer relievers, Drellich expects that Gregerson’s contract will be much more manageable. Here’s more on the AL West.
- The Angels would like for recently non-tendered infielder Gordon Beckham to return next season, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Beckham, however, would like to see if he can find a starting job elsewhere before taking a backup infield job with the Angels.
- The Angels are expecting a quiet Winter Meetings, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Their $8MM deal for infielder Roberto Baldoquin figures to be their largest expenditure this offseason. They also traded catcher Hank Conger to the Astros for pitcher Nick Tropeano and catcher Carlos Perez in another low-profile move. “I understand the fan base isn’t thrilled because they never heard of Nick Tropeano, but this time last year, they weren’t thrilled with what we did to shuffle the roster either,” says GM Jerry Dipoto.
- The Angels do reportedly have C.J. Wilson on the trading block, but don’t expect the Rangers to bring him back, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. C.J. Wilson was a fixture in the Rangers’ bullpen for parts of five seasons before emerging as a top starting pitcher there in 2010 and 2011.
The Angels have non-tendered a trio of players led by infielder Gordon Beckham, the club announced via Twitter. With lefty Wade LeBlanc and righty Yoslan Herrera also being shown the door, Los Angeles now has three open 40-man spots.
All said, the moves clear a solid bit of salary capacity for a Halos club that has looked to get creative in adding talent with an already-hefty payroll. Beckham was projected by MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5MM, making up most of the savings. But LeBlanc projected to earn $800K, which may be a few hundred thousand more than the club would like to pay him. Both moves were widely expected, while
Herrera, 33, put together a nice run for the Angels last year, working 16 2/3 frames of 2.70 ERA ball from the pen. But that represented his first MLB action since way back in 2008, and it appears that Los Angeles was not interested in holding a roster spot for him at this point.
Tomorrow night (11pm CT) is the deadline for teams to tender or non-tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR has previously identified a list of non-tender candidates as well as provided projected salaries for each arbitration eligible player of the offseason (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). In addition to those resources, you can follow along and keep track of players using our 2015 Non-Tender Tracker. We’ll cover some more of the specifics on non-tendering and arbitration tomorrow (though those who are new to the concept can check out last year’s post on explaining non-tenders), but for the time being, here are some news and notes from a few borderline cases around the league…
- The Cubs are expected to tender a contract to lefty Travis Wood despite the fact that is coming off a down season, reports ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. Wood, projected to earn $5.5MM in 2015, posted a 5.03 ERA in 173 2/3 innings. His command regressed (3.9 BB/9) but he did also see an uptick in strikeouts (7.6 K/9). Rogers notes that Wood could still be traded, as the Cubs did bring back a lefty to slot into the rotation in the form of Tsuyoshi Wada. Chicago is expected to pursue multiple starters on the free agent and trade markets this winter, so if they add enough in the way of upgrades, a team may be interested in taking on Wood at a reasonable price.
- The Angels will tender David Freese and pay him something in the range of his $6.3MM projection but are expected to non-tender Gordon Beckham, Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times writes. However, the Halos will have interest in bringing Beckham back in a utility role on a smaller deal than the $5MM he is projected to earn. Of course, Beckham will be a free agent and can field offers from other clubs, and it’s perfectly possible that in a market that’s light on infielders, another club would offer either a larger guarantee or a starting role.
- Ruben Tejada ($1.7MM projection) is expected to be tendered a contract by the Mets, but Eric Young Jr. could be cut loose, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. The Mets feel they can replicate Young’s production at a lower rate than his projected $2.3MM salary, but replacing Tejada may cost more than his modest projection. Rubin notes that the Mets feel Kirk Nieuewnhuis can be a serviceable fifth outfielder at a fraction of Young’s price. As for a fourth outfielder, they’ll look for a righty bat like Jonny Gomes or Ryan Ludwick. Presumably, either of them could handle left field versus lefty starters, with Michael Cuddyer shifting to first base to shield Lucas Duda from lefties.
The Angels acquired infielder Gordon Beckham from the White Sox last August. Now the club has to decide if he will be tendered a contract. According to MLBTR’s Matt Swartz, he’s projected to earn $5MM in his final spin through arbitration. Coming off arguably the worst season of his career, the expense might outweigh the benefits.
Any discussion of Beckham inevitably digresses to 2009, when the then 22-year-old posted 2.5 WAR in two-thirds of a season. In parts of five seasons since his breakout, he’s managed just 2.8 total WAR over 2,528 plate appearances. Last year, he struggled to a .226/.271/.348 line and -0.2 WAR, although he was much better with the Angels (.286/.328/.429) during a brief 61 plate appearance audition.
Beckham, now 28, is best viewed as a utility fielder. While the Angels did use him a few times at shortstop, he’s most successful at second and third base. He’s maintained strong contact rates throughout his career, but he’s never managed to produce much power after his rookie season. It’s worth noting that Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field – where Beckham spent most of his career – is among the best offensive environments in baseball. In other words, the move to Los Angeles shouldn’t help his power.
Beckham’s performance in 2014 makes a trade unlikely. His $5MM projected salary is only affordable to a large market club in desperate need of middle infield depth. Incidentally, the Angels are perhaps the only team to fit that description. Howie Kendrick and David Freese have an intimate familiarity with the disabled list, which makes a player like Beckham a useful handcuff.
His presence on the roster, along with that of Grant Green, may give the Angels more confidence shopping Kendrick and Freese, both of whom have appeared in trade rumors. They’re free agents after 2015. Confidence should not be confused with reliance. While it’s possible Los Angeles could enter the season with Beckham, it’s unlikely they would plan to use him as a starter. The club is poised to contend in 2015, and Beckham’s bat would present a considerable hole in the lineup. If Kendrick or Freese are dealt, I expect the club to target infielders like Asdrubal Cabrera, Stephen Drew, or Jed Lowrie.
Other infielders who offer similar versatility include Emilio Bonifacio, Kelly Johnson, Ed Lucas, and Alberto Callaspo. Since they should all cost less than Beckham’s $5MM projection, the most likely outcome appears to be a non-tender situation. The going rate for 0.0 to 1.0 WAR middle infielders appears to be between $500K and $3MM. The Angels do need a player like Beckham, so he could be re-signed at a lesser rate. His relative youth assures that some club will hand him a bench role.
The Angels remain open, but not committed, to dealing second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese if they can bring back an arm, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The former is unsurprisingly drawing more interest at the moment, with the Yankees and Blue Jays among the teams that have inquired into his availability.
According to Heyman, the Halos are more likely than not to keep Kendrick. The 31-year-old is coming off of perhaps his best season as a professional. He will earn $9.5MM this year before hitting the open market.
Nevertheless, the team is still listening to proposals that would help bolster its rotation depth, which remains an area of focus. The club is comfortable considering that possibility due to the presence of Gordon Beckham, says Heyman, though he also seems to be a plausible non-tender candidate. Presumably, Grant Green could be a factor as well if the Angels create an opening up the middle.
Derek Jeter has been worth only 0.1 fWAR in his final season, and the Yankees‘ insistence on keeping him as the regular shortstop and in the No. 2 spot in the batting order is hurting the team, CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa writes. Jeter is too proud and/or competitive to ask to be dropped in the lineup or take anything less than an everyday role, and the Yankees seem fine with the status quo given Jeter’s stature, Axisa opines. The problem is that Jeter’s lack of production in a key lineup spot might cost the Yankees a playoff spot.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- The Orioles have talked to multiple clubs about trading for an infielder, and they checked in on Gordon Beckham at some point before the White Sox dealt him to the Angels, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports. Since the Angels (who own the best record in baseball) claimed Beckham on waivers, that would mean the O’s had an initial chance to claim the second baseman themselves but chose to pass.
- Also from Kubatko’s piece, he notes that the Orioles had a potential trade fall through once word got out about Manny Machado‘s season-ending knee surgery. Presumably, the Machado news meant that the other team raised its asking price. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported earlier this week, O’s officials were upset that Machado’s injury status became public, as it lowered their leverage in trade talks.
- Allen Craig‘s career is profiled by WEEI.com’s Nick Canelas, detailing the Red Sox first baseman’s early days to how the Cardinals scouted and drafted him to his current status in Boston.
- The Red Sox have a lot of decisions to make about their 2015 bullpen, and assistant GM Mike Hazen tells Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com that the team would be open to “spend more money on the back-end guy” if necessary. Such a move could be needed if Koji Uehara isn’t re-signed.
- The development of young pitchers like Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Drew Hutchison is a big reason why Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos will likely keep his job despite the Jays’ fade from contention, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair writes. Anthopoulos is also helped by the fact that modern organizations generally give their general managers at least enough time on the job to see what their drafting and player development plans can produce.