Joba Chamberlain Rumors

Royals Sign Wandy Rodriguez, Joba Chamberlain To Minors Contracts

The Royals have agreed to terms with left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and right-hander Joba Chamberlain on minor league deals, the team announced (via Twitter).  Robert Murray of Baseball Essential tweeted yesterday that Rodriguez was joining the Royals.  Rodriguez is represented by WMG, while Chamberlain is represented by Excel Sports Management.

Rodriguez, 36, posted a 4.90 ERA over 86 1/3 innings with the Rangers this season before being released by the team a few weeks ago.  ERA indicators (4.41 SIERA, 4.30 FIP, 4.35 xFIP) indicate that Rodriguez’s 4.90 ERA is perhaps a bit inflated by his .328 BABIP.  The southpaw owned a 3.20 ERA through his first 11 starts with Texas before his performance dipped, lowlighted by a pair of particularly rough outings against the A’s and Yankees (15 ER in a combined five innings).

Though he’ll currently be slated as minor league depth, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rodriguez promoted to Kansas City’s rotation.  Rodriguez’s modest 1.0 fWAR for 2015 tops every Royals starter except for Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez, so the lefty could be an option if the Royals want a change from the inconsistent Yordano Ventura or the struggling Jeremy Guthrie. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted at the time of Rodriguez’s release, the Royals had a need for a veteran depth arm given their recent loss of Jason Vargas to Tommy John surgery.

Chamberlain posted a 4.09 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and a 3.00 K/BB rate over 22 bullpen innings for the Tigers this season before he was released in July.  He signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays but opted out on Friday after a brief but rough stint at Triple-A Buffalo.  Chamberlain may be little more than a pure depth signing for K.C. given how the Royals already boast perhaps the game’s best bullpen.


Heyman’s Latest: Jays, Goldschmidt, Teheran, Chen, Epstein, Gordon, Gray

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by chronicling the efforts of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. Perhaps most interesting are some of the items about trades the Jays elected not to make. As Heyman notes, the Reds asked for right-hander Marcus Stroman in exchange for Johnny Cueto, but Stroman was a deal-breaker in all trade talks with Toronto. Dating back to the offseason, the Blue Jays considered signing Craig Breslow, Joba Chamberlain, John Axford and Rafael Soriano, as well as some larger names, including David Robertson, whom they considered “closely.” (Toronto never made a firm offer to Robertson, though, Heyman writes.) The Blue Jays’ willingness to include Daniel Norris in a trade for David Price effectively shut every other team out of the market, per Heyman, as others weren’t willing to discuss their absolute top prospects. The Yankees, for instance, wouldn’t part with Luis Severino, while the Dodgers steadfastly refused to part with Corey Seager or Julio Urias.

More highlights from the article (which is worth checking out in its entirety, as there’s far more than can be recapped here with any form of brevity)…

  • Paul Goldschmidt is under team control through 2019, but the D-Backs will attempt to extend him further this offseason, per GM Dave Stewart. “We want to make him a lifetime Diamondback,” Stewart told Heyman. I imagine the price tag there will be extraordinary, as Goldschmidt has gone from rising talent to unequivocal superstardom since signing his initial extension with Arizona. Heyman also reports that the D-Backs will take a shot at extending the arbitration-eligible A.J. Pollock. While not a household name, Pollock probably earns my personal vote as the most underrated player in baseball.
  • The Braves have been making an effort to shed contracts that reach beyond the 2016 season, and Heyman writes to “look for them to take offers on Julio Teheran” this offseason. Clearly, Atlanta would be selling low on a talented arm that comes with a very reasonable contract. Teheran signed a six-year, $32.4MM extension prior to the 2014 season, but he’s logged a 4.57 ERA due in part to diminished control in 2015.
  • The Orioles will make left-hander Wei-Yin Chen a qualifying offer this winter, Heyman reports. Chen might not seem like a prototypical QO candidate, but he’s a lock to turn it down, in my mind, coming off a very nice season at age 30. He should draw pretty significant interest this winter, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently noted in examining Chen’s free agent stock.
  • Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is up for an extension at an excellent time, as the Cubs’ rebuild looks to be paying tremendous dividends. Epstein has been earning about $4MM per year with the Cubs, but Heyman hears from some in the industry that the expectation is for Epstein to top Andrew Friedman’s reported $7MM annual salary with the Dodgers if and when he signs a new deal.
  • Despite a poor season for the Reds, there’s a sense among some that they may keep manager Bryan Price. The second-year Reds skipper has had to deal with the losses of Devin Mesoraco, Zack Cozart and Homer Bailey, among many injuries to others in 2015.
  • There’s been some buzz about the Tigers trimming payroll, but Heyman spoke to multiple sources close to the situation who say that talk might be overstated. One spoke specifically about the Ilitch family’s continued commitment to winning. Heyman speculatively mentions Justin Upton as a player that has previously piqued Detroit’s interest. He also lists the White Sox as a team that may show interest in Upton.
  • The Royals are serious about trying to make Alex Gordon a lifetime member of the organization. It’ll be tough for Kansas City to do so if he’s seeking something in the vicinity of Shin-Soo Choo money ($130MM), but the increased revenue they’re receiving from the Kansas City baseball renaissance could allow them to spend more than they would’ve in previous seasons.
  • The Dodgers have interest in Johnny Cueto as a free agent, and adding a right-handed arm does intrigue them. Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-jin Ryu and Julio Urias (expected to eventually join the L.A. rotation) are all left-handed, as is fellow offseason target David Price, whom Heyman terms a “more obvious target” for Friedman & Co.
  • The Brewers are serious about trying to emphasize analytics with a new GM hire, as the Attanasio family (the team’s owners) are big believers in the growing statistical trend. Mark Attanasio’s son, a former basketball player, is an MIT grad with a strong foundation in basketball analytics. John Coppolella, Thad Levine, David Forst, Mike Hazen, Billy Eppler, Michael Girsch and Jerry Dipoto are among the names that Heyman feels could be fits in Milwaukee’s GM seat.
  • “Not happening. Not even slightly,” was the response from Athletics general manager Billy Beane when asked by Heyman about the possibility of trading Sonny Gray this winter. That’s a pretty emphatic denial, and while some will recall similar comments made about Josh Donaldson last October, those came from an anonymous executive as opposed to an on-record denial from Oakland’s top decision-maker.

Joba Chamberlain Opts Out Of Blue Jays Deal

10:03pm: Chamberlain exercised an out clause in his contract, according to the Blue Jays (hat tip: Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, on Twitter).

9:50pm: The Blue Jays have released right-hander Joba Chamberlain from their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, the team announced (Twitter link).

The 29-year-old Chamberlain signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays on July 21 after being released by the Tigers. However, after 22 shaky innings with the Tigers this year, Chamberlain struggled in even more dramatic fashion with Toronto’s top minor league affiliate. Appearing in seven games, Chamberlain totaled just five innings and surrendered 10 runs (eight earned) on nine hits and four walks with seven strikeouts.

Chamberlain’s average fastball velocity remained strong at 93.5 mph this season, but his strikeout and swinging-strike rates both dipped, and he was exceptionally homer-prone, yielding five homers in his 22 frames.

Toronto was on the lookout for bullpen help at the time that Chamberlain was signed, but the relief corps there has since been solidified. LaTroy Hawkins was acquired alongside Troy Tulowitzki in a blockbuster deal with the Rockies, and GM Alex Anthopoulos also acquired Mark Lowe from the Mariners. The addition of David Price in a second Anthopoulos blockbuster has allowed the Blue Jays to deploy Aaron Sanchez in a relief role, adding another strong arm to the late-inning relief mix.



Blue Jays To Sign Joba Chamberlain To Minors Deal

The Blue Jays have agreed to a minor league deal with reliever Joba Chamberlain, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. The 29-year-old was released recently by the Tigers.

Chamberlain owns a 4.09 ERA in 22 innings on the year, but there were some suggestions that he may have been a bit unlucky in Detroit. Opposing hitters own a .360 BABIP against him, as well as a 21.7% HR/FB rate. While solid contact could explain those marks, Chamberlain’s fastball velocity is in line with his career numbers and he’s struck out 6.1 batters per nine while walked just 2.0.

Toronto has long been looking for ways to bolster its bullpen, and will at the very least pick up some depth in Chamberlain. It’s far from clear that the signing will keep the team out of the market for relief arms, but perhaps it reduces the need for the club to deal for a serviceable veteran in addition to whatever else it might get done.


Tigers Release Joba Chamberlain

The Tigers have released righty Joba Chamberlain, the club announced. The veteran reliever was recently designated for assignment.

Chamberlain signed with the Tigers for just $1MM this offseason and was installed in a set-up role. But he was unable to repeat a fairly productive 2014 campaign, working to a 4.09 ERA over 22 frames before being cut loose.

The 29-year-old has posted a useful strikeout-to-walk ratio of just over 3:1 (6.1 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9), but he’s been victimized steadily by the long ball. As things stand, he’s permitted a 21.7% HR/FB rate, with 2.05 long balls leaving the yard per nine innings.

It would be surprising if Chamberlain does not get another look at the big leagues in relatively short order, though he may be forced to take a minor league deal. His average fastball velocity (93.4 mph) is an exact match for last year’s mark, and he has been victimized by a .360 BABIP-against, leaving some room for optimism.


Tigers Designate Joba Chamberlain, Tom Gorzelanny

The Tigers will designate right-hander Joba Chamberlain for assignment, Kurt Mensching of SB Nation and the Detriot News first reported (on Twitter). Anthony Fenech of the Detroit News reports (via Twitter) that lefty Tom Gorzelanny will be designated for assignment as well. The Tigers have since announced the moves, adding that righties Jeff Ferrell and Drew VerHagen have been added to the roster in place of the departed veterans.

Chamberlain and Gorzelanny both came to the Tigers on one-year, $1MM contracts this offseason, and while each looked to be at least a reasonable low-cost roll of the dice at the time, neither has panned out as GM Dave Dombrowski and his staff have hoped.

The 29-year-old Chamberlain has posted a 4.09 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 41 percent ground-ball rate in 22 innings with Detroit this season. Those numbers, on the surface, aren’t entirely unsightly, but Chamberlain has been plagued by the long ball in 2015. He’s yielded five homers in those 22 innings, resulting in an FIP mark of 5.49. (xFIP, which normalizes his homer-to-flyball rate, figures the 4.09 mark is more or less represented of Chamberlain’s talent level this year.) Chamberlain’s in the midst of a particularly poor stretch, having allowed nine runs (eight earned) in his past six innings — a span of eight appearances.

Gorzelanny’s struggles have been even more prolonged. The 32-year-old has totaled just 12 1/3 innings over his past 15 appearances, surrendering an alarming 15 runs, which translates to a 10.95 ERA in that stretch. Overall, he has a 6.75 ERA this season with 7.1 K/9, 5.6 BB/9 and a 36.7 percent ground-ball rate. While he’s proven capable of handling lefties in the past, same-handed hitters are batting .273/.380/.419 against Gorzelanny in 2015. Those numbers pale in comparison, though, to the batting line authored by opposing right-handed hitters: .382/.477/.600.

Both are owed $519K through the end of the season, and neither reliever appeared in enough games to see his incentives kick in. Chamberlain, somewhat notably, was five appearances shy of earning an additional $100K.


AL Central Notes: Boyer, Hanrahan, Chamberlain

Twins righty Blaine Boyer hung up his spikes after 2012, in spite of good health and a live arm, in large part to spend more time with his family, as he tells Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. But his clan has made it work since, aided by busy travel arrangements, and Boyer is in camp with Minnesota after a strong campaign last year with the Padres. His minor league deal with the Twins includes a late March out clause, Miller also reports.

Here are a few more notes from the AL Central:

  • Tigers reliever Joel Hanrahan has seemingly stalled out in his comeback attempt, as Jason Beck of MLB.com reports. Since going in for a Tommy John procedure in the middle of the 2013 campaign, Hanrahan has been unable to get his elbow back into form. Soreness has kept him from moving onto the mound this spring, and he has already received at least one suggestion that he undergo a second TJ surgery. There appears to be at least some question at this point whether the 33-year-old will ever return to a big league pen, let alone contribute to the club in 2015.
  • While Hanrahan tries to figure out his situation, fellow Tigers righty Joba Chamberlain discussed his recent free agent process with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. His son’s connection with Detroit proved a strong inducement for the righty, who said he left money on the table to return. Among the teams with interest in him were the Rangers, Dodgers, Royals, and Brewers, some of which were willing to pay him in the range of his $2.5MM salary from 2014.

AL Central Notes: Chamberlain, Coke, Gordon

Joba Chamberlain‘s new deal with the Tigers includes a pretty hard-to-reach incentive, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter): the reliever will get an additional $100K if he wins the Cy Young award.  Chamberlain, 29, will receive a $1MM base salary plus an additional $100K for reaching 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 appearances.  The right-hander posted a 3.57 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9, and 53.2% groundball rate in 63 innings for the Tigers last year.  More from the AL Central..

  • Many expected that Phil Coke had a better chance of returning to the Tigers than Chamberlain, but that was apparently not the case, Jason Beck of MLB.com writes.  The Tigers have shown no signs of interest for Coke and although he has thrown for teams in San Diego recently, neither manager Brad Ausmus nor Tigers scouts had watched him as of a week ago.
  • Chris Iott of MLive.com looked at the multiple implications of Chamberlain signing with the Tigers.  The pact, among other things, gives the bullpen depth and also insurance for Bruce Rondon as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.  Detroit expects Rondon to be their main seventh-inning guy, but if he’s not good to go for some reason, the Tigers could turn to the newly-acquired Chamberlain or Al Alburquerque.
  • A lot of fuss has been made over Royals outfielder Alex Gordon and his player option for 2016, but it doesn’t sound like he’s all that distracted by it.  “[I] don’t think about it,” Gordon said, according to Jeffrey Flanagan (on Twitter) “The only time I think about it is when you guys ask me.”  Last August, Gordon told reporters he intended to exercise his $13.25MM player option for the 2016 season but now he’s not so sure.

AL West Notes: Moss/Donaldson Trades, Joba, Johnson, Angels, Castro

Looking to get some more insight into the trade that sent Brandon Moss from Oakland to Cleveland, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke with Athletics assistant GM David Forst and manager Bob Melvin about the swap (Oakland received second base prospect Joe Wendle in exchange). Though Wendle has never ranked as a Top 100 prospect according to outlets such as Baseball America, ESPN, etc., Forst said that the A’s don’t concern themselves with prospect rankings. Rather, the A’s have been enamored with Wendle for more than a year and tried to trade for him in the past. “He is a high-contact hitter. He plays good defense. He has an outstanding makeup. We like him,” Forst explained. Melvin explained that the A’s very much like Moss, but were hoping to get a bit younger. Candidly, the Forst told Pluto that the A’s feel Ike Davis can replace Moss’ bat at a cheaper price.

A bit more from Pluto’s interview and the rest of the AL West…

  • Forst told Pluto that the Athletics never discussed Josh Donaldson with the Indians. Oakland targeted a few select teams, and the Blue Jays were at the top of their list of potential trade candidates, he added. Meanwhile, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star chimed in on that same trade (via Twitter), noting that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that his initial hope was to acquire Donaldson and move Brett Lawrie to second base, but it eventually became clear that Lawrie had to be included in the return to obtain Donaldson.
  • The Rangers offered Joba Chamberlain more than the $1MM base salary he received on his new deal with the Tigers, but Chamberlain elected to return to Detroit, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Earlier this morning, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Chamberlain had received more lucrative offers elsewhere but “really wanted” to be a Tiger again.
  • Also from Heyman (on Twitter), infielder Elliot Johnson will receive a $900K base salary if he makes the Rangers‘ big league roster. Johnson signed a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite yesterday, the team announced.
  • Drew Butera‘s Major League experience and the fact that he’s out of options make him the favorite to win the Angels‘ backup catcher job, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. However, Fletcher does quote manager Mike Scioscia, who says he’s also been impressed by candidates Carlos Perez and Jett Bandy“All of these guys have shown on the defensive side they are ready for the challenge,” said Scioscia.
  • Astros catcher Jason Castro recently spoke to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about the feeling of seeing his name floated in trade rumors for much of the offseason. “I think if you focus too much on it, you kind of drive yourself crazy,” said Castro, who called trade rumors “part of the offseason.” The White Sox and Rangers were among the teams with interest in Castro, per Drellich. Castro’s spot with the Astros became secure again once the team dealt Carlos Corporan to the Rangers. Castro and Hank Conger will see the bulk of the time behind the plate for Houston.

AL Central Notes: Blanton, Joba, Crain, Albers, Twins

Joe Blanton, who is in Spring Training with the Royals on a minor league deal this year, missed the game more than he thought he would upon briefly retiring in 2014, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Blanton spent his year off with his wife and three children, but he tells Crasnick that he felt he owed it to himself to take one more shot at the game. “It was nice being home with my family,” Blanton explains. “But the window is small. I’ve done this my whole life. I’ve put a lot into it, so why not see what’s left? I felt like it was almost an injustice to myself to just step away like that.” Blanton recognizes that there may not be an immediate path to the Major League roster in Kansas City and is open to pitching at Triple-A. “I didn’t play in 2014, and 2013 was a terrible year,” says Blanton. “That’s two years of basically nothing — no good work or no playing at all. So I’m kind of starting back at square one, really.”

Some more news and notes from Blanton’s new division, the AL Central…

  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says that Joba Chamberlain turned down more lucrative offers from other clubs to return to Detroit, according to MLB.com’s Jason Beck (Twitter links). Talks between the two sides picked up over the past few days and came together last night, Beck adds. “He really wanted to come back,” Dombrowski said.
  • Non-roster invitees Jesse Crain and Matt Albers could be significant boosts to the White Sox bullpen if healthy, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. Crain is already further along than he was in an injury-plagued 2014 season in which he spent the entire year on the disabled list. He tells Merkin that he’s already throwing off a mound with just one day between sessions, which is something he didn’t do at all last year. As for Albers, Merkin interestingly notes that he nearly signed with the White Sox last offseason but instead chose to sign with the Astros, where he missed nearly the entire year after tearing a muscle in his shoulder.
  • Glen Perkins called the first day of Spring Training under new Twins manager Paul Molitor the most mentally intensive first day of camp he’s ever had in his career, writes Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. Molitor worked with pitchers and catchers to outline the ways in which the Twins need to improve on holding runners to help limit the running game, specifically focusing on tendencies throughout the staff that other teams exploited in 2014. Perkins spoke highly of Molitor’s baseball acumen and teaching ability, and Mackey writes that Molitor’s wealth of knowledge and attention to detail could boost the Twins’ on-field product if he’s able to communicate everything effectively.