Jake Westbrook Rumors
The Cardinals have declined their half of the $9.5MM mutual option on Jake Westbrook's contract, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Westbrook will be paid a $1MM buyout.
The 36-year-old Westbrook posted a 4.63 ERA in 116 2/3 innings for the Cards this season, maintaining a strong ground-ball rate (56.3 percent) as has come to be expected of the veteran. However, his already low strikeout rate dropped, and he wound up posting a career-worst 44-to-50 K/BB ratio. The writing was on the wall for Westbrook, as he was left off the team's postseason roster.
Typically very durable, Westbrook also saw a pair of stints on the 15-day disabled list in 2013, missing a month with elbow inflammation and another two weeks with a strained lower back. Westbrook may be able to find a Major League deal this offseason in free agency based on his track record, but the two DL stints and the fact that he walked more batters than he struck out in 2013 would mean his guarantee would be just a fraction of this season's $8.75MM salary.
The Cardinals are well-equipped to move on from Westbrook, with Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Jaime Garcia all present as internal options for the starting rotation.
Yesterday, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the Indians were never close to giving Jose Dariel Abreu the kind of money he received from their intra-divisional rival, the White Sox. In other Tribe tidbits from Hoynes:
- Re-signing Matt Capps to a minor league deal is not an indication the Indians are going to part ways with closer Chris Perez. If tendered a contract by the Indians, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $9MM salary for the arbitration-eligible Perez. If Perez is traded or non-tendered, Hoynes names Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw as the best in-house replacements.
- Right-hander Jake Westbrook is definitely someone the Indians will keep an eye on this off-season, if healthy. The Cardinals are expected to decline their half of Westbrook's $9.5MM mutual option in favor of a $1MM buyout. The 36-year-old spent nine years in Cleveland before being acquired by the Cardinals at the 2010 Trade Deadline.
- Corey Hart is a tough fit for the Indians because his knee surgeries make it unlikely he can man the outfield and they already have Nick Swisher at first and Carlos Santana at DH. While the Indians have gambled on buy-low contracts for pitchers coming off an injury, Hoynes cannot recall such a deal for a position player. MLBTR's Steve Adams predicts the open market will bear a one-year, $8MM contract for Hart with an additional $2-4MM in incentives.
Hall of Fame and Cardinal icon Stan Musial passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Today, tributes are pouring in ranging from fans outside the Stan the Man statue at Busch Stadium (St. Louis Post-Dispatch video) to the White House (h/t MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch). Daniel Solzman of Redbirdrants.com even suggests the Cardinals name the playing field at Busch Stadium in honor of Musial. The Cardinals are holding their 17th annual fanfest this weekend and, while the Musial official memorabilia booth was closed today in tribute to the St. Louis legend, players still made their appearances and made some news.
- Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. says the club is prepared to increase payroll in the coming years, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goold adds the 2013 payroll is around $115MM.
- Adam Wainwright, who is entering the final year of his contract, admitted the Cardinals approached him about a contract extension during the final month of this past regular season, Goold reports. Wainwright said he wanted to focus on the playoff stretch and "it wasn’t going to hurt my case to just wait it out and see where some of these guys signed."
- On the upcoming Wainwright extension talks, Goold, within the same piece, quoted GM John Mozeliak as saying, "It’s going to be long. It’s going to be expensive."
- Wainwright has become a mentor to pitching prospect Shelby Miller, Goold writes in a separate article. Miller, who will compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, says he doesn't know what he was thinking last offseason when he "was trying to be a beach bod" with his workout regimen. Miller's performance suffered and the club questioned the right-hander's conditioning. Enter Wainwright who exchanged texts with Miller throughout the season and challenged him to reach training camp at a weight that would help his strength and durability.
- While Miller has gained enough pounds to reach his playing weight, Jake Westbrook's outlook on the offseason is to copy last year's regimen in hopes of slimming down, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. "It worked out so well last year that I thought I would just do it again," Westbrook said.
- The injury reports on Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Rafael Furcal are positive, according to Langosch.
- Mozeliak says second base is Daniel Descalso's "job to lose," but he is open-minded about Matt Carpenter making a push for playing time there, writes Langosch.
- Mike Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he only became the Cardinals' manager because of losses he sustained in a failed real estate venture. A Missouri judge recently ruled Matheny and his wife owe more than $4MM from that deal plus interest and court costs. Matheny will earn $750K in the final guaranteed year of his contract.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
The Nationals and Cardinals began their NLDS today, 79 years to the day of the last playoff game for a Washington franchise. The series will also feature the largest age gap between two managers facing off in the post-season (27 years and 235 days between 69-year-old Davey Johnson of the Nationals and 42-year-old Mike Matheny of the Cardinals), according to the Elias Sports Bureau via a tweet by ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Other notes and nuggets from the Senior Circuit:
- It is highly unlikely the Braves will attempt to sign Josh Hamilton because they typically don't pursue top-of-payscale free agents who come with questions, tweets the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien.
- Adrian Gonzalez told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he felt he struggled this season because he was "trying too hard." Gonzalez was even disappointed by his career-high 47 doubles. Also in the profile, the Dodger first baseman discussed the responsibility he feels as a Mexican-American athlete in a heavily Latino city.
- The Dodgers will continue to strengthen their starting rotation which could lead them to target Zack Greinke, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Cubs will need to acquire two or three starting pitchers merely to put a representative team on the field, opines Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Wittenmyer adds don't look for the Cubs to sign Greinke or Jake Peavy, as Shaun Marcum and Anibal Sanchez are more in line with the current front-office thinking.
- Jake Westbrook, rehabbing from discomfort in his right oblique, threw a bullpen session this morning and hopes to be available for bullpen duty if the Cardinals advance to the NLCS, reports MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch. The throwing schedule for Westbrook is fluid because he will be leaving the team after Game 2 to be with his wife, who is scheduled to be induced into labor for the birth of their fourth child on Thursday.
- The Cardinals will win the World Series in six games over the Tigers, predicts Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com in his playoff prognostication column.
The first Sunday of the new NFL season has not gone unnoticed by MLB players. The Cubs are celebrating by wearing a NFL jersey of their choice on their flight from Pittsburgh to Houston tonight, reports Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com. But, like their season, the idea wasn't without its pitfalls. While Floridian Anthony Rizzo (Dolphins), Baltimore native Steve Clevenger (Ravens), and Virginian Shawn Camp (Redskins) came prepared, others were left to the mercy of jersey shopping in Pittsburgh. So, newly acquired Jason Berken, a Packers season-ticker holder, had to settle for a Steelers jersey. Enough of the gridiron and back to the diamond:
- The Stephen Strasburg shutdown will test all of Nationals' intangibles: its confidence, cohesion, and just plain stubbornness, writes Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post.
- Jake Westbrook will miss his next start for the Cardinals with a right oblique injury. MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch reports Chris Carpenter is a possibility to replace Westbrook on Thursday. Carpenter, who has yet to pitch this year after undergoing surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder, is set to throw a simulatated game tomorrow, but Langosch says the team could switch the schedule should they want Carpenter to step in immediately.
- The Pirates are still developing their offseason plans for Gerrit Cole, the first overall selection in the 2011 draft, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Sulia). "We've got to spend some time with him and see where we can place him," Biertempfel quoted GM Neal Huntington as saying. Cole was roughed up in his final Triple-A start (eight runs in just two innings), but Huntingon was philosophical, "The biggest lesson is, Triple-A (batters) can hit 100 mph (pitches). If you keep coming with 100 mph, they're going to keep hitting it. You've got to use all your pitches. Things snowballed on him, things got a little quick for him. He's going to be better for it."
5:22pm: Westbrook will earn $8.75MM in 2013, while the 2014 mutual option is for $9.5MM with a $1MM buyout, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link).
4:04pm: The Cardinals announced that they have agreed to a contract extension with Jake Westbrook that will keep the right-hander off of the free agent market for at least one more year (Twitter link). The deal covers the 2013 season and adds a mutual option for 2014.
Westbrook's previous contract, a two-year, $16.5MM agreement signed following the 2010 season, included a $8.5MM mutual option for 2013. Shapiro, Robinson, & Associates represent Westbrook, who turns 35 next month.
Westbrook has started 24 games this year, posting a 3.50 ERA in 154 1/3 innings. His ground ball rate is characteristically high (59.2%) and his strikeout (5.5 K/9) and walk (2.4 BB/9) rates are right around his career averages. His average fastball checks in at 90.7 mph this year and he's generating slightly more swings and misses than usual (7.8%). The Cardinals acquired Westbrook two years ago in the three-team trade that sent Ryan Ludwick to the Padres.
Westbrook projects to join Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and, the Cardinals hope, Chris Carpenter in St. Louis' rotation next year. Kyle Lohse is on track to hit free agency this coming offseason.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
Cardinals righty Jake Westbrook "fully intends on exercising his half of mutual option for '13" after the season, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but the pitcher has no idea what the Cardinals will do. Westbrook's contract, signed in November of 2010, includes an $8.5MM mutual option for 2013 with a $1MM buyout if the club declines and no buyout if the player declines.
Given Westbrook's solid 2012 performance, this could be one of the rare mutual options where both sides are exercised. The 34-year-old owns a 3.61 ERA, 5.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.57 HR/9, and 57.7% groundball rate in 127 innings this year.
The baseball world figures to remain relatively quietly until after the New Year, but as Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes, there is still a lot of work to be done before the season begins. Let's round up Morosi's rumors...
- The Blue Jays are saying they will not give a hitter a contract of more than five guaranteed years, though they'll likely have to violate that policy if they want to sign Prince Fielder.
- The Brewers, Cubs, Nationals, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Rays, and Pirates are all considering non-Fielder upgrades at first base. Carlos Pena, Casey Kotchman, and Derrek Lee remain unsigned, among others.
- Some within the game believe that Joakim Soria and Carlos Marmol could be had at the right price. The Cubbies are said to be planning a "complete and total rebuild."
- Both Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook remain available, and the Rangers may be willing to trade Matt Harrison for a more established starter.
- Most believe Yoenis Cespedes will sign for more than the $30.25MM Aroldis Chapman received because as a position player, he carried less risk. A larger number of interested teams and the new collective bargaining agreement will also help his cause.
Some links as Tuesday turns into Wednesday...
- The Red Sox have not yet made catcher and captain Jason Varitek a contract offer, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Boston added Kelly Shoppach to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway on Tuesday, a move that likely spelled the end of Varitek's time with the Sox.
- There are clubs with interest in trading for both Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey and others with interest in both Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado, but Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the Athletics and Braves are likely to deal their players separately to maximize the return. Rosenthal and Morosi note that the Braves and Orioles have discussed a deal that included both Jurrjens and Prado.
- Interest in free agent closer Francisco Cordero has slowed down, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). His market could hinge on how clubs fill their other roster holes.
- The Pirates still have interest in first baseman Derrek Lee even after trading for Casey McGehee, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (on Twitter). Bringing Lee back at first base would allow them to use McGehee at the hot corner with Pedro Alvarez.
- Heyman hears that the Angels put a deadline on their ten-year, $254MM offer to Albert Pujols (Twitter link). The deal did seem to come together very quickly Wednesday night into Thursday morning last week.
- The Rockies do have some money to spend according to Heyman (on Twitter). In addition to Carlos Beltran and Michael Cuddyer, they also have interest in Hiroki Kuroda, Joe Saunders, and various trade targets.
- Morosi says (on Twitter) that Andruw Jones could also be an option for the Rockies if Beltran and Cuddyer sign elsewhere.
- The Cardinals' interest in pitching upgrades is "understated," reports Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Both Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook remain on the trade block.
- The Yokohama Bay Stars have released right-hander Hiroki Sanada so that he may pursue a deal in MLB according to a report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. No teams bid on Sanada when he was posted last week.
- The Astros and Rays are possibilities for Ivan Rodriguez, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Though the Mets have discussed Rodriguez, they’re leaning toward relying on Mike Nickeas as their backup to starter Josh Thole.
- MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner says the Joint Drug Agreement should provide Ryan Braun with privacy and fair proceedings. “I urge all to reserve judgment on this matter until the JDA's process has played itself out," Weiner said in a statement.
Derrick Goold and Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have a round-up of what the Cardinals could be planning now that Albert Pujols has left town...
- The Cardinals "have explored what the market is" for Carlos Beltran. Beltran would see most of his playing time in center field, since Allen Craig is slated to be the everyday right fielder.
- Jimmy Rollins' desire for a five-year contract will probably keep the Cards out of the bidding unless Rollins is willing to accept a shorter-term deal. The team is still talking to Rafael Furcal and would like to bring back Nick Punto as a veteran backup, should the Cardinals decide to look within and give Tyler Greene a shot at the everyday shortstop job.
- The team is looking for a left-handed reliever and have spoken to representatives for Mike Gonzalez and J.C. Romero.
- The planned $110MM payroll for 2012 won't be lowered because Pujols is gone, said GM John Mozeliak.
- In regards to the Jake Westbrook/Kyle Lohse trade rumors, Mozeliak said no deals materialized and one of the starters would be dealt only if the Cards need to "reallocate" some money towards another move.