Jack Cust Rumors
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.
Ramirez has bounced around the American League so far in 2010. The Yankees designated the right-hander for assignment in February, then in early March traded him to the Rangers, who dealt him to the Athletics later in the month.
The 29-year-old pitched in seven games for Oakland this season, recording a 4.91 ERA in 11 IP. Control was once again an issue for Ramirez, whose ten free passes this year raised his career rate to 5.4 BB/9.
Links for Saturday...
- MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch writes that Pirates outfield prospect Starling Marte may require surgery on his left hand. Baseball America's Prospect Handbook called the 21-year-old "the first tangible result of the Pirates' renewed commitment to scouting Latin America."
- Matt Chico could start for the Nationals on Wednesday, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Chico was DFA'd by the club earlier this week, but only so that the club could place him in Triple-A.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets that the recently-DFA'd Pat Burrell is another reason why teams won't be spending major money on designated hitter-types anymore.
- Jack Cust is on his way back to Oakland after Eric Chavez managed just a .247/.298/.355 batting line during the first six weeks of the season, tweets CSNBayArea.com's Mychael Urban. The A's 40-man roster is full, so a move will need to be make to accommodate Cust.
- Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer touched base with Indians' GM-in-waiting Chris Antonetti about having the fifth overall pick in June's draft. MLB's recommended bonus for that pick is in the $2.5MM-$3MM range, and Antonetti acknowledged that that money has already been set aside in the budget.
- Mike Morse is close to returning from the disabled list, which will create a bit of a roster crunch for the Nationals since he's out of options, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- Meanwhile, MLB.com's Owen Perkins notes that the Rockies would have a similar problem if they were to call someone up to help fill in for the injured Eric Young Jr.
- ESPN's Buster Olney spoke to Ken Griffey Jr.'s agent, who indicated that everything that happened this past week will have no bearing on his client's relationship with the club after he retires. Both links go to Twitter.
We see it all the time. Most weeks a handful of players are designated for assignment and more often than not casual fans barely notice. A DFA indicates that a team is willing to part with a player - sometimes for nothing. But sometimes those players come back from DFAs to become stars in the major leagues. Here's a list of some current players who have been designated for assignment:
- David Aardsma - The Red Sox acquired Aardsma after the White Sox designated him for assignment in 2008. A year later, the Mariners traded for Aardsma, who became the team's closer and posted impressive rates of 10.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
- Mike Adams - Adams was designated for assignment in 2006, before he posted absurdly low ERAs and regularly struck out more than a batter per inning.
- Milton Bradley - The Padres acquired Bradley from the A's after Bradley was designated for assignment in 2007. Bradley hit .313/.414/.590 for the Padres and led them to a one game playoff with the Rockies for the Wild Card spot. Of course Bradley didn't play in game 163, since he tore his ACL while manager Bud Black restrained him during an on-field argument earlier in the month.
- Russell Branyan - No one claimed Branyan after his 2006 DFA, but the Cardinals traded for him when the Phillies designated him for assignment the next year. He didn't do much for the Cards in his 39 plate appearances in 2007, but Branyan rebounded to hit 31 homers for the Mariners in 2009.
- Marlon Byrd - The Nationals designated Byrd for assignment in 2006 without losing him and the Rangers did the same in 2007. Byrd recovered from his '07 demotion to post three consecutive productive seasons in Texas.
- Nelson Cruz - The Rangers designated Cruz for assignment at the beginning of the 2008 season - usually a good time to sneak players through waivers. The Rangers must be thrilled no one claimed Cruz, who hit 37 homers in the minors that year and added 33 in the majors the following season.
- Rajai Davis - The A's claimed the outfielder off of waivers from their Bay Area rivals in 2008. Davis was hitting .056/.105/.056 at the time, though he had batted just 19 times. He has gone on to become a useful player, hitting .305/.360/.423 last year with 41 steals and above average defense, according to UZR.
- Jorge de la Rosa - The Royals designated de la Rosa for assignment in March of 2008, but it wasn't until a month later that the Rockies traded for him. The 29-year-old free agent-to-be has been a productive starter in Colorado since.
- Ryan Franklin - The Reds acquired Franklin from the Phillies in 2006 after a poor start to the season. Franklin didn't do much better with the Reds, but he has been productive for three-plus seasons in St. Louis since.
- Jeremy Guthrie - The Orioles claimed the former first round pick from the Indians early in 2007, when Guthrie had just 37 big league innings and a 6.08 ERA to his name. Since, the righty has posted a 4.19 ERA in 610.1 innings.
- LaTroy Hawkins - The Yankees designated the reliever for assignment in 2008 and traded him to Houston, where Hawkins dominated for 24 appearances. He posted a 0.43 ERA along with 10.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9.
- Bobby Jenks - He has fallen out of favor with the White Sox now, but they deserve credit for picking him up after the 2004 season. Jenks has struck out three times as many batters as he has walked in 301 innings with the White Sox.
- Ryan Ludwick - The slugger started the 2005 season hitting just .154/.267/.385 so the Indians designated him for assignment. No one claimed Ludwick then, but the Cardinals made a shrewd pickup when they later signed him.
- Brandon Phillips - The Reds claimed Phillips after the Indians designated him for assignment in 2006. He had just a .206/.246/.310 big league line at the time, but he has averaged 22 homers and 26 steals in his four full seasons with the Reds. UZR rates the 28-year-old as an above average defender at second base, too.
- Joel Pineiro - The Red Sox designated Pineiro for assignment in 2007 when he had a 5.03 ERA and just 20 strikeouts to go along with 14 walks. Later that summer, the Cardinals acquired Pineiro and he went on to post 426.1 solid innings for the Cards. Under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Duncan, Pineiro posted a walk rate of 1.6 BB/9 in a Cardinals uniform.
- Grant Balfour, Ryan Church, Jack Cust, Matt Diaz, Jerry Hairston Jr., Joel Hanrahan, Livan Hernandez, Mike Jacobs, Colby Lewis, Julio Lugo, Mike MacDougal, Evan Meek, Vicente Padilla, Scott Podsednik, J.C. Romero, David Ross, Brian Tallet, Todd Wellemeyer and Randy Wells are among the many big leaguers who have been designated for assignment.
It's worth noting that this group does not include a superstar (Cruz might be the closest thing to one). Teams designate many talented players for assignment because of roster constraints, but few enjoy as much success as the group above.
Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the information.
- Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post says that Joe Beimel should arrive in the big leagues within a few days, once he's able to pitch in back-to-back games. Beimel signed a minor league deal with Colorado that will pay a base salary of $850K when he makes the roster.
- A's GM Billy Beane is happy to have Jack Cust back in the mix, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- MLB.com's William Ladson (via Twitter) received a text from Elijah Dukes shooting down a rumor that he has signed on with the Tabasco Olmecas of the Mexican League. Dukes was released by the Nationals roughly three weeks ago.
- Sergio Santos is becoming an integral part of the White Sox' bullpen, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. The right-hander made the squad just one year after converting over from the infield.
- The Twins' revamped bullpen is off to a good start, writes Bradford Doolittle of MLB.com.