Jeremy Bonderman Rumors
The Cubs have five starters tentatively pencilled into their 2011 rotation, but given the number of question marks on that staff, it's understandable that the team is looking to add a veteran innings-eater to the fold. ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill reports that Chicago has "shown interest" in Jeremy Bonderman, Aaron Harang, Kevin Millwood and Javier Vazquez, and also cites a Chicago Sun-Times item connecting the team to Vicente Padilla. Churchill says the Cubs "kicked the tires on" Jon Garland before the right-hander signed with the Dodgers.
All five starters would make sense as low-cost additions; Vazquez has reportedly turned down a two-year, $20MM offer but it seems like he's more likely to end up in Florida or Washington than in Chicago. The Cubs are probably looking for a short-term deal, and Garland's $5MM pact with L.A. would likely be a good comparison point. That $5M salary (plus incentives and a 2012 vesting option) would likely be enough to land Millwood or Harang, and Bonderman would leap at that offer given his injury-riddled recent history.
Padilla is coming off the most solid season of the group and could command a bit more money or a second year, though he made only 16 starts in 2010 due to various nagging injuries. Churchill cites the Mets, Padres and Pirates as other teams that could use a starter that fits Padilla's profile.
Bonderman, Millwood and Vazquez all landed on Luke Adams' list of free agent pitchers that could benefit from a move to the NL, though pitching in a hitter-friendly park like Wrigley Field might not be what they had in mind. As we saw with the Garland signing, teams that play in pitcher's parks will have an advantage in finding extra arms for their rotation, especially when it comes to a pitchers like Bonderman or Harang who are trying to rebuild value.
Speaking of rebuilding value, there's also a chance that the Cubs could look at a higher-ceiling starter such as Brandon Webb. Fanhouse's Ed Price hears from a source that Chicago is "seriously considering" Webb. The former Cy Young Award winner has also drawn interest from several other teams, but the Cubs could be helped by the fact that Chicago is relatively close to Webb's home in Kentucky.
Links for Wednesday, the second day of the GM Meetings, as Ron Gardenhire and Bud Black take home Manager of the Year honors...
- Red Sox GM Theo Epstein says he'd like to add starting pitching depth, tweets Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
- The Rockies, Blue Jays, and Athletics are among the teams that have shown interest in Alex Gordon according to MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. "I surely don't want [a trade] to happen, but it's part of baseball and it could happen," said Gordon.
- Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star reports that outfielder turned pitcher Brian Anderson has opted for free agency after being designated for assignment by the Royals.
- David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Phillies GM Ruben Amaro reiterated that he has not been given a firm payroll by ownership. Their payroll has increased steadily over the last several years, peaking at approximately $138MM last season.
- The Pirates and reliever Chan Ho Park have mutual interest in a new contract, writes MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, but Langosch believes the Bucs would only do a minor league deal. Park posted a 3.49 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, and 0.6 HR/9 for the Pirates this year after coming over from the Yankees. Jeremy Bonderman is also on the Pirates' radar, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf confirmed to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that the Sox asked the Marlins for a particular player as compensation for talking to manager Ozzie Guillen. Reinsdorf told Wittenmyer the player was not Mike Stanton; the Sun-Times writer speculates it may have been Logan Morrison.
- As you might expect, the Rays are not in a big rush to trade B.J. Upton given the loss of Carl Crawford, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal feels the Rays will also be reluctant to trade a starting pitcher right now, but would be willing to part with shortstop Jason Bartlett.
While the relative strength of the National League compared to the American League is debatable, it's hard to deny that the Senior Circuit is more appealing to pitchers. Replacing the pitcher in the lineup with a designated hitter makes AL lineups more potent, as this year's offensive statistics showed - five of baseball's top six run-scoring teams in 2010 play in the Junior Circuit.
The difference may be negligible for certain players, but each year there are usually a few pitchers who switch leagues and immediately see their numbers rise or fall accordingly. After being dealt from the Indians to the Cardinals this season, for instance, Jake Westbrook posted a 3.48 ERA and 6.6 K/9, compared to his Cleveland marks of 4.65 and 5.1.
So although there's no guarantee that starting pitchers will enjoy more success playing in the National League, here are five potential free agents who may benefit from signing with an NL club:
- Javier Vazquez: Of all the pitchers who switched to the American League last offseason, Vazquez suffered perhaps the most drastic setback. After finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2009, the 34-year-old pitched so poorly this season that he lost his spot in the Yankees' starting rotation. Even taking into account his first two up-and-down years with the Expos, Vazquez's career NL numbers (4.02 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.3 BB/9) are better across the board than his AL totals (4.65, 7.9, 2.7). Vazquez won't be back in the Bronx, and his best shot at decreasing his 2010 longball rate (1.8 HR/9) and returning to form might come in the NL.
- Kevin Millwood: We heard earlier this year that Millwood could seek a pitcher-friendly environment for 2011, after years of pitching in Baltimore and Texas. The move makes sense for the right-hander; he still has some value as a veteran innings eater, but could potentially be much more than that in a park like Petco in San Diego. We don't know what kind of contract the 35-year-old will be seeking, so it's possible he could be too expensive for a team like the Padres. For what it's worth though, San Diego was thought to have interest in Milwood in August.
- Jeremy Bonderman: One of the youngest arms on the open market, Bonderman could be an interesting fourth or fifth starter for a team willing to take a flier on him. Though his 4.89 career ERA is uninspiring, he's a former first-round pick and will turn 28 next week. His career peripherals suggest that he still has potential, and he strikes me as the type of pitcher who would benefit from the tutelage of a pitching coach like the Cardinals' Dave Duncan. The Cards may re-sign Jake Westbrook or look elsewhere for starting pitching, but St. Louis isn't the only possible landing spot for the long-time Tiger, who could benefit from a change of scenery.
- Bruce Chen: The 33-year-old journeyman has experienced an unusual major league career, playing for six National League teams before arriving in Boston in 2003. Since then, he has played for four different American League clubs. Chen's career numbers are relatively similar in both leagues, but coming off a successful season in Kansas City, perhaps a return to the NL could be in the cards. While the left-hander has lost some velocity on his fastball since he last played in the Senior Circuit, he's gotten by relying more on flyball outs and less on strikeouts. For a team in a pitcher's park, Chen could be a worthwhile back-of-the-rotation addition.
- Rich Harden: Although a healthy season would help Harden's stock more than changing leagues would, moving to the National League certainly wouldn't hurt. While the right-hander excelled in Oakland when he was healthy, his second stint in the AL wasn't as impressive; his 5.58 ERA for the Rangers this year was by far a career-worst. Still, like Bonderman, Harden is relatively young, turning just 29 next month. He also had stretches of dominance in his time with the Cubs in 2008 and 2009, striking out 11 batters per nine innings and posting a 3.31 ERA in 212 innings over the two years. Again, health is the big concern with Harden, but an NL team may feel more comfortable taking the risk than an AL one would.
GM Dave Dombrowski announced that the Tigers will not pick up Magglio Ordonez's $15MM club option for 2011, reports Tom Gage of The Detroit News. Dombrowski did say that the team remains open-minded about bringing Ordonez back, however.
Meanwhile, Dombrowski also said the team wants to bring third baseman Brandon Inge back, and confirmed that the two sides have discussed a multi-year deal. Jhonny Peralta is another player they'd like to bring back according to Gage. The Tigers did however inform Johnny Damon and Gerald Laird that they will not be re-signed, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter). Dombrowski added that they "most likely" will choose not to pursue Jeremy Bonderman either.
Ordonez's option was likely to vest if not for a season ending-ankle injury in late-July. He hit .303/.378/.474 with more walks (40) than strikeouts (38) in 365 plate appearances before the injury, a nice rebound from a down 2009 campaign. Inge is in the final season of a four-year, $24MM deal, though his .247/.321/.392 batting line is the worst of any full season of his career. Thankfully his defense at the hot corner is strong, with a +10.3 UZR since 2008. A multi-year offer might be too good for Inge to pass up.
Peralta was acquired from the Indians at the trade deadline, and hit .254/.315/.399 in 238 plate appearances for Detroit. He played mostly shortstop after the trade, the most action he's gotten at the position since 2008. The Tigers hold a $7MM club option for his services next season, but they'll likely buy that out for $250K and attempt to negotiate a lower salary.
Damon hit .271/.355/.401 after signing a one-year, $8MM deal last offseason, while Laird mustered just a .218/.289/.313 batting line in his two seasons with Detroit. He's fantastic defensively though, having thrown out 72 of 189 potential base stealers (38.1%) during that time. The 27-year-old Bonderman stayed healthy for the first time since 2007 this year, though he posted a 5.53 ERA in 171 innings. He's just wrapping up a four-year, $38MM deal and will hit free agency for the first time.
When free-agent-to-be Jeremy Bonderman was asked whether he believes he'll be a Detroit Tiger next season, his response was candid. "In all honesty, probably not," the right-hander told Tom Gage of The Detroit News (Twitter link).
Although Bonderman was drafted by the Athletics, he was soon traded to Detroit and has spent his last eight years with the Tigers. The 27-year-old told Gage earlier in the month that he'd like to stay with the club if they want to bring him back: "I love the team, love the guys, love the organization from the owner down. It's been a great place for me." His latest comments, however, indicate that either he doesn't feel the interest is mutual or he's still considering retirement, as he suggested in July.
Bonderman has made 28 starts for the Tigers in 2010, recording a 5.18 ERA to go along with 6.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.
Some links to check out after the Rangers clinched their first AL West title since 1999...
- Brandon Webb will meet with new Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers next week to discuss his immediate future, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert and Andrew Pentis. Webb acknowledged that he's not 100% back from shoulder surgery, but he wants to be activated next week to showcase himself before hitting the free agent market.
- Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com says that the Pirates have begun the process of evaluating their relievers. It's safe to say that Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan are the only guys guaranteed jobs next year.
- Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun Times tweets that Ozzie Guillen said the Cubs would be an option if he does not return to the White Sox next season.
- Carlos Pena doesn't think his struggles this season (.200/.329/.412) are the result of him putting too much pressure on himself in advance of free agency, writes Tony Fabrizio of The Tampa Tribune.
- Michael Baron of Metsblog.com says that the Mets shouldn't rule out any kind of trade that can improve the roster, even if it includes David Wright or Jose Reyes.
- Felipe Lopez told FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal that he rejected the Padres' waiver claim because he wouldn't have felt like part of the team (all Twitter links). Lopez wouldn't have been eligible for San Diego's playoff roster if he helped them clinch a playoff spot.
- ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider req'd) says that some within the Orioles organization view Victor Martinez as someone who could serve as a backup catcher and mentor to Matt Wieters while still getting plenty of at-bats at first base and designated hitter. We learned of Baltimore's interest in V-Mart yesterday.
- With their contracts set to expire after the season, the futures of long time Tigers Jeremy Bonderman and Brandon Inge are up in the air, writes Lynn Henning of The Detroit News.
- Mark Gonzales of The Chicago Tribune reports Ozzie Guillen indicated that any decision about his future will first go through his family. Ozzie's status beyond this season has been uncertain of late.
- MLB president and COO Bob DuPuy is expected to move out of his current role according to Olney, though the timing of the move is unclear. DuPuy was viewed by some as a potential successor to commissioner Bud Selig, who has indicated that he will retire when his contract is up in two years.
- Last, but certainly not least, hello to MLBTR reader Aaron Hill! He was caught checking out MLBTR in this clubhouse video tour with Shaun Marcum.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins told MLB.com's Lyle Spencer that "just about every" Angel has been placed on waivers this month. Naturally, that doesn't mean the team has interest in making more trades.
- Jeremy Bonderman told MLB.com’s Jason Beck that he would like to return to the Tigers in 2011. The Tigers have room for him, as this piece explains.
- Jim Edmonds told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that he's likely to retire after the season. The center fielder, who is now on the DL with a strained oblique, may return to the Reds late in the season.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that the Reds will call up top pitching prospect Aroldis Chapman tomorrow so that the lefty will be eligible for the team's postseason roster.
- Orlando Hernandez decided not to finish his AA season when he heard that the Nationals didn’t intend to call him up, according to Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams told reporters that he didn't claim Brian Fuentes because his team doesn't need another left-handed reliever at this point.
Jeremy Bonderman is seriously considering retiring at age 28 after the season, reports Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Bonderman will be a free agent, and he could hang up the spikes if he doesn't get an acceptable offer to return to the Tigers or sign with a team somewhat near his Pasco, Washington home.
Bonderman says he's saved a lot of money, so he has the ability to retire. He's earned over $40MM in his career, most of it coming from a four-year deal signed in '06. Bonderman should find interest if he decides to continue pitching. He's shown good health, decent peripherals, and flashes of his former velocity this year.
In December of 2006, Jeremy Bonderman was 24 years old, coming off the finest season of his career. He debuted at age 20 in '03, but put it all together in '06 by making 34 regular season starts and striking out 202. He added three postseason starts to his resume that year. Bonderman's extension bought out his final two arbitration years for $13MM, and a pair of free agent seasons at $12.5MM apiece.
Unfortunately, injuries set in for Bonderman after he signed the contract. He dealt with a blister and elbow pain in '07, and learned of thoracic outlet syndrome in '08. Shoulder soreness lingered into the '09 season, limiting him to 51.3 pro innings.
Bonderman came to Spring Training pain-free in 2010, and reclaimed a rotation spot when the Tigers traded Nate Robertson. With a 4.43 ERA, 8.2 K/9, and 3.1 BB/9 in 40.6 innings, it appears on the surface that Bonderman has regained his '06 form. There are notable differences though. Bonderman is throwing 89.4 mph on average this year, as compared to 93.3 in '06. He's throwing more fastballs and fewer sliders, and he's no longer a groundball pitcher. Manager Jim Leyland explained to MLB.com's Stephen Ellsesser: "He's not the overpowering guy he was. He's adjusting to the pitching style, throwing a split now." It should also be noted that Bonderman's stat line would look a lot worse had a rainout not wiped out a lousy start a few weeks ago.
The 2010 version of Bonderman is still getting it done, but potential free agent bidders will have the luxury of adding his next 20+ starts to the sample. Bonderman's age, 28, will be a number other free agents can't beat. He may be looking at a contract similar to Rich Harden's one-year, $7.5MM deal assuming teams remain intrigued by his upside but wary of his health.
Let's continue our look at each club's top trade chips today with the AL Central...
- Indians: The Tribe have dealt their Opening Day starter in each of the last two seasons, and there's a good chance they'll do it again with Jake Westbrook in 2010. The 32-year-old righty will earn $11MM this season, the last one on his contract. After dumping Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez in cost-cutting moves last year, expect them to shop Westbrook around for prospects this summer.
- Royals: All four of Kansas City's outfielders come off the books after this season (assuming some options are bought out for six figures), so Rick Ankiel, David DeJesus, Scott Podsednik, and even Jose Guillen could be moved in a deal for a young player. The team would obviously have to eat a lot of money to move Guillen. The contracts of relievers Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth also expire after the season, so there might be some interest in them.
- Tigers: Detroit isn't going to move any of their young power arms, but if they eat a large chunk of salary like they did with Nate Robertson, there might be interest in Jeremy Bonderman and/or Dontrelle Willis. Young backstop Alex Avila could make Gerald Laird expendable as well. The Tigers have four lefty relievers on their 40-man roster (Phil Coke, Fu-Te Ni, Daniel Schlereth, and Brad Thomas), and that demographic is always in demand.
- Twins: Minnesota has one of the best trade chips in the league, blocked catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Lefty Glen Perkins is pitching in Triple-A and seems to have fallen out of favor with the club after filing a grievance, so he could be made available as well. He has four years of team control left.
- White Sox: GM Kenny Williams isn't shy about emptying out the farm system in a trade for an established big leaguer, which has left him with little minor league ammo. Their best young prospects are catcher Tyler Flowers and starter Daniel Hudson, who would seem to have a future with the club, but I'm not going to put anything past Williams. Flowers could make A.J. Pierzynski or Ramon Castro expendable, ditto Hudson and Freddy Garcia. Gordon Beckham should be untouchable, obviously.