Jeff Suppan Rumors

Jeff Suppan Retires

Veteran right-hander Jeff Suppan has announced his retirement after 17 seasons in the Major Leagues.  Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has the background on the announcement, which was timed for exactly 4pm CT today in honor of Suppan's late mother, who died at that exact time six years ago.

Suppan, who turned 39 years old today, was originally taken by the Red Sox in the second round of the 1993 amateur draft.  He pitched for seven teams (the Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Royals, Pirates, Cardinals, Brewers and Padres) over his 17-year career, amassing a 4.70 ERA, 4.9 K/9, 1.6 K/BB rate and 45.9% ground ball rate.  Beyond the counting stats, Suppan was also a durable innings-eater for virtually every rotation he joined; the righty averaged 204 IP per season from 1999-2007, including a career-best 218 1/3 IP with Kansas City in 2001.

Suppan collected a World Series ring with St. Louis in 2006, and it's very likely the Cards wouldn't have won that title without Suppan's contributions.  He limited the Mets to just one run over 15 innings in two NLCS starts, a performance that earned Suppan the NLCS MVP award.  Suppan battled injuries later in his career and spent his last three seasons in pro ball on minor league contracts with the Giants, Royals and Padres. 

According to Baseball Reference, Suppan earned $58.125MM in his career, the bulk of which came via a four-year, $42MM contract he signed with Milwaukee following the 2006 season.


Jeff Suppan Elects Free Agency

Jeff Suppan has elected free agency, according to the Padres’ website. The Padres removed Suppan from the roster to create room for Yasmani Grandal last week, designating the right-hander for assignment.

Suppan posted a 5.28 ERA with 2.1 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 30 2/3 innings with San Diego this year. The Padres signed the 37-year-old to a minor league deal worth $950K in February. Lapa/Leventhal represents Suppan, a veteran of 17 MLB seasons.


Padres Designate Jeff Suppan For Assignment

The Padres have designated right-hander Jeff Suppan for assignment, according to a team press release.  The move will allow the club to recall catcher Yasmani Grandal from Triple-A Tucson.

Suppan, 37, has a 5.28 ERA with 2.1 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 30.2 innings of work this season.  The veteran inked a minor league deal with San Diego in February in a deal that paid just $950K for his promotion to the varsity roster.  Suppan spent 2011 with the Royals' Triple-A affiliate where he posted a 4.78 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.



NL West Notes: Ethier, Giants, Suppan, Saito

Jim Tracy's indefinite contract extension with the Rockies is the big headline out of the NL West today, but let's see what else is happening around the division.

  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said he would like to sign Andre Ethier to an extension and said he's had a few conversation with the outfielder about the topic, including a visit to Ethier's home over the offseason.  Colletti's remarks came during an interview with FOX Sports West during a Los Angeles Kings hockey game (video embedded by Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times).
  • With Ryan Vogelsong battling a back injury, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com speculates that the Giants could be "scanning the free-agent ranks to find a last-minute arm or two."  In the meantime, Eric Surkamp and new acquisitions Brian Burres and Ramon Ortiz are being stretched out.
  • Jeff Suppan talks to MLB.com's Corey Brock about why the 37-year-old veteran is still trying to get back to the Major Leagues as a Padres non-roster invitee.
  • The Diamondbacks didn't have Takashi Saito take a physical before signing the reliever since the team thought he would fail it, GM Kevin Towers told reporters (including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic).  "Mark Weidemaier, our advanced scout, was with him in L.A. and I think that they said four or five years ago that one pitch and his arm could go," Towers said.  “We thought that the skill-set and what he could bring to the club far outweighed the risk.”  Manager Kirk Gibson said Saito is being on a separate Spring Training schedule in order to help keep him healthy.
  • Gibson said he hasn't spoken to Gerardo Parra about the Diamondbacks' signing of Jason Kubel earlier this winter as the team's new everyday left fielder.  Piecoro thinks Parra "has a right to be unhappy" about losing his starting job despite winning a Gold Glove and a solid year at the plate in 2011, but as I wrote last month, Parra is still a key part of Arizona's future plans.

Padres To Sign Jeff Suppan

3:05pm: Suppan will earn $950K if he makes the Major League roster, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.  He obtained an invitation to Spring Training.

12:07pm: The Padres will sign righty Jeff Suppan to a minor league deal today, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock.  Suppan is represented by Lapa/Leventhal.

Suppan, 37, posted a 4.78 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.25 HR/9, and 10.1 H/9 in 165 2/3 innings for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate last year.  The 16-year MLB veteran has 138 wins and a 4.69 ERA in his career.


Royals Sign Jeff Suppan

The Royals signed Jeff Suppan to a minor league deal, reports MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.  The 36-year-old righty will report to Triple-A Omaha.  Suppan was a workhorse for the 1999-2002 Royals, averaging 33 starts per year.  He later moved on to the Pirates, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Brewers, most recently parting ways with the Giants last week after signing a minor league deal.

Suppan was drafted by the Red Sox in '93, joining the Diamondbacks in '97 as the third overall pick in the expansion draft.  He was dealt to the Royals late in the '98 season as part of a three-way trade, and by 2000 he earned the Opening Day nod.  Though he earned a temporary bullpen demotion in July of that year, Suppan was still named the team's pitcher of the year after the season.  He also snagged a two-year deal and the Opening Day assignments in '01 and '02.  The Royals non-tendered Suppan after the '02 season.

More recently, Suppan posted a 5.06 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9, and 40.3% groundball rate for the Brewers and Cardinals in 2010.  Milwaukee released him in June of last year with about $10MM remaining on a contract signed in December of '06.  With serious rotation uncertainty for 2011, the Royals are a good fit for Suppan as he looks for big league starts.


Giants Release Jeff Suppan

The Giants released Jeff Suppan, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). GM Brian Sabean says the decision was mutual, since Suppan wasn't going to make the team. The right-hander is now looking for a job elsewhere.

Suppan posted a 7.84 ERA in 15 appearances with the Brewers before they released him last year. He then appeared in 15 games for St. Louis and posted a much-improved 3.84 ERA for the Cardinals. Overall, he logged 101 1/3 innings and posted a 5.06 ERA with 4.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 40.3% ground ball rate.

Sabean signed Suppan in January to provide depth and insurance, but did not need him in the end. He could have earned $1MM for making the team.


Giants Sign Jeff Suppan

The Giants have finalized a minor-league deal with Jeff Suppan, tweets Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, who first reported that the sides were close, adds that the deal would pay Suppan $1MM for making the team and includes a late-March opt-out clause (Twitter links). 

The 36-year-old will provide the team with insurance in case Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner or Barry Zito got injured.

Suppan posted a 7.84 ERA in 15 appearances with the Brewers before they released him last year. The right-hander then appeared in 15 games for St. Louis and posted a 3.84 ERA for the Cards.  Fielding independent pitching stats suggest Suppan's season ERA (5.06) should have been around 5.00. Overall, he logged 101 1/3 innings and posted 4.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 40.3% ground ball rate.


The Cardinals’ 2011 Rotation

With a 4-13 record over their last 17 games, an eight-game deficit to make up in the NL Central, and a weekend series against an in-form Cincinnati club, the Cardinals could be looking ahead to next year by as soon as Monday.  Let's get a head start on the process by examining what the St. Louis starting rotation may look like by Opening Day 2011.

Leading the way for the Cards are Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia.  Carpenter is signed through 2011 and St. Louis has a club option worth $15MM in 2012 that they're certain to exercise if Carpenter remains as healthy and effective as he has been over the last two seasons.  It's possible the Cards could explore an extension with Carpenter this winter, if they're not already too busy trying to extend Albert Pujols.

Wainwright seems well on his way to a top-five finish (at least) in the NL Cy Young voting, which will trigger a clause in his contract that guarantees the 2012 and 2013 club options St. Louis currently holds on the right-hander.  Wainwright is set to earn $21MM over those two seasons, plus an extra $1MM should he actually win the Cy either this season or in 2011.  The Cards were a virtual lock to pick up those team options anyway given how well Wainwright has pitched in his career.

If Wainwright is a bargain, then Garcia is a steal.  The 24-year-old southpaw has a 2.33 ERA and a 2.03 K/BB in 25 starts this season and he carries a 20 1/3 scoreless inning streak into tonight's start against the Reds.  Garcia doesn't reach arbitration until after the 2011 season, so he will remain a very affordable option for St. Louis unless the club tries to cover his arb years with a long-term deal.  It's still just Garcia's first full major league year, so if the Redbirds do approach him with a long-term contract, it will be a step down from the Romero/Lester/Gallardo deals.

When Kyle Lohse signed a four-year, $41MM extension with St. Louis in September 2008, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes prophetically asked, "What are the odds this deal looks solid even halfway through?"  Now that we're about halfway through the deal, it's indeed looking like a miss for the Cards.  Lohse has battled forearm and groin injuries over the last two seasons and has a 5.55 ERA in 35 games (34 of them starts) over that stretch.  Lohse will be pencilled into a spot in the 2011 rotation, since it would be hard for the Cardinals to eat the remaining $23.75MM owed to the right-hander and even harder to trade him.  (Plus, Lohse has a no-trade clause.)

With four spots accounted for, the fifth rotation job is wide-open.  The Cards' strategy over the last few winters has been to sign veterans (Rich Hill, Brad Penny, Matt Clement, Lohse in March 2008) to one-year or minor league contracts to see if pitching coach Dave Duncan can get them back into top form, so the team could pursue that option again.  St. Louis might have gotten a head start on this strategy with the acquisition of Jake Westbrook at the trade deadline.  Westbrook has pitched well (4.03 ERA, 5.67 K/BB ratio) in his first six National League starts, so he will come at a higher price than those other past winter signings should the Cardinals want to bring him back.

Another midseason pick-up, Jeff Suppan, hasn't performed as well and would only be brought back as roster depth.  Penny could be another low-cost veteran option from the current roster.  After signing a one-year, $7.5MM deal with the Cards last December, Penny had a solid first nine starts but hasn't pitched since May due to a back injury.  The lingering nature of what was originally thought to be a minor back injury will definitely scare some teams away from the 32-year-old, so the Cardinals (who have been monitoring Penny's status all year) could bring the right-hander back if they're satisifed that he's healthy.

P.J. Walters, Blake Hawksworth and Adam Ottavino have started games for St. Louis this season, though all would need superb spring training performances to get into the running for the fifth starter's job.   Baseball America projected Walters as a future middle reliever in the preseason, Hawksworth has pitched mostly out of the bullpen for St. Louis and Ottavino may be a question mark for the spring since he needs labrum surgery.

Shelby Miller, the top prospect in the St. Louis system, has only increased his stock in his first full season of pro ball.  Miller, the 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft, has a 3.62 ERA and a 12.1 K/9 rate in 24 starts for Single-A Quad Cities.  Baseball America had Miller rated as the 50th-best prospect in baseball in the preseason, and their midseason prospect report again slotted him in the #26-50 range.  Miller doesn't even turn 20 until October 10, so the Cards will probably hold off his major league debut until 2012.

Other farm system options include southpaw Evan MacLane and right-handers Lance Lynn and Brandon Dickson, all of whom have had solid seasons in the hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League.  All could factor in as spot starters or candidates for the No. 5 position.  Keep an eye on right-hander Scott Gorgen, a fourth-round pick from the 2008 draft who has a 2.99 ERA in his 49-game minor league career thus far, including a 1.31 ERA in 10 games (eight starts) at Double-A this season.


Cardinals Sign Jeff Suppan

MONDAY, 4:27pm: MLB.com's Spencer Fordin reports that the deal is now official.

SATURDAY, 7:56pm: Cards manager Tony La Russa confirmed that the club will bring Suppan back for a second stint, writes MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom

The club has already cleared space on the 40-man roster by outrighting Tyler Norrick.  Now, they must make a move on the 25-man roster to activate Suppan.

6:13pm: The Cardinals are planning to sign the veteran hurler early next week and put him in the rotation, according to Fox Sports Midwest (via Twitter).  The club has been impressed with Suppan's side sessions where he has demonstrated that his arm is healthy.

St. Louis must first make some roster adjustments before inking Suppan.

THURSDAY, 2:50pm: The Cardinals will sign Jeff Suppan, according to the Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Suppan pitched for St. Louis for three seasons before signing a four-year, $42MM deal with the Brewers.  The Brewers released the righty Monday with $10MM remaining, making him a free agent.  The Cards will pay just the pro-rated league minimum. 

The Cardinals' rotation has been weakened by Brad Penny's lat strain and Kyle Lohse's forearm injury, creating the need for a veteran at the back end to soak up innings.