Jerry Blevins Rumors

D’Arnaud Fractures Hand; Mets To Promote Plawecki

The Mets suffered a pair of bad breaks as they extended their winning streak to eight games. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and left-hander Jerry Blevins both suffered fractures in the 7th inning of the Mets’ 7-6 win over the Marlins: d’Arnaud’s right hand after being hit by a A.J. Ramos pitch and Blevins’ left forearm when struck by a liner off the bat of Dee Gordon. Mets GM Sandy Alderson announced the contract of catching prospect Kevin Plawecki will be purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas and right-hander Hansel Robles will be recalled from Vegas. A 40-man roster move is required to add Plawecki.

Plawecki is ranked 40th overall by FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, 63rd by both Baseball America and MLB.com, and 80th by Baseball Prospectus. Manager Terry Collins told reporters after the game (as tweeted by ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin) Plawecki will become the Mets’ number one catcher in d’Arnaud’s absence. D’Arnaud told reporters, including Rubin, Plawecki is ready for his MLB debut. “He’s a great catcher, a great player, a really smart player. He can swing the bat really well. And he knows how to work with the pitching staff as well.

Drafted with the 35th selection in the 2012 draft (a free agent compensation pick obtained when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes), Plawecki is viewed as an offensive-minded catcher. MLB.com’s scouting report on Plawecki, however, gives him credit for having good hands and enough agility to block balls well, but believes the 24-year-old will never be the kind of backstop who can shut down a running game because of his average arm. Plawecki was hitting .229/.250/.343 in 36 plate appearance for Vegas before his call-up, though he hit a much more impressive .309/.365/.460 in 419 PA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014.

The loss of both d’Arnaud and Blevins figure to test the Mets’ depth. While early, d’Arnaud had the makings of a breakout season with his line of .317/.356/.537 at the time of his injury. Defensively, d’Arnaud also stepped up his game throwing out three of the seven runners attempting to steal after catching just five all of last year. Blevins, meanwhile, has been death on left-handed hitters this season retiring all 14 he has faced. Alderson said a timetable for how long d’Arnaud and Blevins will be out will not be known until both are examined by hand specialists Monday.


Mets Acquire Jerry Blevins

The Mets announced that they’ve acquired left-hander Jerry Blevins from the Nationals in exchange for outfielder Matt den Dekker (Twitter link). Blevins becomes the second left-handed reliever added to the Mets’ bullpen today, as the team struck a deal to acquire Alex Torres from the Padres in exchange for Minor League righty Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later.

Jerry Blevins

Blevins, 31, had a curious season in his lone year with Washington. Though his strikeout rate soared to a career-best 10.4 K/9, he also posted a 4.87 ERA that was the worst full-season mark of his career. The likely culprit in Blevin’s struggles was a dismal 60.5 percent strand rate that checked in about 13 percent below his career mark. Stats such as FIP (2.77), xFIP (3.25) and SIERA (2.93) all feel that Blevins was particularly unlucky and that his ERA should rebound in 2015.

Perhaps more important in this situation, however, are Blevins’ numbers against left-handed hitters. Torres has proven that he can retire both left- and right-handed hitters and has actually been better against righties, so Blevins could be deployed as more of a specialist, whereas Torres will pitch entire innings. Blevins limited left-handed hitters to a frail .160/.202/.217 batting line in 2014 and has held them to just a .212/.264/.330 batting line throughout his career.

Blevins is set to earn $2.4MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the final time this winter. He’s only controlled for the coming year, so he amounts to a bullpen rental.

Of course, the price paid for Blevins isn’t necessarily steep. The 27-year-old den Dekker has played sparingly for New York over the past few seasons, hitting .238/.325/.310 in 237 plate appearances. More of den Dekker’s value is on the defensive side of the game, as he’s capable of handling all three outfield spots. He boasts a nice Minor League track record as well, having slashed .284/.345/.467 in 903 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. Despite that, though, den Dekker was a long shot to make the club. The out-of-options Kirk Nieuwenhuis figures to be the team’s fourth outfielder behind Juan Lagares, Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer, and John Mayberry Jr. will also be in the mix for outfield playing time.

This acquisition does call into question whether or not left-hander Sean Gilmartin, a Rule 5 pick from the Twins, will make the team. Earlier today, reports indicated that Gilmartin was likely to break camp with the team even if the Mets added a left-handed reliever from outside the organization. While adding a pair of southpaws might seem to cloud that situation, manager Terry Collins has indicated that Gilmartin still has a good chance of making the team, per Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, which could then be bad news for veteran right-hander Buddy Carlyle (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL Notes: Bryant, Garcia, Villanueva, Nats, Mets

The Cubs‘ impending decision about whether to have Kris Bryant start the season in the minors has players around baseball talking about service-time rules, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes in a story that collects responses to Bryant’s situation from players from several teams. “Hey, we have a chance to make a lot of money in this game, but the rules are the rules,” says Yankees reliever Andrew Miller. “If that works in the Cubs favor, and the Cubs are a better team for that, they’re entitled to (use the rule to their favor). We negotiated that. It’s the reality of what our collective bargaining agreement says.” Here’s more from the National League.

  • Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia will miss his start due to a shoulder issue, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Garcia likely will not be in the team’s Opening Day rotation. Garcia had impressed the team in camp and might well have made the Cardinals’ rotation, particularly since having him start rather than Marco Gonzales or Carlos Martinez would have been the best way for the Cards to protect their assets — they could have easily just optioned Gonzales to the minors, put Martinez in the bullpen and kept all three pitchers. Instead, it’s yet another injury for Garcia, who’s dealt with plenty of them in the past few seasons. There is, however, reason to hope it won’t be serious — GM John Mozeliak (via Langosch on Twitter) characterizes the injury as fatigue and the missed start as “more of a pause than anything.”
  • Pitcher Carlos Villanueva, who’s on a minor-league deal with the Cardinals, can opt out of that deal Monday, Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch notes (via Twitter). Villanueva has gotten fairly good results in camp and has a track record of providing solid performances in a swingman role, so the Cardinals could try to find space for him on their roster.
  • Intentionally or not, the Nationals, who have lefty relievers available, gave the lefty-starved Mets a look at Jerry Blevins Saturday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. (Blevins struck out Curtis Granderson but gave up a triple to Lucas Duda.) The Nationals have Blevins, along with Xavier Cedeno and Matt Thornton, and all are out of options, so they could end up trading one.


Mets Notes: Wheeler, Lefties, Puello

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.

Players Win Six Of 14 Arbitration Hearings

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?
Pedro Alvarez Pirates $5.750MM $5.250MM Yes
Jerry Blevins Nationals $2.400MM $2.200MM Yes
Alejandro De Aza Orioles $5.650MM $5.000MM No
Josh Donaldson Blue Jays $5.750MM $4.300MM No
Mat Latos Marlins $10.400MM $9.400MM No
Mike Minor Braves $5.600MM $5.100MM Yes
Jarrod Parker Athletics $1.700MM $0.850MM No
David Phelps Marlins $1.875MM $1.400MM No
Wilin Rosario Rockies $3.300MM $2.800MM No
Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks $6.900MM $5.300MM Yes
Danny Valencia Blue Jays $1.675MM $1.250MM Yes
Neil Walker Pirates $9.000MM $8.000MM No
Tom Wilhelmsen Mariners $2.200MM $1.400MM No
Vance Worley Pirates $2.450MM $2.000MM 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.

Jerry Blevins Wins Arbitration Hearing Against Nationals

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.


Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

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.

Nationals Rumors: Desmond, M’s, Detwiler, Clippard

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.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

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).

(more…)


NL East Rumors: Zimmermann, Mets, Blevins, Braves

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.