Jair Jurrjens Rumors

Latest From The NL Central

A few NL Central free agent targets were identified today, as the Brewers and Cubs are in on Jason Grilli among other relievers, the Pirates have expressed interest in John Lannan, and the Cardinals are in the mix for Scott Hairston.  More from the division…

Earlier updates:

East Notes: Wright, Dickey, Hamilton, Ichiro

Here's a look at the some of the news out of the AL and NL East:

Notable Non-Tendered Players

The non-tender deadline passed at midnight ET last night, and more than 30 new free agents hit the open market after their teams declined to make a contract offer. Our Non-Tender Tracker has the full list.

Most non-tendered players are fringe roster guys, but a few are established big leaguers who may have seen their performance slip or battled injury. In all cases, the team didn't consider him to be worth his expected salary in the upcoming season. Here's a look at some of this year's most notable non-tenders.

  • Jair Jurrjens – Still just 26, Jurrjens is one year removed from a 2.96 ERA in 152 innings. He's battled numerous injuries (including right knee surgery) and pitched so poorly earlier this year that he was sent to Triple-A. That said, the combination of age and past performance gives Jurrjens some of the highest upside on the free agent market.
  • Jeff Karstens – Karstens, 30, was limited to just 90 2/3 innings this year due to shoulder and hip problems, but he's pitched to a 3.59 ERA with a 1.7 BB/9 in 253 innings since the start of last year.
  • John Lannan – The Nationals didn't have a place for Lannan this year, so the 28-year-old spent most of the season in Triple-A despite a $5MM salary. The left-hander has thrown at least 180 innings in each of the last five seasons, so he adds a reliable southpaw to a free agent class surprisingly short on that type of pitcher.
  • Mark Reynolds – Power is hard to find these days, and the 29-year-old Reynolds hit 37 home runs just a year ago. He dipped to .221/.335/.429 with 23 homers this year, though he did produce a .258/.374/.525 line with 20 homers in 353 plate appearances from early-May through early-September. Although his best position is first base, a power-starved team could give Reynolds a look at third base given the shallow free agent pool.
  • Geovany Soto – The free agent catching market is weak, especially now that Russell Martin has signed with the Pirates, so the 29-year-old Soto could become a popular target in short order. He hit just .198/.270/.343 in 361 plate appearances this year, but a year ago he put up a respectable .228/.310/.411 line with 17 homers. Enough teams need catching help that Soto should have little trouble finding a new employer.
  • Brian Wilson – It's been two years since Wilson, 30, was truly dominant. He's coming off his second Tommy John surgery and posted a 3.11 ERA in 55 innings last season while his strikeout (8.8 K/9) and walk (5.1 BB/9) rates took big hits, but teams do love to roll the dice on formerly elite closers coming off down seasons and/or injury. Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle hears Wilson was upset after being non-tendered and has told people he will not re-sign with the Giants.
  • Other non-tendered players like Scott Atchison, Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Pelfrey (coming off Tommy John surgery), and Nate Schierholtz have proven useful in various roles and figure to be relatively popular targets as free agents.

Braves To Non-Tender Jurrjens, Moylan

The Braves will non-tender starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens and relief pitcher Peter Moylan, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). Both players will hit free agency.

Jurrjens started ten games for the Braves in 2012, posting a 6.89 ERA with 3.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 48 1/3 innings. However, he earned $5.5MM this past season and would have earned a similar amount in 2013 if the Braves had tendered him a contract.

Moylan, 33, appeared in just eight games in 2012. He spent much of the season recovering from rotator cuff surgery that took place last October.

Quick Hits: Keppinger, Soriano, Dodgers, Orioles

The latest links from around MLB…

  • The Cubs, Diamondbacks and Rays are bidding for free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger even though he broke his leg, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter links). The 32-year-old recently broke his right fibula, but hopes to be ready for action by mid-January. Clubs don’t consider the injury serious enough to stop pursuing Keppinger.
  • MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons said on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch spoke with agent Scott Boras about free agent closer Rafael Soriano yesterday (hat tip: Ken Rosenthal on Twitter).
  • The Dodgers confirmed the promotions of several front office members, including Logan White and De Jon Watson, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. White and Watson had been assistant GMs and are now vice presidents. They are both considered GM candidates within the industry.
  • The Orioles aren’t expected to offer Mark Reynolds arbitration, but they’re trying to work out a new deal by Friday’s deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently examined Reynolds as a non-tender candidate.
  • Jair Jurrjens is expected to be non-tendered and Peter Moylan’s status as a non-tender candidate remains unclear, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter).

Quick Hits: Jurrjens, Dickey, Blue Jays, Dodgers

Wednesday night linkage..

  • Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens is drawing some trade interest, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Jurrjens earned $5.5MM last season and could be a non-tender candidate for next season.  While he finished the year healthy, he may not have a spot in Atlanta's deep rotation next year.
  • Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey now sounds very optimistic about his future with the Mets, a marked change from his tone just a couple of months ago, tweets Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger.
  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (via Twitter) hears that the Blue Jays may sign a second baseman in the next few days, though it's not clear who it might be.
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti says that he is “probably unlikely” to trade for a starting pitcher this winter and might instead address that need in the free agent market, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.  The Dodgers are looking to add a No. 2 or 3 pitcher to put alongside ace Clayton Kershaw.
  • Earlier today, the Dodgers formally announced that they have hired Mark McGwire as their hitting coach.  McGwire previously served as the Cardinals' hitting coach but hooked on with the Dodgers as he can now work closer to his home in Irvine, California.
  • Shortstop Alex Gonzalez has hired Praver Shapiro Sports Management to represent him, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  You can keep track of every player's representation with MLBTR's Agency Database.
  • Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson interests the Cubs, but they don't have the trade chips to land him, Heyman tweets.
  • The Red Sox announced that they have named Juan Nieves as their new pitching coach.  Nieves spent the last 14 seasons in the White Sox organization and most recently served as their bullpen coach.
  • Agent Joe Urbon told Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter) that outfielder Grady Sizemore plans to play in 2013.  Indians GM Chris Antonetti has said that he is open to bringing Sizemore back, but for less than the $5MM he received last year.
  • Mets assistant GM John Ricco says that the club won't rush to fill their void in the outfield, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.  Instead, the Mets plan to let the market define itself first.

Wren Talks Bourn, Free Agency, Catchers, Hanson

The Braves' season ended in a game that will be remembered for a controversial call last week, as did the likely Hall of Fame career of Chipper Jones. With a feeling that he could only describe as "emptiness," general manager Frank Wren talked with David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the playoffs, his team's upcoming offseason and several of the decisions they'll have to make…

  • Wren suggested that he's not a fan of the Wild Card format and that he'd like to see the system amended to give the Wild Card teams a three-game series, beginning with a day-night double-header.
  • He also said that it's worth revisiting the trade deadline, which Wren feels is "pretty early for the current system." August 15 would be a more logical date for teams to determine whether or not they want to push for the Wild Card, in Wren's estimation.
  • Wren says he's looking forward to a "focused" offseason. The front office recognizes that they have to replace Jones at third base, and they hope to retain Michael Bourn, whose contract expired at season's end. The team would like to address center field and the leadoff position in the same move — a role which Bourn can obviously fill. The Braves contacted Bourn's representatives about an extension in Spring Training but were told to wait until after the season to engage in negotiations.
  • Atlanta would love to have David Ross back in the fold in 2013. Wren spoke very highly of his backup catcher to O'Brien.
  • The Braves chose not to have Brian McCann undergo an MRI with a dye injection during the season because the recovery is too long. McCann will undergo that test in the near future, which could reveal a need for surgery, but for the time being the Braves believe their catcher needs only rest to recover.
  • Jason Heyward could handle center field "for a few days," but Wren and his associates don't view him as a long-term answer in center. Wren said he considers Heyward among the best defensive right fielders in the game and wouldn't want to diminish his defensive value by moving him.
  • The Braves have options on McCann ($12MM), Tim Hudson ($8MM) and Paul Maholm ($6.5MM), and they'll address those decisions in the coming weeks.
  • It would take a "very, very big piece" to trade Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran this winter. The trade market does figure to be in play for the Braves though, as Wren said he won't be "going outrageous salary-wise" on free agents. The team will be "looking for premium players," but Wren cautions they're not looking to add a player to the team as much as they are looking to add value. If they feel that adding two players can give them more than one premium name, they'll pursue that route instead.
  • Jair Jurrjens' situation is different from Tommy Hanson's, in Wren's mind. Wren spoke more definitely of Hanson's future with the team than that of Jurrjens. The Braves "will have a determination" on Jurrjens' future this winter. Jurrjens earned $5.5MM in 2012 and is a non-tender candidate for 2013 in the mind of MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
  • Wren confirmed that the entire coaching staff will be offered the opportunity to return to the team.

Make Or Break Year: How Are They Doing?

Before the season, we identified 11 players who were entering "make or break" years. These guys had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for nice paydays in the future. Now that we're into August, let's take a second to check in each player (all links go to MLBTR posts)…

  • Scott Baker, Twins — Baker, 30, had elbow surgery in April and will miss the entire season. Minnesota will likely decline his $9.25MM option for 2013 (no buyout).
  • Phil Hughes, Yankees — The 26-year-old right-hander owns a 4.10 ERA in 131 2/3 innings this year, including a 3.40 ERA since mid-May. He's a safe bet to be tendered a contract for 2014, his final year as a arbitration-eligible player.
  • Jair Jurrjens, Braves — Jurrjens, 26, pitched so poorly earlier in the season that he had to be sent to the minors. He's since resurfaced and owns 6.89 ERA in 48 1/3 innings, cementing his status as a non-tender candidate.
  • Adam Lind, Blue Jays — Lind has battled back problems and also been demoted to Triple-A this season, and he's hit .227/.298/.394 while with the big league team. The 29-year-old continues to disappoint since signing his four-year, $18MM extension prior to 2010.
  • Francisco Liriano, White Sox — It's been another up and down season for the 28-year-old southpaw, who owns a 5.03 ERA in 111 innings. The Twins traded Liriano to the ChiSox at the deadline.
  • James Loney, Dodgers — Loney, now 28, hasn't helped himself at all this season, hitting just .251/.301/.330 in 327 plate appearances. He might have to settle for a minor league contract this coming offseason.
  • Kendrys Morales, Angels — The 29-year-old is hitting .282/.327/.455 with 14 homers on the year, well below the level he established prior to his leg injury in 2010. Morales figures to be both a trade and non-tender candidate after the season.
  • Mike Pelfrey, Mets — Pelfrey pitched to a 2.29 ERA in three starts before needing Tommy John surgery. The Mets are expected to non-tender the 28-year-old after the season.
  • Geovany Soto, Rangers — The 29-year-old backstop has continued to deal with injuries in 2012 and is hitting just .201/.289/.356. Soto is an obvious non-tender candidate.
  • Kevin Youkilis, White Sox — Youkilis lost his starting job with the Red Sox and was traded to the White Sox, who are likely to decline his $13MM option after the season. The 33-year-old has dealt with nagging injuries and is hitting .238/.339/.427 overall.
  • Delmon Young, Tigers — Young, 26, has had a below-average season at the plate (.266/.298/.402) and has dealt with some off-field problems. He hasn't helped his free agent stock any.

Non-Tender Candidate: Jair Jurrjens

Jair Jurrjens entered the 2012 season with a career ERA of 3.40 and a sparkling 50-33 record. He had just obtained a substantial raise through the arbitration process and seemed to have established himself as an All-Star caliber pitcher.

Jair Jurrjens - Braves (PW)

But he has pitched ineffectively this season, struggling as a Braves starter and getting a demotion to the minor leagues. He’s now on the disabled list and he’s not getting any more affordable, so the Braves will have to consider removing him from their roster by the December deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration eligible players.

The Tigers signed Jurrjens back in 2003 and traded him and Gorkys Hernandez to Atlanta four years later for Edgar Renteria. In 2008, his first season with the Braves, Jurrjens started 31 games and finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting. By 2009 he had reached the 200-inning plateau and posted a 2.60 ERA with twice as many strikeouts as walks. And in 2011, he made the National League All-Star team, posting a 2.96 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 42% ground ball rate in 152 innings.

Yet the 2012 season has consisted of one disappointment after another. Jurrjens struggled through four April starts and, after losing his rotation spot and being demoted to the minor leagues, posted a 5.18 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in ten forgettable starts at Triple-A. The Braves recalled him in late June, and he made seven more appearances before hitting the disabled list with a strained right groin. In total, he has a 6.89 ERA with about as many strikeouts (19) as walks (18) in 48 1/3 innings at the MLB level this year.

Given that stat line, it’s not surprising to learn that Jurrjens’ stuff appears to be in decline. His average fastball velocity has declined for the fifth consecutive season and now sits at 88.6 mph, according to FanGraphs. And among pitchers with at least 40 innings this year, only Burke Badenhop, Bartolo Colon and Aaron Cook generate a lower percentage of swings and misses than Jurrjens, who induces swinging strikes on fewer than five pitches for every 100 thrown (4.6%). Simply put, hitters aren’t have any trouble connecting with his offerings. 

Jurrjens earns $5.5MM this year and is on track to go to arbitration for the third and final time this coming offseason. He projects to earn $5.9MM in 2013 if he continues pitching at the MLB level and the Braves tender him a contract, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz estimates. That would be a major commitment for a player who might not even make the Braves’ 2013 rotation, so the possibility of a non-tender looms despite his past contributions.

Though Jurrjens seems headed for free agency this winter, another option exists. There could be a team looking for pitching — the Royals, Rockies, Astros or Twins, perhaps — that would be willing to take a chance on a 26-year-old one year removed from an All-Star season. The Braves, who were said to be willing to listen on Jurrjens last offseason, wouldn’t get much in return this time. But it’s a possibility general manager Frank Wren will surely consider if it would allow the Braves to obtain something of value in return.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

NL East Notes: Sanchez, Victorino, Braves, Mets

The battle for the top spot in the National League East has quickly become a two-horse race given how teams have fared since returning from the All-Star break. Swept by the Dodgers in a three-game series this weekend, the Mets are now one game under .500 after losing eight of their last nine contests. New York is left looking up at the Braves and Nationals, who split a four game series with Atlanta at home. Here's the latest news and happenings from around the division…

  • The Marlins' Anibal Sanchez was being scouted today by the Tigers and Red Sox, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Sanchez took the loss against the Pirates but was impressive striking out eight while allowing only three runs in seven innings.
  • The Pirates see Shane Victorino as a perfect fit for their outfield, but not until the Phillies drop their asking price dramatically, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  • The Braves continue to be one of the teams courting the Cubs' Ryan Dempster. ESPN's Buster Olney wonders if Jair Jurrjens' poor outing today (six runs allowed, including two home runs, in 2 1/3 innings) will spur more talk between the Braves and Cubs (via Twitter).
  • The Mets will not become sellers at the trade deadline, despite their recent struggles, because they don't want to leave the clubhouse bare, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rubin adds the Mets could still be active at the deadline making lateral trades for MLB players under control in 2013 (via Twitter). 

Daniel Seco contributed to this post.