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Joba Chamberlain Rumors
Rebuilding is no longer a word the White Sox want to be associated with, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “We sit here on the one hand realizing that we have the prime of Chris Sale‘s career ahead of us, the prime of Jose Abreu‘s career ahead of us and wanting to make sure we’re in a position to capitalize and win within that window,” Hahn said. “We want to win, we want to win again quickly and we want to win again repeatedly in the coming years. … We still have work to do to continue that process.” At the same time, Hahn emphasized today that the team has to avoid the “dangerous allure to wanting to make a splash,” as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports in the course of an interesting look at the team’s options.
Here’s the latest from the AL Central after a busy news day:
- The White Sox are currently focused on acquiring a right-handed starter, bullpen additions, and a left-handed hitter, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. While the club has in the past looked into dealing for backstops such as Jason Castro of the Astros and Yasmani Grandal of the Padres, that does not appear to be the priority at present, per Rosenthal. Nevertheless, Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com indicates on Twitter that the team does have present interest in Castro.
- Hahn said today that Chicago is interested in multiple relief acquisitions, as MLB.com’s Phil Rogers reports. “We don’t feel the need to go out and get a so-called proven closer,” said Hahn. “We certainly want to have multiple upgrades, and if some of those upgrades give us viable back-end options, that’s great.”
- Word is that the Royals will meet with the representatives of lefty Brett Anderson this week, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. GM Dayton Moore declined to confirm or deny that or any other meetings. I picked Anderson to go to Kansas City in the MLBTR free agent prediction contest, and think he makes sense for a club that has some added cash to spend on an upside play.
- The Royals have told Raul Ibanez that they would be interested in employing him in a non-playing capacity, tweets McCullough. Ibanez, of course, is in the hunt for the Rays’ open managerial position, and perhaps it is still to early to rule out a return to an active roster as well.
- Victor Martinez is at the top of the Tigers‘ list of priorities, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com, as GM Dave Dombrowski made clear that the team will make every effort to re-sign the DH. The team is still interested in outgoing free agents Max Scherzer and Joba Chamberlain, per Dombrowski, but he said the club is sitting back while both assess their markets.
To the surprise of no one, star free agents Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez turned down qualifying offers from the Tigers yesterday. Re-signing Martinez seems to be a priority for GM Dave Dombrowski. More on the Tigers…
- The door is not closed on a new deal with free agent reliever Joba Chamberlain, says Dombrowski, but it’s not a priority right now.
- Dombrowski said he has not talked about an extension with lefty David Price, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Dombrowski said he knows both sides will want to see free agent prices first. That’s a reference to the current free agent class, says Rosenthal. Price is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
- Dombrowski has four prominent starting pitchers under control for 2015 in Price, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Anibal Sanchez. According to Rosenthal, the GM says he is happy with his starters and not looking to move anyone, but will always listen as he has in the past.
- The Tigers announced they have named former big leaguer David Newhan assistant hitting coach to Wally Joyner, replacing the departed Darnell Coles.
It would make sense for the Rangers to sign free agent Kendrys Morales, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. With injuries to Prince Fielder and Matt Harrison, the Rangers should be able to recoup enough from their insurance policies that they have money to sign Morales. Also, Grant argues that Morales could end up being worth more to the Rangers than the No. 30 overall draft pick they would lose if they signed him prior to the draft. Even if the Rangers’ season fell apart, they could trade Morales later. And by signing Morales now, the Rangers would avoid having to bid against others once the draft passed. Here are more notes from the American League.
- The Rangers’ injuries may have already turned their season into “a lost cause,” Jeff Sullivan writes for Fangraphs’ series at FOX Sports. While it’s easy to overstate the impact of one injury, the Rangers have had so many injuries to so many important players that the impact is clearly significant. Signing Morales would seem to make sense for the Rangers, but they could decide that the injuries have already hurt so much that signing him isn’t worth it right now, particularly given the draft-pick issue.
- The Tigers will likely try to re-sign Victor Martinez this offseason, and they also could try to re-sign Joba Chamberlain if he continues to contribute, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. Max Scherzer, of course, is a top free agent and is likely to sign elsewhere.
- It’s too early in the season for GM Ben Cherington to be able to use the trade market to effectively upgrade a Red Sox squad that has lost ten straight games, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. Nonetheless, Cherington says, “At some point if production is not there, you have to think about changes.” He continues, “We have to find ways to improve across the board. Some of that is going to happen just naturally with the guys we have here.”
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.
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."
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).
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.