Jason Frasor Rumors

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.

Frasor Flexible On Cusp Of Free Agency

For some players free agency means long-term contract offers and lavish visits to the cities of interested teams. Jason Frasor is not one of those players, and he knows it. The 35-year-old right-hander remains flexible as his upcoming appearance on the free agent market approaches, and he insists he’ll play ‘for anybody.’

“I’m not too picky,” he told MLBTR this weekend. “They’re all big league cities and I’ve been to each one. The thing is there are so many middle relievers. It’s flooded with guys who do the same job as I do, so you’re really fighting for spots. There are only so many spots to go around.”

Jason Frasor - Blue Jays (PW)

Frasor will hit free agency after the World Series ends and, assuming the Blue Jays don't make him a qualifying offer, he won’t be tied to draft pick compensation. He was linked to compensation as a Type A free agent the last time he hit free agency, following the 2010 season. Instead of hitting the market as a Type A player, he accepted Toronto's offer of arbitration before signing his current contract. It’s a process he won’t miss.

“Looking back, it wasn’t that fun,” Frasor said, reflecting on the now-defunct Type A and Type B designations. “It wasn’t that great. A few teams called, but I had strings attached ... I’m glad that’s gone. Now if they want you they can sign you. They don’t have to give up a first round pick for a middle reliever. That doesn’t make any sense.”

Frasor’s generally strong 2012 season ended with consecutive outings in which he allowed two earned runs without completing an inning. The Blue Jays’ all-time leader in career pitching appearances finished the year with a 4.12 ERA, 10.9 K.9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 38.4% ground ball rate in 50 appearances. His average fastball velocity remained 93 mph and his swinging strike rate stayed relatively constant at 9.0%. Those numbers will be enough to generate modest contract offers at a time that many teams are seeking relief help.

The nine-year veteran will weigh contract value and location when deciding where to sign this offseason. He prefers the East Coast, feels more comfortable in the American League and would ideally prefer to join a winning team.

“But again, that’s not going to stop me from signing with a West Coast team,” he added. “We’ll see.”

Frasor realizes middle relievers often wait until the new year before finding jobs, and he would like to avoid that fate if possible. His preference would be to sign relatively soon instead of drawing out the free agent process. Beyond that his next move is anybody’s guess.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

Frasor Approves Of CBA Changes

Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor won’t miss baseball’s free agent ranking system the next time he’s eligible for free agency. The sport’s new collective bargaining agreement eliminates Type A and Type B designations and assures non-elite free agents that they won’t be tied to draft pick compensation. 

“I think this is the right way,” Frasor told me yesterday. “You have middle relievers who are Type A? I mean who’s going to give up a first round pick for someone who’s going to pitch the seventh inning? So I think this is more fair.”

Under baseball’s previous collective bargaining agreement, teams had to surrender top draft picks for signing Type A free agents who had turned down offers of arbitration. Knowing that turning down an offer of arbitration would make them unappealing to potential suitors, middle relievers often accepted their teams’ offers. 

Frasor was eligible for free agency following the 2010 season, but he pitched well enough to obtain a Type A ranking. He ultimately accepted the Blue Jays’ offer of arbitration instead of testing free agency with limited market value. Though Frasor was happy to return to Toronto, Type A status led to free agency lite for similarly-positioned relievers. Potential buyers wanted to keep their draft picks, so their interest in ranked middle relievers was often tepid. Frasor took note when he heard that baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement includes some significant adjustments.

“My reaction was it was two years too late,” he said. “If that Type A and Type B stuff wasn’t there, I’m not sure how it would have played out [two winters ago], but it could have changed how I went about doing that.”

Frasor, 34, is on track to hit free agency this offseason. Unless the Blue Jays make him a qualifying offer of $12.5MM or so -- an extremely remote possibility -- his performance will determine his free agent value. And for relievers such as Frasor it’s a welcome change.

Players Traded After Having Options Exercised

Every offseason, once the playoffs are over and a new World Series champion has been crowned, teams must decide whether to exercise or decline options for various players. While some decisions are straightforward -- think Robinson Cano, Yadier Molina and James Shields -- others are complex. In some cases, the team exercises its option with the knowledge that a trade is a distinct possibility. If the team can secure the player’s services for something less than market value, he’ll be valuable as a trade chip even if he’s no longer a fit on his original club's payroll or roster.

Teams exercised a total of 19 player options after the 2011 season and two of those players have since been dealt. Here’s a closer look into the circumstances surrounding the two trades:

  • On New Year’s Day the White Sox sent right-hander Jason Frasor and his $3.75MM salary back to Toronto for Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb, a pair of 6’3” right-handers who have yet to reach Double-A. Though Jaye and Webb aren’t considered top prospects, they are better than nothing, which is what GM Kenny Williams would have ended up with if he had declined Frasor’s option.
  • Over the weekend, the Red Sox sent shortstop Marco Scutaro to Colorado for Clayton Mortensen. The right-hander posted a 3.86 ERA with 4.6 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 52.7% ground ball rate in 58 1/3 innings for relief for the Rockies in 2011 and may prove useful in Boston. If not, at least the Red Sox avoided the $1.5MM buyout on Scutaro’s $6MM option and moved him without taking on salary. Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains how the deal relates to baseball’s luxury tax and reports that the Rockies were the first team to offer to take on all of Scutaro’s salary this offseason.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Kuroda, Nakajima, Guthrie

On this date in 1996, the Red Sox signed veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer, who at that time had a 4.51 ERA in 1116 2/3 MLB innings over the course of nine MLB seasons. Though he appeared in just 23 games for Boston, he enjoyed a career renaissance in Seattle and hasn't stopped yet. Moyer, now 49, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and has drawn some interest from MLB teams. Here's the latest on the AL East...

  • The Orioles are expected to hire former Mets, Brewers and Athletics pitching coach Rick Peterson as an organizational pitching guru this week, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
  • The Red Sox have maintained interest in Hiroki Kuroda, but his asking price figures to exceed Boston’s budget unless they make another move to free up payroll, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. Kuroda is open to pitching on the East Coast, Bradford notes.
  • The Yankees have until Friday to negotiate a deal with Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima and the sides continue discussing possible contracts, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Earlier reports had suggested the deadline was Tuesday, rather than Friday. Depending on whether the Yankees sign Nakajima, they could have interest in bringing back Eric Chavez or trading Eduardo Nunez
  • Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie told Jeff Joyce and Todd Hollandsworth on MLB Network Radio that he hopes trade rumors surround him next year, since other teams won't be interested if he's pitching poorly. Guthrie is entering his final season of arbitration eligibility and will hit free agency after the 2012 campaign.  
  • Jason Frasor says he was confused when he saw Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos had texted him over the weekend, according to Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. "I thought he might have wanted to talk,” Frasor said. “He likes to talk. He's a talker." In fact, the GM was calling about the trade that sent Frasor back to the Blue Jays for Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb. Frasor's optimistic that Sergio Santos, his teammate in the minors and majors, will fit well in Toronto.

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