Jhonny Peralta Rumors

Mets Meet With Jhonny Peralta

The Mets recently had a meeting with shortstop Jhonny Peralta at the GM meetings, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. The Mets are in the shortstop market after struggling through the 2013 season with Omar Quintanilla and Ruben Tejada at the position, and the two best shortstops on the free agent market are Peralta and Stephen Drew. Unlike Drew, signing Peralta would not require the Mets to sacrifice a draft pick, although the Mets' first-round pick, at No. 10 overall, is protected either way.

Heyman notes that players do not normally attend the GM meetings, but that, after Peralta's Biogenesis suspension in 2013, appearing in person might have been a smart move. Peralta hit .303/.358/.457 with the Tigers in 107 games last season.


Free Agent Profile: Jhonny Peralta

Jhonny Peralta was enjoying one of the finest seasons of his career when he was connected to the Biogenesis clinic this summer. Soon after, MLB slammed 12 players, including Peralta, with 50-game suspensions. Peralta's strong season at the plate is now tainted, and he'll have to try to overcome the negative impact of that suspension in free agency this offseason.

Strengths/Pros

Peralta is a career .268/.330/.425 hitter, translating to a 101 OPS+ and 102 wRC+. In other words, he's one to two percent better than a league-average hitter, which is an incredibly valuable trait to have as a shortstop. Over the past five seasons, shortstops have collectively posted wRC+ ratings between 83 and 88. Peralta's robust .303/.358/.457 line from 2013 translated to a mark of 123.

His glove was shaky early on in his career, but both Ultimate Zone Rating and The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved metric agree that Peralta has improved tremendously in recent years. Peralta has a +9.1 UZR/150 dating back to 2009, and DRS has him at +4 runs in that stretch. Peralta-JhonnyPeralta offers positional flexibility, having totaled 1742 big league innings at third base as well, though neither defensive metric likes him as much at the hot corner.

Peralta shows a slight platoon split, but he's been able to hold his own against right-handed pitching throughout his career, slashing .270/.326/.416. In 2013, he hit righties at a .282/.338/.412 clip. He has enough bat against both right-handers and left-handers to be an everyday player.

Peralta broke into the league as a full-time player at the age of 23, so while it seems like he's been around for a long time, he's still just 31 years old and won't turn 32 until late May of 2014. Peralta will be younger than every notable free agent third baseman and every notable free agent shortstop outside of Stephen Drew.

He's been highly durable throughout his career, averaging 149 games per season and, incredibly, never landing on the disabled list at any point in his Major League tenure.

Given the Tigers' acquisition of Jose Iglesias, the team elected not to extend a qualifying offer to Peralta and risk having to deploy him in left field or at second base. Unlike his main competition — Drew — signing Peralta will not require draft pick forfeiture.

Weaknesses/Cons

Peralta's career numbers at the plate look solid, but he's been wildly inconsistent on a year-to-year basis. Peralta has five seasons of an OPS+/wRC+ greater than 100 (i.e. better than league average), one in the low 90s and three in the mid-80s. In particular, his power seems to fluctuate, as he owns four 20+ homer seasons but has hit between 11 and 15 long balls in every other big league season he's played. He'd be compensated much more handsomely if he could show consistent 20-homer pop.

Peralta may have posted a .303 batting aveage in 2013, but that mark was clearly boosted by a career-high .374 batting average on balls in play. He won't repeat that number in 2013, and it's reasonable to expect his average to drop accordingly, perhaps even lower than his career .268 mark, as Peralta's strikeout rate jumped to 21.9 percent this season.

If Peralta's average comes down, he could post an OBP below the league average, as he did in 2009, 2010 and 2012, due to the fact that he's walked at just an 8.3 percent clip for his career. Unlike his average and power totals, that number has remained pretty constant, and he was at 7.8 percent this year.

Peralta's connection to PEDs brings into question just how much of his 2013 performance was natural. A player with such a sterling medical history can hardly make the claim that he was using banned substances to help speed up his timetable for recovery from an injury.

Personal

Peralta and his wife, Molly, have three daughters and make their home in the Cleveland suburb of Westlake, per the Tigers media guide. His teammates defended him after the suspension, with Hunter in particular offering praise (via MLive.com's Chris Iott): "If you know Jhonny — and a lot of people don't know Jhonny — but if you know Jhonny, awesome guy. Awesome guy. He just made a mistake." Verlander called Peralta his "brother," noting that he could hold no grudge against a man who admitted to making a mistake and serving the penalty for it.

Market

Peralta has made it clear that he'd like to return to the Tigers, but with Iglesias installed at shortstop and top prospect Nick Castellanos serving as an in-house possibility for left field, the Tigers simply don't have much room on the roster to keep Peralta around.

If and when the Tigers move on, Peralta and agent Fern Cuza of SFX shouldn't have any problem finding interested contenders willing to offer a multiyear deal. Shortstops are always in demand, and in spite of his inconsistencies, Peralta has averaged 2.8 fWAR and 2.6 rWAR over the past six seasons.

Even in his worst seasons, Peralta has been a considerable upgrade over what the Cardinals received from Pete Kozma this season. The Pirates could look to upgrade over Jordy Mercer's shaky glove if they feel he can't repeat this year's .368 second-half BABIP (which, obviously, is quite unlikely). Given uncertainty surrounding Ruben Tejada's status and a stated desire to spend on free agency, the Mets could be a logical landing place as well. Oakland could use Peralta at shortstop and slide Jed Lowrie over to second base, but they may be hesitant to meet his asking price and may not want to block Addison Russell's path to the Majors.

Peralta could also appeal to teams that need help at third base. In that regard, a return to Cleveland could make sense, and Angels could also use an upgrade at the position. Signing Peralta would give them the luxury to aggressively shop Erick Aybar as well. The Dodgers could also look to upgrade at third if they don't retain Juan Uribe.

Expected Contract

Suspension aside, Peralta is a typically solid bat at a premium position who can boast being youthful enough that he's not yet entering his decline phase. Peralta is a league-average bat with upside for much more and whose floor would only drop him to roughly league-average for his position. Players like that are scarce on the free agent market.

Cuza seems likely to target four years for Peralta on the open market, and his best bet may very well be to try to start a bidding war between two teams with a clear need such as the Cardinals and Mets. Marco Scutaro's three-year, $20MM contract with the Giants seems too light, given Peralta's offensive track record, so I expect Peralta to sign a three-year, $36MM contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL West Rumors: Castro, Astros, Rangers

The Astros are receiving significant interest in catcher Jason Castro, and interest could pick up once big free agents like Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia go off the board, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Their interest in trading Castro isn't known, but Houston is said to like catching prospect Max Stassi very much.  Heyman sees the Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, Rockies, and Twins as teams that could possibly have interest if Castro is on the block.  Here's more out of the AL West..



AL West Links: Mariners, Cruz, Napoli, Preller, Angels

"The expectation is" that the Mariners will target right-handed hitters such as Jhonny Peralta, Marlon Byrd, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz this offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  The M's were particularly weak from the right side of the plate last season and will look to upgrade their right-handed bats, though really, Seattle will look to add hitting in any form.  Ken Rosenthal also noted that the Mariners were looking at right-handed hitters earlier this week, though he noted that the M's were in on Napoli.  Here's some more news from around the AL West…

  • Cruz declined his qualifying offer from the Rangers today and Adam Katz, Cruz's agent, told ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett that he will continue to talk with the team about his client's possible return to Texas.  "We've always been engaged with the Rangers and continue to be," Katz said.  Durrett notes, the draft pick compensation tied to Cruz may hurt him in free agency, though MLBTR's Steve Adams recently predicted Cruz would find a three-year, $39MM deal on the open market.
  • Brian Grieper, Napoli's agent, is scheduled to meet with Rangers GM Jon Daniels during the GM Meetings, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.  The Rangers are known to be looking for an upgrade at first base and Napoli, a former Ranger, would definitely fit the bill.
  • The Rangers have promoted A.J. Preller to assistant general manager, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link).  Preller had previously worked as the team's senior director of player personnel.  Texas also named Mike Daly, formerly their director of international scouting, as the franchise's new senior director of minor league operations.
  • The Angels have been opposed to going over the luxury tax limit under Arte Moreno's ownership and that's not likely to change, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez writes.  Gonzalez also looks at Mark Trumbo trade rumors and a possible Mike Trout extension as part of his all-Angels mailbag.
  • In another item from Gonzalez, he speculates about what the Angels might have to give up (and what the Rays might want) in order to facilitate a David Price trade.
  • Earlier today on MLBTR we collected another set of AL West notes earlier today on MLBTR, a set of Astros-related notes and learned that the Angels signed Wade LeBlanc to a minor league deal.

Mets Notes: Murphy, Davis, Duda, Hart, Granderson

The Mets are listening to offers on Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, but are not aggressively shopping them at this point, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter).  Here's more on the Mets…

  • Five or six teams have inquired about Davis and/or Lucas Duda, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports.  Duda is considered by some AL teams to be a fit as a designated hitter, Carig tweets.
  • Peralta appears to be the Mets' top free agent target, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes.  The club "really likes" Peralta but they don't know if he intends to sign soon or later in the offseason.
  • The Mets have talked to free agent Corey Hart, but Martino gets the sense that they either don't identify him as a top target or aren't that eager to get a deal done with him.  Carig (link) also hears from a source that the Mets aren't close to a deal with the Brewers first baseman.  "We haven't discussed him in depth enough to say where we'd put him if we got him," the source said.
  • The Mets have plans to meet with Curtis Granderson's agent this week, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter).  The outfielder is turning down the Yankees' $14.1MM qualifying offer.
  • The Mets have touched base with Marlon Byrd's representatives in the last few days, according to Carig (link).  Recently, Steve Adams examined the market for Byrd and concluded that he could fetch a deal in the neighborhood of $16MM over two years.
  • A source suggested to Carig (link) that it would make sense for the Mets to take their time in trading Davis and take advantage of a market that is starved for power.  Carig (link) hears that the Mets might do just that and hang on to him until later in the offseason when teams will be seeking out less costly alternatives to add power.
  • The Mets aren't actively talking to Mike Pelfrey about a possible reunion, but they are open to it, a team official tells Adam Rubin.  "I know he is on a long list of guys just like him," the team insider said.  The Mets non-tendered the hurler after he earned $5.7MM in 2012.
  • The Mets' top priority is shortstop, but they're hardly alone in that, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Possible options for the Mets include Peralta, Erick Aybar, Didi Gregorius, Rafael Furcal, and Jed Lowrie.

AL East Rumors: A-Rod, Yankees, Orioles

Free agent reliever Mark Hendrickson would like to return to the Orioles organization in 2014, but he doesn't know where he'll wind up this winter.  "Obviously, I'd love to get his feedback from an organizational standpoint," Hendrickson told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. "I'm very happy with the opportunity they gave me last year. I don't know what's going to happen moving forward. I've got to be open to everything. I obviously have a connection with the Orioles. I love the organization, love where it's been going. But to determine what will happen, it's hard to say sitting here in November – what their thoughts are, how everything unfolds, what's going on."  Here's more out of the AL East..

  • Attorneys for Major League Baseball accused  Alex Rodriguez of “a brazen attempt to circumvent the ongoing arbitration process” in a motion filed Friday to dismiss the Yankees third baseman's lawsuit against MLB and commissioner Bud Selig, write Ken Davidoff and Rich Calder of the New York Post.
  • The Yankees announced yesterday that they are bringing back their entire coaching staff.  That means that key figures such as pitching coach Larry Rothschild, bench coach Tony Pena, and hitting coach Kevin Long will return for another year in pinstripes.
  • The Yanks will face tough competition for players on their free agent wish list this year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports. "[T]his isn’t going to be like 2008 when [GM Brian Cashman] was able to blow everyone out of the water" by committing $423 million to CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, Madden writes. The Yankees are expected to battle with the Tigers, Rangers, Red Sox and Mets for players that include Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Grant Balfour, Jhonny Peralta and Masahiro Tanaka.
  • The Orioles are expected to hire Braves special assistant Dom Chiti as their bullpen coach, industry sources tell Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


Sherman On Mets: Choo, Davis, Peralta

Look for a lot of change to the Mets for 2014, says Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman projects a revamped lineup, not as a specific prediction, but as representative of the kinds of additions the front office is contemplating. It includes Norichika Aoki in the leadoff spot, Andre Ethier batting cleanup, and Jhonny Peralta manning short. Here are the key takeaways from Sherman's piece:

  • The Mets are much less likely to chase after top free agents like Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury than they are to add multiple pieces.
  • Ike Davis is very likely to be dealt, with Lucas Duda getting an opportunity to play first. Sherman suggests that a Davis-for-Aoki swap could save the Mets money and create a better fit for New York.
  • Peralta is definitely on the club's radar, and they could try to sign him early in order to set the tone for the offseason. If they fail to land Peralta, says Sherman, the Mets will check in on the trade market to fill their shortstop void.
  • Though Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler may well be off limits, the Mets could deal from their other pitching depth, including Rafael Montero. Sherman floats the concept of a trade with the Dodgers for Ethier or even Matt Kemp, and notes that the team might otherwise pursue Curtis Granderson in free agency.
  • Look for the addition of several veteran depth pieces in the pitching staff and bench, says Sherman.

Tigers Won’t Make Any Qualifying Offers, Don’t Expect To Re-Sign Peralta

After introducing new manager Brad Ausmus to the press today, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski chatted with members of the media, including Chris Iott of MLive.com. Among the information he chose to reveal is that the club will not make any qualifying offers to players eligible for free agency, and does not expect to re-sign. (Twitter links.)

While none of the Detroit free agents were obvious QO candidates, there were arguments to be made for second baseman Omar Infante and perhaps shortstop Jhonny Peralta and closer Joaquin Benoit. With the news, those three (and the rest of the Tigers' free agent crop) can enter the market without being hindered by draft pick compensation.

As for Peralta, Dombrowski's apparent lack of interest in a reunion is not all that surprising, particularly given that the club dealt for his replacement (Jose Iglesias) immediately after Peralta's 50-game PED suspension. On the other hand, Peralta did return to the field for the club and has expressed interest in returning. Ultimately, it seems likely that he'd be more valuable anyway to team looking to fill a starting shortstop vacancy.


AL Notes: Napoli, Tigers, Orioles, Ryan

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred testified, during the Alex Rodriguez arbitration hearing, baseball did not concern itself if Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch distributed illegal substances to minors and was only interested in possible criminal activity involving players. Today, Manfred called the report "ridiculous" telling Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel his testimony was "totally out of context and mischaracterized" and accused the A-Rod camp of leaking the story. "The larger point is this: From our perspective, one of the reasons we pursue cases like the A-Rod case is we think players should be role models for kids," Manfred explained to Haudricourt. "It's almost comical that A-Rod, who already has admitted in the past he used steroids, would express an opinion on our stance on children and PEDs." The hearing will resume next month. In other news and notes from the American League:

  • Mike Napoli's strong postseason is further proof his avascular necrosis is not an issue as he enters free agency for the second time, reports MLB.com's Lindsay Berra. Napoli was frustrated by having to settle for a one-year, $5MM deal (incentives pushed the eventual value to $13MM) after a three-year, $39MM contract was scrapped because of the AVN diagnosis. "I waited seven years for free agency and then got an opportunity, and it got taken away because of something I didn't even know I had and had never had any pain from," said Napoli. "I'm a little more confident about negotiating a contract now that I've shown all year that my hips aren't an issue, but I'm sure I'm going to have to go through all the steps again, with all the MRIs and talking to doctors."
  • There are six questions the Tigers must answer this offseason, writes MLive.com's Chris Iott. Among the answers, Iott predicts Jim Leyland will return as manager, the Tigers will not re-sign Jhonny Peralta (despite his desire to remain in Detroit), but will re-sign Joaquin Benoit and Omar Infante
  • The Orioles don't have a lot of inventory to deal this winter after trading away six players in midseason acquisitions, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, and Steve Johnson head the list of tradeable players, according to Dubroff.
  • Nolan Ryan left his imprint on the Rangers, especially the pitching staff, with his attitude and focus on conditioning, opines Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
  • Ryan received a $10MM buyout (his ownership stake plus incentives) when he announced his retirement from the Rangers, Grant reports in separate article. However, according to Forbes, Ryan wound up losing money on his ownership investment. Ryan's original equity interest was valued at $13MM (6% ownership); but, dwindled to $7MM (1% ownership) because he declined to participate in various cash calls to cover his share of the losses the franchise incurred.

Jhonny Peralta Wants To Stay With Tigers

It has been a trying year for Jhonny Peralta as he missed 50 games due to his PED suspension before the club's playoff run, which ended at the hands of the Red Sox last night.  Peralta now faces an uncertain future as he is eligible for free agency, but the veteran says that he wants to stay with the Tigers, writes John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press.  

The Tigers have their shortstop position spoken for with Jose Iglesias, but Peralta might be willing to continue at his new left field position to facilitate a new deal with Detroit.

"There's a chance for sure, yeah, because I like the organization here," Peralta said when asked about the possibility. "Do I want to be here? Yeah, I want to be here."

It's unclear how much interest there will be on the other side of the table.  The Tigers could turn to Nick Castellanos or Andy Dirks to man the position and might not want to spend the money to bring Peralta back.  Peralta, an SFX client, hit .303/.358/.457 in 448 plate appearances in 2013.