Joba Chamberlain Rumors

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Tuesday

Dozens of arbitration eligible players have agreed to deals with their respective teams today and we've been tracking all of the developments right here.  Several teams, including the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, and perhaps Astros, are known for committing to going to hearings if they get to the point of filing.  Keep track of all the madness with MLBTR's arbitration tracker, which shows settlement amounts, filing figures, and midpoints.  Today's players to avoid arbitration on deals worth less than $4MM:

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Central Notes: Ricketts, McClellan, Draft Signings

Here are some links from the Central divisions….

  • Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts gave votes of confidence to GM Jim Hendry and manager Mike Quade during a state-of-the-franchise address on Wednesday, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.   "I have 100 percent confidence in Jim," Ricketts said. "He's working very hard to do everything he can to get this season back to where we want it to be. And I think Mike's done a great job. You know Mike has got those guys playing hard. You know they're not giving up. You know there's good spirit in the clubhouse. Yeah, those guys are fine."  Hendry's future in Chicago has been a hot topic given the Cubs' struggles, with ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg just one of several pundits who think Hendry will be fired.
  • Ricketts also said the Cubs' debt problems wouldn't factor into any baseball-related spending.  "The fact is this year we've spent more on Baseball Operations than any year in the past, and we continue to invest in the team," Ricketts said.  "[The debt is] no way a limitation on our ability to sign free agents or our flexibility to build a better organization. It's just irrelevant for that."
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks back at the Cardinals' decision to pass on Joba Chamberlain in the 2006 draft and wonders if the Cards have "developed their own" version of Chamberlain in Kyle McClellan.
  • Jim Leyland feels the Tigers have "too many" left-handers in their bullpen, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck.  With a number of teams short on southpaw relievers, the Tigers could look to a fellow contender in a trade for a right-hander.
  • The Twins have signed 15 picks from the 2011 amateur draft, according to La Velle Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Fifth-round shortstop Tyler Grimes is the highest-drafted player to sign.
  • The Pirates announced the signings of six draft picks.  Auburn third baseman Daniel Gamache, a sixth-rounder, is the highest-selected of the signed players.
  • The Astros' pending sale, Hunter Pence's big season and strong play from younger players has the club's future looking bright, writes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.

New York Notes: Minaya, Montero, Alderson

Here are a few items of note coming out of the Big Apple as the Mets face the Pirates in Pittsburgh:

  • The Mets were just one game under .500 entering Saturday night's game, and the team has played surprisingly well with an unheralded cast largely assembled by former GM Omar Minaya, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
  • Jesus Montero, the Yankees' touted catching prospect, was out of the lineup for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight but not because he was called up to the big leagues, according to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger (Twitter links).
  • In the wake of Phil Hughes' DL stint and Joba Chamberlain's season-ending injury, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes that the Yanks should handle top arms Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances differently.
  • Within the same piece, Madden writes that the Mets appear to be taking a long-term approach to restocking the organization under new GM Sandy Alderson, as evidenced by their selection of prep outfielder Brandon Nimmo with the No. 13 pick in the Draft.


Yankees Links: Joba, Prospects, Relievers

The Yankees were just swept by the Red Sox at home for the second time this season, the first time that's happened since 1912. The Yankees were still the Highlanders back then. That qualifies as a crisis in the Big Apple, so let's round up the latest links…

  • Joba Chamberlain will undergo Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right pitching elbow next week, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
  • Joel Sherman of The New York Post says the Yankees need to move their young prospects along more aggressively, particularly pitchers like Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, and Hector Noesi to help shore up an injury-depleted bullpen. GM Brian Cashman, however, said yesterday that the team will not rush their top arms no matter what.
  • Earlier today we heard that prospect Kevin Whelan could be an option for the bullpen. He's pitching well in Triple-A and was part of the trade that sent Gary Sheffield to the Tigers a few years ago.
  • In a separate column, Sherman explains that while there should be plenty of right-handed relievers available on the trade market, the history of those guys performing in new surroundings is not good.
  • We also heard that Cashman told SI.com's Jon Heyman that he doesn't see an ace-caliber starter on the trade market.

East Notes: Joba, Wieters, O’s, Damon, Durbin

Some items from the AL and NL East as the eastern clubs dive into Grapefruit League action…

  • Joba Chamberlain won't be a Yankee by this time in 2012, predicts Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Matt Wieters is listed as one of "the most disappointing prospects of all time" by Steven Goldman of Baseball Prospectus.  "His glove and the dream of what might have been will keep him around for years, but stardom now seems spectacularly unlikely," Goldman writes.  Given that Wieters is entering just his third Major League season and hasn't turned 25 yet, this ranking seems awfully premature.
  • The Orioles' farm system lacks depth, especially in comparison to its AL East rivals, writes FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.  "The team’s offseason moves…represent nothing more than a Band-Aid," Rosenthal says, noting that the O's "are practically a zero" when it comes to international scouting.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined these issues in his offseason-in-review piece about Baltimore earlier today.
  • Johnny Damon tells Ken Davidoff of Newsday that his free agent discussions with the Yankees this past winter involved a scenario that would have seen Damon make three starts per week for New York.  Damon turned the deal down since the lack of playing time would have hurt his quest for 3000 hits. 
  • Damon also tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that had he known the Tigers weren't going to bring him back, he would have gone to the Red Sox when Boston claimed him on waivers last August.
  • The Phillies made Chad Durbin a $2MM offer in December, considerably more than the $800K deal Durbin eventually signed with Cleveland, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.  Once Philadelphia signed Cliff Lee, however, the team pulled back the contract and instead offered just a minor league deal.  "When Cliff signed, it took any ability to go back there on a Major League deal off the table," Durbin told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  Durbin doesn't have any hard feelings towards the Phillies over the move: "You know, I'd take Cliff Lee over Chad Durbin."
  • Anthony DiComo of MLB.com looks at the twists and turns of Tim Byrdak's baseball career.  The veteran left-hander is trying to make the Mets' Opening Day roster after signing a minor league deal with the team in January.

Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. The sides will then settle on a salary between the team's proposed number and the player's proposed number or go to an arbitration hearing. Arbitration eligible players are under team control, so the clubs don't risk losing them – it's a question of how much the players will earn.

Yesterday, 11 players avoided arbitration. We could see just as many agreements trickle in today and we'll keep you posted on them right here and with our Arb Tracker. The latest updates will be at the top of the post:

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AL East Notes: Rays, Chamberlain, Lowrie, O’s

As the dust settles in the wake of the big Rafael Soriano signing, let's look around the AL East…

  • Rays fans discouraged by the loss of their closer should consider this tweet from Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus.  Going by last year's slot recommendations, Tampa Bay's 12 picks within the first 88 selections of the 2011 amateur draft will cost "around $9.12MM" to sign.  Even with a bump in slot prices and yet another supplementary round pick if San Diego signs Chad Qualls, the Rays could sign all 13 draft picks for less than the $11.5MM that Soriano will earn from the Yankees next year.
  • We heard earlier today that the Yankees could be persuaded to trade Joba Chamberlain to obtain a "viable starter," but ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand wonders why the Bombers don't just put Chamberlain back into the rotation.  "Right now, Chamberlain's trade value is low," Marchand writes.  "The only way to increase that is to put him in a more important role. So not only could he solve your biggest problem, he could be used to address your next one."
  • Theo Epstein hinted that a strong spring from Jed Lowrie could win him the everyday shortstop's job, or at least give Terry Francona "a decision to make," writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.  A good start to the season from Lowrie could make either Marco Scutaro or perhaps Lowrie himself into trade bait, given the presence of shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias in Boston's system.
  • We've heard Baltimore is still in the market for a left-handed reliever, but Andy MacPhail is pretty pleased with how the Orioles' bullpen currently stacks up, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.

Yankees Would Consider Joba-For-Starter Trade

The Yankees would consider swapping Joba Chamberlain, but "probably only" as part of a larger package for a "viable starter," tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated.  Chamberlain's name was connected to trade rumors last summer, as teams like the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays were trying to "buy low" on Chamberlain, but there was never an indication that the Yankees were seriously considering moving the right-hander.

Chamberlain, 25, was rated as the third-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America before the 2008 season.  His star dimmed a bit after a shaky 2009 season in the New York rotation (4.75 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 rate, a league-leading 12 hit batters), but he pitched better out of the bullpen last season, posting a 4.40 ERA, a 2.8 BB/9 rate, and a 3.5 K/BB ratio.  Chamberlain is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and is under team control through the 2013 season.

Heyman says Chamberlain will remain a reliever for the Yankees "for now."  We heard last month that the club wasn't thinking of moving Chamberlain back to the rotation, but even if Chamberlain's role changed, there's no guarantee he would bring needed stability to the back end of the Bronx Bombers' rotation.  Moving Chamberlain would be a win-now move on New York's part, but given the team's fruitless pursuit of Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte's lean towards retirement, the Yankees may be so uncomfortable with their starting pitching that they feel dealing an asset like Chamberlain is necessary.


Yankees Rumors: Soriano, Hall, Garcia, Joba

We found out lots about the Bronx Bombers' search for pitching yesterday: it seems likely that Andy Pettitte will return to the Yankees, they don't like Brandon Webb that much and they're looking at left-handed relievers. We've since learned that they're making progress with Pedro Feliciano and that deals for Carlos Zambrano or Felix Hernandez seem unlikely at best. Here's the latest on their pitching hunt, plus news on a position player:

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post


Yankees Rumors: Jeter, Chamberlain

The latest on the Yankees, as GM Brian Cashman prepares to rappel down a building dressed as an elf on Sunday

  • Eduardo Nunez is the team's Plan B if they are unable to re-sign Derek Jeter, reports ESPN's Buster Olney.  Rather than try to sign a veteran replacement, the Yankees would install Nunez and allocate the money elsewhere.  Of course, Olney feels that the Yankees would remain flexible for potential upgrades if Nunez became their starting shortstop.
  • SI's Tom Verducci looks at how other teams have compensated aging icons in recent years, with Cal Ripken, Barry Larkin, George Brett, Craig Biggio, and Paul Molitor serving as examples.  It may be difficult to reduce Jeter's pay from his previous $18.9MM average annual value.
  • Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues estimates Joba Chamberlain's 2011 salary at a bit less than $2MM.