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Mets starter Zack Wheeler is experiencing elbow discomfort due to tendinitis, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Wheeler has dealt with similar discomfort throughout his career, and the pain increased during last season. At no point did it require an injection, but the club has used “anti-inflammatories and other treatments” in the past. For now, Wheeler will rest to see how it responds. Should it progress to a more serious level, the club could turn to Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, or a number of other pitching prospects.
- With left-handed reliever Josh Edgin headed to the disabled list, the Mets are keeping tabs on the lefty relief market, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Two early trade candidates are Cardinals southpaw Sam Freeman and Nationals lefty Xavier Cedeno. Both pitchers are out of options and unlikely to make their respective clubs. A scout also floated the idea of Nationals lefty Jerry Blevins. He’s owed $2.4MM, which may exceed what the club is looking to spend. Internal options include Scott Rice, Sean Gilmartin, Dario Alvarez, and Jack Leathersich.
- Mets outfielder Cesar Puello appears to be in the same situation as Freeman and Cedeno, writes Rubin. Puello is out of options, and he’s either sixth or seventh on the outfield depth chart. If Puello doesn’t make the club, he’ll be exposed to waivers. Last year in Triple-A, the soon-to-be 24-year-old hit .252/.355/.393 with seven home runs and 13 stolen bases.
The Mariners’ defeat of reliever Tom Wilhelmsen today ended this offseason’s arbitration season. This year, 14 players went to arbitration hearings, with the players winning six times and teams winning eight. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, here are the results.
|Player||Team||Player Amt.||Team Amt.||Player won?|
|Alejandro De Aza||Orioles||$5.650MM||$5.000MM||No|
|Josh Donaldson||Blue Jays||$5.750MM||$4.300MM||No|
|Danny Valencia||Blue Jays||$1.675MM||$1.250MM||Yes|
A few notes:
- Via MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker, only three players (Andrew Cashner, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin) had hearings last year, so 14 hearings this year marks a dramatic spike. No players had hearings in the 2012-2013 offseason, and seven players did in 2011-2012. The number of hearings this offseason was the most since 2001, although not everyone is convinced this is the start of a trend, according to the Associated Press. ”Just as I didn’t think [2012-2013] was the start of a trend when we had no hearings, I do not think any conclusions can be drawn at this point from the increased number of hearings this year,” says MLB chief legal officer Don Halem.
- The Pirates alone took three players to arbitration, as many as all teams combined in the previous two offseasons.
- Teams will pay the 14 players who went to arbitration $57.925MM next season, saving a total of about $1.5MM versus the midpoints between those 14 players’ proposed figures and those of their teams.
- There appears to be no obvious pattern in which players won and which lost (which isn’t necessarily surprising, since the terms of each arbitration hearing are set ahead of time by the teams and agents who determine the figures, and not by the arbitrators). As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes (via Twitter), better established players (like Josh Donaldson, Neil Walker and Mat Latos) mostly lost their hearings, while players coming off mediocre or poor seasons, like Pedro Alvarez, Mark Trumbo and Mike Minor, won theirs.
- In terms of overall dollar value, Donaldson might be the player most affected by the result of his hearing, which he lost. There was a fairly large gap (over $1.4MM) between his proposed figure and that of the Blue Jays. Donaldson is also a Super Two player in the midst of his first year of arbitration eligibility, and his salary for 2015 could impact his salary in the next three seasons after that.
Lefty Jerry Blevins has emerged victorious in his arbitration hearing against the Nationals, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. He will take home $2.4MM instead of the team’s $2.2MM submission.
Blevins, 31, had a mixed bag of a first season in D.C. He threw 57 1/3 innings of 4.87 ERA ball, hardly the result that the team hoped for when it dealt for him last winter. But his peripherals (a career-high 10.4 K/9 vs. 3.6 BB/9) led ERA estimators to value his effort much more highly. His 2.77 FIP, 3.25 xFIP, and 2.93 SIERA are all career bests.
Other than an unseasonably low strand rate (60.5%), Blevins’s biggest enemy was his difficult in limiting free passes to right-handed hitters. He walked nearly 14% of all righties who stepped in against him.
The Nationals will hope that the results catch back up to the peripherals this time around. Blevins is set to hit the open market at the end of the season.
With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).
MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.
Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.
That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).
Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.
And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:
- The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
- Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
- Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
- Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
- Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).
Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:
- David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
- Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
- The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
- Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
- The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
- On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aroldis Chapman | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Bud Norris | Carlos Carrasco | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Coghlan | Chris Tillman | Cincinnati Reds | Cleveland Indians | Danny Espinosa | Danny Valencia | David Freese | David Price | Detroit Tigers | Devin Mesoraco | Dexter Fowler | Eric Hosmer | Garrett Richards | Greg Holland | Houston Astros | Jerry Blevins | Josh Donaldson | Kansas City Royals | Logan Morrison | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Mark Melancon | Mat Latos | Miami Marlins | Mike Minor | Milwaukee Brewers | Neil Walker | Pittsburgh Pirates | Seattle Mariners | Steve Pearce | Tampa Bay Rays | Todd Frazier | Tony Sipp | Toronto Blue Jays | Vance Worley | Washington Nationals | Zach Britton
The Nationals and Mariners have discussed Ian Desmond on several occasions but talks between the two teams have yet to really gain traction, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). Washington likes Brad Miller, so conceivably the young shortstop could be part of a larger package the M’s would send back to D.C. Here’s some more about the Nationals…
- Jordan Zimmermann has been drawn more trade attention than Desmond this week, according to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi.
- The Nats are actively discussing Ross Detwiler and Tyler Clippard with multiple teams, Rosenthal tweets.
- The Nationals still want a second base upgrade and they’re talking with lots of teams about Clippard and Jerry Blevins, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter).
- The Nationals have inquired on Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, but it appears like a long shot to pry him away, according James Wagner of the Washington Post.
- Jed Lowrie would appear to be a fit for the Nationals but there doesn’t appear to be anything happening on that front, Wagner writes.
- General Manager Mike Rizzo has said throughout the winter that Anthony Rendon could slide to second base should they acquire a third baseman. While some rolled their eyes at the notion of moving Rendon away from his natural position, people around the Nationals tell Wagner that they are indeed looking at third baseman and if there is a good one to be had, Rendon would be shifted to second.
- The sense from teams that asked the Nationals about Clippard is that Washington wants better than a low-tier prospect and trading him wouldn’t be simply to dump his $9MM salary, according to Wagner.
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
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The Mets made a big splash this afternoon when they inked veteran starter Bartolo Colon to a two-year deal. Here’s the latest out of the NL East..
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter links) asked Nationals GM Mike Rizzo if he’d consider trading Jordan Zimmermann. The Nats have tried to extend Zimmerman twice and, like David Price of the Rays, he has two years of club control remaining. “We’d certainly love to get something done with him. But like any premium guy on your team, if here is something that can’t be done, then you would think about a trade. But that’s the furthest thing from our minds,” Rizzo said.
- Colon’s age and history allowed the Mets to land him at a reasonable price, tweets Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors. In Tim’s view, it’s easy to see him returning $20MM+ of value over the next two years.
- Jerry Blevins found out that he was traded from the Athletics to the Nationals around noon time, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson (on Twitter). He was initially shocked because, unlike our readers, he did not pay attention to any of the trade rumors going on.
- The Braves were interested in Roy Halladay before he chose to retire and would like to add a veteran starter on a short-term deal, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
- Mets officials met with Ervin Santana‘s people, but that appears unlikely in the wake of the Colon signing, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Phillies didn’t meet with Bronson Arroyo yet and while that doesn’t necessarily preclude a deal, others are more serious about him, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Nationals have acquired Jerry Blevins from the Athletics, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter). Oakland will receive outfield prospect Billy Burns in return, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
The Nationals have been known to be actively seeking a left-handed reliever, and Blevins fills that need for GM Mike Rizzo. Blevins, 30, is coming off a pair of strong seasons in which he posted a 2.80 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 125 1/3 innings.
Even better for the Nats, he will cost far less than a comparable player on the free agent market: MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects that Blevins will earn just $1.5MM in his second (and second-to-last) season through arbitration. Other well-regarded lefties have cost a good deal more: Javier Lopez got three years and $13MM, while Manny Parra got two and $5.5MM. The move should take the Nationals out of the market for higher-end southpaw relievers, though the club could still look to add a few budget options to compete in Spring Training.
Meanwhile, Burns is an interesting player whose value has been on the way up after a 2013 season that resulted in his being named the organization's minor leaguer of the year. Splitting time between High-A and Double-A in his age-23 campaign, the center fielder swiped a total of 74 bags while getting on base at quite an impressive clip. (His triple-slash landed at .315/.425/.383 in 540 plate appearances, 138 of which came at the Double-A level.) Baseball America credited him with the best strike zone discipline and speed in the Nats' system.
For the Nats, however, Burns lacked a clear path through the minor league system, let alone to the MLB roster. Denard Span is still under team control through 2015. More importantly, the club possesses a series of speedy, well-regarded prospects who are capable of fielding up the middle in Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor, and Eury Perez.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Braves have signed right-hander Yunesky Maya to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, tweets Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deports. The 32-year-old Cuban hurler never lived up to expectations with the Nationals, posting just a 4.17 ERA in 464 minor league innings and a 5.80 ERA in 59 frames at the big league level. Elsewhere in the NL East…
- The Nationals have discussed Jerry Blevins with the Athletics, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. However, James Wagner of the Washington Post adds that it was the Nats who reached out to the A's, and Oakland is said to be happy with its bullpen (Twitter link).
- Former manager Davey Johnson rarely utilized infield shifts, but Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com writes that defensive shifts will be a point of emphasis under new manager Matt Williams. Kolko quotes Williams as saying his club will have defensive meetings every day.
- Despite tendering John Mayberry a contract, the Phillies are seeking an upgrade over the soon-to-be 30-year-old as they look to add a right-handed bat with better defense in cente field, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The Marlins have checked in on Delmon Young, tweets MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, who notes that Rosenthal has previously reported that Young has worked out at first base (Twitter link).
The Nationals are in the market for lefty relief, and they have interest in trade candidates Justin Wilson (Pirates) and Jerry Blevins (Athletics), Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com reports. Earlier today, it was reported that the Pirates would listen to offers for Wilson. The Nats have also had discussions about Blevins, who posted a 3.15 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 60 innings in 2013.
The Nats are also searching for bullpen lefties in free agency, where the possibilities include J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Scott Downs and Oliver Perez. "We’re talking to free agents, and we’ve got some irons in the fire on the trade market," says GM Mike Rizzo. "It’s a position, I think, of depth this year, on the free agent market and the trade market. I think that benefits us."