James McDonald Rumors
8:38pm: McDonald will earn $3.025MM while Walker's deal is worth $3.3MM, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (Twitter link).
5:58pm: The Pirates have agreed to new contracts with right-hander James McDonald and second baseman Neil Walker, avoiding arbitration with the two players, MLB.com's Tom Singer reports (Twitter link). Both players were arb-eligible for the first time and are both are represented by Hendricks Sports.
McDonald, 28, held a 2.37 ERA through his first 17 starts in 2012 but a 7.52 ERA in his 13 outings and was even sent to the bullpen by season's end. Since coming to the Pirates from the Dodgers in July 2010, McDonald has a 4.10 ERA, 2.07 K/BB ratio and a 7.8 K/9 rate in 72 games, all but one a start. McDonald was looking for a $3.4MM salary while the Bucs countered with a $2.65MM offer.
Walker's contract will pay him in the neighborhood of $3.25MM in 2013, as Singer reports (Twitter link) that Walker will get around $300K more than what other arb-eligible second baseman like Daniel Murphy, Gordon Beckham and Ryan Roberts received from their teams. Walker wanted a $3.6MM deal while the Pirates offered him a $3MM contract, so he should end up with around the midpoint between the two figures.
Like McDonald, Walker also had a roller-coaster of a season, posting a .648 OPS through May, then a .933 OPS over his next 52 games that included a whopping 1.097 OPS in July. The Pittsburgh native fell off again down the stretch, due in part to a herniated disc in his back. The Pirates discussed a long-term extension with Walker last offseason and could revisit the subject during Spring Training. Walker, 27, has three more arb-eligible years left as a Super Two player.
As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, the Pirates have now come to terms with all of their arbitration-eligible players.
The Brewers continue their push for the second NL Wild Card spot as they look to win their series against Mets this afternoon at Miller Park. However, they will have to do so without Corey Hart. Hart has been sidelined for the last six games since he partially tore the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot, in his left foot a week ago. Hart did running drills this morning, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, and all did not go well. Hart, who was able to run in a straight line but suffered discomfort when making stops and turns, said, "It’s a little frustrating. Today was the first day I tried to run the bases, and it didn’t go as planned.” Elsewhere from the NL Central:
- The Cardinals, currently tied with the Dodgers for the final NL Wild Card berth, may receive a boost from Chris Carpenter, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Carpenter threw a 90-pitch simulated game yesterday and manager Mike Matheny suggested only a poor recovery from the session could derail his return to the active roster sometime next week.
- In a separate piece, Strauss suggests the 2013 Cardinals will look remarkably similar to this year's version.
- The Pirates can blame their second-half swoon on their pitching, writes John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times. The Pirates have shaken up their rotation by replacing James McDonald with Kyle McPherson.
- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel, the team will not be going to a six-man rotation. Hurdle informed Jeff Karstens today management wants to see the right-hander work out of the bullpen before considering putting him back into the rotation.
Clayton Kershaw's salary jumped from $500K to $7.5MM this year, and it wasn't just because of his Cy Young performance. Kershaw qualified for arbitration for the first time in his career over the winter, so he obtained the right to establish his salary by comparing his production to that of his peers.
Though $7MM raises are reserved for elite performers like Kershaw, many first-time eligible starting pitchers will see their salaries rise from $500K or so to $2-4.5MM this coming offseason. A player’s case depends in large part on his career numbers, but his most recent season, or platform year, matters a great deal.
Advanced statistics like xFIP, wins above replacement and swinging strike rate don't generally figure in to arbitration cases. Instead, traditional stats such as innings, starts, wins and ERA determine players' salaries.
With one third of the season now complete, let’s check in on the prominent starting pitchers on track to be first-time arbitration eligible this coming offseason:
Injuries have limited Jhoulys Chacin, Doug Fister, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson and Neftali Feliz. All of these pitchers are on the disabled list, none of them are on pace to complete 150 innings, and three of them -- Estrada, Fister and Chacin -- remain winless.
Phil Humber and Tommy Hunter have stayed healthy, but they’re off to disappointing starts that include losing records and ERAs above 5.50. The homer-prone Hunter is pitching at Triple-A, and could soon be recalled. The collective bargaining recognizes special accomplishments, and Humber's perfect game definitely qualifies, so his representatives at Moye Sports Associates could play it up should the sides go to a hearing. Yet there's no clear conversion rate in place to help value Humber's perfecto.
Brian Matusz and Ross Detwiler both spent considerable time in the minor leagues last year, but they've responded with solid seasons to date. Both will head to arbitration with losing records, however, and Matusz's career ERA sits at 5.32.
Bud Norris, Ian Kennedy, Tommy Hanson, Mat Latos and, to a lesser extent, Mike Leake all entered the season with the bulk innings totals that often lead to generous salaries in arbitration. All five pitchers continue piling up innings, though Leake, Latos and Norris have ERAs above 4.50. The pitchers in this group figure to be compared against one another over and over this coming winter.
Former top prospects Jeff Samardzija and James McDonald (pictured) are enjoying breakout seasons. Both right-handers have career-best walk rates and are averaging one strikeout per inning. If they can keep this up -- or at least come reasonably close to doing so -- their paychecks will reflect the improvements in 2013 and beyond. Unfortunately for Samardzija, starters Rick Porcello and David Price didn't seem to be able to use their generous pre-arbitration salaries to boost their arbitration earnings this past offseason, so his current $2.64MM salary probably won't help much.
It's early enough for the fortunes of these pitchers to change dramatically. Feliz could return to the bullpen, Fister could replicate last year's second half success, or Samardzija could regress. But, ten-plus starts into the season, these pitchers' platform seasons have started taking shape.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire. Stats via Baseball-Reference.com. Note that Derek Holland and Jonathon Niese signed extensions covering what would have been their first arb years. Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Hudson are expected to fall just shy of super two eligibility, though that's not official.
Links for Thursday night..
- While I wondered if the Braves could be a match for the Cardinals as they look for pitching, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggests that the Rockies could be a match. A major league source told Rosenthal that the Cards will first explore internal options before looking out-of-house.
- Commissioner Bud Selig has rejected a proposal under which FOX would have loaned about $200MM to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, three people familiar with the talks told Bill Shaikin of the LA Times.
- Ex-Giant Juan Uribe is happy to be aboard with the Dodgers, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Former Dodgers pitcher James McDonald is excited to turn over a new leaf with the Pirates, writes Evan Drellich of MLB.com. McDonald was shipped to Pittsburgh along with Andrew Lambo for Octavio Dotel last season.
- Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard says that he will continue to be represented by agent Casey Close, who is leaving CAA Sports, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- Brewers right-handers Justin James and Shaun Marcum were drafted by Toronto in the same year but took very different paths to wind up in Milwaukee, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. James claimed off waivers by the Brewers from the A's this offseason.
Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette touched on several Buc-related hot stove topics in an online chat with fans. Here are a few of the highlights...
- If the Pirates make any significant winter moves, Kovacevic thinks "there's a better chance that you'll see money invested in pitching than in offense," both because Pittsburgh has more of a pressing need for quality arms and since finding pitching help could be easier. Kovacevic notes, however, that GM Neal Huntington needs to work at "upgrading the team's mechanisms for finding real pitching talents."
- Speaking of acquiring pitching, Kovacevic calls the deal that brought James McDonald and Andrew Lambo to Pittsburgh for Octavio Dotel "outstanding." McDonald has a 3.49 ERA and 2.44 K/BB ratio in eight starts since joining the Bucs.
- The Pirates may be in the market for a right handed-hitting first baseman or right fielder to be a platoon partner for Garrett Jones. Kovacevic's Post-Gazette colleague Chuck Finder reported over the weekend that the team was no longer looking at Jones as an everyday player.
- Kovacevic believes that Ryan Doumit's starts in right field over the last two months have been intended to showcase Doumit for a potential trade. Doumit is slated to earn $5.1MM next season, the third-highest salary of any player projected to be on the 2011 roster (behind Chris Snyder and Paul Maholm).
Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports that "there are strong indications" that the Dodgers have been given the go-ahead from owner Frank McCourt to add to the team payroll (if necessary) at the trade deadline. We heard earlier today that the Dodgers have $2-3MM "to play with" in terms of adding salary, but it's unknown as to whether or not this additional bump can account for an acquisition that doesn't move another major-league salary off of the roster.
Jackson lists several starters and relievers whom the Dodgers have shown some degree of interest in: Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Dan Haren, Ted Lilly, Paul Maholm, Roy Oswalt and Ben Sheets. Jackson notes that Lilly and Maholm are both around the bottom of Los Angeles' wish list, and he notes the major payroll increases that would be necessary if Oswalt or Haren were acquired. Given McCourt's ongoing financial issues stemming from his divorce, it's safe to presume that whatever payroll increase the owner agrees to might be a short-term one for the rest of this season, rather than a multi-year commitment to a Haren or an Oswalt.
In terms of what prospects the Dodgers would have to give up to acquire any of these pitchers, Jackson says that shortstop Dee Gordon and righties Ethan Martin and Chris Withrow (the top position and pitching prospects, respectively, in the L.A. system) "are unlikely" to be dealt. Aaron Miller, however, is singled out as being "a hot commodity" apart from some other minor-leaguers that are attracting the interest of other teams. Miller, a southpaw taken 36th overall in the 2009 amateur draft, has a 3.10 ERA and a 9.9 K/9 ratio in just over a year as a professional and is currently pitching at Double-A.
While GM Ned Colletti says that "pitching continues to be our priority," he also noted that the Dodgers might look to acquire an outfielder in the wake of injuries to Manny Ramirez and Reed Johnson. Fanhouse.com's Ed Price reports (via Twitter) that the Rays have "some interest" in Dodgers right-hander James McDonald and speculates that B.J. Upton could be a potential trade target if Los Angeles really wants to make a splash in its outfield. Obviously, given that the Rays have said that they aren't "selling low" on Upton, L.A. would need to add much more than just McDonald to the trade package.
The front of the Dodgers' rotation is pretty well set, with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, and Vicente Padilla set to occupy the first four spots. There's no shortage of candidates for that fifth spot, but as Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times notes, most of the contenders have unfavorable contract situations.
Eric Stults and Charlie Haeger are both out of options, Carlos Monasterios is a Rule 5 pick, and both Ramon and Russ Ortiz are believed to have out clauses in their contracts. The one rotation candidate that doesn't have any strings attached is James McDonald, but it doesn't help that he has a 20.25 ERA and a 3.56 WHIP in just over five innings this spring. Regardless of who LA picks for that last spot, there's a chance they'll lose some depth as the other guys succumb to roster limitations.
Let's open this one up for discussion. Who do you think the Dodgers should put in their last rotation spot, and what should they do with the other players? Essentially your choices are a) put them in the bullpen, or b) risk losing them to waivers/out clause/Rule 5 rules. Here are the Spring Training stats, not that they mean anything.
Today was hectic, but imagine how much wilder it would have been if these two deals had gone through:
- Via Twitter, Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Padres almost dealt Heath Bell and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers for James Loney, Russell Martin, Blake DeWitt, James McDonald and Ivan Dejesus. Wow.
- Danny Knobler of CBS Sports confirms that the division rivals considered a blockbuster deal involving those players.
- Knobler also says the Rangers and Angels both pursued Heath Bell aggressively this afternoon. The Angels and Padres were discussing Jose Arredondo, Sean O'Sullivan and Sean Rodriguez.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin says his team was involved in a "big one that didn't happen," according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- The Crew also had interest in Jarrod Washburn and Brian Bannister.
- Melvin says everyone asked the Brewers for Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar. Since the Brewers didn't want to deal either prospect and don't have the young pitching to offer rival teams, they had limited options.
5:07pm: Ricciardi tells Ed Price of AOL FanHouse that he's not ruling out a trade. "We're waiting 'til 4 o'clock tomorrow," Ricciardi said.
4:23pm: Jack Curry of the New York Times has additional comments from Ricciardi on Halladay:
"We've got nothing going on. We expect him to be with us."
The Phillies are out, and the other suitors failed to wow Ricciardi.
3:19pm: Rosenthal and Morosi say the Dodgers have enough in their system to make a competitive offer for Halladay, even after acquiring Sherrill. And for Evan Grant's thoughts on the Rangers and Halladay, click here.
However, in another entry Rosenthal and Morosi talk to J.P. Ricciardi and label the Halladay sweepstakes "all but over." Ricciardi's comments indicate the same. Toronto's GM seems intent on keeping Scott Rolen, Marco Scutaro, and others if Doc stays.
2:23pm: Morosi says Halladay is looking unlikely for the Angels, who shot down a Toronto proposal that included Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar, and Brandon Wood.
The Halos are also looking for bullpen help, with names such as Heath Bell and George Sherrill in play (their offer for Mike Wuertz fell short).
1:26pm: Rosenthal and Morosi have a source saying things are "very quiet" on the Halladay front. Still, the Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Rays, and Red Sox remain interested.
1:14pm: Yahoo's Tim Brown sees the Dodgers and Red Sox as the frontrunners for Doc in what is shaping up as a two-team race. Brown says the only Major Leaguer in the Dodgers' offer is James McDonald, while the Sox will part with Clay Buchholz, one of Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden, and Lars Anderson, and some lesser prospects. My guess is that the Red Sox find a way to get this done, given the quality they're already offering. ESPN's Jayson Stark says one Dodgers prospect who is off-limits is shortstop Devaris Gordon.
Meanwhile, Lynn Henning of the Detroit News says the Jays wanted Rick Porcello, Ryan Perry, and Casey Crosby from the Tigers for Halladay. Henning says the Tigers bowed out upon that request. Henning adds that the Tigers would consider adding Adam Dunn or Josh Willingham but the price is steep on the sluggers as well.
12:59pm: A Rosenthal/Morosi source with knowledge of the Jays' thinking discusses a package of Dodgers minor leaguers that could catch Toronto's attention in a Halladay deal.
12:21pm: Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal sees the Dodgers in the lead for Halladay, with the Rangers in the mix and talks with Boston calming down.
9:09am: Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe feels the chances of the Red Sox acquiring Halladay are "remote," and believes that Boston has yet to increase their initial offer for him. And in an earlier column, Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald said the Blue Jays and Red Sox have not been in contact over the last three days.
7:55am: We'll start with a review of yesterday's Roy Halladay rumors. The Phillies acquired Cliff Lee instead, cutting into J.P. Ricciardi's leverage for Doc. Ricciardi now has the Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Dodgers, and possibly Angels and Rays to work with. The Blue Jays' GM is thinking about keeping Halladay for 2010, based on his comments to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. On to a few new links...
- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi at FOX Sports say the Jays are not requiring the Dodgers to include Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley. Instead, they'd just take five or six of the team's top prospects.
- Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News say Ricciardi is trying to get the Yankees and Red Sox into a bidding war. Kind of cliche, J.P. The authors imply the Yanks may be more focused Jarrod Washburn, who obviously wouldn't require as big a bounty.
- Halladay's plan for today, according to Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer - lock himself in his hotel room. Might want to unplug the TV and disable the Internet. Doc is understandably drained from pitching last night amid all the rumors.
They're 15-8, in first place in the NL West, but the Dodgers face questions about a rotation that includes three ERAs of 5.50 or more. Behind Chad Billingsley and Randy Wolf, they have Clayton Kershaw, who hasn't pitched out the the fifth inning his last two starts, James McDonald, who has walked a batter an inning this year, and Eric Stults, who's allowing two baserunners an inning. Yahoo's Tim Brown takes stock of the rotation and how Ned Colletti will progress with it.
- Brown says it's unlikely the Dodgers will add Pedro Martinez, Paul Byrd, Odalis Perez or Freddy Garcia.
- One scout's analysis: "There's plenty of pitching available. None you'd want."
- Brown suggests the Dodgers need a club like the Indians, Reds or Mariners to fall from contention so some quality arms become available.
- If David Price pitches his way into the Rays' rotation, Jeff Niemann could become trade bait.