Jay Bruce Rumors

Reds Rumors: Bruce, Votto, Rhodes, Cairo, Arroyo

The Reds have had preliminary extension talks with the agents for Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, and those aren't the only players GM Walt Jocketty is thinking of extending. Here are the details, from John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

  • Jocketty says the extension Troy Tulowitzki signed will probably figure into discussions with Votto "to some extent."
  • Free agent deals have been more lucrative than Jocketty expected so far this offseason. 
  • The Reds continue to talk to Arthur Rhodes, who's a Philadelphia target, and Miguel Cairo. Jocketty says he expects to reach a deal with Cairo.
  • The Reds are also making progress on an extension with Bronson Arroyo. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe hears (on Twitter) that the talks are hovering around three years and $35MM with some deferred money. Arroyo, writes Cafardo, is "not biting yet."

Sosnick On Nolasco & Bruce

Agent Matt Sosnick has two clients in their arbitration years, but right now extension talks for Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins and Jay Bruce of the Reds aren't far beyond the infancy stages. Here's what Sosnick told Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald regarding a possible deal for Nolasco…

"I would say certainly nothing's going to happen soon," said the agent. "But I would be surprised if something didn't end up happening. We have had some conversations and I think we've made some progress."

Nolasco earned $3.8MM in his second (of four as a Super Two) year of arbitration, but back in September we heard that "a significant gulf" existed between the two sides during negotiations. More recently the club indicated that signing Dan Uggla long-term was their first priority, but after today's trade Nolasco presumably moved up on the list. The 27-year-old righty (28 next month) pitched to a 4.51 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 157 2/3 innings this season.

As for Bruce, here's what MLB.com's Mark Sheldon passes along…

"If Jay can get compensated fairly over his arbitration years and into his free agency years, we're open to it," Sosnick said. "If it makes financial sense, we'll look at it. There is no hesitation on Jay's part to stay in Cincinnati for as long as possible. He loves it there."

Bruce is due a significant raise as he enters his first year of arbitration (also a Super Two), and he's expressed interest a long-term deal in the past. Perhaps Nick Markakis' six-year, $66MM deal can be used as framework. Bruce had a monster season at age 23, hitting .281/.353/.493 with 25 homers.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Cox, Crawford, DeJesus

Two years ago today the Athletics acquired Matt Holliday from the Rockies in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith. Holliday hit .286/.378/.454 in exactly 400 plate appearances with Oakland before being dealt to the Cardinals for a package led by Brett Wallace at the 2009 trade deadline.

Street has battled injuries but has been solid when on the mound for Colorado, pitching to a 3.30 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 109 innings. Smith has appeared in just eight games for the Rox (all starts), putting up a 6.23 ERA. The real get was CarGo, who will certainly be in the MVP mix after a .336/.376/.598 season with 34 doubles, 34 homers, 26 stolen bases, and a batting title.

The hot stove league will certainly bring us more blockbuster trades, but for now you'll have to settle for this long collection of links, the best the blogosphere had to offer this week…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.



Reds Rumors: Cairo, Hernandez, Rhodes, Arroyo

Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he doesn’t expect to sign a big name free agent this winter. Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee will likely be playing elsewhere next year, though the Reds will boost payroll in 2011.

“I’m always trying to do something, but [signing a top free agent] would be pretty tough,” Jocketty said.

The Reds have had preliminary talks with the agents for Miguel Cairo, Ramon Hernandez and Arthur Rhodes, but Jocketty says he hasn’t yet exchanged potential salaries. The Reds have not spoken to Bronson Arroyo about an extension since picking up his option last week and they are not currently discussing long-term deals with Joey Votto or Jay Bruce.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote yesterday that he expected the Reds to complete a two-year extension with Arroyo this week. Jocketty has said he'd like to reach a deal before the 2011 season begins, but the potential contract may not become a priority until later this offseason.


Bruce, Perez, And Others Get Super Two Status

Twenty players including Reds right fielder Jay Bruce and Indians pitcher Chris Perez have qualified for Super Two status, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of CBSSports.comEvan Longoria has also made the cutoff but will not reap the benefits as he signed a long-term deal with the Rays in April of 2008.

Players with two years and 122 days of service were granted Super Two status this winter.  Prior to this year, no player was awarded Super Two status with less than two years and 130 days of service time.  MLBTradeRumors first reported the lowering of the cutoff in June.

Super Twos get to go to arbitration four times instead of the usual three.  Players such as Bruce, and Perez are now in line for significant raises in 2011.  As for Bruce, the 23-year-old recently said that he would be open to discussing a long-term deal with Cincinnati for "five or six years."

To brush up on exactly what Super Two status means and how one obtains it, you can check out our handy post right here.  Below, you will find the complete list of players who have now been granted Super Two status.

Burke Badenhop, Florida 2.143
Travis Buck, Oakland 2.122
Jay Bruce, Cincinnati 2.125
Dana Eveland, Pittsburgh (outrighted) 2.152
Josh Fields, Kansas City 2.159
Armando Galarraga, Detroit 2.148
Alberto Gonzalez, Washington 2.135
Chase Headley, San Diego 2.123
Luke Hochevar, Kansas City 2.151
Jim Johnson, Baltimore 2.165
Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia 2.159
Jensen Lewis, Cleveland 2.133
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay 2.170
Darren O'Day, Texas 2.128
Ross Ohlendorf, Pittsburgh 2.139
Felipe Paulino, Houston 2.163
Chris Perez, Cleveland 2.136
Ian Stewart, Colorado 2.154
Sean White, Seattle 2.156
Brad Ziegler, Oakland 2.122


Odds & Ends: Duchscherer, Bruce, Nolasco, Votto

Some links as the Rangers look to close out the Yankees at home..


Sosnick On Bruce, Willingham, Nolasco, Dunn

Agent Matt Sosnick appeared on the Diamond Hoggers' Baseball Show today, and spoke at length about how he became involved in baseball, his experiences in the sport, and a few of his clients. Here are the highlights from the discussion, which you can listen to here:

  • Jay Bruce is open to signing a long-term contract with the Reds. "If the Reds felt the same way," Sosnick said. "We'd be open to doing something that was five or six years."
  • Sosnick acknowledged that locking up Joey Votto would likely be a higher priority for the club, but cited deals signed by Justin Upton and Troy Tulowitzki as potential starting points for a Bruce extension.
  • As we heard earlier today, Josh Willingham is interested in signing an extension with the Nationals. Sosnick feels that if Willingham were hitting the open market this winter, the 31-year-old could land a multi-year deal worth $10MM annually.
  • According to Sosnick, when the Giants made a push for Willingham, the Nats asked for either Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgarner in return.
  • Regarding a possible Ricky Nolasco extension, Sosnick says he and the Marlins agreed on the years, but were off by "about 20%" on salary. The two sides will resume extension talks in November or December, working on a one-year deal in the meantime.
  • Adam Dunn is not a Sosnick client, but the agent predicts that Dunn will receive about $40MM for three years this offseason.

Reds Rumors: Hernandez, Rhodes, Bruce

We heard yesterday that the Reds are likely to decline their half of the $4MM mutual option on Orlando Cabrera for 2011 and that the club has interest in retaining Jonny Gomes and Ramon Hernandez. Here’s more news on the 2010 NL Central Champs from John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

  • Devin Mesoraco’s progress could impact the offers the Reds make to Hernandez. Mesoraco, a 22-year-old catcher, had an excellent season at the plate this year. The 2007 first rounder hit .302/.377/.587 at three minor league stops with 26 total homers. He’s now playing in the Arizona Fall League and figures to need more minor league seasoning given his lack of experience in the upper minors.
  • The Reds have talked to Arthur Rhodes’ agent about bringing the lefty back in 2011. Rhodes told Fay he’d like to return and talks will resume next week, so there’s a chance the sides work something out before Rhodes hits the open market.
  • The Reds expect Jay Bruce to qualify as a Super Two, but they haven’t heard official word yet. Bruce would likely earn a few million if he’s arbitration eligible this year and that commitment would likely affect the Reds’ ability to spend on other players.
  • MLBTR's Tim Dierkes heard in June that the Super Two cutoff will be earlier than usual this year and that Bruce will be the Super Two with the fewest days of service time. With just two years and 125 days of service time, Bruce will have less big league experience than any Super Two in recent years.

How Reasonable Are Jeff Francoeur’s Demands?

In a move that has amused those who follow the New York Mets closely, Jeff Francoeur has gone public with his demands to be traded following New York's decision to platoon him with young outfielder Fernando Martinez.

Despite a season line of .241/.294/.385, Francoeur apparently believes a major league team would play him regularly at a position, right field, that averages production of .271/.344/.447. Indeed, Francoeur's line is well below the MLB average at second base (.266/.331/.393).

But we have yet to see how Francoeur's demand for a trade stands up to history. It isn't easy to find comparable performance among right fielders in recent years, and it's even harder to find any who were traded after performing as poorly as Francoeur.

Since 2000, just 31 of the 165 right fielders to amass at least 300 plate appearances posted an OPS+ below 100. Of those 31, only four checked in lower than Francoeur's 2010 OPS+ mark of 82: Richard Hidalgo's 2005 (81), Jeromy Burnitz's 2002 (80), Austin Kearns' 2008 (67) and Jeff Francoeur's own 2008 (72).

Kearns followed his 2008 with a similarly poor 2009 before the Nationals let him walk after last season. Burnitz followed 2002 with a half-season of a 139 OPS+ for the 2003 Mets, earning a trade to Los Angeles for Kole Strayhorn, Jose Diaz and Victor Diaz. Hidalgo never played in the majors again, and Francoeur followed his 2008 with a half-season of 68 OPS+ hitting in 2009, earning a trade to the Mets for Ryan Church.

In other words Jeff Francoeur is the only one from that group to be traded for anything at all. Incidentally, four of the 31 player seasons in right field below 100 OPS+ are from Francoeur. Only three others are on the list more than once: Juan Encarnacion (three times), Alex Rios (twice), Hidalgo (twice) and Burnitz (twice).

Encarnacion is an instructive comparison. His career OPS+ of 97 is better than, but similar to, Francoeur's 91. Encarnacion had additional value because he lacked a platoon split (amazingly, his OPS against both lefties and righties was .758) and had the ability to play center field.

In the middle of an 84 OPS+ season in 2004 at age 28, a year after he posted a 97 OPS+, the Marlins acquired Encarnacion as part of a six-player deal from the Dodgers. He went on to start 46 of Florida's remaining 58 games. His salary ($3.6MM) was roughly equivalent to the $5MM Francoeur earns in 2010.

So there is precedent. It happened one other time.

Among those under 100 OPS+ in right field, Alex Rios had a 96 OPS+ last year when the White Sox took him from the Blue Jays and agreed to pay his entire salary (at $61MM, many times as much as remains on Francoeur's deal). But Rios had three seasons of 120, 122 and 112 OPS+ in 2006-2008 under his belt, success Francoeur hasn't seen since his half-season debut in 2005.

Overwhelmingly, the players performing as poorly as Francoeur, or even demonstrably better, are simply let go, often never to surface again. Trot Nixon's 96 OPS+ in 2006 represented his last season as a regular player. So did Danny Bautista's 85 in 2004 and Derek Bell's 98 in 2000. Jose Guillen's 89 in 2000 got him sent back to the minor leagues by Tampa Bay, then released.

There's also that pesky question: who would Francoeur replace in another team's regular lineup? Of the 20 right fielders in MLB who have played more than half their games in right field this year, Francoeur ranks dead last in OPS+ with 82. The four closest to him? Jay Bruce (96), Ben Zobrist (98), Hunter Pence (102) and Ichiro Suzuki (107). It is safe to say Francoeur won't be replacing any of those players. He'd make a decent platoon partner with Bruce, but… right. Platooning led Francoeur to demand a trade in the first place.

In short, the answer to the title of this piece is: not reasonable at all. Not reasonable in light of his 2010 performance, not reasonable in terms of other right fielders, not reasonable comparatively through recent history.


Super Two Cutoff Less Than Expected

The next Super Two cutoff will require fewer days of service time than usual, MLBTR has learned.  Last year's Super Two cutoff was at two years and 139 days of service time.  In previous years, the cutoff was never less than two years and 130 days.  However, MLBTR has confirmed with two different team sources that the 2010 cutoff will be two years and most likely 123-125 days.  Service time projections may change over the next three months, but the cutoff is likely to be in that range.

The abnormal cutoff is described by one source as an anomaly.  But since the cutoff is percentage-based, the reduced service time needed for Super Two in 2010 may be the result of the recent trend in teams holding back MLB-ready prospects until late May or early June.  Perhaps once Super Two-based service time manipulation became widespread, it lost its effectiveness.

The top beneficiary of the reduced Super Two requirement is Reds right fielder Jay Bruce.  After this season Bruce will have two years and 125 days, and MLBTR has confirmed he'll be the Super Two with the least amount of service time.  The Reds delayed his MLB debut until May 27th back in 2008, but he's still going to arbitration four times – starting after this season.  Instead of earning $450K in 2011, he'll get millions.  Diamondbacks second baseman Tony Abreu is another winner, at two years and 127 days after the season.  Abreu can credit agent Scott Boras for fighting for an extra 30 days service time with last year's grievance.  Chase Headley, at two years and 123 days after the season, will be the player with the most service time to miss Super Two status.

Looking ahead, a similar early Super Two cutoff after the 2011 season could affect a player like Matt Wieters, who could be at two years and 129 days.  However, the collective bargaining agreement expires on December 11th, 2011, and the Super Two process figures to be one issue on the table.