Jason Kipnis Rumors
Recent reports have indicated that the Indians will make a push to extend All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis, and today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Cleveland's front office has begun the process. Heyman isn't sure how much progress has been made, only that the two sides have begun talking.
The 26-year-old Kipnis slashed .284/.366/.452 in 2013 -- his second full season at the Major League level. The Beverly Hills Sports Council client tallied 17 homers and 30 stolen bases as well, helping him earn his first All-Star nod and an 11th-place finish in the American League MVP voting.
As we've seen already in 2014, Spring Training is a time when many clubs hammer out extensions with their key players. However, Cleveland doesn't necessarily need to rush, as Kipnis is not arbitration eligible until next offseason and is under team control through 2017. However, another All-Star season would likely cause his price tag to skyrocket, and he said last April that he didn't want to talk about a new contract once the season started.
MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently profiled Kipnis as an extension candidate. Kipnis wouldn't be the only extension for GM Chris Antonetti and his staff, who have already inked Michael Brantley to a four-year, $25MM pact this winter.
Barry Bonds will work with the Giants as a special instructor in spring training next month, Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reports. Bonds has not had an official relationship with the Giants since 2007, his last season in the big leagues, so his presence could make quite an impression in Giants camp. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Indians will "soon make a serious push" to extend second baseman Jason Kipnis, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Kipnis is eligible for free agency following the 2017 season, and Pluto notes the Indians would likely try to sign Kipnis to at least a five-year deal, picking up at least one free-agent season. MLBTR recently suggested Kipnis could make $30MM-$35MM over the course of a five-year deal.
- The Brewers will likely have a team-record payroll, and owner Mark Attanasio expects to win this season, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel reports. "We’re at the point now where we’re well into the top half of payrolls in the major leagues. We have more pitching depth than we’ve had, really, in 10 years. As I’ve explained to everybody, as investors you wouldn’t make that decision to lose," Attanasio says. "The ownership group felt like this was the year to invest (more) in the team. I think we’re going to surprise people this year." After an offseason that featured the high-profile addition of Matt Garza, the Brewers have $86MM committed to 12 players, which could give them a higher payroll than they had in 2012, when their opening-day figure was $101.2MM.
- The signing of Ubaldo Jimenez has had a dramatic impact on Orioles fans, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski writes. The Orioles' offseason had been very quiet, but suddenly they've landed Jimenez and now have Nelson Cruz as well.
- Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is happy with his two-year, $24MM contract, and isn't concerned about the recent Homer Bailey extension, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Zimmermann and the Nationals tried to negotiate a long-term deal, but ultimately couldn't find enough common ground. "They came to us with a two-year deal. Let's get this out of the way, so we don't have to worry about arbitration for the next two years," Zimmermann says. "We felt it was right, and I think it was fair for both sides, and we got the deal done."
- Arbitration-eligible players received an average raise of 117 percent this offseason, with their average salaries rising from $1.78MM to $3.86MM, the Associated Press reports. The heftiest raise went to Freddie Freeman of the Braves, who went from $560K in 2013 to a multiyear deal with an average salary of $16.875MM.
One year ago today, the Indians plucked Michael Bourn off of the free agent market with a four-year, $48MM deal that includes a fifth-year vesting option. The now-31-year-old center fielder had languished on the market, hampered in part by being tied to draft-pick compensation, and ended up with a deal that fell shy of expectations. But Bourn's 2013 season ultimately came up somewhat short as well: missing about 30 games due to injury, Bourn put up a .263/.316/.360 line in 575 plate appearances. He swiped 23 bags, but was caught 12 times attempting a steal, and his often-stellar defense ratings fell towards average. In the end, Bourn was worth only 2.4 rWAR and 2.0 fWAR, his weakest tallies since emerging in 2009. The Cleveland faithful will hope that a bounceback 2014 begins to turn the contract back in the club's favor. Meanwhile, for the remaining free agents that have turned down qualifying offers this time around, Bourn's situation at least shows that a sizeable contract can still be had as camps begin to open.
Here's more out of Cleveland:
- It has been a busy arbitration season for the Indians, who still have two unresolved cases even after winning a hearing against Vinnie Pestano and agreeing to an extension with Michael Brantley to avoid another. One of those -- the case with righty Josh Tomlin -- will be going to a hearing on Friday, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The sides are separated by less than $200K ($975K vs. $800K), so the stakes tell much more for the player than the team.
- The other remaining arbitration situation involves key starter Justin Masterson, who filed at $11.8MM against a team counter of $8.05MM. As Hoynes reports, Masterson says he will be open to considering long-term extension talks after his 2014 salary is arrived upon. "We'll talk, we'll listen, we'll see," said Masterson, who is set to qualify for free agency next year. "To want to be a part of [the Indians' core] is there, but there is always the temptation in the back of your head as to what comes next."
- Another possible extension candidate in Cleveland is star second baseman Jason Kipnis, who is coming off of a huge 2013 campaign and will qualify for arbitration next year. He tells MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that he would be interested in discussing an extension, indicating that previous talks had taken place and could restart once the above-noted situations are tied up. "Why would I not listen?" Kipnis said. "Yeah, I'm open to hearing what they have to say or what they have to offer. It'd be stupid not to. I know they've got some arbitration cases to finish right now. I think once everything's done with that and the spring starts flowing along, we'll start talking again."
- A re-signing of outgoing Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez will not occur unless "something extreme" takes place, reports Hoynes. Given the value that Cleveland has put on the pick it stands to gain if Jimenez signs elsewhere, as well as the pick it would sacrifice to sign fellow free agent starter Ervin Santana, the club seems unwilling at this point to ink either pitcher.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis and the Indians discussed the possibility of an extension last spring, but put those talks on hold when the 2013 season began. This year, Kipnis is again open to discussing an extension, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. "Absolutely," Kipnis said when asked whether he would consider a multiyear deal. "We haven’t talked about it yet. My guess is if we started it would probably start in spring training when everyone reports. I think they have their hands full with arbitration cases right now."
Kipnis is the Indians' best player, and there are few holes in his offensive game. He hits for excellent power for a middle infielder, draws plenty of walks, and adds value on the bases. There's every reason to expect him to continue to be productive for the next few seasons. Those are seasons the Indians already control, however, which might make it tricky to negotiate a long-term deal with his representatives at Beverly Hills Sports Council.
Kipnis has 2.069 years of service time and will become arbitration-eligible next winter. He's eligible for free agency after 2017, which is his age-30 season. According to MLBTR's Extension Tracker, no second baseman with between two and three years of service time has signed an extension since Ben Zobrist in 2010. Expanding the field to include shortstops and third basemen doesn't yield many particularly revealing comparables, either, although Alexei Ramirez's four-year, $32.5MM contract, signed prior to the 2011 season, comes close. The deal did not kick in until 2012, however, which would have been Ramirez's second year of arbitration eligibility. Kipnis won't hit arbitration for the second time until two years from now.
To fashion a possible extension for Kipnis, let's look at recent arbitration cases to see what Kipnis might make in the 2015 through 2017 seasons. Via MLBTR's 2013 Arbitration Tracker, here are last year's arbitration results for players with between three and four years of service time. One that stands out is Ian Desmond, a shortstop who had been less consistent than Kipnis through that point in his career, but who had a similarly broad package of hitting and baserunning skills. Desmond made $3.8MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Neil Walker, another broadly-similar player, made $3.3MM, although that was as a Super Two.
Our starting point for Kipnis' 2015 season probably ought to be somewhat higher than Desmond's $3.8MM for 2013, compensating for Kipnis' greater consistency. If we guess that Kipnis might make $4.4MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility next winter, then he might make a total of about $20MM in his three arbitration seasons. Add in the $500K or so Kipnis is set to make this season, and we have a basic framework for an extension. The Indians might want to add in another guaranteed year, perhaps including an option. That might bring the total to something like five years and around $30MM-$35MM.
The main reason teams like pre-free agency extensions, however, is because they can control players beyond when they would have previously been eligible for free agency. How valuable Kipnis' free agent seasons will be, though, remains to be seen. Kipnis didn't debut until he was 24, and isn't eligible for free agency until he's about to turn 31.
Baseball history is filled with examples of good second basemen who faded quickly and/or at relatively young ages, including Edgardo Alfonzo, Brian Roberts, Jose Vidro, Chuck Knoblauch and former Indians great Carlos Baerga. Second basemen have to deal with hard slides around the bag, and because many of them (including Kipnis, who played shortstop in high school) are converted shortstops, they often don't represent the best athletes to begin with. Those concerns probably don't apply quite as readily to truly elite second basemen, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs points out. That's one reason the Mariners and Red Sox have been willing to pay big bucks for Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia's thirty-something seasons. But Kipnis isn't in that category.
There is no reason for Kipnis to agree to an extension at a steep discount, either -- he's only one season away from arbitration eligibility, and if he continues to produce, hitting free agency at age 30 rather than age 31 or 32 could make a significant difference in his first contract on the open market. Even though Kipnis is a star, then, the Indians could simply decide to take him year-to-year for now. They already control what are likely to be his prime years, and have limited leverage to get him to sign away seasons beyond 2017.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Indians and Jason Kipnis have put their extension talks on hold now that the regular season has started, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Kipnis and his agents at the Beverly Hills Sports Council had been in discussions as recently as March. Hoynes writes:"Once the regular season started, the negotiations stopped," said Kipnis before Friday's game against the Rays. "We didn't want the distraction during the season. I think they felt the same way."
Kipnis tells Hoynes that he's interested in resuming extension talks following the 2013 season. The 26-year-old has a little more than one year of service time and isn't eligible for arbitration until after the 2014 season. Kipnis hit .257/.335/.379 with 14 homers in his first full season in 2012.
Hoynes adds that there's no word on whether or not talks with outfielder Michael Brantley are still in progress. Brantley, 26 in May, will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Indians are discussing extensions with outfielder Michael Brantley and second baseman Jason Kipnis, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The team is interested in buying out all of the players’ arbitration years plus multiple free agent years, Rosenthal writes. Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported this past weekend that the Indians will approach the players about extension talks.
The Indians began discussing an extension with Brantley before they signed free agent Michael Bourn and moved Brantley from center field to left field, according to Rosenthal. It’s possible the position change will complicate talks with the Legacy Agency client. Brantley, who narrowly missed out on super two status last winter, will be arbitration eligible for the first time next offseason. He's on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season.
Kipnis has just one year and 69 days of MLB service, which means he's two years away from arbitration eligibility. Beverly Hills Sports Council represents Kipnis.
As MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows, the Indians have not shied away from locking players up before and during their arbitration years. The club successfully extended many young players under former GM John Hart during the 1990s.
Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times expressed concern the Rays don't have enough power in their lineup to compete over the long haul. As if to add an exclamation point to Shelton's column, the Rays were stymied this afternoon by Jon Lester of the Red Sox, who was perfect for six innings (79 pitches, 53 for strikes) with six strikeouts. The Rays were on the verge of being the victim of a Spring Training perfect game until an infield single by non-roster invitee Jason Bourgeois with one out in the top of the ninth. In other American League news and notes:
- One solution to the Rays' power shortage could be Wil Myers, who was sent to Triple-A yesterday. Manager Joe Maddon told reporters, including the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, that he believes the timing of Myers' recall will be a baseball decision and not based on service time considerations in order to avoid an extra year of arbitration eligibility.
- The Indians have yet to make a decision on Daisuke Matsuzaka even after a meeting this morning between manager Terry Francona and the front office, tweets the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. Francona could speak with Dice-K tomorrow.
- The Indians will approach Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley about contract extensions at some point this spring, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- The trade market for Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will be a free agent after this season, is not good, tweets the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber.
- "The door's not locked. It may not even be cracked open, but it's not locked, either," a Red Sox source told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com about the chances of Jackie Bradley Jr. making the Opening Day roster.
- The Yankees only signed Brennan Boesch because he has minor league options remaining, according to ESPN's Buster Olney in his Insider blog (subscription required). Olney added, given the apparent lack of interest in Boesch, the Yankees might have the ability, if he struggles in the next few weeks, to get him through waivers, take him off the 40-man roster, and outright him to the minor leagues.
- The Angels have acquired minor league pitcher Mike Cisco from the Phillies for no compensation. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com explains the Phillies had an excess of pitching in Double-A and Triple-A and they wanted to make sure he’d go somewhere he’d have an opportunity to pitch. The Angels liked him and have a spot for him in their system.
Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti has an adaptable approach to this offseason’s free agent market. Players such as Michael Brantley offer defensive versatility, so the Indians aren’t about to limit their search for position players so early in the offseason.
“We can either go left field, center field or first base,” Antonetti said. “And we have some creative ideas for other positions as well.”
The Indians feel “very comfortable” with Brantley in center field, since he played for a month and a half with a serious wrist injury but still posted a .702 OPS in 2011. Brantley will play center field or left field in 2012, depending on the rest of Cleveland’s offseason.
The Indians’ winter will revolve around the search for position players, since they have a full five-man rotation heading into Spring Training 2012. However, the Indians aren’t content with their pitching depth.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be satisfied with our pitching,” he said. “We’ll always look for opportunities to improve.”
The Indians enter the 2011 season with Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Fausto Carmona, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin in the rotation. Since Masterson, Carmona and Lowe induce so many ground balls, the Indians intend on lining their infield with above-average defenders.
Jason Kipnis appears to be the leading candidate for the starting second base job and Antonetti says he has the chance to become an above-average defender. Jack Hannahan, a pleasant surprise in 2011, is an “elite” defender, according to Antonetti. He could start at third for Cleveland and Lonnie Chisenhall is also in the mix for regular work at the hot corner. However, the Indians aren’t going to finalize decisions before Spring Training.
Sunday night linkage..
- It's exceedingly rare for the Mets to grant an in-season extension to anyone, but Tim Byrdak was aggressive and approached the team with the idea, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
- However, it doesn't sound like more extensions with veterans are in the works, Martino tweets. General Manager Sandy Alderson stressed that locking up a lefty reliever was special circumstance.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti believes that Jim Thome can be a productive player in 2012, should he decide to continue playing, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.
- Even though Indians rookie Jason Kipnis appears to have the starting role at second base locked up for next season, he does not plan on thinking that way, writes Bastian.
Arizona GM Kevin Towers tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he believes a big part of the D’Backs’ turnaround comes from his team’s “will to win.” Here are more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB:
- Rosenthal says it’s doubtful that the Tigers would be better off without GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland.
- Will the Pirates extend GM Neal Huntington? Rival executives say the Pirates’ farm system isn’t as good as Pittsburgh executives think, but the club took a step forward under Huntington this year (especially before the Pirates’ recent losing streak).
- Indians officials have been impressed with Jason Kipnis’ versatility and athleticism, not just his recent power surge.
- Rosenthal suggests Eduardo Nunez has substantial trade value, since he can play premium positions and hit (.273/.325/.407 line this year).
- Scouts see John Mayberry of the Phillies as a late bloomer like Jayson Werth or Michael Morse, Rosenthal reports.