Jhonny Peralta Rumors
It's hard to top January 31 when it comes to notable baseball birthdays. Three of the game's biggest legends were born on this day: Nolan Ryan (celebrating his 66th birthday), "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks (his 82nd) and the late Jackie Robinson, who was born in 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. Here are some news items from around the majors as we head into February...
- The Tigers have "mild interest" in Cuban shortstop prospect Aledmys Diaz, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press reports. At least ten teams (including the Cardinals, Twins and Athletics) are known to be interested in Diaz, though Major League Baseball is is investigating whether Diaz is younger than his alleged age of 23 years old.
- Also from Sipple, it seems as if the Tigers will keep Jhonny Peralta, despite some trade rumors surrounding the shortstop this winter.
- The Orioles watched left-hander Arthur Rhodes throw today at Camden Yards, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter link). The 43-year-old Rhodes didn't pitch in 2012 but is looking to continue his 20-year Major League career. Rhodes was drafted by the O's in 1988, played for the team from 1991-99 and currently lives in Baltimore.
- The Orioles also recently worked out utilityman Fernando Tatis, Connolly tweets. Tatis hasn't played in the majors since 2010 when he made 72 plate appearances for the Mets before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Tatis, 38, played for the Orioles in 2006 and has also suited up for the Mets, Expos, Cardinals and Rangers during his 11-year career.
- The Dodgers could be looking to trade from its starting pitching depth, but Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times suggests the team should hang onto all eight starters given how many of them are battling injury problems.
- The Dodgers' free-spending ways could come back to haunt them later in the decade, ESPN's Dan Szymborski writes (Insider subscription required). It also puts pressure on the team to win sooner rather than later: "A disappointing year or two, and it wouldn't be shocking if the biggest member of the [ownership] consortium started to find the guaranteed cash from the TV contract a lot more appealing than playing high-stakes fantasy baseball."
- ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg talks to sabermetrician Tom Tango, who has worked as a consultant to several teams but is now working exclusively for the Cubs.
- MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts discussed the Braves, the Rays, Shaun Marcum and Alex Rodriguez on the latest edition of the Rosters & Rumblings podcast.
Here's the latest from the defending American League champions...
- Justin Verlander says he and the Tigers haven't begun discussing a contract extension but the right-hander wants to spend the rest of his career in Detroit, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (Twitter link). Verlander's current deal (a five-year, $80MM contract) is up after the 2014 season.
- Also from Beck, the Tigers and manager Jim Leyland are likely to keep their year-by-year re-evaluation of Leyland's contract status going through at least the end of the 2013 season. Leyland has said that he wishes to take one-year contracts at this late stage of his career.
- Rick Porcello and Jhonny Peralta are both focusing on the upcoming season and not on trade rumors, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press writes. Several clubs (most recently the Orioles and Diamondbacks) are reportedly interested in Porcello, while such teams as the D'Backs, Red Sox and Athletics have been linked to Peralta at various points this offseason.
- In regards to those Porcello rumors, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told reporters (including USA Today's Bob Nightengale) that while he'll listen to offers, it's doubtful that he will look to add more pitching since the newly-acquired Randall Delgado will compete for the fifth starter's job.
- For Detroit-specific coverage from MLBTR, check out our Tigers-only Facebook page, Twitter and RSS feeds.
- A major league executive tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter) that he believes Drew will sign with the A's for one year with an additional player option for 2014.
- If Drew ends up signing elsewhere and the Tigers do indeed find a new shortstop (possibly Drew himself), the A's would likely make a move to acquire Jhonny Peralta. Peralta and his $6MM salary would obviously be expendable to the Tigers in that scenario.
- The two don't immediately line up on paper as a fit given the Tigers' need for a right-handed hitting outfielder (the Tigers aren't interested in Michael Taylor). However, Slusser writes that Detroit likes Jemile Weeks and would contemplate moving him to the outfield. There's no guarantee the A's would move Weeks, however, even though they demoted him to Triple-A this season.
- Hiroyuki Nakajima is still in play for the A's, and he's seeking a three-year deal worth about $5MM annually. Most believe he'll have trouble doing better than one year and an option, though.
- Contrary to some national reports, Grant Green and Brad Peacock were not on the table in the team's Yunel Escobar trade discussions with the Marlins.
- The A's aren't likely to select a player in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow, but there's a good chance that they lose 2007 first-rounder James Simmons to another club. Simmons, the 26th overall selection that year, posted a 2.98 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 K/9 in 63 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. The 26-year-old also turned in a dominant performance in the Arizona Fall League.
The Yankees have "renewed (their) longstanding interest" in free agent utility man Jeff Keppinger, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. People within the industry think the team may be laying groundwork to use Alex Rodriguez as the primary DH as soon as 2013, which GM Brian Cashman refuted.
"There is no discussion whatsoever about Alex transitioning from third base to DH, part-time DH, first base or any other position on the field," said Cashman. "As we approach anyone in the free-agent market or anyone in trades, we’re making sure we have insurance policies, (asking) our what-ifs?"
Keppinger, 32, hit .325/.367/.439 in 418 plate appearances for the Rays this season while playing primary second and third bases. The Yankees tried to acquire him from the Astros two winters ago. Rosenthal says New York has not spoken to the Tigers about Jhonny Peralta as they look for utility infield help, though they reportedly have interest in free agent Stephen Drew.
Rodriguez, 37, hit .272/.353/.430 with 18 homers in 529 plate appearances last season. He missed more than a month with a broken bone in his hand after getting hit by a pitch. Derek Jeter is currently rehabbing from a fractured left ankle and the team expects to be ready in time for Opening Day. The Yankees are still seeking infield depth just in case either veteran continues to fight the injury bug.
Here's the latest out of Arizona...
- The D'Backs are interested in free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Keppinger hit .325/.367/.439 in 418 plate appearances with the Rays in 2012 and has a career .864 OPS against left-handed pitching. Arizona would presumably use Keppinger at third base, though the veteran has played all over the infield in his career.
- In another post from Piecoro, he says the Diamondbacks would use Jhonny Peralta as a third baseman if they acquired him from the Tigers. Peralta primarily served as the Indians' third baseman in 2009 and 2010, though he hasn't played at the hot corner since and has a below-average (a -3.1 UZR/150) glove at the position.
- While the D'Backs were one of the teams who met with free agent closer Kyuji Fujikawa, the Snakes don't "appear to be as interested" in Fujikawa as they were before acquiring Heath Bell from the Marlins, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
Shortstop Stephen Drew is drawing interest from such clubs as the Tigers, Red Sox and Yankees, reports CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. Drew became a free agent after the A's declined their half of a $10MM mutual option in October, though Oakland is still interested in re-signing the Scott Boras client at a lower price.
Drew could start in Boston or at least provide veteran backup behind Jose Iglesias, while Heyman writes that the Yankees saw Drew as a "super sub" who could provide depth around the infield. New York didn't see Drew as a short-term fill-in for Derek Jeter at short since Brian Cashman is confident that Jeter will be recovered from ankle surgery by Opening Day.
The Tigers already have a shortstop in Jhonny Peralta, though ESPN's Jim Bowden reports (Twitter link) that the Tigers look to sign Drew and then deal Peralta to either the Red Sox or the Diamondbacks. We heard earlier today that Peralta was drawing interest from Arizona.
Peralta hit .239/.305/.384 batting line in 585 plate appearances for the Tigers last season and the Tigers picked up his $6MM club option for 2013 last month. Peralta's 2012 performance wasn't much better than Drew's .223/.309/.348 line in 327 PAs with Arizona and Oakland, though Drew was returning in July after being sidelined for almost a full year with a severe ankle injury.
The Diamondbacks are interested in shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). However, the Tigers won’t trade Peralta unless they can find a way to upgrade at shortstop.
Peralta will earn $6MM next year since the Tigers exercised his 2013 option following the World Series. The 30-year-old posted a .239/.305/.384 batting line in 585 plate appearances with Detroit this past year. Though he doesn’t have much range, he’s regarded as a steady defender. The Diamondbacks also appear to have some interest in trading for Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
Peralta will earn $6MM in 2013 instead of a $500K buyout. The 30-year-old posted a .239/.305/.384 batting line in 585 plate appearances with Detroit this past year. While the Tigers would prefer more range at shortstop, they consider the $6MM price tag reasonable, according to Jon Heyman. Back in September I explained that the option would likely appeal to the Tigers given the scarcity of alternatives available.
Dotel appeared in 57 regular season games for the Tigers, posting a 3.57 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 58 innings. The 38-year-old continues to dominate right-handed hitters; they hit just .197/.217/.307 against him with 43 strikeouts and four walks. He'll earn $3.5MM instead of a $500K buyout.
The Tigers are expected to exercise their 2013 option for Jhonny Peralta following a strong postseason showing from the shortstop, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The Tigers consider the $6MM option “reasonable,” according to Heyman.
The Tigers would ideally like to have a shortstop with more range than Peralta, especially with Miguel Cabrera beside him at third base. There’s a chance GM Dave Dombrowski could explore deals for shortstops after exercising the option, Heyman reports. Yunel Escobar figures to be available, but he doesn’t appear to interest the Tigers.
Peralta, who homered in Game One of the World Series last night, posted a .239/.305/.384 batting line in 585 plate appearances with Detroit this past year. The Tigers would have to pay the 30-year-old a $500K buyout if they don't exercise his option. Back in September I explained that the option would likely appeal to the Tigers given the scarcity of alternatives available.
This coming offseason’s class of free agent shortstops doesn’t have the same star power as the one that featured Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins a year ago. Marco Scutaro and Stephen Drew lead a group that includes a number of backups and Alex Gonzalez, who missed the final five months of the 2012 season with a knee injury. In theory, Jhonny Peralta could also hit free agency. But it seems more likely that the Tigers will exercise their $6MM club option and keep Peralta in Detroit for another year.
The Tigers don’t have a Jurickson Profar or Manny Machado-type shortstop prospect in the organization, so they’ll need to acquire someone to play the position in 2013. President and GM Dave Dombrowski could explore trades for players such as Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy and Yunel Escobar, but the asking prices figure to be high for each player. A weak free agent class and a potentially competitive trade market could improve Peralta’s chances of returning to Detroit.
Peralta hasn't produced on offense the way he did in 2011, the first season of his two-year, $11.25MM contract with Detroit. He has a .251/.311/.404 batting line that's slightly better than average for his position (MLB shortstops are hitting .255/.307/.377). Though Peralta's home run total has dropped from 21 in 2011 to 11 in 2012, he has added 31 doubles and three triples in 502 plate appearances.
While Peralta’s not thought of as an above-average defender, his defense is considered acceptable. He's a decent defensive shortstop even if he's not much fun to watch, according to a pre-season scouting report in The Fielding Bible Volume III. UZR suggests the 30-year-old has played above-average defense since signing his two-year deal with the Tigers.
Advanced metrics say Peralta's adding value for the Tigers. FanGraphs' version of wins above replacement values Peralta at 2.7 WAR in 2012. Baseball-Reference, on the other hand, suggests Peralta has been worth 1.4 WAR. The metrics agree on this much: he’s a contributor at a premium position.
Sometime this month Peralta will appear in his 140th game of the season, reaching the threshold for the eighth time in as many seasons since 2005. Injuries can strike at any time, but Peralta’s history of staying healthy compares favorably to that of Drew or Gonzalez.
If the Tigers were to decline Peralta’s option, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the ACES client sign a two-year contract like the one he signed following the 2010 season. Comparable middle infielders such as Aaron Hill, Mark Ellis and Clint Barmes signed similar contracts a year ago. At this point, however, it doesn't seem likely that Peralta will reach free agency. In a market light on alternatives at shortstop, his $6MM option figures to appeal to the Tigers.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.