Joba Chamberlain Rumors

AL Notes: Rays, Garza, Ibanez, Astros

On this date in 1980, the Yankees made Dave Winfield the highest-paid athlete in all of sports with a ten-year, $16MM contract. In the intervening four decades, a ten-year MLB contract is now worth something in the neighborhood of $240MM (Robinson Cano and Albert Pujols) to $275MM (Alex Rodriguez). Meanwhile, $16MM will only buy you one year of Hiroki Kuroda or two years of Marlon Byrd this offseason, per MLBTR's Transaction Tracker. As you rush out and buy your child a bat, a glove, and every baseball instructional video ever made, here's today's American League news and notes:

  • The Rays feel justified in giving James Loney the most lucrative free agent contract during Andrew Friedman's tenure, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays value Loney's defense, quality at-bats, clubhouse presence, and his left-handed bat which balances a predominantly right-handed lineup.
  • Also from Topkin's article, the Rays will now turn their attention to adding bench and bullpen pieces with catcher Jose Lobaton and outfielder Matt Joyce as possible trade chips.
  • The market for Matt Garza is strong because of his 2013 season, AL East pedigree, and not being attached to draft pick compensation, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
  • The Angels believe they can sign both Garza and Raul Ibanez and still fall below the $189MM luxury tax threshold, writes FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal notes the Angels' interest in Ibanez stems from his career slash line of .349/.407/.522 in 327 plate appearances at Angel Stadium.
  • Also from Rosenthal, the Astros are still in the market for a first baseman and could turn to the Nationals' Tyler Moore.
  • Despite the signing of Joba Chamberlain, the Tigers' preference is to have Bruce Rondon set up closer Joe Nathan, according to John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Royals are to be commended not just for signing Omar Infante away from the Yankees, but also strengthening their ballclub immediately at a reasonable cost, opines Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan.

Dombrowski, Chamberlain Discuss Signing

General manager Dave Dombrowski has a new-look bullpen heading into the 2014 season, with Joe Nathan serving as the closer, Ian Krol in place of Drew Smyly (who will move to the rotation in place of the recently traded Doug Fister) and newcomer Joba Chamberlain joining on a one-year, $2.5MM deal.

Despite the fact that Chamberlain's $2.5MM guarantee is less than the $4MM option Detroit declined on Jose Veras and the fact that the team saved money in the Fister and Prince Fielder trades, Dombrowski maintains that his moves haven't been about cutting payroll. When asked about the perception that his team is slashing payroll on today's conference call, he replied:

"The reality is it's not true. We have a very hefty payroll. We'll be one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball. We'll continue to be that, and our payroll, actually, as of this year is higher than it was last year."

Asked then if the decision came down to the fact that the Tigers simply like Chamberlain better than Veras, Dombrowski was frank:

"Yes we do, and no offense to Jose Veras because he's a solid guy and we liked him. We had an opportunity to bring him back. We like Joba. … We had our choice of a lot of guys who are still out there for one-year deals — maybe even a two-year deal in a couple different cases. I'm not talking about closer guys. We like Joba. We've liked him in the past. Our scouts that haved liked him. We realized that sometimes coming off Tommy John, it takes awhile to come back. … The ability is still there. The velocity is still there. … We like what he brings to our bullpen, so the answer to that is yes."

Though it's a new-look bullpen for Detroit, some familiar faces will be returning for Tigers fans, and one of those faces is familiar to Chamberlain as well. I asked Dombrowski and Chamberlain if either talked with left-hander Phil Coke — Chamberlains' former teammate with the Yankees — before making the decision. Dombrowski said that while he didn't ask Coke what Chamberlain is like in the clubhouse, the club did a lot of research and spoke with a lot of people about Chamberlain before making the offer. Asked about his former teammate, Chamberlain replied:

"I didn't have the chance to talk to Phil, but every time that Detroit came to New York or I was in Detroit, we'd always talk to Phil. … Phil is a great man. He's a character, and we had some good times in New York, and I'm looking forward to being back with him and sharing some new memories in Detroit, and definitely getting some more stories from Phil. He's a guy that'll keep you entertained. … I'm looking forward to seeing him, giving him a big hug and being his teammate again."

Though he had other offers, Chamberlain called Detroit "an incredible fit," and a "fantastic organization from top to bottom." He added that he was excited to come to Detroit after talking with new manager Brad Ausmus, whom he watched as a player for a number of years.

"There was a lot of interest," said agent Jim Murray of Excel Sports Management. "There were a lot of opportunities out there for potentially even more dollars. However, the money wasn't a driving factor in this. This is more about opportunity. This is more about Joba feeling comfortable."

Detroit designated Danny Worth for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot — a move that Dombrowski acknowledged was influenced by the addition of Steve Lombardozzi in the Doug Fister trade. Though they've been busy to this point, it could be a low-key offseason the rest of the way for Detroit.

"No, we're pretty well set at this point," Dombrowski said when asked if he'd continue shopping for more pieces. "I think this basically sets us up as we want to go forward. Now, there are a lot of players out there. Who knows what happens as the winter progresses? Who knows what the next phone call brings since we're still a couple months away from Spring Training? But as far as us being aggressive and trying to sign somebody and bring them on board, this would be the last move we're looking to make."


Tigers Sign Joba Chamberlain

11:56am: Chamberlain's deal includes $500K in performance bonuses based on games pitched that would bring his salary up to $3MM, tweets Jason Beck of MLB.com. 

10:35am: Having already added Joe Nathan to solidify the ninth inning, the Tigers made an upside play by adding right-hander Joba Chamberlain to the mix. The Tigers today officially announced the signing of Chamberlain to a one-year deal that is reportedly worth $2.5MM plus incentives. Chamberlain is represented by Jim Murray of Excel Sports Management.

The 28-year-old former top prospect struggled through his worst season (in terms of ERA) as a Major Leaguer in 2013, posting a 4.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 5.6 BB/9 and a 41.5 percent ground-ball rate in 42 innings for the Yankees. Chamberlain was significantly better away from Yankee Stadium, posting a 3.54 ERA on the road compared to a 6.23 mark at home in a roughly equal sample size. Chamberlain's velocity remained strong in his first full season back from 2011 Tommy John surgery, as he averaged a healthy 94.7 mph on his fastball.

Chamberlain will join a new-look Tigers bullpen that features active saves leader Joe Nathan in the ninth inning. Joaquin Benoit is on the free agent market but doesn't appear likely to return, and left-hander Drew Smyly figures to shift from the 'pen into the rotation following the offseason trade of Doug Fister to the Nationals. Left-hander Ian Krol, acquired in the Fister deal, should join Nathan and Chamberlain as new additions.

Further additions seem unlikely, as GM Dave Dombrowski told Lynn Henning of the Detroit News on Thursday that his offseason shopping was mostly done, save for one bullpen arm that "won't be a biggie" (Twitter link).

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports first tweeted that the Tigers were a possible landing spot for Chamberlain. ESPN's Buster Olney reported (via Twitter) that the Tigers' interest was "serious," and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that a one-year agreement was in place (Twitter link). Olney then reported news of the $2.5MM guarantee plus incentives (on Twitter).



Tigers Have Serious Interest In Joba Chamberlain

THURSDAY: The Tigers have "serious" interest in Chamberlain, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter).

WEDNESDAY, 1:46pm: The Tigers are a possible destination for Chamberlain as well, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.

1:32am: The Astros are interested in Joba Chamberlain as a buy-low option, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter). Chamberlain is the latest free agent to be linked to the Astros, who also reportedly have some interest in Michael Morse, Jesse Crain, and Chad Gaudin, among others.

Chamberlain, 28, had arguably the worst year of his big league career in 2013, posting a 4.93 ERA in 45 appearances for the Yankees. However, his 3.54 ERA on the road was significantly better than his 6.23 mark at home, and his velocity and strikeout rates remained solid. Assuming he can reduce his control issues going forward, he looks like a solid bounceback candidate.

On Tuesday, we heard that Chamberlain had received a one-year, $3MM proposal from an interested team. It initially appeared as if the Diamondbacks had put that offer on the table, but at least one report suggested Arizona hadn't offered the right-hander a contract. The Cubs and Royals were also mentioned as potential suitors for Chamberlain over the weekend.


Joba Chamberlain Has One-Year, $3MM Offer

3:17pm: A high-ranking Diamondbacks official tells MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that no offer has been made to Chamberlain (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted earlier, however, that Chamberlain does indeed have a one-year, $3MM offer. Money isn't the driving factor for Chamberlain, however, according to Rosenthal.

2:56pm: The D-Backs have made a one-year offer to Joba Chamberlain worth roughly $3MM, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.

The 28-year-old former top prospect struggled through his worst season as a Major Leaguer in 2013, posting a 4.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 5.6 BB/9 and a 41.5 percent ground-ball rate in 42 innings for the Yankees. Chamberlain was significantly better away from Yankee Stadium, posting a 3.54 ERA on the road compared to a 6.23 mark at home in a roughly equal sample size. Chamberlain's velocity remained strong, as he averaged a healthy 94.7 mph on his fastball.


Central Notes: Phillips, Axford, Joba, Buck

Here's the latest news from both the NL and AL Central divisions…

  • The Brandon Phillips trade rumors may have temporarily stopped, though Reds president/CEO Bob Castellini left the door slightly open when talking to reporters today (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon and the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay).  "Brandon is part of the team, boys," Castellini said.  "Walt [GM Walt Jocketty] was just exploring.  You have to understand what he's up against. He's got to look around. Brandon Phillips is an integral part of this franchise….But you never say never."
  • The Cubs and John Axford share a mutual interest in each other, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com reports.  Axford would get a chance to compete for the Cubs' closing job, though the right-hander seemingly has plenty of opportunities around the league, with a reported 14 teams checking in following his non-tender from the Cardinals.
  • The Cubs and Royals are two of the teams who have shown interest in Joba Chamberlain, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets.  No signing seems to be imminent for either team, however.  Chamberlain is another relief arm who has drawn significant attention on the open market, as he may be seen as a reclamation candidate after some tough seasons with the Yankees.
  • The Twins have spoken to John Buck's agent, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, and a source tells Berardino that Buck is Minnesota's top target amongst available catchers.  It isn't clear how interested in the Twins are, however, given that Josmil Pinto is still the club's preferred choice to take over the everyday catching job now that Joe Mauer has been moved to first base.
  • Carl Pavano talked with Berardino about his comeback attempt from a freak snow-shoveling accident that left him with a ruptured spleen and sidelined the veteran righty for the entire 2013 season.  Pavano said the Twins haven't contacted him about a return: "I haven't really talked to them.  I don't know if that would be a good fit anyway. I think we're in different places. They need those younger guys in their rotation."

Olney’s Latest: Nolasco, Twins, Joba, Royals, Peralta, Headley

Major League Baseball is in a race against the clock to change the rules and eliminate home-plate collisions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest Insider-only column. MLB GMs were "100 percent" in favor when the issue of a rule-change was raised at the GM Meetings this week, says Olney. As one team lawyer pointed out to Olney, MLB has no choice but to scramble to get something in place for next season: "Everybody has said that there needs to be a change [in the rules], and if somebody gets hurt [in 2014] they could sue and claim that Major League Baseball knew there was a problem and didn’t do anything about it." Here are just a few of the highlights from Olney's highly informative piece:

  • Ricky Nolasco already has a three-year offer in hand, and that same team has indicated that it may be willing to extend the offer to four years. Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Olney that his client's preference is still to return to the Dodgers.
  • Teams are racing to make their best offers to pitchers like Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo, knowing that those arms might not require the potential four- and five-year deals that Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez are targeting.
  • The Twins have made it clear that they're looking to sign two good veteran arms, and in a separate tweet Olney notes that they're being very aggressive on the free agent market. In addition to their interest in Arroyo, it's possible that they're in on Nolasco, says Olney.
  • The Royals have had internal discussions about adding Joba Chamberlain on a one-year deal, and as Olney points out, Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland was Chamberlain's pitching coach with the Yankees earlier in his career.
  • The Royals would also like to sign Josh Johnson to a one-year deal in an attempt to recreate the magic of last year's Santana acquisition.
  • Jhonny Peralta is looking for "huge" money, according to Olney's sources. Olney writes that Peralta is seeking "much" more than three years and $45MM. I predicted a three-year, $36MM pact for Peralta in my recent free agent profile of the former Tiger.
  • The Padres haven't had any extension talks with Chase Headley this offseason, and as it stands right now, there are no plans to begin negotiations.

Crasnick On Cano, Tanaka, Price, Ellsbury

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs.  Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year.  It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
  • Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees.  All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers.  Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
  • Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter.  Where will he land?  The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
  • Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals.  Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
  • When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza.  Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid.  One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term.  "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
  • When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
  • Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson.  Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner.  "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."

Yankees Notes: Granderson, Jeter, Chavez, Joba

By all accounts, it looks like the Yankees will be big players in free agency this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes.  The Yankees may have at least a dozen players in mind, and Heyman adds the names of Scott Feldman and Bronson Arroyo to the long list of free agents who have already been linked to the Bombers.  One would suspect that Feldman and Arroyo would be backup plans should New York not be able to land a higher-profile starter like Masahiro Tanaka.  Here's the latest out of the Bronx…

  • The Yankees "obviously" want Curtis Granderson to reject the team's $14.1MM qualifying offer so they can pursue other free agent outfield options.  While Granderson says he's still considering accepting the one-year deal, he seems likely to find a solid multiyear offer on the open market, his injury-shortened 2013 season notwithstanding.
  • Hal Steinbrenner was the one who negotiated Derek Jeter's one-year, $12MM deal for 2014, Heyman reports.  Steinbrenner is "very involved" in the team's dealings this winter, according to a source.
  • The Yankees have discussed bringing back Eric Chavez, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports.  Chavez would provide needed bench depth, and he wouldn't require a big commitment since he only wants a one-year contract.  There does seem to be mutual interest between Chavez and the Diamondbacks for 2014, however.
  • Joba Chamberlain hasn't received any attention from the Yankees but over a dozen other clubs have checked in on the free agent reliever, WFAN's Sweeney Murti reports (Twitter link).  It has been widely reported that the Yankees will part ways with their former top prospect.
  • The 10-year contracts given to Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols when both men were in their 30's are reasons why the Yankees shouldn't make a decade-long commitment to 31-year-old Robinson Cano, MLB.com's Mike Bauman opines.

Yankees Links: Oppenheimer, Payroll, Joba, Drew

It was 10 years ago today that the old Yankee Stadium hosted the last World Series game in the building's storied history.  It wasn't a memorable one for the Yankees, as they were shut out by Josh Beckett in Game Six of the 2003 World Series and the Marlins clinched the title.  Here's the latest news about the Bronx Bombers…

  • Damon Oppenheimer will remain as the Yankees' amateur scouting director, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.  Oppenheimer's job was rumored to be in jeopardy due to a series of less-than-fruitful drafts but the Yankees' highly-regarded 2013 draft class may have saved him.  Mark Newman, the club's senior VP of baseball operations, could still be in danger of being fired, Feinsand notes.
  • Even if the Yankees spend $300MM on free agents this offseason, ESPN's Mike Petriello (Insider subscription required) doesn't think it will be enough to offset its declining veterans and lack of farm system reinforcements.
  • Joba Chamberlain's days as a Yankee are finished, according to Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog in his review of Chamberlain's 2013 season.  "I don’t think [the Yankees] will bring him back under any circumstances, not even on a minor league contract," Axisa writes.  Chamberlain posted a 4.93 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9 in 42 relief innings last year and has fallen out of favor with the Yankees.
  • Stephen Drew's ability to play both shortstop and third base would fill a valuable need for the Yankees next season, but ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand doesn't think Drew would sign for a team that might not have a regular starting job for him if Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are around.  The Bombers also wouldn't want to give up their first round draft pick to sign Drew if the Red Sox make Drew a qualifying offer.
  • David Robertson doesn't know if he'll be the Yankees closer next year but the reliever tells MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that he's ready for the challenge of taking over from Mariano Rivera.  As I wrote in my Offseason Outlook piece about the Yankees, it wouldn't be surprising if New York brings in a veteran with closing experience to at least compete with Robertson for the job.