Javier Valentin Rumors
The market for catchers has been silent this year, as many contenders are set behind the plate. It’s partially a coincidence, but still noteworthy that so many of baseball’s best teams have catchers performing well. Here are a few backstops who could be available this month:
- Ramon Hernandez - Likely expendable because of Ryan Hanigan's emergence, Hernandez has hit .252/.333/.368 with five homers and more walks than strikeouts this year. He doesn't come cheap though, as he makes $8MM.
- Yorvit Torrealba - The Rockies have Chris Iannetta, so Torrealba and his career OPS of .700 are expendable. He'll earn $3.5MM this year and there's a mutual option for 2010 on his contract.
- Ivan Rodriguez - The Astros aren't selling now, but Rodriguez, who was dealt at last year's deadline, could become trade bait if Houston falls out of it. He makes from $1.5-3MM this year, depending on incentives.
- Javier Valentin - This free agent hit relatively well with the Reds as recently as last year.
June isn't typically a big month for free agency, but few teams seem willing to make their players available, so we could see clubs turn to the free agent market to add depth for the stretch run. Here are updates on a few of the players who could help contending teams the most:
- Pedro Martinez - We heard all about Pedro last week and now we have a list of teams that won't sign him. The Angels, Dodgers and Yankees aren't interested, the Nats and Brewers didn't see him throw, the Rangers think he's too pricey and the Rays only have interest in him as a starter. Could the Cubs or Cardinals offer him a deal?
- Ben Sheets - He's not far enough along to be talking contract, but the Rangers have maintained contact with him. The Dodgers, Tigers, Angels and, ironically, the Brewers are among the teams that could use another starter.
- Paul Byrd - There's been little reported interest in Byrd, but he says he's ready to go and waiting for calls. Last year he averaged six innings for 30 starts and kept his walk rate under two per nine, so he could be a solid pickup.
- Wily Mo Pena - Not the difference maker teams dream about adding, but he has pop and is still just 27. We haven't heard anything since the Mets released him the other day.
- Javier Valentin - Valentin, who was released along with Pena, played respectably in a part time role as a catcher in Cincinnati for the past five seasons, posting a .755 OPS in over 400 games.
Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post reports that the Mets released Wily Mo Pena and Javier Valentin from Triple A Buffalo.
Pena, 27, has 77 major league home runs to his name, including 26 with the Reds in 2004. He was hitting .276/.296/.414 with 5 homers in Buffalo. Valentin's best years came in Cincinnati, where he played half of his ten major league seasons. This season the 33-year-old was hitting .260/.360/.416 in Triple A.
According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, the Mets signed Javier Valentin and Tom Martin to minor league deals.
Valentin, 33, signed with the Nationals in February but chose free agency in March when he didn't make the team. He can catch and play first base, and hit .256/.326/.411 in 144 plate appearances last year.
Martin, 38, was released by the Mets in March. Earlier that month he'd strained his calf and broken his wrist falling down the stairs. I guess the team had a change of heart. The lefty reliever pitched in the Atlantic League last year.
Chico Harlan of the Washington Post offers up a number of Nationals rumors.
- Wily Mo Pena was placed on waivers, meaning that any team can claim him and take on his $2MM salary. As Harlan points out, no team will claim him so Pena will have to choose between free agency and a minor league assignment. Apparently Pena declined to comment this morning, but shook hands with many in the Washington clubhouse before heading out (leaving a full locker behind).
- Collin Balester was optioned to AAA so Shairon Martis and Jordan Zimmermann are the team's 4th and 5th starters.
- Catcher Javier Valentin declined a minor league assignment and became a free agent.
- Yesterday, Harlan spoke with Austin Kearns and Josh Willingham about the possibility of reduced playing time and both players said they want to play out the spring first.
10:04pm: Jack Etkin at Inside The Rockies has some details on the Bard signing. He writes that the Red Sox "decided to keep George Kottaras, 25, who was out of options" as a back up for Jason Varitek. Etkin continues:
"By releasing Bard on Wednesday, the deadline for paying a player 30 days termination pay, the Red Sox owed him about $279,000. Had they waited one more day to release him, they would have owed Bard 45 days termination pay or about $418,000."
7:42pm: Chico Harlan of the Washington Post writes that Bard will join what Nationals GM Mike Rizzo calls "a competitive situation." Bard will battle Wil Nieves and Javier Valentin for the backup catcher spot.
2:26pm: According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the Nationals signed catcher Josh Bard to a minor league deal. Bard had been signed but then released by the Red Sox.
Bard, 31 in March, had a couple of pretty solid seasons for the Padres in 2006 and 2007. He dealt with ankle and elbow injuries last year. It's a nice signing for the Nationals.
According to Chico Harlan of the Washington Post, the Nationals have signed catcher Javier Valentin to a minor league contract.
Valentin, 33, hit .256/.326/.411 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 129 at-bats for the Reds last season. He'll be given a shot to win the backup catching job over Wil Nieves this spring. Nieves, 31, batted .261/.309/.341 with one dinger and 20 RBI in 176 at-bats during the '08 season.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer spoke to Reds GM Walt Jocketty recently. A few nuggets from the conversation:
- The Reds will "at least explore" signing free agent lefty Mark Mulder. Jocketty, of course, has a history with Mulder from the Cardinals. Mulder recently told MLB.com's Mychael Urban he won't consider signing until he's healthy and throwing well.
- Jocketty has spoken to the agents for free agents David Weathers, Mike Lincoln, Jeremy Affeldt, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Javier Valentin. Weathers doesn't seem interested in taking a discount, while Valentin said last month he'd love to return.
- The Reds aren't interested in signing Ken Griffey Jr. The White Sox are expected to pass as well, but Mark Gonzales believes he could be considered in a lesser role if healthy. At any rate, the two teams will split Junior's $4MM buyout.
Rounding up the day's links...
- Jack Etkin of the Rocky Mountain News talks about the future of Garrett Atkins. We discussed the possibility of an Atkins trade in this post.
- MLB.com's Jim Molony says the Astros would like to re-sign reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Amazingly, Hawkins has thrown 17 scoreless innings as an Astro.
- This is a popular link lately...Vegas Watch examines April predictions from various analysts. Meanwhile, Scott Long digs in deeper on PECOTA's American League predictions. Personally I am more interested in the logic behind projections. Did anyone predict Rays starters to post a 3.88 ERA? Did anyone peg Dioner Navarro and Carl Crawford's seasons?
- Viva El Birdos hopes the Cardinals do not sign Jon Garland this winter.
- Sam Mellinger wonders how the Royals would replace David DeJesus if they traded him.
- Andy Pettitte remains undecided on 2009. He's hinted a desire to come back, but it's unknown whether the Yankees want him. Houston could make sense.
- The Mariners are currently in line to have first crack at drafting Stephen Strasburg. They could even use Erik Bedard's money to sign him.
- Javier Valentin hasn't heard from the Reds regarding 2009.
ESPN reports the Reds have exercised Adam Dunn's $13MM club option. This is expected and activates a full no-trade clause for Dunn through June 15th. As Tim noted here, he'll then have the option to choose 10 clubs to which he can be traded.
MLBTR readers were more or less unanimously in favor of Dunn's return. 40 homers at $13MM seems a no-brainer to me. He's a patient hitter and the Reds' most potent bat. At that price, if the Reds do intend to deal him they will find ample value. But don't forget that Reds CEO Bob Castellini told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the possibility for an extension exists.
The Reds were feeling decisive today and also brought back Scott Hatteberg ($1.84 million option) and Javier Valentin ($1.35 million option) while declining Eddie Guardado's option. Both options exercised make sense for the Reds at those bargain basement prices.