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Jayson Werth Rumors
Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully is celebrating his 65th anniversary in the booth tonight. His first game was at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park featuring Robin Roberts against Don Newcombe. Incidentally, Roberts is also in the Hall of Fame while Newcombe is often discussed as a snub. Here’s more from around the league.
- The Blue Jays did little to address an obvious bullpen problem over the offseason, writes Mike Wilner of Sportsnet.ca. However, the club might have lucked into a valuable solution in the form of Liam Hendriks. The 26-year-old is averaging 93 mph with his fastball – up about two mph from his career norm. Through six innings, he’s allowed two hits and one walk while recording nine strikeouts. Before anybody anoints Hendriks the closer, it’s worth noting that he has a low 5.3% swinging strike rate. At some point, that rate will either increase, or his strikeout rate will decrease.
- The Nationals must learn to thrive under walk year pressure, writes Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. When Jayson Werth entered his walk year with the Phillies, then-manager Charlie Manuel advised him to test free agency (in more colorful language). Now the Nationals have four key players on the road to free agency. Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Denard Span could all leave after the season, which gives 2015 a make-or-break feel for Washington. Werth and Max Scherzer have advice for their new teammates – acknowledge all the sources of pressure.
The Nationals and shortstop Ian Desmond have not discussed a contract extension, tweets William Ladson of MLB.com. Desmond is a free agent after this season. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked Desmond the fourth best impending free agent. Dierkes believes he could exceed a $200MM guarantee with another strong season. Desmond declined a seven-year, $107MM extension offer prior to the 2014 season.
- GM Mike Rizzo expects Jayson Werth to be ready in time for the season opener, writes Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. Werth’s availability could influence if the club pursues another outfielder. The club has a few internal options who can work as stop gaps including Nate McLouth, Kevin Frandsen, and prospect Michael Taylor.
- Tanner Roark appears to be the odd man out in the rotation, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. He’ll continue to prepare as a starter until later in the spring. If the club opts to use him in the bullpen, they believe his stuff could play up. Some pitchers experience a burst of velocity while working in short relief.
- Switch-hitter Danny Espinosa may have taken his last hacks from the left-hand batters box, reports Ladson. The utility infielder plans to become a purely right-handed hitter. He’ll spend much of spring training working to hit right-handed breaking balls. Espinosa has substantial career splits, including a weak .213/.284/.362 line batting left-handed. Against southpaws, he’s managed a stout .271/.343/.460 line. While he’s unlikely to match the better rates against same-handed pitchers, there is some hope he can improve.
- Utility infielder Emmanuel Burriss is competing for a bench role, writes Ladson. The 30-year-old is coming off a possible breakout season at Triple-A where he hit .300/.377/.412 with more walks than strikeouts. The switch-hitter spent parts of five seasons with the Giants, hitting .243/.304/.269 in 801 plate appearances. He’s spent the last two seasons in the minors.
Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth will undergo arthroscopic surgery on right shoulder tomorrow and need two to three months to recover, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (All Twitter links). Werth will have his AC shoulder joint — the same joint that caused him to miss time in August — repaired at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. While the first reaction of some (myself included) is probably to wonder if this will increase Washington’s interest in Ben Zobrist, Rosenthal reports that that’s not the case. The Nats have considered the asking price on Zobrist to be too high in talks with the Rays, he says.
A three-month recovery could result in Werth missing time early in the season, which could lead to increased playing time for Nate McLouth or Michael Taylor. As the Nats deal with this unfortunate news, here are a few more notes pertaining to their division…
- Erick Fedde, whom the Nationals selected in the first round of last year’s draft despite the fact that he had undergone Tommy John surgery, is progressing well in his rehab and has begun a throwing program, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. Fedde has also begun weight training and says that Stephen Strasburg and Lucas Giolito, both of whom have undergone Tommy John in the past, have been vital to keeping him upbeat and optimistic about his recovery.
- The Marlins have interest in James Shields but will likely only be able to make a serious play for him if his price tag drops below $100MM, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Miami had “considerable” interest in Shields back in November, but they’ve since added Mat Latos and Dan Haren into the rotation mix. Haren, of course, wants to be traded back to a West Coast club, and moving him is another likely prerequisite to a theoretical Shields signing.
- Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer examines the Phillies‘ options for left field now that Marlon Byrd is with the Reds and Domonic Brown appears to be moving back to right field. Grady Sizemore is the favorite to at least platoon with someone at that spot, but Kaplan notes that Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera is an intriguing name to keep an eye on. The second-baseman-turned-outfielder is just 23 years of age and enjoying a brilliant season in the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting a ridiculous .372/.432/.556 with six homers and eight steals in just over 200 at-bats. Kaplan also spoke with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about Jeff Francoeur‘s chances of making the club after signing a minor league deal earlier this offseason.
The Nationals have kept a low profile this winter, per MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker. GM Mike Rizzo has yet to sign a free agent to a MLB contract preferring minor league deals for veterans like Dan Uggla, Heath Bell, and Ian Stewart while netting Joe Ross and Trea Turner for being the third team in the Wil Myers trade. Here’s the latest on the Nationals’ offseason, courtesy of MLB.com’s Bill Ladson:
- By trading Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals would be able to replenish their farm system and add a couple of veterans.
- Ladson opines the Nationals will trade for a second baseman before the start of Spring Training (listing Ben Zobrist as a possibility) because Danny Espinosa is too inconsistent offensively, Kevin Frandsen is not seen as a starter by manager Matt Williams, and the team does not want to rush prospect Wilmer Difo.
- Tyler Moore must have a great Spring Training to make the club coming off the bench. If not, the 28-year-old (next month) first baseman becomes a trade candidate because he is out of options.
- With Denard Span scheduled to hit free agency after the 2015 season, Michael A. Taylor could be the everyday center fielder in 2016, but the Nationals will need to find a leadoff hitter and may have to settle for Jayson Werth.
- Top prospect Lucas Giolito is not a rotation candidate, if Zimmermann or Doug Fister is traded. The 16th overall selection in the 2012 draft should begin the season in Double-A and could be a September callup.
Is there a more feared name in the sports world than Dr. James Andrews? This time it's the Braves and their fans' turn to be worried — the club tweeted that Brandon Beachy will miss his next start due to a sore right elbow and visit the famed sports surgeon on Monday. Beachy underwent Tommy John surgery on that same right arm in June 2012 and has made just five starts since returning from the injury.
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- Rafael Betancourt left Thursday's game with an elbow injury and the Rockies are concerned the veteran reliever has a torn UCL, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. That injury would require Tommy John surgery and could threaten the 38-year-old's career. Betancourt will make his third trip to the DL this season, effectively ending any chance that the righty will switch teams. The Rockies placed Betancourt on revocable waivers earlier today.
- Dariel Alvarez has already advanced to the Orioles' high A-ball affiliate, though Baseball America's Ben Badler tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that scouts have questions about Alvarez's potential. "I don't think he was a very high-profile player for a lot of teams," Badler said. "I don't think there was a high level of interest in him. There are a lot of concerns about his hitting translating to game situations….He does have some occasional power, but there is a lot of question among scouts as to whether the hitting will translate against more advanced pitching." Badler felt that Alvarez's $800K bonus was surprisingly high and that Henry Urrutia (another up-and-coming Cuban outfielder in the O's system) is the much better prospect of the two.
- Signing relievers to multiyear deals continues to be a risky proposition, as Fangraphs' Dave Cameron breaks down how only four (arguably five) of the 13 relievers who signed such deals last winter have delivered good value to their teams.
- Jayson Werth's surprising age-34 season has been one of the few bright spots for the Nationals this year, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post writes. Werth hit .256/.349/.407 and battled injuries in the first two years of his seven-year, $126MM deal with the Nats, but the veteran has lived up this salary this season by posting a .938 OPS with 18 homers through 385 PA.
The Nationals made a big splash this week when they landed Gio Gonzalez in a deal to bolster their already solid rotation. Here's more on what the acquisition of Gonzalez means for the Nats and other news on the club..
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson (via Twitter) cautions that it's just a prediction, but it wouldn't surprise him to see the Nationals trade John Lannan for a bat. The left-hander is arbitration eligible for the second time this winter and MLBTR projects that he is set to earn $4.9MM. The Nats could be comfortable moving Lannan in part because of their confidence in Ross Detwiler (Twitter link).
- During last night's conference call to discuss the Gonzalez deal, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said that the club will be aggressive in their pursuit of a long-term center fielder if the opportunity presents itself. Rizzo went on to say that the club is considering using Jayson Werth in center and expanding their search to include right fielders, Ladson writes.
- Pete Kerzel of MASNSports.com understands the concern over Gonzalez's walk rate, but also points to the strides he's made in other areas, including innings pitched and sustaining a high strikeout rate with the increased workload. Kerzel isn't concerned about the fact that Gonzalez has been traded four times, saying that it's a sign of his universally recognized potential and not an indicator of potential problems.
Six players signed deals worth $100MM or more last offseason and they've now completed one year since finalizing their respective deals. Here's a look at how baseball's newest $100MM players fared in 2011 (in order of contract value):
- Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, ten-year, $157.75MM extension – This deal, which was somewhat unexpected last offseason, is going as well as the Rockies could hope. Tulowitzki put together another tremendous season: .302/.372/.544 with 30 home runs at shortstop.
- Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox, seven-year, $154MM extension - Gonzalez led the American League in hits and nearly won the batting title in his return to the Junior Circuit. He posted a .338/.410/.548 line and hit 27 homers on his way to an MVP-caliber season. His seven-year extension officially kicks in next season, though.
- Carl Crawford, Red Sox, seven-year, $142MM contract - Crawford posted a sub-.300 on-base percentage, saw his stolen base total drop by 29 and hit fewer home runs, triples and doubles than he did during his final season in Tampa Bay. The Red Sox still owe him $128MM, so they have to find a way to turn their left fielder's career around.
- Jayson Werth, Nationals, seven-year, $126MM contract – Though Werth doesn't like the idea that 2011 was a lost season for him and the Nationals, there's no denying that his numbers fell off. He had a .232/.330/.389 line with 20 homers and 19 stolen bases.
- Cliff Lee, Phillies, five-year, $120MM contract – We knew Lee was good, but it would not have been fair to expect this kind of year: he posted a 2.40 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 232 2/3 innings.
- Ryan Braun, Brewers, five-year, $105MM extension - Braun could win the MVP after leading the league in slugging percentage (.597) and OPS (.994). He hit 33 homers and stole 33 bases, posted a career-high .397 on-base percentage and made his fourth consecutive All-Star team.
Crawford and Werth were sources of excitement for their respective teams when they signed free agent contracts and the outfielders have since become sources of concern. The other position players – Tulowitzki, Gonzalez and Braun – have turned in MVP-caliber seasons, while Lee should be a top-three finisher in this year's NL Cy Young balloting.
Stephen Strasburg struck out ten Marlins without allowing a run over six innings of work in Washington's season finale this afternoon. Here are the latest links on the Nationals, who finish the season with an impressive 80-81 record…
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he hopes to be managing the team again in 2012 (Twitter link). "I know I'm the best candidate," he said. Jon Heyman of SI.com has been reporting for a while that Johnson can have the Nationals' job if he wants it, though GM Mike Rizzo is expected to go through with a complete search.
- Jayson Werth bristles at the idea that 2011 was a lost season for him and the Nationals, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Werth feels that he's helped the team improve by working with other veterans to change its culture. Within Kilgore’s piece, Werth says he's not particularly good at dealing with failure and offers other insights into his first season with Washington.
- Livan Hernandez declined to say whether he and the Nationals have discussed a contract for next year, but he repeated his interest in re-signing with Washington, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
The Cardinals won and the Braves lost, so only 2.5 games separate the two clubs in the National League Wild Card race. Here's the latest news from around MLB…
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington didn't say whether he intends to offer arbitration to Ross Ohlendorf this offseason, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Ohlendorf would earn a raise from his current $2.025MM salary if the Pirates tender him a contract this winter.
- The Cubs told scouting director Tim Wilken that he'll be back in 2012, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. There had been some rumblings that Wilken would receive a four-year extension like the one director of player personnel Oneri Fleita obtained, but Wilken will return on a one-year deal.
- Giants officials acknowledged to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that it will be hard to bring back both Jeremy Affeldt ($5MM option) and Javier Lopez (free agent) next year. The two left-handers could hit free agency this offseason.
- Jayson Werth told Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he still believes that the Nationals are headed for success. The outfielder hasn't lived up to his $126MM contract so far, but he says he has found his swing and regained his composure.
- Mike Mosa, the agent for Tim Byrdak, told MLBTR's Tim Dierkes that Byrdak's decision to sign an extension with the Mets had to do with the team's willingness to include an opt-out in his deal for 2011 (Twitter link).
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs explains that serious analysts don't believe "that awards voting should be done according to an ordinal ranking" of the wins above replacement statistic. WAR is a tool that guides baseball fans, not an absolute statement about value or ability.
- In this week's edition of Ask BA, Jim Callis of Baseball America explains that he doubts we'll ever see an international draft because of all the logistics that would be involved. Commissioner Bud Selig has long supported a worldwide draft, which will come up during this round of collective bargaining.
Longtime baseball executive Pat Gillick will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next weekend alongside Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar. The former Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies GM reflected on his career and the state of the game on a conference call with reporters this morning. Congratulations in advance to Gillick; here are some highlights from his conversation:
- Gillick, who is now a senior advisor for the Phillies, would like to see Philadelphia add a right-handed bat this summer. Though doing so is not imperative, it's "very important."
- Gillick now provides the Phillies with scouting reports on amateur players on the West Coast and talks with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about twice per week.
- Jayson Werth's $126MM contract with the Nationals "stunned and shocked" Gillick, who once signed Werth for $850K under considerably different circumstances. The longtime GM says he's not a fan of long-term deals. "It wouldn't have been something I would have recommended," Gillick said.
- Jon Daniels of the Rangers reminds Gillick of himself. "I always considered myself a little adventurous," Gillick said, "and I think Jon and his Texas group are headed in the right direction."
- Gillick says he admires some moves by Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, especially the deal that brought Adam Jones to Baltimore for Erik Bedard.
- Gillick says he doesn't expect to be a GM again, but he would consider becoming a club president in the right situation.
- The Pirates are the surprise of 2011 for Gillick.