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Jason Frasor Rumors
The Braves have released righty Jason Frasor, as reflected on the MLB.com transactions page and as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirms (on Twitter). Frasor was signed by Atlanta in mid-July after being released by the Royals.
Though he just turned 38, Frasor had no trouble keeping runs off the board this season. All said, he made it through 28 frames while allowing just four earned runs on 27 hits. But he walked 18 batters to go with his 22 strikeouts, which was likely the reason he was sent packing by a contending Kansas City organization.
Frasor has been on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder since early August. It’s not clear whether he’ll attempt to hook on with another team now or wait until the coming offseason to ramp back up.
The Braves will sign free agent reliever Jason Frasor, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. The Royals recently released the 37-year-old righty, who drew fairly wide interest upon hitting the market.
Frasor worked to a 1.54 ERA in his 23 1/3 innings on the season, and his fastball velocity is even up a shade over last year, but his bottom-line results were not quite supported by the peripherals. He walked 15 batters (against 18 strikeouts) over that span. And ERA estimators were down on his contributions, with SIERA valuing those innings at a decidedly negative 4.71 mark.
Of course, Frasor has had better overall numbers in the not-so-distant past. He was outstanding down the stretch and in the postseason for the Royals last year, and ended the 2014 campaign with a 2.66 ERA and 8.8 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 to go with a 46.9% groundball rate.
Atlanta has experienced rather pronounced struggles in its pen this year, and currently carries the league’s second-worst bullpen ERA (just ahead of the Coors Field-challenged Rockies). And the second-half outlook is even worse, now that the team’s best reliever — closer Jason Grilli, who had been outstanding — is shelved for the season.
Frasor won’t replace, Grilli, of course, but he will offer some promise of quality innings for a shallow pen. It’s not a move intended to push the team over the top, but it does improve the outlook at a minimal cost: the remainder of the league minimum annual salary, per David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter).
The addition will also provide the organization with flexibility in managing its younger arms. And it doesn’t hurt, of course, that Frasor fits the sturdy veteran mold that John Hart & Co. have relied upon in building out their roster.
8:05pm: The Red Sox, too, are interested in Frasor, a source tells WEEI.com’s John Tomase. The Sox are currently sorting through options to improve a bullpen that has lacked reliable options behind Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, Tomase notes, and Frasor is among the considerations.
5:08pm: The Mariners are “taking a hard look” at right-hander Jason Frasor, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Frasor became a free agent earlier this week after he was designated for assignment by the Royals and opted for free agency.
As Dutton writes, manager Lloyd McClendon recently expressed displeasure with the performance of his team’s right-handed relievers. McClendon noted that much attention is paid to the club’s anemic offense, but the team had offensive struggles in 2014 as well. A lack of quality right-handed relief options, in McClendon’s estimation, has been a significant detriment to the team’s success. “In my opinion, the biggest disappointment to date has been the right-handers we’ve had to shift in and out of our bullpen to try to bridge the gap,” said McClendon.
Seattle has indeed seen its shares of struggles in the bullpen. Danny Farquhar, Tom Wilhelmsen, Yoervis Medina and Dominic Leone were standout performers in 2014, but neither has performed well in 2015. The 28-year-old Farquhar’s velocity and strikeout rates have plummeted, while his walk and home run rates have both soared. The result has been a 6.23 ERA — more than three full runs higher than his 2.66 mark from 2015. Wilhelmsen’s ERA has more than doubled, though it’s at least worth noting that his strikeout and walk rates have improved; he, however, has been plagued by a BABIP north of .400 and a fluky strand rate. Medina and Leone have both been traded this season after their own struggles. None of the four is presently in the Major Leagues.
Also of note regarding the Mariners’ bullpen struggles is the collapse of 2014 closer Fernando Rodney. The veteran has long had control issues, but in his best years they’ve been masked somewhat by a hefty strikeout rate. That hasn’t been the case for Rodney this season, as he’s posted a dreadful 5.50 ERA with just 7.0 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9. The 38-year-old has also been more homer-prone than usual.
Overall, the Mariners have received a collective 3.81 ERA from their bullpen, which ranks just 22nd in the Majors. Sabermetrics don’t paint any rosier of a picture, as FIP (3.81), xFIP (3.85) and SIERA (3.54) all feel that the production has been mediocre, at best, relative to the rest of the bullpens in the league. Rookie Carson Smith, journeyman Mark Lowe and lefties Joe Beimel and Charlie Furbush, however, have delivered strong to excellent bottom-line results.
Of course, Frasor would hardly represent a guaranteed cure for the Mariners’ bullpen troubles. Although the 37-year-old worked to an excellent 1.54 ERA in 23 1/3 innings with the Royals, he also issued 15 walks (13 unintentional) in that time and posted the lowest K/9 rate (6.9) of his career. Additionally, given his track record, one would imagine that there will be a number of clubs to show interest in the veteran right-hander, whose brush with midseason free agency seems unlikely to be lengthy in nature.
JULY 13: The Royals have released Frasor, according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Miller says that Frasor went unclaimed on release waivers.
The move will likely come as a surprise to many Royals fans — and fans in general — as the veteran setup man has worked to a stellar 1.54 ERA in 23 1/3 innings this season. However, Frasor’s also battled his control all season long, posting an 18-to-15 K/BB ratio in that time. That sub-par accuracy has led secondary stats like FIP (4.03), xFIP (4.60) and SIERA (4.71) to take a significantly more pessimistic stance on Frasor’s work to this point. Of course, it should also be noted that a pair of the walks yielded by Frasor in 2015 have been of the intentional variety.
The Royals acquired Frasor last summer in exchange for minor league right-hander Spencer Patton, and Frasor rewarded the team with a 1.53 ERA and a 16-to-1 K/BB ratio in 17 2/3 innings down the stretch in their push to the postseason. Frasor allowed just one run in 5 1/3 playoff innings and was re-signed by the Royals on a one-year, $1.8MM contract that includes a $1.25MM salary and a $550K buyout of a $2MM mutual option for the 2016 season.
Frasor chose the Royals over a few other interested clubs, with the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardino reporting back in December that the Twins were one team to make an offer. Agent Dave Meier told Berardino that the Twins were one of the final teams under consideration by Frasor. Given Minnesota’s own bullpen struggles and Frasor’s modest salary — he’s owed about $621K plus the $550K buyout — it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Twins among the teams to show interest. Kansas City will have 10 days to trade, release or attempt to outright Frasor, although even if he’s outrighted, he can refuse the minor league assignment in favor of free agency and retain his salary.
Righty Jason Frasor was offered a one-year deal by the Twins this winter but decided to go back to the Royals when Kansas City got involved, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The 37-year-old also added an interesting take on the process of free agency: “When you become a free agent and you’re a 37-year-old middle reliever, there’s not as many teams that come calling as you would think or hope. But that’s all right. I just needed one team.”
- Veteran Tigers reliever Joe Nathan suffered a setback in a Triple-A rehab appearance today, as James Schmehl of MLive.com reports. Nathan came out after experiencing severe pain after the tenth pitch of his outing. Both Nathan and the club have stayed quiet this evening as to whether any more has been learned, but at a minimum it seems unlikely that he will join the team as quickly as had been expected.
- Cody Allen has struggled thus far, but the Indians are not contemplating a closer change, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. “Cody is about as trustworthy and dependable as anyone we have,” said manager Terry Francona. The Cleveland pen has been poor by any standard thus far, and is not exactly teeming with alternatives. MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted that the team passed on an opportunity to upgrade there over the offseason, and it will be interesting to see whether that becomes an area to target if the Indians stay in contention over the summer.
The Twins are focused on pitching upgrades this offseason, and here’s the latest on the arms that Minnesota is (or isn’t) currently exploring…
- Justin Masterson was linked to the Twins earlier this winter but 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter) that “about every sign” indicates the Masterson will sign with another team. The Twins aren’t scheduled to meet with Masterson during the Winter Meetings and the right-hander has already met with several teams over the last few days.
- The Twins have been in touch with Francisco Liriano‘s agent throughout the offseason and they’re expected to meet Monday with Brett Anderson‘s agent, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Anderson is looking for a short-term deal to rebuild his value after an injury-plagued 2014, while Liriano looks to command a significant multiyear guarantee. Neal (via Twitter) doubts the Twins would surrender the draft pick it would take to sign Liriano, who rejected the Pirates’ qualifying offer.
- Also from Neal, the Twins are one of over a dozen teams who have checked in on Pat Neshek this offseason. Neshek was originally drafted by Minnesota in 2002 and pitched for the team from 2006-10.
- The Twins have called about right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Vogelsong has a 3.74 ERA, 2.35 K/BB, 7.05 K/9 and 42.4% grounder rate over the last four seasons with the Giants, throwing at least 179 2/3 IP in three out of those four years.
- Before Jason Frasor re-signed with the Royals, the Twins made a push to land the righty reliever, agent Dave Meier told Berardino. “The Twins had a lot of interest in him,” Meier said. “They stepped up and made an early offer. We were definitely considering that along with Kansas City and a couple other teams. The Twins were one of a select few clubs as we kind of narrowed things down.”
The Royals announced that they have re-signed right-hander Jason Frasor to a one-year deal with a mutual option for the 2016 season. Frasor, a client of agent Dave Meier, reportedly receives a $1.25MM base in 2015 with a $2MM option that contains a $550K buyout. That makes for a $1.8MM guarantee, and the deal also calls for as much as $500K of incentives in each season.
Frasor, 37, was acquired by the Royals in a mid-July swap that sent minor league righty Spencer Patton to the Rangers. The veteran Frasor was excellent for the Royals in both the regular season and the postseason, allowing a combined four earned runs in 23 innings of work. Frasor doesn’t have the 93 mph heat that he used to, but he did average 91.9 mph on his fastball in 2014. Overall, he posted a solid 2.66 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in 47 1/3 regular season innings between the Rangers and Royals.
The Royals became notorious for their smothering defense and lights-out bullpen in the playoffs this year, but the relief corps was actually a very top-heavy unit. Behind Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera, only Aaron Crow topped 40 innings, and Crow was largely ineffective. Frasor will provide the club with some much-needed depth in the middle innings.
As I noted in Kansas City’s Offseason Outlook, bullpen help was (and likely still remains) an area of need for the Royals. In particular, the club will likely look at left-handed relief options, as they’ll be short on reliable southpaws next season. Tim Collins struggled with his command again in 2014 and is a non-tender candidate (though GM Dayton Moore did previously indicate to McCullough that he’s still considering tendering a contract to both Collins and Crow), and Scott Downs departed via free agency. That Frasor was able to be had on a modest deal is good news for the Royals, who already projected to field a payroll in the mid-$80MM range before this signing. It’s been reported that Kansas City’s payroll could top $100MM next season, so there’s some flexibility, but adding some reliable innings on a relatively low-cost deal addresses one need without significantly denting Moore’s available funds, allowing him to look for further upgrades in the rotation and possibly in right field.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports images.
The 36-year-old Frasor is in the midst of a strong season with the Rangers, having pitched to a 3.34 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate in 29 2/3 innings. That continues a trend of relatively strong performance for Frasor, who has notched an ERA of 3.68 or better in five of the past six seasons.
Frasor is an affordable add for GM Dayton Moore, from a financial standpoint, as he’s owed just $1.75MM in 2014, which translates to roughly $717K for the rest of the season. He will be a free agent at season’s end, so this acquisition is strictly a rental for the Royals.
Bullpen help may not seem to be the Royals’ largest needs — many would instead cite right field — but the team’s 3.62 ERA from its relievers ranks 16th in the Majors. Additionally, they’ve been a top-heavy unit as a group. While Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera have been excellent, Kansas City has also relied heavily on the likes of Michael Mariot (6.48 ERA in 25 innings) and Louis Coleman (7.48 ERA in 21 2/3 innings). Additionally, there has to be some concern over Aaron Crow, who has seen his velocity dip nearly three miles per hour and his K/9 rate dip to 4.8.
Patton, 26, has a 4.08 ERA with a 60-to-22 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings for the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2014. The former 24th-round draft pick did not rank in among Kansas City’s Top 30 prospects, per Baseball America.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
9:13pm: Texas wants a “substantial package” to move Soria, report T.R. Sullivan and Grace Raynor of MLB.com. The asking price is believed to be two or three prospects.
1:51pm: The Rangers are receiving trade interest in a number of their bullpen arms, according to multiple reports. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the team is listening on right-hander Jason Frasor and lefty Neal Cotts, and both have generated some interest. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report that the Angels, Blue Jays and Tigers have been in contact with the Rangers about closer Joakim Soria (Twitter link).
As Sullivan points out, both Frasor and Cotts are free agents at season’s end. While Frasor has scuffled of late, yielding five runs over his past 3 1/3 innings, he still boasts a solid 3.38 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate. The 36-year-old is earning a highly affordable $1.75MM this season, meaning that he’s owed about $765K through season’s end.
Cotts, 34, reemerged in the Majors last season after an absence of four years and put his injury woes behind him with an electric 1.11 ERA in 57 innings for Texas. He’s taken a step back in 2014 but has a solid 3.55 ERA with 45 strikeouts against 15 walks in 38 innings. However, after dominating opposing lefties in 2013, he’s surrendered a .281/.328/.456 batting line against same-handed hitters in 2014. It shouldn’t come as a total shock, as Cotts does have a reverse-platoon split for his career, but certainly not one this pronounced. Cotts is earning $2.2MM this season, meaning he has roughly $962K remaining on his deal.
As for Soria, the Tigers and Angels come as no surprise, as both have dealt with significant bullpen issues in 2014. However, the Blue Jays are a bit of a surprise club to see listed here. In another series of tweets, Rosenthal adds that while the club does like Soria, the team is also toying with the idea of promoting top prospect Aaron Sanchez to work out of the bullpen this season. Fellow top prospect Daniel Norris could even join him eventually, Rosenthal adds, making for a situation that would resemble the dynamic pairing of Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez with the Cardinals last year.
Soria is in the midst of one of perhaps his finest season. In his second year back from Tommy John, the 30-year-old has a 2.76 ERA with a whopping 12.3 K/9 and a minuscule 1.2 BB/9 in 29 1/3 innings. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (0.80), xFIP (1.93) and SIERA (1.58) all feel that he’s doing the best work of his career. Though he has a higher salary at $5.5MM, Soria unquestionably will come with the highest asking price in a trade. He has an affordable $7MM club option on his contract for 2015, and the Rangers do have eyes on contending next season, when they hope to have better luck on the injury front.
The Brewers shipped out reliever John Axford to the Cardinals at last year's trade deadline, bringing back young righty Michael Blazek. Milwaukee has been impressed with the 25-year-old, with manager Ron Roenicke saying he profiles as a late-inning arm, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentine. Meanwhile, after being non-tendered by the Cards and signed by the Indians, Axford hopes to continue learning from his brief stint in St. Louis. As MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports, his former club informed him that he'd been tipping pitches, and Axford hopes that correction — along with regained velocity — will allow him to return to his peak form.
Here are more stray notes from around the game …
- Another trade deadline mover, Mike Olt of the Cubs, has shown substantial improvement in the eyesight issues that plagued him last year with the Rangers, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. Though his prospect stock has fallen in the meantime, all that matters to Olt is maintaining his health. "As long as I'm healthy," he said, "I know that I can do what I was capable of."
- Reliever Jason Frasor explained that he elected to re-sign with the Rangers for the simple reason that he likes playing for the club, reports Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. "Free agency isn't that great for middle relievers," he said. "I never wanted to be the kind of guy that bounced around from team to team as middle relievers often do with one-year deals. I found a place I really, really liked. … I think I was the first [free agent] to sign [this offseason]. I just didn't feel it was worth it to try to scrape out maybe a little better contract … ."
- One free agent who faces a much more open-ended market is former ace Johan Santana. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, Santana has fielded interest from at least three American League clubs. The 34-year-old is hoping to be ready to take the mound in a big league game in June.
- The Rays' roster battle features several situations where options will play a role, reports Bill Chastain of MLB.com. Among the players who must make the active roster or face a DFA are Chris Archer, Josh Lueke, Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos, Brandon Guyer, and Matt Joyce.