Jayson Werth Rumors

Quick Hits: Pirates, Cubs, Werth, Byrdak

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.

Gillick On Phillies, Werth, Daniels, Orioles

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.

NL East Notes: Werth, Morse, Braves

On this date in 2004, the newly acquired Richard Hidalgo homered in his fifth consecutive game for the Mets, giving him eight homers in his first 16 contests with New York. Hidalgo would go on to hit 21 homers for the Mets in '04, but he played his last MLB game a year later. Here are the latest links from his former division…

  • Jayson Werth told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that he doesn't regret signing in Washington last winter. The outfielder says he's happy with his decision, but unhappy with his offensive production. He has a .221/.326/.377 line since signing a $126MM deal with the Nationals
  • Michael Morse of the Nationals tells Crasnick that he feels like a late bloomer. The 29-year-old outfielder, who had just 392 MLB plate appearances before last season, now has 15 homers and a .536 slugging percentage.
  • The White Sox seem interested in Atlanta's pitching, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman. The Braves could be in the market for an outfielder and may attempt to find a proven leadoff hitter like Juan Pierre.
  • Bowman notes (on Twitter) that he won't be surprised if the Braves don't make a significant move this month.

NL East Notes: Reyes, Werth, McKeon

The Phillies and Braves began the day ranked first and second in MLB in run prevention. The Phillies (240 runs allowed as of this morning) have Cliff Lee on the hill tonight and the Braves (252 runs allowed) surrendered just a single run against the Blue Jays this afternoon. Here's the latest on the other NL East clubs: 

  • As Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has clearly become more enamored with Jose Reyes as the season has gone on and the shortstop has showed off his defense and athleticism.
  • Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that agent Scott Boras did not solicit him before Werth left the Beverly Hills Sports Council for Boras late last season. "In no way was I being harassed or bothered or anything other than what I wanted," Werth said, in response to Jayson Stark’s recent ESPN article.
  • Click here to see how Werth is faring relative to other new members of baseball's $100MM club and click here to check out our Agency Database.
  • Managers around the league, including Terry Francona of the Red Sox and Mike Scioscia of the Angels, tell Joe Frisaro of MLB.com that they're impressed with Marlins skipper Jack McKeon, who is managing at the age of 80.

Checking In On The Newest $100MM Players

Every year a few select players join baseball’s exclusive $100MM club with free agent deals and mega-extensions. Last offseason was no different – we saw six players sign nine figure deals. The contracts were all for five years or more, so it’s far too early to call them successes or failures. But as the season approaches its halfway point, let’s check in on baseball’s newest $100MM players:

  • Troy Tulowitzki, ten-year, $157.75MM extension – Tulo has slowed down after a scorching start, but he's still having an excellent season. His .274/.339/.491 line and 13 homers look especially good when you consider that he's a good defensive shortstop.
  • Adrian Gonzalez, seven-year, $154MM extension – Red Sox fans dreamed of a season like this when Theo Epstein acquired Gonzalez from the Padres in December. The first baseman is a leading MVP candidate with a .350/.403/.603 line and 15 home runs. 
  • Carl Crawford, seven-year, $142MM contract – Crawford was heating up before he hit the disabled list, but his numbers are poor overall. He has a .243/.275/.384 batting line, just 8 stolen bases and his lowest walk rate (3.2%) since 2002, his rookie season.
  • Jayson Werth, seven-year, $126MM contract – Werth is hitting just .233/.334/.409, though he has 10 home runs. Nationals fans may be consoled by the fact that Werth erupted in the second half last year and has traditionally produced better after the All-Star break.
  • Cliff Lee, five-year, $120MM contract – The prize of the offseason free agent market, Lee has a 3.12 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 104 innings. The lefty is in the midst of another fantastic season and this time he doesn't have to worry about being traded.
  • Ryan Braun, five-year, $105MM extension – Braun is having a monster year. He has a .310/.397/.555 line with 15 homers and a career-best 12.1% walk rate for the first-place Brewers.  

It's fair to expect Werth and Crawford to turn their seasons around and produce as they did before signing nine figure free agent contracts. The other four additions to the $100MM club are justifying the deals, at least to the extent that it's possible in less than three months.

NL East Notes: Chipper, Escobar, Werth, McKeon

Tim Hudson pitched eight shutout innings and hit a two-run homer to beat the Blue Jays in Yunel Escobar's return to Atlanta tonight. Here's the latest on the Braves and their NL East rivals… 

  • Chipper Jones told Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he never wanted Escobar to leave, "because the guy’s a good player." Jones suggests last summer's trade worked out well for both sides, since Escobar has matured into a better player and the Braves have the steady Alex Gonzalez. I examined Escobar's recent contract extension earlier today.
  • Bill Ladson of MLB.com says free agent signing Jayson Werth has "brought a spark" to Washington and helped the Nationals to a respectable record. Werth has a .232/.332/.409 line with ten home runs in his first season in D.C. – not what the Nats were hoping for when they made a $126MM commitment to the outfielder last offseason. 
  • New Marlins manager Jack McKeon explained to Dave George of the Palm Beach Post why he returned to the bench as an 80-year-old skipper. "I don't need this job, but I love it, and I love the people I'm working for."
  • Hanley Ramirez might not love the person he's working for quite yet; McKeon benched Ramirez tonight after the shortstop showed up late to the ballpark.

Nationals Notes: Harper, Rodriguez, Werth

The latest on the Nationals, who rest today before hosting the last-place Padres this weekend…

  • Top prospect Bryce Harper is hitting his way through the South Atlantic League with the help of his coaches and teammates and as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes, last year's number one pick is just beginning his baseball odyssey. 
  • As Adam Kilgore points out at the Washington Post, Ivan Rodriguez could appeal to the Giants, who lost Buster Posey to the disabled list, possibly for the rest of the season. The Nationals are one of few teams with catching depth to spare.
  • Jayson Werth, who signed a $126MM contract with Washington over the winter, has raised his OPS above .800 for the first time since April 14th and he tells Kilgore that he's feeling good. “I’m working in the right direction," he said. "I’m hitting balls hard, and I’ve got some confidence. I like where I’m at.”

Cafardo’s Latest: Red Sox, Upton, Minaya, Saito

After extending Adrian Gonzalez this week, the Red Sox have guaranteed nearly $300MM to their two big offseason acquisitions, Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. However, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, some baseball people feel that Jayson Werth would have made more sense for the Sox than Crawford. One AL GM says he's "not sure that many of us are unhappy they chose Crawford over Werth," adding that Werth seemed to be a better fit for Boston's lefty-heavy lineup. Here are the rest of the highlights from Cafardo's Sunday Notes:

  • The Red Sox may not have even been in on Crawford or Werth this winter if they had re-signed Jason Bay a year earlier. A National League GM calls Bay leaving Boston "one of the worst decisions both by a team and by the player," suggesting that both sides miss each other.
  • According to Cafardo, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers was willing to deal Justin Upton to the Red Sox in the offseason, but only if he got the Adrian Gonzalez package or Clay Buchholz in return.
  • Several teams have spoken to Omar Minaya about potential job openings. Minaya, who dubs himself a "free agent," says he's still sorting through everything and searching for the best fit, but he could make a decision soon.
  • Cafardo points out that spending time on the disabled list could cost Takashi Saito a good chunk of money this season. Currently on the shelf with a hamstring injury, Saito can earn up to five $100K bonuses based on time spent on the active roster.

NL East Notes: Chipper, Werth, Rollins

The Mets made a minor trade and the Marlins are finalizing their roster. Here's the latest from the other NL East teams…

Quick Hits: Maine, Lerner, Foltynewicz

A few stray items of note coming out of the National League as Thursday winds down …

  • Rockies right-hander John Maine can opt out of his contract with Colorado if he's not on the 25-man roster on June 1, tweets Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post. Maine, who signed a minor league deal with the Rox this offseason, has missed the better part of each of the past two seasons with the Mets due to right arm trouble.
  • The Nationals grabbed headlines this offseason by signing Jayson Werth to a hefty $126MM contract, and though it was widely regarded as a questionable baseball decision, owner Ted Lerner has no shortage of cash, writes Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo! Sports. Lerner, as Kaduk explains, ranks No. 376 on Forbes' list of wealthiest people in the world, and is presently the wealthiest majority owner in baseball.
  • Astros pitching prospect Mike Foltynewicz is looking to build upon the strong professional debut he made in 2010, writes Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner. Astros assistant GM/director of scouting Bobby Heck said that the right-hander probably has the highest ceiling of any Astros minor leaguer. Interestingly, Foltynewicz told Goff that he probably would have gone to the Red Sox at No. 20 overall in last year's First-Year Player Draft had the Astros not nabbed him at No. 19.