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Here are a few notes out of the game’s central divisions:
- Twins right-hander Matt Guerrier has a May 8 opt-out clause in his minor league contract and isn’t willing to push that date back to wait for a future opportunity, agent Joe Bick tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Guerrier has thrown well in the minors as he rehabs from flexor mass repair surgery last August, allowing just one earned run on eight hits and four walks with eight strikeouts in eight innings between Double-A and Triple-A (four at each level). Guerrier, who is earning $90K in the minors, would earn a $1MM base salary and earn an additional $250K for reaching 45, 50, 55 and 60 appearances, Berardino writes.
- John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press breaks down the challenges behind the Tigers potentially jettisoning left-hander Phil Coke. For starters, the 31-year-old Coke is earning $1.9MM this season, all of which is guaranteed after he broke camp with the club. Additionally, there are no left-handed relievers in the minors who have stood out in a meaningful way. Detroit would like to keep two lefty relievers if possible, and Lowe wonders if Robbie Ray could take Coke’s bullpen spot when Anibal Sanchez returns from the DL. The team has already cleared a roster spot for Ray by outrighting Jordan Lennerton off the 40-man roster.
- While plenty have argued that the time is now for the Cardinals to call up top prospect Oscar Taveras, GM John Mozeliak plans to keep him in the minors for the time being, reports Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I know a lot’s being made out of Oscar … coming to St. Louis,” Mozeliak said, “but right now I don’t even think it’s a logical thing to do. There are a lot of question marks going on in the outfield to begin with, and I think that would muddy it up.” Looking ahead, Mozeliak said that if Taveras continues at his present level of play, “that will make it a very difficult decision at some point.” As I documented a few weeks back, Taveras is one of those prospects with no MLB service time for whom Super Two status has now become the primary consideration (apart from development and team need, of course).
- Also in that piece, Hummel provides injury updates on two once-key cogs of the St. Louis pitching corps. Former closer Jason Motte has upped his heater into the mid-90s, while starter Jaime Garcia is still battling through injury issues but is nevertheless progressing through a rehab assignment. Needless to say, either or both of these two arms could give a real boost to a Cardinals club that is off to a somewhat sluggish start. While the team’s issues have generally not been on the pitching side of the ledger, added depth always opens up new possibilities.
The Cardinals' Shelby Miller had an excellent rookie campaign with 15 victories (the most by any rookie) and the NL's tenth-best ERA at 3.06. But, the 23-year-old right-hander made only one appearance during the Cardinals' post-season run. During the team's annual Winter Warmup, Miller addressed the issue (as quoted by the Associated Press via ESPN.com). "I was a little upset I didn't pitch but I just put it away. I didn't want to dwell on the past and why I didn't pitch in October. I'm not worried about it anymore. I'm just going to let it be a mystery. A mystery unsolved." Miller added he felt fine physcially: no "better or worse than I did during the season." In other news and notes involving the Cardinals and the National League:
- The Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1999, but GM John Mozeliak admits it is a possibility with Daniel Descalso, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. Descalso asked for $1.65MM while the Cardinals countered with $930K. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $1.2MM salary for Descalso.
- Also within Langosh's article, Mozeliak does not anticipate any contract extensions during Spring Training this year. The Cardinals have extended Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and Allen Craig during the last two Spring Trainings.
- Jason Motte, the Cardinals' closer before undergoing Tommy John surgery last May, is heading to the Cardinals' training camp in Florida to continue his throwing program, Langosch tweets.
- The Nationals remain in the market for a backup catcher and that piece will likely come in a trade, according to MLB.com's William Ladson.
- There is a good chance reliever Rafael Betancourt returns to the Rockies, a source tells Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. The source adds Betancourt prefers Colorado because of his relationship with the club, but both sides are "trying to figure out the timing with his rehab" before coming to terms. The 38-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery last year leading the Rockies to decline his 2014 option, but is working on a comeback.
- Fourteen teams were on hand for Todd Coffey's showcase on Friday, tweets Cotillo. The right-handed reliever missed all of last year after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in 2012. Before being sidelined, the 33-year-old appeared in at least 57 games and pitched at least 51 innings in six of his previous seven seasons.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Cardinals closer Jason Motte will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on Monday, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louid Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Edward Mujica has filled in admirably as the team's closer in his absence, but the Cardinals will likely be the subject of many relief rumors as the trade deadline draws near. Here's more out of baseball's Central divisions…
- Earlier today, Goold tweeted a link to a story that he wrote nearly two years ago, chronicling the long, difficult process of signing top prospect Carlos Martinez. Martinez, who was promoted to the Majors this morning, had originally been signed by the Red Sox, but that deal fell through due to questions surrounding his documentation. Martinez, whose mother died before his first birthday, was going by the name given to him by his uncle who raised him — Carlos Matias. The Cardinals tirelessly searched for school records and his mother's death certificate to prove his identity, at which point he adopted her last name once again.
- Cubs prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua is in a similar predicament to the one Martinez initially faced, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler. The U.S. Consulate is currently requesting school records and identification documents of Paniagua's siblings before issuing him a work visa.
- The Twins still have two weeks to make a decision on right-hander Tim Wood, tweets Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. Wood is on a rehab assignment but appears healthy at this point. However, he only looks "so-so" according to Miller, and Minnesota's bullpen has been a strength early in the season. Because Wood is on the 40-man roster and out of options, he'd have to be exposed to waivers to be sent to Triple-A at the end of his rehab stint.
- We also learned earlier today that the minor trade which would have sent Mark Teahen from the D-backs to the Reds fell through due to an issue with Teahen's phsyical.
Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the infamous Lee Elia tirade against the Wrigley Field faithful where he unleased 37 "bleeps" in 187 seconds. Elia would remain as manager of the Cubs for just four more months. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle chronicles how times have changed for Major League managers. Four reporters were present for Elia's rant and only one had a microphone which captured the event for all posterity. Shea reminds us today there are interview rooms, social media, and live post-game press conferences shown on regional and national sports networks. As a result, Shea says managers have to be more articulate, polite, and thoughtful. Giants manager Bruce Bochy echoes that sentiment, "It's different when you just see pen and paper. When there's a camera there, you have to remind yourself." Elsewhere from the NL Central Division:
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum refuses to name a closer telling reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan, "I'm not going to really mess with anything right now in our bullpen. It's about as good as it can be right now." The Cubs are 7-for-13 in save opportunites with three different relievers notching a save including Kevin Gregg, who leads the team with three despite being recalled only two weeks ago.
- Matt Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Rankings, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session today and is on track to make three or four minor league rehab starts, reports David Furones of MLB.com.
- Speaking of Garza, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald revisited the trade which brought the right-hander to Chicago and notes just one of the eight players invovled in the deal is currently playing in the Majors. Miles sees the trade as a wash, a viewpoint shared by MLBTR's Steve Adams who examined the Garza trade in a Transaction Retrospection last month.
- The Cardinals' imploding bullpen saw its ERA rise to 5.93 after surrendering six runs to the Pirates today. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch tweets the status quo cannot continue, but the team does not have many in-house options. Langosch also tweeted injured closer Jason Motte played catch for the second consecutive day indicating his arm responded well to yesterday's session.
- For the second straight season, Rickie Weeks is off to a slow start offensively with only seven hits in his last 69 at-bats. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com speculates Weeks will have a long leash because no one in the front office wants to start the service clock of Scooter Gennett, the Brewers' sixth-best prospect according to MLB.com, just yet.
4:32pm: The deal is worth $12MM and includes performance bonuses, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
The agreement buys out Motte's two final years of arbitration, but won't delay his path to free agency. He still projects to hit the open market following the 2014 season. Motte had filed for a $5.5MM salary for 2013 and the Cardinals had countered with $4.5MM, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. The 30-year-old set himself up for a raise from his 2012 salary of $1.95MM by posting a 2.75 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and an NL-best 42 saves this past season.
Teams and players submitted corresponding arbitration figures today, and leading up to the noon CDT deadline many players avoided arbitration. This post offers a look at some of the players who avoided arbitration, this post has filing numbers for teams and players and MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker provides the complete breakdown. Now for some additional notes about arbitration eligible players…
- There’s much more momentum toward a contract between Jason Motte and the Cardinals than there is between the team and David Freese, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter). Marc Rzepczynski, Freese and Motte are St. Louis' three remaining arbitration eligible players, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows.
- Though the Reds discussed a multiyear deal with outfielder Chris Heisey, the sides are more likely to agree on a one-year deal, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). Heisey has a projected $1.3MM salary as he goes to arbitration for the first time.
Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won't go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays and Braves are known for their 'file and trial' policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.
MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $4MM or more. Now for the details…
- Clayton Richard filed for $5.55MM while the Padres offered $4.905MM, according to CBSSports.com.
- Martin Prado filed for $7.05MM while the Braves countered with $6.65MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- Sergio Romo filed for $4.5MM and the Giants countered at $2.675MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- Max Scherzer filed at $7.4MM and the Tigers offered $6.05MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- Jason Hammel filed at $8.25MM and the Orioles offered $5.7MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (on Twitter). Jim Johnson filed at $7.1MM and the Orioles countered at $5.7MM.
- Homer Bailey filed at $5.8MM and the Reds filed at $4.75MM, Heyman tweets.
- Jordan Zimmermann filed at $5.8MM and the Nationals offered $4.6MM, Heyman tweets.
- Dexter Fowler filed at $5.15MM with the Rockies offering $4.25MM, Heyman tweets
- Shin-Soo Choo filed at $8MM and the Reds offered $6.75MM, Heyman tweets.
- Chase Headley filed for $10.3MM with the Padres countering at $7.075MM, Heyman tweets.
- Mat Latos asked for $4.7MM and the Reds offered $4.15MM, Heyman tweets.
- Jason Motte filed at $5.5MM and the Cardinals offered $4.5MM, Heyman tweets.
- David Murphy filed at $6.5MM and the Rangers offered $5.05MM, Heyman tweets.
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The Cardinals avoided arbitration with Jason Motte, agreeing to a one-year deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Motte, an ACES client, will earn a base salary of $1.95MM in 2012 and could earn $75K more in incentives.
As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, that's the midpoint between the Cardinals' $1.5MM submission and Motte's request of $2.4MM. The Cardinals have now signed all of their arbitration eligible players.
On this date last year, the White Sox selected Philip Humber off of waivers from the Athletics. The right-hander posted a 3.75 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 163 innings in 2011 and projects to start for Chicago in 2012. We didn't see anyone claimed on waivers today, but we do have these links…
- A multiyear deal between the Cardinals and Jason Motte is ‘in play,’ though nothing is close, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets. Motte filed for $2.4MM in arbitration, with the Cardinals countering at $1.5MM, as our Arbitration Tracker shows.
- Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes hit his first home run since joining the Dominican Winter League and you can view a clip of it here (hat tip: Keith Law).
- Another Cuban, left-hander Onelkis Garcia, will be eligible for the 2012 amateur draft, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. MLB made Garcia eligible to MLB teams as last year's draft approached, before making him ineligible at the last minute. Scouts tell Badler the 22-year-old projects as a reliever and could be selected in the third round this June.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto explained to Lance Pugmire of the LA Times that at one point during the Winter Meetings, the Angels had people negotiating with representatives for C.J. Wilson, LaTroy Hawkins and Albert Pujols in three different places.
- Indians president Mark Shapiro, who is depicted in the Moneyball movie, told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that he enjoyed the film for what it was. "I appreciate why most people would like it,” Shapiro said. “But I felt like it was an oversimplified kind of view, which is kind of what you have to do when you take a lot of history and condense it into an hour and a half."
SATURDAY, 7:05pm: Peter Gammons tweets (account protected) that any discussions would have to start with Brett Wallace, as the A's don't need to trade Holliday.
FRIDAY, 11:13pm: The Cardinals are "redoubling efforts to acquire" Matt Holliday, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says the Cards have warmed to the idea of offering a multiplayer package. They were previously reluctant to send a Ryan Ludwick-fronted package to Colorado in November. Strauss believes that the Cardinals would now probably be willing to offer Ludwick, one of Jason Motte, Chris Perez, and Kyle McClellan, and a prospect to Holliday's current team, the Athletics. Strauss adds:
Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., who opposed the November deal for Holliday, is apparently on board with assuming the remainder of Holliday's $13.5 million salary.
Only about $7.6MM remains on Holliday's contract, and he is of course a free agent after the season. Holliday, a Scott Boras client, currently profiles as a Type A free agent despite a decrease in production with Oakland.
Ludwick has about $2MM remaining on his contract this year. He's under team control through 2011 as an arbitration-eligible player. Ludwick was actually drafted by the A's in 1999, 60th overall. In 2002, they sent him to the Rangers with Gerald Laird and others for Carlos Pena and Mike Venafro. Ludwick, like Holliday, has dropped off significantly from his huge 2008 season.