Joba Chamberlain Rumors

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.

Tigers Re-Sign Joba Chamberlain

7:54am: Chamberlain can earn up to $500K with the same incentive scale that he had on his previous one-year deal with the Tigers, tweets MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Per Cot’s Contracts, that included an additional $100K for reaching 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 appearances.

7:33am: Chamberlain will receive a $1MM base salary plus incentives, tweets Rosenthal.

6:50am: The Tigers have reached an agreement on a one-year, Major League deal with reliever Joba Chamberlain, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Chamberlain, a client of Excel Sports Management’s Jim Murray, was spotted in Tigers Spring Training camp this morning, notes Rosenthal.

Chamberlain, 29, 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.  The Dodgers also had late interest in him this offseason.  As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted earlier this month, Chamberlain makes for a solid buy on a one-year deal, perhaps more so than remaining free agent relievers Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano.  Chamberlain did experience a second-half dropoff, at a time he was also helping his ailing mother.

Chamberlain rejoins a Tigers bullpen that hasn’t seen much turnover since the end of last season.  The Tigers did add lefty Tom Gorzelanny in January, and they’ve got Bruce Rondon on the mend from March 2014 Tommy John surgery.  They’ll have a full season of Joakim Soria, and closer Joe Nathan remains under contract as well.  However, for the most part, the Tigers will deploy a very similar mix to the grouping that cost them in the 2014 American League Championship Series.  Receiving better production from that group will be vital for the Tigers in an improved AL Central that saw the White Sox, in particular, make an aggressive push toward contention this winter.

On the whole, Detroit relievers posted an unsightly 4.29 ERA and a 4.09 FIP, both of which ranked 27th among 30 big league clubs.  They’ll hope that the return of Rondon and a full season of Soria can help to right the ship in the bullpen.


Relief Market Notes: Joba, Soriano, Rangers, K-Rod

In today’s Insider-only blog on ESPN.com, Buster Olney discusses some of the remaining relief options on the market, noting that right-hander Joba Chamberlain is expected to make a decision on his 2015 club sometime this week. The Dodgers are among the teams with interest, Olney writes, but there are others involved. Olney also notes that part of the reason Rafael Soriano remains unemployed is that scouts feel that his stuff evaporated late in the 2014 season with the Nationals.

A bit more on what’s left of the relief market…

  • The Rangers are still looking for left-handed relievers and are considering both Phil Coke and Joe Beimel, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As Wilson notes, the team needn’t worry about a 40-man roster spot, as they can move an injured player to the 60-day disabled list if they accommodate either southpaw with a big league contact.
  • The Brewers and Marlins remain in the mix for Francisco Rodrigueztweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The two teams have been the most commonly linked clubs to Rodriguez’s market, with reports over the weekend indicating that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has discussed K-Rod with agent Scott Boras. Last week, the Marlins were rumored to be interested in the two-year, $10MM range, but Rodriguez is said to be eyeing a $10MM figure for 2015 alone.
  • Right-hander Dustin McGowan, who signed a Major League deal with the Dodgers earlier today, is viewing himself as a reliever at this point in his career, he told reporters (including FOX’s Ken Rosenthal). The Dodgers view McGowan as a relief candidate based on his 95 mph fastball and his splits; McGowan had a 5.08 ERA in the rotation last year compared to a 3.35 mark in the bullpen. His career 3.79 ERA as a reliever is nearly a run lower than his 4.78 mark as a starter.

Dodgers Showing Interest In Joba Chamberlain

The Dodgers, who recently learned that closer Kenley Jansen will be sidelined for eight to 12 weeks due to foot surgery, are showing interest in Joba Chamberlain, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The team is also considering “other possibilities,” though Rosenthal doesn’t elaborate any further on that notion.

Speculation following the news of Jansen’s injury was that the Dodgers may jump into the top end of the free agent relief market — specifically meaning Francisco Rodriguez or Rafael Soriano. However, multiple reports quickly downplayed that speculation, suggesting that if anything, adding a middle relief arm would be more likely.

Chamberlain, 29, fits that description, although as I noted recently, one could make a case that he’s the best buy remaining on the free agent market. He’s certainly the youngest notable free agent left in free agency, and he enjoyed an overall solid year on the mound, pitching to a 3.57 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 53.2 percent ground-ball rate. It’s true that Chamberlain faded in the season’s second half, but much of that is attributable to a nearly seven-percent dip in his strand rate.

Chamberlain stranded better than 75 percent of baserunners in the season’s first half — a mark that’s well in line with his lifetime 74.6 percent clip — and saw that number dip to 69 percent in the second half. Strand rate can fluctuate in small samples but typically regresses toward a pitcher’s average rate, giving reason to believe that Chamberlain could see improved all-around results in 2015. (A move to the National League, of course, may be beneficial to his bottom-line numbers as well.)

Adding a reliever in the wake of Jansen’s injury may seem an overreaction to some, but the Dodgers had some bullpen depth issues even when Jansen was healthy. Beyond Jansen, the team projects to have Joel Peralta Brandon League, J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez in the ‘pen, with candidates for the final two spots including Juan Nicasio, Chris Hatcher and Pedro Baez. Non-roster invitees include David Aardsma, Sergio Santos, Erik Bedard and David Huff. While the makings of a solid bullpen certainly could be in that mix of players, man offer question marks in terms of health, inexperience and/or recent struggles at the big league level.