James Loney Rumors
The Dodgers avoided arbitration with first baseman James Loney on a deal worth $6.375MM plus performance bonuses, according to his agency CAA. Clayton Kershaw is the team's lone remaining arbitration eligible player.
T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times talked to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti; here's the latest:
- Simers writes that "Frank McCourt has told Colletti that he will have the money needed to sign Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to long-term contracts this off-season as well as the money required to compete in the free-agent market." Simers suggests one way to pull this off would be to engineer lower 2012 salaries for the players, but that'd happen naturally since all three are arbitration eligible. If they go through the arbitration process, Matt Swartz's work for MLBTR suggests salaries of $15.1MM for Kemp, $7.7MM for Kershaw if he wins the Cy Young, and $11.8MM for Ethier.
- Colletti told Simers James Loney has eased his concerns, but the team needs another bat. Strong work in the season's final two months has pushed Loney to a .287/.339/.412 line, which could lead to the Dodgers tendering him a contract. Earlier this month, Colletti talked about improving the Dodgers' offense in the "most dramatic way."
- Colletti hopes to add a veteran reliever, but not a closer. He expects to go with a combination of Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra for the ninth inning next year. For all the latest on closing situations, be sure to check out CloserNews.com.
Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times has a slew of information from Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti regarding the team's offseason plans. Colletti feels that his team's pitching and defense have been sufficient, but that the offense is lacking and needs to be bolstered:
"I say the most dramatic way we can improve the offense, that would be the way we would go," Colletti said.
Obviously, that could be an allusion to Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, but the Dodgers' uncertain ownership and financial situations make a signing of that magnitude a stretch. Dilbeck points out that Colletti has never signed a player to a $100MM+ deal, and that Kevin Brown is the only player in Dodgers' history to receive such a contract. At the same time, however, Dilbeck also notes that the Dodgers do have $25MM in contracts coming off the books, so a run at one of the Top 2 free agents isn't necessarily unfathomable.
In the likely event that neither player comes to the Dodgers, Colletti says that James Loney is someone they'd "love to have back." Loney's overall numbers don't appear all that productive, but he's batting .355/.435/.653 with seven homers in his last 37 games. A strong finish could persuade the Dodgers to bring him back, although doing so would require giving him a raise on this year's $4.875MM salary -- a risk given Loney's mostly underwhelming numbers.
Colletti also mentions re-signing Hiroki Kuroda as a priority; even if they were to retain Kuroda though, they'd require a fifth starter. Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland can both be candidates, and of course the free agent market figures to offer plenty of low-budget reclamation projects that could be brought in to fill that role as well.
Beyond that, role players such as Tony Gwynn Jr., Casey Blake, Aaron Miles, and Juan Rivera may all return "in the right situation." For what it's worth, Gwynn told Dilbeck's colleague Jim Peltz that he hopes to return to the Dodgers next season.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti looked ahead to the 2012 season and discussed some of his winter priorities with MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. The highlights....
- Colletti said the team won't undergo any major changes, noting that the Dodgers can contend as long as the offense is consistent. Indeed, L.A. is 30-21 since the All-Star break, with Juan Rivera providing the club with an offensive spark.
- Colletti hasn't yet discussed next year's payroll with owner Frank McCourt, which the GM noted is "not unusual" given that it's still in early September.
- "Up there in the top echelon of priorities" is signing Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to multiyear extensions. We heard earlier today from Dave Stewart, Kemp's agent, that the Dodgers hadn't yet broached the subject of a long-term deal with his client.
- Clayton Kershaw could also be an extension candidate but, as Colletti said, "it's less a priority for somebody with three years of arbitration." Kershaw is due for a big pay raise this winter as he enters the arbitration process for the first time.
- If Hiroki Kuroda doesn't return to Japan, Colletti said the Dodgers would be interested in bringing the right-hander back to Los Angeles.
- James Loney's recent hot streak is "more indicative of him and how he's hit the rest of his career," said Colletti. Loney has long been considered a non-tender candidate this winter since he's due a raise to around $6MM through arbitration and has a .711 OPS on the season, though he has a .382/.450/.629 line over his last 27 games.
- "It's never been easy to build through free agency and I really don't like to do it," Colletti said. "We do it when pressed, when we don't have a player coming through the system or on the Major League roster, but it's always more precarious than developing or trading." That said, the GM didn't totally rule out the prospect of signing a big-hitting free agent like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder.
Let's take a look at a few items out of the NL West..
- Andre Ethier backed off the comments he made suggesting that the team was pushing him to play injured, writes MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Ethier expressed his desire to stay in Los Angeles, and GM Ned Colletti said that Ethier has not requested a trade. Colletti hopes he can extend Ethier.
- Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times wonders if a strong finish could save James Loney's career with the Dodgers. Loney is making $4.785MM this year as he enters his final year of arbitration. The 27-year-old wants to return to the club but is likely due for a raise that would put him in the neighborhood of $6MM.
- The Dodgers will also see Andre Ethier enter his final year of arbitration this winter. Ethier is battling an injury to his right knee that will require surgery in the offseason, but the team is oddly pushing him to play, writes T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times. General Manager Ned Colletti admitted that the outfielder's poor second-half performance could be slightly advantageous for the club in arbitration.
- The Rockies have other holes to fill as well, but look for them to prioritize starting pitching this winter, writes Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
On this date in 1948, the Brooklyn Dodgers acquired announcer Ernie Harwell from the Atlanta Crackers for catcher Cliff Dapper in an unconventional trade that the Dodgers won easily. Here's the latest on L.A.'s two teams...
- James Loney tells Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that he loves playing for the Dodgers and hopes the team wants him back in 2012. The first baseman is under team control next year, but would earn a raise from $4.875MM if the Dodgers offer arbitration, which makes him a prime non-tender candidate.
- Clayton Kershaw was the National League's pitcher of the month in July and his season numbers are now more impressive than ever. The 23-year-old has a 2.68 ERA with a league-leading 177 strikeouts, a career-best rate of 2.3 BB/9 and a career-best 13 wins. It should all translate into a salary of $5MM or more next year, when Kershaw is arbitration eligible for the first time.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins tells Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times that having lots of powerful bats at first base is a "good problem." Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo and C.J. Cron give the Angels an abundance of power at first base and Reagins says situations like this "have a way of working themselves out."
- The Angels are considering replacing the struggling Joel Pineiro in the rotation, according to Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com (on Twitter). It's not clear whether the Angels will look to the bullpen, the minors or outside of the organization.
The trade market is still developing at this point in the season, but it’s starting to take shape. Buster Olney outlines the plans for National League teams in a highly recommended insider-only piece at ESPN.com. Here are the details:
- The Dodgers can’t make long-term investments in young stars like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw because of their uncertain financial status. The Los Angeles front office is now gathering information about some of their trade candidates and taking calls on some players. No teams have called on Jamey Carroll yet, though the Rockies are interested.
- James Loney and Casey Blake have next to no trade value, as Olney explains.
- No team has called about Jose Reyes, who won’t be traded for anything less than a top prospect and a solid secondary prospect.
- Rival executives expect the Phillies to acquire proven veterans this summer.
- Though the Astros will listen to offers on Hunter Pence and Wandy Rodriguez, they will be asking a lot for them.
- The Braves are checking out available hitters. Some rival executives have speculated on the possibility that the Braves will consider trading Jair Jurrjens, whose stock has never been higher.
- Some rival executives think B.J. Upton will be a borderline non-tender candidate this offseason. Upton will earn a raise from $4.825MM next year and he currently has a .223/.308/.396 line with 20 steals. I can’t envision the Rays non-tendering Upton, who would presumably have trade value if Tampa made him available.
- The Padres have told teams that they’re ready to take offers for Heath Bell and Mike Adams. Rival clubs believe Adams will be harder to obtain than Ryan Ludwick.
- The Rockies will wait a few weeks before deciding whether to buy or sell.
- The Giants are looking for catching help and Ramon Hernandez is a possible upgrade, as I explained earlier in the week.
- The Reds are concerned about starting pitching and will consider making moves for upgrades at left field or shortstop. Though rival teams don’t expect Reyes to end up in Cincinnati, GM Walt Jocketty may be aggressive enough to make a deal happen.
- GM Jim Hendry says there won’t be a fire sale, but the Cubs are “open for business,” Olney reports. Jeff Baker and Kerry Wood are “among the most coveted players in the trade market,” since they’re cheap and useful. Rival executives have mixed opinions about Carlos Pena, who is powerful but streaky.
- Wood is near the top of Arizona’s list of targets.
- The 40-39 Pirates will look for modest ways to improve and won’t be selling.
Pablo Sandoval has catching experience, but the Giants won’t attempt to re-position him behind the plate when he returns from the disabled list, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Here’s Heyman’s latest from around the league:
- Mets minority owner David Einhorn is expected to have a say in major team decisions, though he won’t have the final call. If the Wilpons have to sell the team, Einhorn will have the first opportunity to buy it.
- The Dodgers have not explored possible trades for Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp and rival teams haven’t called to express interest in the outfielders, according to Heyman. The Dodgers would like to lock both up long-term instead of allowing them to hit the open market after next year.
- One Dodger who won’t be getting a long-term contract offer: James Loney. The first baseman is a likely non-tender after the season, according to executives around the league.
- The Rangers are looking for a reliever and would prefer a right-hander. Heyman hears they’ll consider Francisco Rodriguez of the Mets.
- The Cubs don’t plan to exercise Aramis Ramirez’s $16MM option for 2012, according to Heyman.
On November 2nd of last year I listed 85 non-tender candidates, most of whom were indeed cut loose. Almost five months have passed since the December non-tender deadline, and I'd like to revisit five of those decisions.
- Kevin Kouzmanoff, tendered a contract by the Athletics. The A's certainly shopped around for third base alternatives after tendering a contract to Kouzmanoff, which ended up being for $4.75MM. So far the third baseman has again been part of the problem, though he's not alone as the team ranks 11th in the AL with 3.63 runs scored per game. There weren't many alternatives for the A's this offseason, but they probably should have saved Kouzmanoff's money for a trade deadline addition. They'll still be able to pursue someone, though.
- James Loney, tendered a contract by the Dodgers. Loney is already on notice with the Dodgers given the arrival of Jerry Sands. Loney settled for a predictable $4.875MM salary for 2011. Sands doesn't actually project to do any better than Loney, but the two are close enough that the Dodgers probably should have traded Loney and used the money elsewhere.
- Russell Martin, non-tendered by the Dodgers. According to Yahoo's Steve Henson, Martin wanted a guaranteed $5.5MM rather than the Dodgers' offer of $4.2MM. GM Ned Colletti made the difficult decision to non-tender Martin, but kept the offer on the table while suggesting a possible super-utility role. Martin ended up taking less guaranteed money to start at catcher for the Yankees, and he's off to a great start. The Dodgers could have forced Martin's hand by tendering a contract and arguing for a pay cut through arbitration. That would have been a risky choice, and Martin's health was a concern at the time, so I can't fault the Dodgers for non-tendering him.
- Bobby Jenks, non-tendered by the White Sox. Non-tendering Jenks was the right move given his $7.5MM salary, and the pitcher understood that decision according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin. However, Jenks and the Sox were not on the same page about the team's desire to retain him and confidence in his abilities, so he signed with Boston. The White Sox lead baseball with six blown saves, but it was still best for them to part ways with Jenks.
- Brandon McCarthy, outrighted by the Rangers in November. If they had retained McCarthy, the Rangers probably would have had to pay him something similar to last year's $1.3MM salary rather than the $1MM he received from the A's. McCarthy has looked good so far, though it's only been three starts. The Rangers are second in the AL in starter ERA without McCarthy. Still, given the strong offseason interest in him I think it would have been best to tender a contract and shop him around.
The Dodgers avoided arbitration with James Loney, agreeing to a one-year, $4.875MM deal, according to CAA, the first baseman's agency on Twitter. As MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows, Loney had filed for $5.25MM while the Dodgers offered $4.7MM.
Loney posted a .267/.329/.395 line last year. He doesn't have much power for a first baseman - his career-high in homers is 15 - but the former first rounder has been durable enough to stay on the field for 158 games or more from 2008-10. That consistency, plus Loney's RBI totals (he has 88 or more in each of the past three seasons) no doubt helped him negotiate with the Dodgers.
The sides settled slightly below the midpoint, but Loney will earn more than comparable players Kevin Kouzmanoff, Corey Hart and B.J. Upton did for their second year of arbitration eligibility, as CAA points out. Loney's relatively high salary makes him a non-tender candidate for the 2011-12 offseason, though the Dodgers can retain him through arbitration if they so choose.