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Huston Street Rumors
Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was in attendance as the team his son coaches at the University of Wisconsin-Stout took on a Twins rookie team Tuesday, would be thrilled to manage again, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes. “Oh, no. I’ve got a lot left in me in baseball,” says Gardenhire, shown in a photo wearing a T-shirt and smoking a cigar. “If somebody is looking for a manager and I’m a fit, great. I would love to manage again.” After the Twins fired him following last season following the team’s fourth straight season of 92-plus losses, Gardenhire lived for a month in an RV parked near his daughter’s house in Oklahoma while he waited for his first grandchild to be born. Gardenhire turned down a front-office job with the Twins, but says he’s still willing to help his former organization, perhaps with occasional scouting tasks. Here’s more from around the game.
- MLBPA head Tony Clark says it’s “unfortunate” that teams delay promotion of top prospects for service-time reasons, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports. “We don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest, and we don’t think it’s in the industry’s best interest, to not have the best players on the field all the time,” says Clark. This has become, of course, a point of discussion every year. This season, top Cubs prospect Kris Bryant has been the focus of the issue. The Cubs are likely to send him to the minors to start the season even though he’s leading MLB in Spring Training homers with six.
- One Padres move that didn’t attract much attention in a high-profile winter was their signing of former Diamondbacks, Astros and Tigers closer Jose Valverde to a minor-league deal. Valverde has performed well in camp, however, and now appears to have a good shot to make the team, Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com writes. “I feel like I’m 21 because I’m throwing 98 [mph],” says Valverde. “I’m surprised because I haven’t walked anybody yet.” Bloom suggests Valverde could even be the Padres’ closer. That would be an upset if it came to pass, since Joaquin Benoit performed well in that role last year after the team traded Huston Street.
Josh Hamilton‘s recovery from shoulder surgery has lowered the urgency felt by commissioner Rob Manfred to reach a quick decision on a potential suspension, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. “Because Josh isn’t in a position where he’s going to be on the field, it has made the timing a little more relaxed,” Manfred told reporters. Manfred and the MLBPA have debated how many times it should be ruled that Hamilton has violated the Joint Drug Agreement, and at this point, the commissioner said that Hamilton’s fate is in his hands. “I’m the decision-maker on this one,” he said.
More from Hamilton’s team and division…
- Within that same piece, DiGiovanna writes that both Matt Joyce and C.J. Cron have expressed desires to be more than platoon players. While that could be possible with Hamilton through at least May, DiGiovanna notes that Collin Cowgill will likely get some starts in left versus tough lefties, which will likely cost Joyce some at-bats. Manager Mike Scioscia said that the team “definitely” want Cowgill and Cron in the lineup against lefties. The situation figures to intensify by the time Hamilton is back, though at least at that point, the Halos will have had more time to make some determinations.
- Angels closer Huston Street won’t be speaking with the media any more about his extension talks until the deal is complete or almost complete (if one is agreed to at all), writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Street is seeking a four-year deal worth between $36MM and $46MM, beginning this year and running through the 2018 season. To this point he’s been very open with the media, but it sounds like there won’t be any further updates until something more final can be revealed.
- MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets that the release of Michael Kirkman by the Rangers was the biggest surprise in camp so far, but the team wanted to give him the opportunity to hook on with another club. Kirkman still has three weeks to land somewhere and impress enough to position himself for a bullpen spot.
- A’s manager Bob Melvin didn’t know anything about right-hander Kendall Graveman when he was acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade, writes Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com, but the skipper went right to work on researching his new rotation candidate. Now, Melvin knows plenty about Graveman and offered strong praise for the righty, who, as Bloom notes, is making a strong case to make the Oakland rotation out of camp.
The Red Sox shouldn’t be in any rush to trade Allen Craig, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Craig gives them depth at first base, DH, and both outfield corners, all positions where the Sox have injury and age concerns. He’s not an obvious fit for the Red Sox’ lineup right now, but after a miserable stretch run (Craig hit .128/.234/.191 in 107 plate appearances after Boston acquired him), he doesn’t have trade value either, so it would be best for the team to wait before dealing him. Here’s more from the American League.
- It’s not often wise for players to represent themselves, but Angels reliever Huston Street is an exception, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Street, who is about to exchange extension figures with the Angels, is a real-estate investor in Austin who’s capable of handling contract negotiations. (If Street hits the free-agent market next winter, though, he’ll trust Austin lawyer Bill Stapleton to represent him.) “There’s mutual interest,” Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says regarding extension talks. “He understands where we are, and we understand where he is. He’s a big part of what we’re doing. But it’s not going to happen today or tomorrow.”
- White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija is trying not to focus on his impending free agency, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “When you step back and look at your situation from afar, it’s a pretty intense situation with a lot on the line,” says Samardzija. “But … I like to think what I demand of myself each time out is more pressure than what a contract or what situation my career is in (can bring).” The White Sox hope to retain Samardzija, but it doesn’t appear that any extension is imminent.
Angels closer Huston Street is expected to swap formal offers with GM Jerry Dipoto in short order, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. The Halos have already held exploratory discussions with the 31-year-old, who, as Gonzalez writes, is one of the rare big league players to take on his own representation. (Street discusses his decision to represent himself within Gonzalez’s article.)
As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register wrote earlier this week, Street and the Angels have talked over the winter but took a break when pitchers reported to Spring Training. Street’s plainly stated to the media that he feels a new, four-year deal in the $36-46MM range (the respective deals given to Andrew Miller and David Robertson this winter) would be fair. Street is eyeing a deal that would override his 2015 salary, meaning he’s seeking three new years.
Per Fletcher, the Angels are only about $15MM away from the luxury tax threshold, so a new deal for Street will certainly come with financial implications. He’s earning $7MM right now, but a four-year deal in the $40MM range would mean an additional $3MM or so going against the luxury tax barrier, as the luxury tax is calculated based on the average annual value of contracts. Of course, the Angels could have some additional leeway in that area in the event of a suspension of Josh Hamilton.
Gonzalez writes that Street will not let negotiations drag into the regular season unless the two sides are merely hashing out the final details, so it seems likely that we’ll soon know one way or another whether Street will be remaining in Anaheim long-term or testing the waters of the open market next winter.
The White Sox announced today that they have promoted Jeremy Haber, who was previously assistant to general manager Rick Hahn and will now bear the title of assistant GM. The 31-year-old Haber led negotiations on the team’s five-year, $21MM extension with Jose Quintana last offseason, says Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter), and he also leads salary arbitration negotiations. CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes profiled Haber last offseason, noting an impressive educational background but little experience in the baseball world. Haber has a B.A. in political science from Brown as well as an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Haber was initially hired as an intern with the Red Sox after a series of blind emails to teams in search of a front office opportunity, and he’s since helped in the White Sox’ hiring of hitting coach Todd Steverson in addition to making player acquisition recommendations for Hahn and the rest of the Chicago front office.
More from the American League:
- Huston Street tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that he and Angels GM Jerry Dipoto have begun swapping text messages to figure out a time when they can have more serious extension discussions in the near future. Street, who acts as his own agent, has said he wants to get a new contract worked out in Spring Training and made no attempt to hide the fact that he’s eyeing something between the four-year, $36MM deal inked by Andrew Miller and the four-year, $46MM contract signed by David Robertson. He did say he envisions a new contract overriding his current one-year deal, so he’s essentially looking for three new years.
- Ryan Ludwick told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that multiple teams for which he had played in the past expressed interest in bringing him back this offseason, though he declined to specify which teams. The Rangers are clearly one, as the now-36-year-old signed a minor league pact to return to Texas, where he made his big league debut 13 years ago. “It’s cool knowing that teams are willing to take you on,” Ludwick said Sunday. “I guess that means I’m somewhat of a decent guy.” The Rangers will hope that in addition to being a “somewhat decent guy,” Ludwick will bring the offense he showed as recently as 2012, when he hit .275/.346/.531 with 26 homers in just 472 plate appearances for the Reds. He’s also played for the Cardinals, Indians, Padres and Pirates.
- Replacing Nelson Cruz‘s production will not be straightforward but may yet be possible for the Orioles, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com writes. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette explains that the current roster not only has power across the board but does so with generally well-rounded players. And, as he notes, the team will never “grab a lot of headlines in the offseason,” as would have been needed to bring Cruz back or replace him with a single player. “We pick up players year round,” said Duquette. “We don’t do it all in the offseason.”
Major League Baseball has let teams know the bonus pool values for the 2015 amateur draft, and Baseball America’s John Manuel has the full list of what each team can spend on players taken in the first 10 rounds. The Astros have the highest bonus pool (at a bit more than $17.289MM) in part because they received the second overall selection as compensation for not signing Brady Aiken with the No. 1 pick last summer — Houston has both the second and fifth overall picks in the 2015 draft. As noted earlier today, the 2015-16 international draft pool values were also determined and revealed by Baseball America’s Ben Badler.
Here’s some more from around the game…
- Huston Street and the Angels haven’t begun yet talks about an extension during Spring Training, he tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). Street said he wanted “a week or so to settle in first” at camp and then the two sides would start negotiating. The closer is known to be looking for a new deal comparable to the contracts signed by David Robertson and Andrew Miller this offseason.
- The Indians are still interested in adding Dayan Viciedo but only on a minor league contract, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Hoynes reported on the Tribe’s interest in Viciedo two weeks ago, though Hoynes felt Viciedo would more likely opt for a team who could offer him a Major League deal and a clearer path to playing time.
- Melky Cabrera was already intrigued by the White Sox since his wife loves Chicago, though the outfielder wasn’t totally sold until he saw the team’s winter moves, Cabrera told CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes. When GM Rick Hahn approached Cabrera earlier in the offseason, he was more skeptical since he wanted to play for a contender. Cabrera “really wanted to win,” Hahn recalled. “(He said) ‘But with all due respect are you guys really in a position to win and am I really a difference maker for you?’ ”
- With Michael Saunders sidelined for several months, the Blue Jays are lacking in solid left field replacement options, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes. Nicholson-Smith lists several internal and external candidates who are flawed (or unlikely to be pursued) for one reason or another. The Padres‘ Will Venable is cited as perhaps the best trade candidate for the Jays’ LF hole, though even he isn’t a perfect fit.
- The Mariners are putting a lot of faith in Logan Morrison to be healthy and productive this season, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes, given Morrison’s injury history and Seattle’s lack of depth at the first base position.
Huston Street told reporters yesterday that he’s seeking a four-year extension (beginning with the 2015 season, meaning it would override his current deal) worth something between the contracts signed by Andrew Miller ($36MM) and David Robertson ($46MM) this offseason. Street, interestingly, is acting as his own agent, and Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times has some quotes from the closer explaining the reasoning behind that decision. “I think agents are beneficial to a lot of guys who are fringe players or superstars,” Street told reporters. “How do you say no to $130 million and end up getting $180 million? It takes an agent. I’m not one of those guys. I’m pretty slotted within a range of what I believe is fair, of guys I’m comparable to. I don’t have anything negative toward agents. I just felt like I could handle my own business.”
Today, Angels owner Arte Moreno met with the media and offered up several more items that should be of interest to Halo fans. MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez has the highlights…
- The Angels have gotten “nowhere” with the city of Anaheim in regards to talks for a new lease for Angel Stadium. The team is able to opt out of the lease beginning in 2016 and as late as 2019, Gonzalez writes. If they stay beyond that point, the lease then runs through 2029. Moreno said there are no intention to restart talks at this time. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register adds that while Moreno wouldn’t comment on the viability of other locations, he did say “we’re still looking at opportunities.”
- Moreno isn’t completely opposed to running into the luxury tax threshold of $189MM as long as the team would only exceed that payroll level for one year. Moreno feels the team has about $10-15MM to spend on in-season additions if necessary.
- The Angels “took a peek” at James Shields this offseason but never made a formal offer. Moreno says the team had interest in Shields on a three-year deal but wasn’t interested in going beyond that length of contract. Shields, of course, signed a four-year, $75MM contract with the Padres earlier this month.
Angels closer Huston Street, who acts as his own agent, told reporters at Angels camp today that he has been in “steady” negotiations with the team dating back to September (via the L.A. Times’ Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter). Street thinks a contract will eventually get done, but he has his sights set high, as DiGiovanna tweets that Street sees something between the four-year, $36MM contract signed by Andrew Miller and the four-year, $46MM pact inked by David Robertson this offseason as fair value. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register clarifies that Street is envisioning a new contract that would override his current $7MM salary and run through the 2018 season (Twitter link).
If that’s the case, then Street is essentially eyeing something along the lines of three years and $34MM worth of new money on an extension (using a $41MM midpoint between the aforementioned Robertson/Miller deals) — a lofty goal for a reliever entering his age-31 campaign. The Angels, conversely, are trying to sell Street on an extension that runs through the 2017 season, per MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links). There’s no deadline on extension talks, Gonzalez adds.
From a performance standpoint, it’s easy to see why Street feels that he should be compensated at a level that is commensurate with the top arms on the market. Over the past three seasons, he’s worked to a 1.97 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 35 percent ground-ball rate in 155 innings between the Padres and the Halos. His 97 saves in that time tie him for 10th in the Majors.
However, there’s also reason for the Angels to express caution. Aside from the standard caveat emptor that comes with giving long-term contracts to all relievers, who are typically volatile assets, Street is a full year older than Robertson and Miller. A four-year deal covering the 2015-18 seasons would span Street’s age 31-34 seasons, whereas Robertson and Miller are under contract for their age 30-33 seasons. Street also has a lengthy injury history, with seven separate DL stints under his belt in the Major Leagues — three of which came from 2012-13.
Street has never been a flamethrower, but he’s averaged just north of 89 mph on his heater over the past three seasons and relies greatly on inducing weak contact and stranding runners. That’s not to say that his K/9 rate is sub-par — he’s whiffed nearly a better per inning — rather that he is of a different breed than the more prototypical elite relievers to which we’ve become accustomed (e.g. Robertson, Miller, Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Greg Holland).
There are few recent historical precedents for a reliever of this age signing an extension. The most recent comparable is probably Glen Perkins, who tacked an additional two years and $14.1MM onto his existing deal prior to the 2014 season. However, while that deal buys out a similar portion of Perkins’ career in terms of age, there are varying factors that prevent the two from being a truly apt comparison. Firstly, Perkins was two full seasons away from free agency as compared to Street’s one. Secondly, Perkins stated after the deal was completed that maximizing his earnings was never his top priority; he instead had simply hoped to remain with his hometown team for the bulk of his career.
As such, Street would seem to be in relatively uncharted territory. Not only is he negotiating his own deal, but he’s doing so at a time of his career when his peers have typically preferred to test the waters of the open market (or are already in the midst of long-term deals). Were Street to enjoy a typically excellent season and remain healthy, it’s not hard to envision teams showing interest in the three-year realm that he currently seeks. However, going that route would come with the risk of an injury in 2015 as well as the task of negotiating his own deal with not one, but many teams that would likely show interest.
It stands to reason then, that both sides have a motivation to get a contract worked out. Some form of vesting option could be a compromise, though such clauses can prove to be a headache down the line (as Jonathan Papelbon‘s current trade talks demonstrate). While there’s no deadline on talks, one would think that each side would prefer to complete something prior to the onset of the season, meaning that Street could ultimately be one of the many Spring Training extensions we see on a yearly basis, assuming a deal is eventually agreed upon.
The Angels are planning to discuss an extension with closer Huston Street in Spring Training and are also open to extensions with catcher Chris Iannetta and budding ace Garrett Richards, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The Halos, in fact, have already approached Street about the possibility, Gonzalez adds.
An extension with Street has been a known possibility for some time, as GM Jerry Dipoto told Gonzalez back in November that the two sides would talk during Spring Training. However, interest in extending Iannetta had not surfaced publicly prior to this point.
Interestingly, Street will represent himself in any contract negotiations, the reliever himself told Gonzalez in that same November piece by Gonzalez. A former client of Hendricks Sports, Street earned $7MM in both 2013 and 2014, and he’ll earn the same amount in 2015.
Street’s strikeout rate rebounded from a career-low 7.3 K/9 in 2013 back up to a more typical 8.7 K/9 in 2014, and he enjoyed his second sub-2.00 ERA campaign of the past three seasons. Although his ERA has fluctuated significantly over the past four seasons, his efforts have netted a 2.49 ERA in 213 1/3 innings with 8.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. ERA estimator SIERA has pegged Street as a sub-3.00 ERA reliever in five of the past six seasons, with the lone exception being the aforementioned 2013 season in which his strikeout rate dipped.
As for Iannetta, it makes sense to see the Halos interested in retaining him, given the fact that the soon-to-be 32-year-old is slated to be one of the top backstops available on next year’s open market, alongside Matt Wieters and Alex Avila. Iannetta offers not only respectable pop from behind the dish (.148 ISO with the Angels) but also has posted gaudy OBP numbers for much of his career thanks to a lifetime 14.2 percent walk rate. He does leave something to be desired in terms of pitch framing and is a bit below average in terms of career caught-stealing rate, but he’s a consistently valuable option behind the dish.
Richards and the Angels have to hammer out his arbitration salary — he filed for a $3.8MM salary, while the team countered at $2.4MM, as can be seen in our Arbitration Tracker — and talks are said to be progressing slowly, per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link). DiGiovanna adds that to this point, there’s been no discussion of a multi-year pact with Richards’ representatives at Relativity Baseball, and Gonzalez did caution that such negotiations might not even begin until after Opening Day.
However, as MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows, Relativity has been amenable to extensions for young starters in the past, as they negotiated long-term deals for Chris Archer, Julio Teheran, Madison Bumgarner and Jon Lester prior to those players reaching three years of big league service. Of course, Richards is a Super Two player and already eligible for arbitration, so he figures to be a more expensive commodity than the aforementioned names, who signed prior to arbitration.
Uncertainty surrounding Richards’ health as he recovers from knee surgery may be a factor in potentially delaying talks until the season begins, though Gonzalez reports that the right-hander is running on 75 percent of his body weight and should progress to 100 percent next week. He’s expected to be ready to begin throwing off a mound around the time the club begins its workouts in Spring Training. GM Jerry Dipoto wouldn’t comment on extension talks with Richards (or any other player), but he expressed confidence that the Angels would avoid an arbitration hearing with Richards, Matt Joyce and David Freese, Gonzalez writes.
Huston Street no longer has an agent and will represent himself for any extension negotiations that take place with the Angels, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. Street was previously a client of Hendricks Sports Management. GM Jerry Dipoto tells Gonzalez that he does have interest in a new contract with Street but told the closer at the time his option was exercised that no talks would come until Spring Training.
Elsewhere in the AL West…
- MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes that A’s sources downplayed the team’s connection to Stephen Drew and Asdrubal Cabrera. However, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that he again heard Oakland mentioned as possibility for both clubs. Heyman wonders it the A’s would try to sign both, with Drew slated for shortstop duty and Cabrera handling second base.
- Jason Castro‘s name has drawn some attention as a trade target since the Astros acquired Hank Conger, but while Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle feels the ‘Stros would listen on Castros, he’s told that Carlos Corporan is the catcher they’d prefer to move (Twitter link).
- In a second piece from Drellich, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow explained that he wants to give Jon Singleton and Matt Dominguez a chance to make next year’s team, but both players will have to earn their spots, as both have minor league options remaining. Adding an insurance policy that is capable of handling both infield corners would be “advantageous,” Luhnow said. Drellich notes that at shortstop, the team will also look for an upgrade, but perhaps only a stopgap with Carlos Correa rising through the system. In general, said the Astros will target infielders on one- or two-year deals, as Correa, Colin Moran and Rio Ruiz can’t be counted on to impact the big league club in 2015. In last month’s Offseason Outlook for the Astros, I speculated that they’d be a fit for Drew for that very reason.