Jack Cust Rumors
Lance Berkman's return to Houston is a popular topic today, with the best takes I've found coming from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Astros senior director of digital media Alyson Footer. On to today's links:
- Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times explains that new Dodgers trustee Tom Schieffer is "a hands-off-the-roster guy, famous for leaving the Rangers baseball folks alone during his tenure there, one of the main reasons he was chosen for this job." GM Ned Colletti will only have to make a case to Schieffer if he wants to go over budget.
- We have to recalculate our expectations of position players in their late 30s in the post-PED era, writes SI's Tom Verducci.
- WEEI's Alex Speier discusses the timeline of top Red Sox pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo.
- The cases of Phil Hughes and Philip Humber demonstrate "the fickle nature of pitching," writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times wonders how much time the Mariners will give Jack Cust to start hitting. So far he's at .171/.326/.186 in 86 plate appearances, which means he's outhitting Carlos Pena.
- Player's union head Michael Weiner told ESPN's Jayson Stark the players are open to adding more playoff teams, but no proposals have been made and "it's just too early in the bargaining process to predict or guess where it's going to land." For much more on the topic, check out Stark's Rumblings and Grumblings column.
Cust, 32 in January, hit .272/.395/.438 in 425 plate appearances for the Athletics before being non-tendered this month. He's spent time at the outfield corners and designated hitter, and will probably stick to the latter for Seattle. He is represented by TWC Sports.
Morosi (Twitter link) first broke the news of the agreement and the terms, with Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times adding that Cust can match last year's $2.65MM salary through incentives. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle first tweeted a deal was close.
Mark Polishuk contributed to this post
- Houston is interested in Ryan Rowland-Smith, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- The Astros think they could get more offense from second base and have expressed interest in Bill Hall, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. The Yankees and Dodgers have also shown interest in Hall this offseason. Clint Barmes and Jeff Keppinger figure to play short and second for the Astros unless GM Ed Wade makes an addition.
- The Astros and Mariners are pushing for Jack Cust, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Seattle's interested in a number of free agents, including the former A's slugger.
- Hall and Cust are free agents, but the Astros haven't ruled out making a trade or two. Wade told McTaggart that he exchanged trade proposals with teams today, though Houston's advances weren't embraced by rival clubs (Twitter link).
- Wandy Rodriguez changed agents from Barry Praver to Adam Katz, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Rodriguez is set to discuss an extension with Houston.
Jack Cust is about to sign with the Mariners, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. However, John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse tweets that the Mariners figure to leave the Winter Meetings tomorrow without having completed a deal aside from a possible Rule 5 pick.
Cust, 32 in January, hit .272/.395/.438 in 425 plate appearances for the Athletics before being non-tendered this month. He's spent time at the outfield corners and designated hitter.
5:28pm: The Mariners are interested in a number of free agents, including two players whose 2010 seasons ended prematurely because of injury. Gregg Zaun, who is on the Cardinals' radar, has caught the Mariners' attention. The team will meet with his agents tonight or tomorrow, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (on Twitter).
The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Ronny Cedeno and Jeff Karstens, signing both players to one-year contracts. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch has the contract details. Cedeno will earn a $1.85MM base in 2011, and has a club option for '12 that includes significant incentives based on starts. Karstens will earn $1.1MM next year.
Cedeno is the incumbent starter at shortstop, though the Pirates are known to be looking for help at the position. The veteran has played mostly shortstop over the last two years, but has also played second, third and the outfield in his career. Cedeno has a .682 OPS in 672 plate appearances as a Pirate.
Karstens came to the Bucs in July 2008 as part of the trade that sent Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady to the Yankees. In 74 appearances (41 of them starts) for Pittsburgh, Karstens has posted a 4.95 ERA and a 1.73 K/BB ratio. As Biertempfel pointed out in his longer article, Karstens' $1.1MM salary for 2011 is almost triple what he earned last season.
Other news from Biertempfel...
- Infielder Argenis Diaz, outfielder Lastings Milledge and left-handers Brian Burres and Donald Veal were all non-tendered by the Bucs, but the club wants to re-sign Burres and Veal. Diaz "is unlikely to return."
- Milledge could be welcomed back "if we think it's the right fit for the team, and he thinks it's the right fit for him," said Neal Huntington. The Pirates GM said he couldn't work out a contract with Milledge before the non-tender deadline and "began to explore alternatives" to fill Milledge's corner outfield spot. Two options are Jack Cust and Matt Diaz, both of whom were non-tendered themselves by the A's and Braves, respectively.
This post will list all the American League players non-tendered today, but the best place to track all 200+ arbitration eligible players is our new non-tender tracker.
- Blue Jays: Fred Lewis, Jeremy Accardo
- Red Sox: Hideki Okajima, Andrew Miller, Taylor Buchholz
- Mariners: Ryan Rowland-Smith
- Rays: Lance Cormier, Willy Aybar, Dioner Navarro, J.P. Howell
- Royals: Josh Fields
- Rangers: Dustin Nippert
- Angels: Kevin Frandsen
- Athletics: Jack Cust, Travis Buck, Edwin Encarnacion
- Yankees: Alfredo Aceves, Dustin Moseley
- Orioles: Matt Albers
- White Sox: Bobby Jenks, Erick Threets
- Tigers: Zach Miner
Links on a busy Tuesday as the first day of the GM Meetings wraps up...
- Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer says (via Twitter) the Indians "kicked the tires" on Jake Westbrook, but never formally offered him a contract before he re-signed with the Cardinals.
- FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweets that the market for Jorge de la Rosa won't take shape until Cliff Lee signs. He's a fallback option for several teams.
- Former Orioles reliever Dennis Sarfate is in talks to join the Hiroshima Carp according to MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Giants are currently in on just two players: Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe.
- Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer says that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro offered a lot of "no comments" when asked about the team's interest in retaining Chad Durbin.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman says (via Twitter) the trade market for Jonathan Papelbon is "very weak," but the Red Sox are willing to pay part of what will surely be a sizable 2011 salary.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman hears that the Yankees will bid at least three years to keep Derek Jeter (Twitter link). Owner Hal Steinbrenner added that "things are going well."
- Chad Jennings of The Journal News has a quote from Yanks GM Brian Cashman: “I’ve got a small player move that I’m working on that might get done at some point this week ... But it’s small.”
- Meanwhile, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Yanks are still waiting to hear whether Mariano Rivera wants a one or two-year deal.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweets that the Athletics are not moving Conor Jackson, though he remains a non-tender candidate.
- Twins GM Bill Smith said it's "not at all" a question when asked if the team would tender Matt Capps a contract, according to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post (Twitter link).
- John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer says that Reds GM Walt Jocketty has talked to Arthur Rhodes' agent and plans to do the same with Miguel Cairo's, but he has yet to talk to any other free agents.
- SI.com's Tom Verducci lists players available on the "secondary market" that could have a big impact, starting with Jack Cust.
- Roy Halladay's Cy Young Award netted him $250K in bonus money, tweets Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The bonus was negotiated into his original contract with Toronto.
- In the wake of Justin Upton being made available, FanGraphs' Dave Cameron examines his trade value.
Jack Cust isn’t the home run threat he once was, so even in an offseason when the A's are prioritizing power, he doesn’t have any assurances that an offer of arbitration will come his way. The A’s non-tendered him last winter after a third consecutive season of 25-plus home runs. This year, his power dropped off, so there’s a real possibility that GM Billy Beane non-tenders Cust once again.
Cust, 32 in January, hit just 13 homers this year, but still managed to reach base. He posted a robust .395 on base average and batted .272. That figure is deceptive, though; Cust’s career-high average was inflated by his unsustainable .387 average on balls in play.
Cust is a power hitter who no longer hits for power and he doesn’t have much to fall back on other than his walks. He strikes out too much, doesn’t inspire confidence on defense (he played just 16 games in the outfield this year) and is working off of a $2.65MM base salary.
Offering Cust arbitration could cost $3-4MM, but it seems more likely that the A’s will non-tender him and try to renegotiate a contract worth less guaranteed money if they have interest in keeping him. The A’s would risk losing Cust to another team if they non-tender him, but they saved money when they took that chance a year ago.
Conor Jackson and Kevin Kouzmanoff are also among Oakland's non-tender candidates, but we've already voted on them. It's time to see what you think the A's will do with Cust. Click here to vote and here to view the results.
No team has hit fewer home runs than the A’s (89), so GM Billy Beane and the rest of the team’s front office will be interested in adding power bats this offseason, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
"It's an obvious area to address, and between now and the offseason, we'll have a number of conversations about how best to fill that need," Beane said.
Daric Barton and Jack Cust have combined for tons of walks (152), but few homers (18) from traditionally power-oriented positions, first base and DH. Both players have provided value, but the A’s could trade Barton or non-tender Cust to make room for a more powerful bat. Oakland should be able to spend on power, since the Ben Sheets and Eric Chavez deals are among the contracts coming off the books in 2011.
The A’s, one of just three MLB teams whose home run leader has not reached the 20-homer plateau, can consider free agent first basemen and DHs including Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena, Manny Ramirez and (if their options aren’t picked up), David Ortiz, Adam LaRoche and Vladimir Guerrero. Many power hitting first basemen and DHs will be available as free agents, but the A's could just as easily pursue pop at a different position.