Jedd Gyorko Rumors
Here are a few notes on the Padres, who opened the day a full three games back of the division-leading Dodgers and Giants in the National League West:
- The Pads have been one of the few MLB teams to have been burned by early-career extensions in recent years, notes Dave Cameron in a piece for FOX Sports. One issue -- putting aside the injury and performance issues that have cropped up -- is that San Diego has made several of its bets on players whose expected future market value (through arbitration and free agency) was simply not that high. That, in turn, limited the amount of upside (in terms of cost savings) that the team could realize through those contracts. The team's recent extension of Jedd Gyorko, Cameron argues, is of the same ilk: he is not a high-average hitter or stolen base threat, and his power is less impressive if he plays at third in the future. Cameron opines that, while the deal is not necessarily a bad contract, the team still took on significant risk without getting a real chance at landing a "huge bargain."
- Current third baseman Chase Headley, meanwhile, reportedly turned down his chance at a new deal, and looks destined for the open market at the end of the season. MLB.com's Corey Brock noted that Headley had told him late in the spring that he "just [didn't] think it was ever the right time" to strike an extension. "There's enough ground in between us to where it wasn't going to work out right now," Headley said. "We just couldn't find that common ground." As Brock explains, the likely options now for San Diego look to be a trade, qualifying offer after the year, or another run at a contract. Headley addressed the QO himself with Brock: "We weighed that [in discussions with the team] and it's not a great system for the player. You have to play six full seasons just to get to free agency. ... When you get to that point in your career, I don't think it's necessarily fair to have this one shot at free agency affected by that. At some point, someone is going to take one of those." Of course, Headley added that accepting the QO is "not a bad way to go" because "that's a pretty big number for one year."
- Staff ace Andrew Cashner is showing signs that he could be developing into a true ace, writes Scott Miller for FOX Sports San Diego. Acquired from the Cubs in exchange for young slugger Anthony Rizzo, in what was a bold trade for both clubs, the 27-year-old has made clear that he wants and expects to be a dominant force. "I definitely want a no-hitter," said Cashner, calling it "one of my goals." Indeed, he has looked capable of that recently. Cashner has allowed just 10 hits and three earned runs through his first 21 innings (over three starts) in 2014, striking out 9.4 against 3.0 free passes per nine while holding opposing hitters to a .363 OPS. After re-discovering his slider last year, Cashner worked to a 2.14 ERA in the second half. As he plays out his first arb-eligible season, the big righty looks like a prime extension candidate in his own right.
5:03pm: MLB.com's Corey Brock explains the reasoning behind announcing the contract as a six-year deal despite only adding five new years (Twitter link). Though Gyorko's 2014 salary remains unchanged, there is language in the deal which adds both insurance and benefits to Gyorko's 2014 contract.
3:48pm: The Padres have locked up one of their infielders for years to come, but it isn't the one whose extension status has grabbed the most headlines over the past couple of years; San Diego announced today a six-year extension for second baseman Jedd Gyorko that will keep the ACES client in San Diego through the 2019 season and contains a club option for the 2020 season.
Gyorko's deal appears to be a six-year extension in name only, as the reported breakdown of his contract doesn't include a change to his previously agreed upon 2014 salary. He will earn $2MM in 2015, $4MM in 2016, $6MM in 2017, $9MM in 2018 and $13MM in 2019 before the Padres have the option of retaining him for $13MM for 2020 or paying him a $1MM buyout. Gyorko's deal also reportedly contains escalators that pertain to the option year, meaning the value of that option could rise over the course of the deal.
"We are happy to sign Jedd and secure the rights to two free agent years," said general manager Josh Byrnes in the press release issued to announce the deal. "Jedd is a homegrown player in his fifth season with the Padres organization and has been a consistent performer every step of the way. He has shown us a real commitment to this organization and to the city of San Diego."
Gyorko, 25, had a solid rookie season in which he batted .249/.301/.444 with 23 homers in 525 plate appearances. That effort, which was more impressive than it would appear at first glance due to his pitcher-friendly home stadium, was enough to earn him a sixth-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
A natural third baseman, Gyorko has moved over to second base in San Diego due to the presence of Chase Headley at the hot corner for the Friars. Advanced defensive metrics both felt that he did an admirable job there, with The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved pegging him at -1 runs, while Ultimate Zone Rating estimated that he saved 1.8 runs per 150 games. That defensive flexibility is crucial for the Padres, who could lose Headley to free agency at season's end. Should that happen, Byrnes will have the freedom to pursue both second base and third base options to fill the void, knowing that Gyorko can handle whichever position is not filled by a potential new addition.
The Padres already controlled Gyorko through the 2018 season via the arbitration process, so the Padres have effectively secured an additional two years of control over Gyorko (though only one is guaranteed). His contract is the largest signed by a second baseman with between one and two years of service time, though not the largest deal ever for a player in that service class. Andrelton Simmons, Ryan Braun and Anthony Rizzo have topped that figure. Regardless, that is an impressive group of peers for the slugging infielder to join.
Byrnes isn't shy about pursuing extensions for his young players, though a few of them have gone awry due to injuries in recent years. As can be seen via MLBTR's Extension Tracker, the Padres have recently extended Cameron Maybin (five years, $25MM), Cory Luebke (four years, $12MM), Carlos Quentin (three years, $30MM), Nick Hundley (three years, $9MM), Huston Street (two years, $14MM), Will Venable (two years, $8.5MM) and Chris Denorfia (two years, $4.25MM).
ESPN's Buster Olney was the first to report the deal (via Twitter), with ESPN's Keith Law adding (via Twitter) that it was a six-year deal with a seventh-year option. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports added that the deal ran 2015-19 with a club option, and Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reported the $35MM guarantee and $13MM option value (Twitter links). ESPN's Jayson Stark tweeted about the escalators, with Cotillo adding that they applied only to the option year. Jeff Passan of Yahoo sports reported the year-to-year breakdown (via Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Before Jake Peavy was traded to the White Sox in July 2009, he almost arrived in Chicago a few months earlier as a member of the Cubs. Peavy was the centerpiece of a proposed trade between the Cubs and Padres (and possibly also the Orioles and Braves) during the 2008-09 offseason, and as Peavy tells CSN Chicago's Chuck Garfien, the deal seemed to be virtually finalized before either then-Cubs owner Sam Zell or then-Padres CEO Sandy Alderson pulled the plug on the blockbuster.
Here are some more items from around baseball...
- Chien-Ming Wang can opt out of his minor league deal with the Yankees on Friday, and the Orioles are one of several teams scouting the right-hander, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. The Orioles' interest appears to be only of the due-diligence variety, as Connolly says the team doesn't "appear to be too interested," plus Wang won't exercise his opt-out clause unless he sees a clear opportunity at a Major League starting job with another team.
- The Padres should extend their entire starting infield, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune opines. I'm not sure if Yonder Alonso, Everth Cabrera or Jedd Gyorko had proven themselves as deserving as Chase Headley of a multiyear commitment, nor are the Padres in any real need to lock the three younger players up. Cabrera is already controlled through 2016, Alonso through 2017 and Gyorko through at least 2018 and perhaps longer if he attains Super Two status.
- Before the Giants' win over the Athletics today, Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters (including John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle) that the club wasn't planning any significant changes in light of its recent slump. The Giants' victory today was just their sixth in their last 16 games, and the World Series champions are 29-25 on the season.
- John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press discusses a number of Tigers topics during a live chat with readers, including whether the Tigers might yet make moves to upgrade their bullpen or catching or if the club will extend Jhonny Peralta's contract.
- In another live chat, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News feels that the outfield is a long-term issue for the Rangers (David Murphy and Nelson Cruz are free agents after this season) and the team could address this problem by using Jurickson Profar to acquire Giancarlo Stanton. Grant also thinks the Rangers could attempt to acquire Cliff Lee this summer, though it will depend on how Martin Perez and Colby Lewis perform after they return from the DL.