Jason Frasor Rumors

Twins Notes: Masterson, Liriano, Neshek

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.”

Royals Re-Sign Jason Frasor

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.

Jason Frasor

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.

Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star was the first to report the terms of the contract (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports images.


Royals Acquire Jason Frasor

The Royals have acquired right-hander Jason Frasor from the Rangers in exchange for right-hander Spencer Patton, the Rangers announced.

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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.



Rangers’ Relievers Drawing Interest

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.


Quick Hits: Blazek, Axford, Olt, Frasor, Santana, Rays

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

Rangers Re-Sign Jason Frasor

The Rangers announced, via press release, that they have re-signed right-hander Jason Frasor to a one-year deal. The contract is reportedly worth $1.75MM and also includes incentives. The 36-year-old Frasor is represented by agent Dave Meier.

General manager Jon Daniels signed Frasor to a one-year, $1.5MM contract last January and was able to retain him at a bargain price despite a strong performance in 2013. Frasor pitched to a 2.57 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 44.6 percent ground-ball rate in his first season with the Rangers. While he did post an abnormally low BABIP (.250) and strand runners at a career-high rate (81.4 percent), FIP and SIERA both still liked Frasor at 3.37 and 3.44, respectively.

Frasor is just one piece of the team's bullpen puzzle this offseason, however. All-Star closer Joe Nathan has the ability to void the team's club option in search of a multiyear deal on the open market and is expected to do so. Daniels went on record recently as saying that the team's preference has never been to spend heavily on relief pitching, but he added that the team will continue to discuss retaining Nathan. Re-signing Frasor at a below-market rate could help to make that more feasible.

Should Nathan walk, Texas is well-equipped to absorb the blow with Frasor back in the fold. He will join setup man Tanner Scheppers and a healthier Joakim Soria at the back of the Ranger 'pen, as will lefties Robbie Ross and Neal Cotts, each of whom was excellent in 2013. Neftali Feliz figures to be back in the mix in 2014 as well, which should give the team flexibility in regards to determining the versatile Alexi Ogando's role.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first reported the signing (on Twitter).


Rangers Sign Jason Frasor

12:07pm: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) the deal is worth $1.5MM.

11:30am: The Rangers have signed free agent right-hander Jason Frasor to a one-year contract, Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest reports (on Twitter). The team designated catcher Eli Whiteside to create roster space for Frasor, Andro reports. Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News first reported that the Rangers were nearing a deal with Frasor, a Dave Meier client.

Frasor, 35, pitched for the Blue Jays in 2012, posting a 4.12 ERA with 10.9 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 38.4% ground ball rate in 43 2/3 innings. He didn't pitch at all in August, as forearm tightness led to an extended stint on the disabled list. Frasor, the Blue Jays' all-time leader in appearances, averaged 93 mph with his fastball in 2012. In nine seasons at the MLB level, the Chicago native has a 3.77 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 43.0% ground ball rate. He earned $3.75MM this past season.

At the end of the 2012 regular season Frasor told me that he didn't intend to be overly picky about his next destination. The Brewers and Blue Jays also appeared to have some level of interest this offseason. He'll join a Rangers bullpen that includes Joe Nathan and, eventually, Joakim Soria.

Whiteside appeared in 12 games with the Giants this past season and played another 60 games with San Francisco's Triple-A affiliate. In parts of five seasons at the MLB level, the 33-year-old has a .215/.273/.335 batting line. Whiteside is set to earn $625K in 2013 and $200K of that sum is guaranteed. He has already been claimed on waivers three times this offseason, as MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Rangers, Jason Frasor Nearing Deal

The Rangers are nearing a one-year deal with free agent reliever Jason Frasor, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Agent Dave Meier represents the veteran right-hander.

Frasor, 35, pitched for the Blue Jays in 2012, posting a 4.12 ERA with 10.9 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 38.4% ground ball rate in 43 2/3 innings. He didn't pitch at all in August, as forearm tightness led to an extended stint on the disabled list. Frasor, the Blue Jays' all-time leader in appearances, averaged 93 mph with his fastball in 2012. In nine seasons at the MLB level, the Chicago native has a 3.77 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 43.0% ground ball rate. He earned $3.75MM this past season.

At the end of the 2012 regular season Frasor told me that he didn't intend to be overly picky about his next destination. If the sides complete a deal he'll join a Rangers bullpen that includes Joe Nathan and, eventually, Joakim Soria

This post was first published on January 3rd, 2012.


Quick Hits: Mets, Anibal, Brewers, Bourjos

MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts discussed the R.A. Dickey trade, the Josh Hamilton signing, the Anibal Sanchez deal and the latest rumors on todays’ edition of the Rosters & Rumblings podcast. Click here to listen in, and continue reading for the latest from around the league…

  • The Mets are closing in on adding an outfielder, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma's source tells him that the player hasn't previously been linked to the Mets (Twitter links). Puma doesn't specify if the acquisition would come via free agency or trade. New York has previously been linked to Cody Ross, which seems to rule him out.
  • Sanchez's agent, Gene Mato, told Anthony Fetch of the Detroit Free Press that Sanchez left a larger offer from an unnamed team on the table at the Winter Meetings. The right-hander didn't want to make his decision based solely on money but also on where he felt comfortable.
  • Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM that his team is interested in Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, Kyle Farnsworth and Mike Gonzalez (Twitter link).
  • Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets that the Marlins aren't particularly interested in Peter Bourjos because they'd prefer a better hitting outfielder. Earlier today it was reported that the Fish may be interested in Bourjos.
  • Some teams aren't convinced that Hiroyuki Nakajima's glove is good enough to play shortstop at the Major League level, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN. The Japanese slugger signed with the Athletics earlier today.
  • Former Cubs coach Pat Listach has been hired by the Dodgers as the team's new minor league infield coordinator, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).

Blue Jays Notes: Bullpen, Romero, Johnson, Villanueva

MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm provides a look at the Blue Jays upcoming offseason and tackles a host of free agent issues in the process:

  • Of the team's four free agents — Kelly Johnson, Brandon Lyon, Jason Frasor and Carlos Villanueva — the most likely to return is Frasor or Lyon. The bullpen has become a position of depth, however, with the acquisitions of Steve Delabar and Brad Lincoln. Sergio Santos should return in 2013 as well. That could mean all four free agents will find new homes.
  • The team has no interest in shopping Ricky Romero and selling on the left-hander when his value is at an all-time low.
  • There doesn't appear to be much interest in retaining Johnson, according to Chisholm. The team once had eyes on bringing Marco Scutaro back to Toronto, but his torrid run with the Giants has likely made him too spendy. Instead, Adeiny Hechavarria or Mike Aviles could take the role.
  • The Blue Jays aren't willing to give Villanueva a multi-year deal and an opportunity to pitch out of the rotation — two things that the free agent is seeking. He'll likely pitch elsewhere in 2013.
  • Anibal Sanchez will probably get an "extended look," according to Chisholm, but it's more likely that GM Alex Anthopoulos will upgrade the rotation via trade.