Homer Bailey Rumors

Quick Hits: Bailey, Mulder, Rays, Betancourt

Homer Bailey says he does not want to leave the Reds, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. "To say that I 'want out of Cincinnati' is not true," says Bailey, who is eligible for free agency after the season. "If I am in the organization's future, my priorities are that things make sense for me on the business end, that we are a team that continues to be a highly competitive team in the league and a team that plays the game the right way." Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that extension negotiations with Bailey are on "hold," and Rosenthal writes that they may not pick up until there's more clarity on the free-agent pitching market. Here's more from throughout the big leagues.

  • The Angels signed Mark Mulder because they were impressed with his new delivery, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, who describes in detail the series of events that led Mulder to begin a surprising comeback attempt after not pitching more than 11 innings in a big-league season since 2006. "I haven't had the ball come out of my hand like this in a very long time, and it's fun," says Mulder of his recent workouts. "I never threw like this in all my years in St. Louis. And I mean that. It was smoke and mirrors that first year in St. Louis. … My arm action was kind of deteriorating. And I'm gonna run with it. I'm gonna see what happens."
  • Jeff Niemann and Sam Fuld would have interest in returning to the Rays, MLB.com's Sam Chastain writes. Niemann is rehabbing a shoulder injury and plans to be ready by mid-2014. The Rays non-tendered Fuld last month after he hit .199/.270/.267 in 200 plate appearances for them last year.
  • Rafael Betancourt is making a comeback from Tommy John surgery, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. He believes he could pitch in 2014 despite only having the surgery only late last season. The Dodgers had interest in him as a free agent, but he wants to stay with the Rockies. "If I pitch again, it will be with the Rockies. I can’t see myself anywhere else at this point in my career. I have really enjoyed five years there," Betancourt says.

Walt Jocketty On Homer Bailey, Arbitration Cases

The Reds spoke with Homer Bailey's representatives before the holidays about a new long-term contract for the right-hander, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports.  This isn't the first time the club has explored locking up Bailey, as the two sides reportedly discussed an extension last winter before settling on a one-year, $5.35MM contract to avoid arbitration.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told Sheldon that Bailey is the only one of Cincinnati's six arbitration-eligible players who is currently being considered for a long-term deal.  Unsurprisingly, Jocketty sees Bailey as "probably the one guy that's going to be the most difficult [to sign] because of how well he's done and where he's at in this service class.  Young pitchers are getting quite a bit."

"At this point, we really haven't discussed anybody but Homer to sign long term.  Homer is the only one we've pursued, but we've had internal discussions on the other guys. We just have to see how it all fits in, financially."

Bailey is arb-eligible for the third and final time this winter, and MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects that Bailey will earn $9.3MM through the arbitration process.  Another strong reason for Bailey would almost surely net him a $100MM contract in free agency next offseason, and the mid-market Reds would be hard-pressed outbid richer clubs for Bailey's services on the open market.  Even locking him up now would be an expensive proposition for the Reds — MLBTR's Tim Dierkes opined that it might take more than a five-year, $85MM deal to keep Bailey in the fold since he's so close to free agency.

If the Reds can't extend Bailey this offseason, they could explore a trade, though Jocketty has said that the team wants to keep Bailey in order to help them contend in 2014.  I'd guess it would also be difficult for Jocketty to find fair value for Bailey in a trade considering a suitor would only have him for one season.  Since Bailey would net Cincinnati a first-round compensation pick (for turning down a qualifying offer) if he signed elsewhere in the offseason, the Reds would likely only be motivated to move the righty if they could obtain something of greater value than a first-round pick.

Of the other arbitration cases, Leake and Chapman stand out as the only possible candidates for a long-term deal.  Leake, picked eighth overall in the 2009 draft, has become a solid part of the rotation in his own right, with a 3.99 ERA and 677 1/3 IP over his first four seasons.  This is Leake's second year of arb-eligibility and Swartz projects him to earn $5.9MM.  Chapman is projected by Swartz to earn $4.6MM through his first year of arbitration eligibility (on top of the $3MM he earns from his original contract).  It's probably unlikely that the Reds would look to make a long financial commitment to a closer, especially since the chance still exists that Chapman could be moved into the rotation.


Cafardo On Red Sox, Denorfia, Cruz, Kemp

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that there were two disasters in the city of Toronto last year: mayor Rob Ford and the Blue Jays.  Despite the high expectations, the Blue Jays fell flat and they'll have to rally back this season to re-energize their fan base.  The Blue Jays are at a disadvantage, Cafardo writes, because players aren't always open to playing north of the border and tend not to realize how great it is until they're there.  More from this week's column.. 

  • The Brewers need a first baseman and Mike Carp of the Red Sox appears to be a good fit.  Whether Boston would deal him remains to be seen, however, as they enjoyed his off-the-bench contributions last season.  Carp has shown that he can play every day but he won’t get that opportunity with the Red Sox unless there’s an injury to Mike Napoli
  • While the Red Sox don’t believe they can carry another outfielder, they have expressed some interest in the PadresChris Denorfia, a righthanded bat with a little power who can play center field.  The Red Sox might be able to swing a move like this, Cafardo writes, if they deal Carp or Daniel Nava somewhere.
  • A few general managers think that a one-year pillow contract would make sense for free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz.  It seems that he needs to reestablish his value and if he'd do a one-year pact, it could open more opportunities for him with clubs like the Mariners, MetsBlue JaysOrioles, and others.  The 33-year-old remains one of the best power hitters out there, but teams are wary about PED guys after they’re off the stuff.
  • Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp could still be trade bait as he starts to show what he can do in spring training.  Said one scout familiar with Kemp, “I think he’s going to be a guy who will be OK this year, but you’ll get the best of Kemp the following year as he’s recovered completely from the ankle.
  • The Reds have been very quiet this offseason, but Homer Bailey’s name has come up quite often as possible trade bait.  In fact, they could possibly bring back Bronson Arroyo if they can deal Bailey.


NL Notes: Reds, Arroyo, Braves, Giants, Phillies

Homer Bailey is due to become a free agent after the season, but the Reds are telling other teams that they don't want to trade him, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter). The Reds are worried about their depth in starting pitching, and Heyman notes that the return of Bronson Arroyo might be able to help them. Heyman also tweets that the Reds are one of the finalists for Arroyo, along with the Twins and two other teams. Here are more notes from around the National League.

  • The Braves are not interested in Arroyo, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. They would prefer a starting pitcher with better stuff, O'Brien says.
  • One player the Braves do like is sidearmer Luis Vasquez, who they recently signed to a minor-league contract, O'Brien writes. "He’s [Peter] Moylan plus five miles an hour," says GM Frank Wren. "Moylan at his best was probably 92, and this is 94, 97 routinely. It’s definitely a different look." Vasquez, who will be 28 in April, posted a 2.52 ERA with 11.6 K/9 and 7.1 BB/9 in 35 2/3 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. Clearly, he'll have to improve his control to make an impact in the Majors.
  • The Giants had interest in Omar Infante, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets. Somewhat surprisingly, they were interested in using him as a left fielder in 2014, before eventually moving him to third base. Infante today agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Royals to be their second baseman.
  • The Phillies are neither rebuilding nor contending, and their plan is unclear, argues Matt Gelb of the Inquirer. Since late July, for example, the Phillies have spent $69MM signing or re-signing aging veterans Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd, and yet they are trying to trade veteran closer Jonathan Papelbon. Meanwhile, Gelb argues, they agreed to sign Roberto Hernandez because they hadn't developed enough pitching on their own.

NL Central Notes: Bailey, Marmol, Brewers, Tanaka

Despite the fact that Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters the team won't be trading Homer Bailey, some within the organization feel they'll have to overpay to sign him to an extension at this point, which could eventually change Jocketty's stance, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal adds that the Reds would only move Bailey if they felt it improved their 2014 club (All Twitter links). More from the NL Central…

  • The Brewers are one of a few teams to have shown interest in Carlos Marmol, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
  • The Brewers could get jump back into the Ike Davis market, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Much like their interest in Logan Morrison, Milwaukee's interest is contingent upon Corey Hart's decision, says Martino.
  • The Cubs will be in on Masahiro Tanaka, tweets Bruce Levine of WSCR. As he notes, the potential ace could greatly accelerate their timeline to compete.

Twins Rumors: Pelfrey, Nolasco, Arroyo, Bailey

A look at the latest on the Twins..

  • The Twins have made a two-year offer to Mike Pelfrey, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  However, there's still a gap in salary that needs to be bridged.  Pelfrey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2012 to post a 5.19 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a career-low 43.2 percent ground-ball rate in 152 2/3 innings.  Pelfrey's FIP (3.99) and xFIP (4.54) both suggest that his ERA could have been lower were it not for a .337 BABIP and 67.2 percent strand rate.
  • More from Heyman, who writes that the Twins have inquired on top starters like Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez as well as several others lower on the free agent list, including Phil Hughes and Scott Feldman.  The club has been most heavily linked to guys like Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco, and Matt Garza to date.  Minnesota starting pitchers combined for a league worst 5.26 ERA in 2013.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN previews the Winter Meetings agenda for the Twins.  Minnesota has Nolasco atop their free agent wish list, but they'll move on if it's not at the right price.  They also like Arroyo and a source says he's seeking a three-year deal in the $27-$30MM range.
  • The Twins have told agents that they don't plan on sacrificing their second-round pick in June's amateur draft to sign a free agent, despite a public declaration stating otherwise, Wolfson writes. That would mean that Santana and Jimenez aren't in their plans. Santana's reps already have meetings set up with teams in Orlando and the Twins, as of this morning, are not on that list.
  • On the trade front, the Twins are fond of Homer Bailey, according to Wolfson. Wayne Krivsky, special assistant to GM, knows Bailey well from his days with the Reds. Krivsky took over as Cincinnati's GM two years after Bailey was drafted and was in that role when Bailey made his big league debut.
  • A Twins official "scoffed at" the idea of trading for Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello but was more receptive to the idea of a Jeremy Hellickson acquisition when asked by Wolfson about both each right-hander.

Arbitration Breakdown: Bailey and Masterson

Over the next few months, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.

Both Justin Masterson (pictured) and Homer Bailey enter their third year of arbitration with relatively similar credentials this year, and both are projected to get very similar raises around $4MM. Masterson-JustinSince both players are not first-time eligible players, the rules of arbitration generally dictate that pre-platform year performances are not very importance. Rather, the current salaries on top of which they will receive raises suffice as summaries of their pre-platform year performance.

Masterson and Bailey had pretty similar pre-platform salaries too: $5.35MM for Bailey and $5.6875MM for Masterson. In 2013, Masterson went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings with 195 strikeouts, while Bailey went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA in 209 innings with 199 strikeouts. Obviously the ERA and strikeout numbers are almost identical, and the model seems to think that Masteron’s three extra wins only help him a tiny bit more than Bailey’s 16 extra innings. Playing time is extremely important in arbitration hearings, so it is not too surprising that they are still seen as similar by the model. At the same time, Masterson will definitely get some benefit from his wins. We project him to get a $4.0125MM raise as compared with Bailey’s $3.95MM raise, leaving them with $9.7MM and $9.3MM projected salaries respectively.

The comparable starting pitchers in the last few years seem to reinforce these raise approximations. In the last seven years, I looked for third-time arbitration eligible starting pitchers with ERAs in the 3.00-4.00 range, between 10-20 wins, and within 175-225 innings, and found nine guys who met those criteria. They received raises ranging from $2.5-5.9MM, which is obviously a pretty big window, but other than Zambrano’s $5.9MM raise in 2007 (which is largely viewed as an anomaly), the raises fall in the $2.5MM-$4.075MM range. Of course, the lowest raise in there was Wandy Rodriguez’s $2.5MM, but that came as part of a multi-year deal in which he was initially offered $3MM, so maybe the real range is from Kevin Correia’s $2.85MM in 2010 to Oliver Perez’s $4.075MM in 2008. In general, these seven guys are all pretty similar to Masterson and Bailey but I suspect that both inflation and slightly better performances will push them both to the high end of this spectrum.

The limitation on Bailey’s performance is definitely his win total. With just 11 wins in 2013, his team’s poor run support will cost him. A few pitchers in the aforementioned group seem to meet these criteria pretty well. One is Matt Garza, who in 2012 was coming off a 10-10 record to go with a 3.32 ERA in 198 innings. He also had 197 strikeouts, very similar to Bailey’s 199. Of course Bailey had a slightly worse ERA at 3.45, but he also had eleven extra innings pitched. Given the similarity of their numbers but with the extra win and eleven innings, it seems likely that Bailey could argue that Garza’s $3.55MM raise could be a floor for his 2014 raise.

Another possibility that Bailey could use to justify a raise closer to $4MM is the $4.3MM raise that Anibal Sanchez won in a hearing in 2012. He had even fewer wins than Bailey that year, amassing only an 8-9 record, and his 3.67 ERA was worse than Bailey’s too. He did have 202 strikeouts, but had under 200 innings (196 1/3, to be exact) which could give Bailey a leg up on him. Arbitration cases that go to hearings are often tough to use in newer hearings because obviously $4.3MM was seen by the Marlins at the time as too high and chances are a settlement would have come in below $4.3MM (the Marlins offered Sanchez a $3.2MM raise). But nonetheless, both Sanchez and Garza could help Bailey argue for the $3.95MM raise that I’m projecting for him.

This is not very different from the $4.0125MM that I have down for Masterson, even though Masterson had 14 wins. To try to find a good set of comparables for Masterson, I honed the win range to 13-15 wins, and looked for guys with ERAs in the 3.00-4.00 range who also had 175-225 innings. Perez got a $4.075MM raise from the Mets in 2008 when he won his arbitration hearing. Like Sanchez’s raise, Perez’s raise needs to be taken with a grain of salt because it was the result of a hearing, not a settlement, but the fact that Perez’s 15-10 record and 3.56 ERA looks so similar to Masterson’s 14-10 ERA with his 3.45 ERA, that it does warrant a comparison. Perez also only had 177 innings, compared with Masterson’s 193.

Another good, more recent comparable for Masterson is Jason Vargas' raise last year. Vargas got a $3.65MM raise after going 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA in 217 1/3 innings. Of course, Vargas only had 141 strikeouts which puts him well below Masterson’s 195. The extra innings and equal number of wins are a good starting point for the Indians to try to argue that Masterson shouldn’t top the $3.65MM number. Masterson would be better off trying to argue similarity to Sanchez and Perez, whose raises exceeded $4MM after winning cases, but it remains to be seen how much weight those will carry.

Overall, it’s not hard to see that both pitchers will fall reasonably close to a $4MM raise. Some of this is going to come down to how inflation is treated this year, and that is always a bit of a wild card. I suspect that if I’m off in my projections, I’m probably more like to be a few hundred thousand low for both pitchers than high, but if either one of these pitchers settles first and beats $4MM, I suspect the second player to settle to use the first as justification for a larger raise himself.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rosenthal On Wieters, Butler, Choo, Davis

Here's a look at the latest news from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..  

  • Major league sources say it's not a surprise that the Orioles are willing to deal Matt Wieters.  The bigger question is how Baltimore would reshape the roster if they made such a move.  The O's don't have much breathing room to spend, but Rosenthal suggests the Orioles could gain flexibility by moving the catcher and also closer Jim Johnson, who projects to earn $10.8MM through arbitration. The O's could then find cheaper alternatives at both positions and be aggressive on the open market. 
  • If the Royals sign Carlos Beltran or another right-handed slugger, they could afford to trade designated hitter Billy Butler, who is signed for $8MM in 2014 with a $12.5MM club option for ’15.  The Mariners are among the teams that covet Butler, a major league source tells Rosenthal.
  • The Reds haven’t given up on re-signing Shin-Soo Choo, but they probably would need to trade Brandon Phillips and possibly Homer Bailey to create the necessary room, sources say.  We've heard that Phillips is a likely a goner, but Bailey a more difficult call since losing him would require the Reds to move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, unless they acquired another starter. All that might be too much to ask to accommodate the signing of a $100MM+ free agent, but they'd ideally like to have Choo back to give them another year before putting Billy Hamilton in center field. If they lose Choo, they likely would go with Hamilton and seek out a veteran complement in center.
  • The Mets appear likely to trade Ike Davis, who is drawing interest from a number of clubs.  Rosenthal also cautions not to be surprised if they move Daniel Murphy as well.
  • Opinions are split on Jacoby Ellsbury's value.  One rival exec's statistical analysis rated Ellsbury as the top Red Sox player last season, ahead of Dustin Pedroia.  Others in the industry, however, are wary of Ellsbury’s diminished power since he has hit only 13 home runs over the past two seasons.
  • One rival exec described the Rangers' infield logjam as an untenable situation.

Quick Hits: Magic, Girardi, Pirates, Bailey

Magic Johnson's candor about the Dodgers likely not pursuing Robinson Cano this offseason has led Major League Baseball to look into Johnson's comments, ESPN's Buster Olney reports.  Officials on other teams aren't allowed to publicly discuss players who haven't officially become free agents yet, especially in cases where a player's market value could be affected.  General managers around the league told Olney that "their comments were watched more closely over the last year than in any time in recent memory," so Johnson could face some type of penalty for his remarks.

Here are some news items as we end another exciting day of four playoff games…

  • Joe Girardi "apparently remains torn" if he's going to accept the Yankees' extension offer or explore other manager jobs, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.  The Yankees "have made it clear" that they could pull back their offer if Girardi talks to other clubs, something he's not allowed to do until the end of the month since the Yankees aren't granting other teams permission to negotiate with their manager.  One such team, the Cubs, expect to learn by tomorrow if Girardi is staying in New York, a source tells Wittenmyer.
  • The Pirates want to keep Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez over the long term, team president Frank Coonelly tells MLB.com's Tom Singer.  Coonelly also discusses the Francisco Liriano signing, the farm system and other topics during the interview.
  • "It wouldn't be shocking" if the Reds traded Homer Bailey to create some payroll space, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon opines.  Bailey earned $5.3MM last season and MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects that he could earn $9.3MM in arbitration.  Though Bailey has been one of the Reds' best pitchers over the last two years, he "has shown little interest in signing" a multiyear deal with the team, Sheldon writes, so the Reds could move him now before possibly losing him in free agency after next season.
  • Major League Baseball has filed a motion requesting that Alex Rodriguez's lawsuit against the league be moved to a federal court, and if the move is granted, MLB will likely file a motion to dismiss the suit, Newsday's Steven Marcus reports.
  • The Indians have a number of things to do before Opening Day 2014, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Hoynes' list includes adding an impact bat, adding at least one quality starter, bolstering the relief corps and locking up Justin Masterson to a long-term deal.
  • It once seemed unusual, but now its the norm for playoff teams to turn to inexperienced pre-arbitration eligible players, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes.  Among the 24 pre-arb hurlers in this year's postseason are Michael Wacha, Jarrod Parker and Alex Cobb, all of whom started today for their respective teams.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post


Reds, Bailey Agree To One-Year Deal

The Reds and Homer Bailey have reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration, GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).  Bailey will earn $5.35MM in 2013, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

There was speculation that the club was working on a multi-year deal with Bailey given the amount of time they were spending on their deal.  Jocketty tells Fay (Twitter link) that he'll revisit a multi-year deal with the right-hander at some point.

Bailey filed for $5.8MM this winter while the Reds countered with $4.75MM, making the midpoint $5.275MM.  The 26-year-old enjoyed his best season to date in 2012, posting a 3.68 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 across 33 starts.