Hong-Chih Kuo Rumors

National League Non-Tenders

Here are this year's National League non-tenders. You can also keep track of all teams with our non-tender tracker and check out our list of non-tender candidates:


NL West Notes: Hill, Kuo, Ross

It's been a busy day in the NL West. The Padres announced a leadership change and the Dodgers' bankruptcy trial was delayed. Here's more news from the division…

  • Aaron Hill has switched agents and is now a client of Greg Genske of Legacy Sports, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Hill, a former Beverly Hills Sports Council client, could return to the Diamondbacks in 2012 if the team picks up its $8MM option. Though the D’Backs would like Hill back, they’d rather work out a new deal, according to Gilbert. You can keep track of every player’s agent using MLBTR’s Agency Database.
  • Dodgers left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow, according to the team (on Twitter). He would earn about $2.5MM if the Dodgers offer arbitration, which makes him a non-tender candidate. He intends to pitch in 2012, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (on Twitter).
  • Cody Ross told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he has not yet started negotiating a potential deal with the Giants. The free agent outfielder says the sides have mutual interest in a new deal, but Schulman doubts the Giants would match Ross' 2011 salary of $5.3MM (Twitter links).

Non-Tender Candidate: Hong-Chih Kuo

1321008271250_Dodgers_at_RockiesThere is no position in baseball more volatile than relief pitcher, which is how Hong-Chih Kuo can go from being one of the most dominant bullpen arms in the game last September to taking about retirement this September. As a result of his 2011 struggles and off-the-field issues, the Dodgers' left-hander is a candidate to be non-tendered this offseason.

Kuo, 30, allowed just 29 hits and eight runs (1.20 ERA) in 60 innings in 2010, striking out 73 (11.0 K/9) and walking just 18 (2.7 BB/9). Left-handed batters had no chance against him that season, hitting just .095/.159/.111 with 28 strikeouts in 69 plate appearances. When Jonathan Broxton struggled in the second half, Kuo stepped in and went a perfect 9-for-9 in save chances in August and September. At $950K, he was a bargain.

That performance pushed Kuo's salary up to $2.725MM in 2011, his second time through arbitration. Unfortunately, his 2010 performance did not carry over. After walking four batters in his first 2 2/3 innings of the season (four appearances), the Dodgers placed Kuo on the DL with a lower back strain. He was activated on May 1st, struggled in his next five appearances (six runs in two innings), and was again placed on the DL on May 11th. This time he was dealing with social anxiety disorder.

One day later we heard that Kuo was not considering retirement, but it wasn't until June 19th that he was activated off the DL. He struggled the rest of the season, allowing 22 runs in 22 1/3 innings across 31 appearances. He did strike out 28 men, but he also walked 17. All told, Kuo pitched to a 9.00 ERA with 7.7 BB/9 in 40 appearances and 27 innings in 2011. 

After the season, Kuo told MLB.com's Ken Gurnick that he needed a break from baseball and was unsure if he'd ever play again. "If I want to still play and somebody wants to give me a try, I'll play," he said. "If not, fine with me. I'll miss it." He indicated that his alternative to baseball would be returning home to Taiwan and opening a restaurant.

Our projections have Kuo's salary going down to $2.5MM next season, what would be his third time through arbitration. It's worth noting that he's been battling the injury bug for his entire career, one that's featured a total of four elbow operations, including a pair of Tommy John surgeries. Hard-throwing lefty relievers (he's averaged 93.4 mph with the fastball in his career) are a valuable commodity, but Kuo's bout with social anxiety disorder and extreme control problems in 2011 could lead to a non-tender. It'll be interesting to see if any teams are willing to offer him a guaranteed Major League contract if he does in fact hit the market.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.



Quick Hits: Burrell, Beltran, Lee, Kuo

Evan LongoriaDan Johnson, Chris Carpenter and Robert Andino delivered in big moments for their respective teams on this incredible night of baseball, as the Cardinals and Rays won the wild cards. Some links as the season winds down…

  • Pat Burrell told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that he'll give his chronic foot strain a month to recover before he decides on his future in baseball. If he does play again, it would only be with the Giants.
  • Carlos Beltran told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he'll give the Giants the first chance to sign him when he hits free agency this offseason (Twitter link). The Giants will have five days of exclusive negotiating rights after the World Series, plus the month of October.
  • Carlos Lee hinted that he might retire after the 2012 season, when his six-year, $100MM contract expires with the Astros, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Lee, 35, says he wants to spend more time with his family.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he needs a break and is currently unsure if he'll play again. "If I want to still play and somebody wants to give me a try, I play," he said. "If not, fine with me. I'll miss it." The 30-year-old was sidelined with an anxiety disorder this year and may return home to Taiwan and open a restaurant. The Dodgers will consider non-tendering Kuo and he said he'll understand if they do.

Quick Hits: McGowan, Kuo, Edwin Jackson

Five years ago today, the Athletics claimed righty Jerome Williams off waivers from the Cubs.  Williams pitched 30 innings for the Nationals the following year, but then didn't pitch in the Majors until last month with the Angels.  Williams went through a lot in the meantime, and considers his return to the bigs "a fairy tale."  On to today's Labor Day links…

  • Dustin McGowan makes for another nice story; the Blue Jays reinstated him from the 60-day DL today.  The former first-round pick once seemed on the cusp of big things, but he hasn't pitched in the Majors in more than three years due to a pair of surgeries on his right shoulder.  He'll be one of seven arbitration eligible Blue Jays, but McGowan won't cost much to retain.
  • Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo is learning to manage his anxiety better, and intends to pitch next year, writes Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times.  If the Dodgers tender Kuo a contract, he'll earn at least $2.18MM in 2012.
  • Free agency will be "interesting," Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  The Scott Boras client, who turns 28 on Friday, has a 3.78 ERA on the season and is on track to make 30+ starts for the fifth consecutive year.
  • Reliever Bobby Jenks is probably done for the season, Red Sox manager Terry Francona told WEEI's Rob Bradford and others today.  The big righty signed a two-year, $12MM deal after being non-tendered by the White Sox in December, but pitched only 15 2/3 innings for Boston due to a back injury.    

Players Who Cleared Waivers

This is a running list of players who have cleared waivers, based on published reports. Once a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team (barring a no-trade clause). This list can always be found in the sidebar under MLBTR Features. Player names are linked to the source articles.

Updated 8-30-11 at 10:56pm

Starting pitchers

  • Aaron Harang, Padres - Harang's ERA is a respectable 3.92 with 6.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
  • Dontrelle Willis, Reds – Willis has bounced back with the Reds, posting a 4.10 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, and 56.8% groundball rate in 52 2/3 innings.
  • Carlos Zambrano, Cubs – Zambrano cleared waivers prior to being placed on the disqualified list.  He has a short fuse, lousy stats, and over $22MM remaining on his contract through next year.
  • Rodrigo Lopez, Cubs – Not surprising to see the journeyman clear waivers.
  • Chris Capuano, Mets – Capuano owns a 3.74 SIERA as of August 14th and earns only $1.5MM plus incentives, so it's hard to see why a few teams didn't place claims.
  • Bronson Arroyo, Reds – His peripheral stats haven't changed much, but Arroyo has a 5.31 ERA as of August 15th.  $15MM of his $35MM contract is deferred through 2021 without interest.  The deferrals are voided if he's traded, however.  At any rate, expect Arroyo to stay put.
  • Bruce Chen, Royals – Chen has his moments, but it's not surprising to see him clear waivers.
  • Jason Vargas, Mariners – Like many of the starters here, Vargas' fastball wouldn't break a window.  But he has less than a million bucks left on his contract this year and is under team control through 2013.  He'd fit nicely at the back end of several rotations.    
  • Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals – His three starts this season were his first in over two years, so it's understandable that contenders wouldn't jump to claim him.
  • Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals – Booted to the bullpen last month, the 29-year-old flyballing southpaw has posted strong strikeout rates in recent years but can't hold a rotation job.
  • Ted Lilly, Dodgers – He always has strong strikeout-to-walk numbers, but is prone to the longball.  With over 82% of his $33MM contract remaining ($27MM+), it's no surprise he cleared waivers.

Relievers

  • Joe Nathan, Twins - Nathan won't be traded, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
  • Chad Qualls, Padres – Qualls is enjoying a bounce-back season, though his strikeout rate dipped to 5.3 K/9 this year.
  • Bill Bray, Reds – Bray has been decent this year, and a little tougher against lefties.  He'll be arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers – A dominant reliever last year, Kuo has dealt with a back injury and anxiety disorder as his control has eluded him.
  • Huston Street, Rockies – Between a recent triceps injury and the $9MM+ owed to him through 2012, Street was expected to clear.
  • Brian Fuentes, Athletics – He's owed over $6MM through next year, and has been mediocre for the A's.
  • Jon Rauch, Blue Jays – Rauch is affordable, but he's on the DL for an appendectomy and wasn't great before that.
  • Mike Gonzalez, Orioles – Gonzalez has been dominant in August, and against lefties.  The problem is that he's still owed almost a million bucks.
  • Kevin Gregg, Orioles – Gregg might be the worst reliever holding down a closer's job, and he's owed at least $6.4MM through next year.
  • John Grabow, Cubs – He's been ineffective even against lefties, and he has over $700K remaining.
  • D.J. Carrasco, Mets – The Mets signed Carrasco to a two-year deal in December – their biggest acquisition of the offseason - but optioned him to Triple-A in April.  He stayed there until mid-June.

Position players

  • Aramis Ramirez, Cubs – In July, Ramirez's agent said that his client would consider an August deal but he has since had a change of heart.  The Cubs hold an option on Ramirez's deal worth $16MM.
  • Alfonso Soriano, Cubs – This one was also obvious.  SI's Jon Heyman notes on Twitter that the Cubs are willing to pay a "major, major chunk" of the $58.35MM owed to the left fielder through 2014.
  • Lance Berkman, Cardinals – Berkman has said he hopes to re-sign with St. Louis after the season, when he hits free agency.  Still, it's a surprise to see him clear waivers.
  • Ryan Theriot, Cardinals - Theriot earns $3.3MM this year and will be a non-tender candidate after the season.
  • David Wright, Mets - It's surprising that Wright cleared waivers, but it doesn't mean the Mets have interest in dealing him. Wright earns $15MM next year and can void a $16MM club option for 2013 if traded.
  • Conor Jackson, Athletics – Olney notes that the Red Sox asked about the light-hitting 1B/LF/RF, but there doesn't seem to be any traction there.
  • David DeJesus, Athletics – DeJesus has had a rough year but could at least be useful against right-handed pitching.
  • Hideki Matsui, Athletics – The Athletics have several waiver trade candidates, and Matsui's hot second half and low salary (owed less than $2MM the rest of the season) could make him a popular target.
  • Jason Bay, Mets – With Bay being owed at least $38.8MM through 2013, this was expected.  It's only been 12 games, but Bay is at least having his first good month of 2011.
  • Willie Harris, Mets – The versatile Harris has less than $200K left on his contract.
  • Angel Pagan, Mets – It's been a dismal year for Pagan, who may be in line for a non-tender after the season.
  • Carlos Lee, Astros – No surprise here, as the 35-year-old is hitting .263/.321/.417 and is owed almost $23MM through next year.  El Caballo's ten-and-five rights kick in after the season.
  • Johnny Damon, Rays – Damon blocked an August trade last summer and 12 months later he's a candidate to be traded once again.

Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.


Los Angeles Notes: Selig, Kuo, Kendrick, Trumbo

It was on this day in 2004 that Alex Cora (then with the Dodgers) engaged the Cubs' Matt Clement in an epic at-bat.  In the bottom of the seventh, Cora fouled off 14 consecutive pitches from Clement before finally sending the 18th pitch of the at-bat over the fence for a two-run homer.  Los Angeles went on to win the game 4-0, and Cora went on to hit a career-high 10 home runs that season.

Some news items from both of Los Angeles' teams…

  • Commissioner Bud Selig said the outcome of MLB's investigation into the Dodgers' finances is not "predetermined," as Frank McCourt claimed weeks ago.  "We wouldn't have to go through all this if it was predetermined. I'm doing it because I think it is the right thing to do," Selig said.  Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times has the full transcript of Selig's remarks to the media.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo's agent says his client isn't considering retiring due to his latest bout with "the yips," reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.  Kuo was put on the disabled list yesterday with anxiety disorder.  The left-hander has an 11.57 ERA in 4 2/3 innings of work with the Dodgers in 2011 after posting a 1.96 ERA over the previous three seasons.
  • This is Kuo's second bout of the yips in his career, and the fact that he has overcome these issues before is a good sign, Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass tells Ken Gurnick.  Blass would know — the yips became known as "Steve Blass Disease" in the early 1970's when Blass went from one of the Bucs' top starters to unable to throw the ball over the plate.
  • Howie Kendrick's hot start is largely due to such unsustainable peripheral stats as a .396 BABIP, writes Chris Cwik of Fangraphs.  However, as Cwik notes, "Even with the regression, Kendrick might post the most valuable season of his career."   
  • The Angels are keeping calm over the news that Kendrys Morales will be out of the season, reports MLB.com's Lyle Spencer.  "It messed us up last year when we lost Morales," said Torii Hunter.  "It was a huge blow. We didn't know how we'd replace him, and we struggled all year with it…This year, we've adjusted. He's not here. We've played without Kendrys now."  Mark Trumbo will get the bulk of the playing time at first base and while Trumbo is inexperienced, as Spencer recalls, "few experts thought Morales could replace Mark Teixeira" at first for the Halos in 2009.

Dodgers Avoid Arbitration With Hong-Chih Kuo

The Dodgers have avoided arbitration with reliever Hong-Chih Kuo by agreeing to a one-year, $2.725MM contract with the southpaw, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.  Kuo can earn an extra $700K in incentives, with $600K of those bonuses related to games finished, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.  This was Kuo's second year of arb-eligibility and he is represented by the Octagon sports agency.

Kuo, 29, is coming off an All-Star season that saw him post a 1.20 ERA, a 4.06 K/BB ratio and an 11.0 K/9 rate in 56 relief appearances with L.A.  The 56 games pitched was a career-high for Kuo, who was pitched on consecutive days just four times all season in an attempt to keep him fresh, given Kuo's past elbow injuries.  Over the last three seasons, Kuo has a 1.96 ERA in 133 games and has averaged 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

The Taiwanese left-hander recorded 21 holds and also 12 saves, taking over the closing job from Jonathan Broxton in mid-August.  Broxton has been pencilled into the closer's job headed into Los Angeles' Spring Training, but Kuo performed well enough that the Dodgers wouldn't hesitate to put him at the back of their bullpen if Broxton struggles again.

As you can see on MLBTR's Arbtracker, the settled contract is worth slightly below the midpoint of the numbers submitted by Kuo and the club earlier this month — Kuo was looking for $3.08MM, and the Dodgers were offering $2.55MM.  James Loney is the only arb-eligible Dodger who has yet to settle on a contract for 2011.


Arbitration Figures: Tuesday

Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. Let's keep track of those figures here, with the latest updates on top. You can track all of the players that avoided arbitration today here.

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Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.

We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements.  Yesterday's list can be found here.

  • Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals.  Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts.  Willits' contract is worth $625K. 
  • Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter).  Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players.  In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
  • Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter).  The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
  • The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press.  MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
  • Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
  • The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
  • Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
  • Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.

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