Joel Pineiro Rumors
Sunday night linkage..
- The Tigers could use another arm in the bullpen, though they can likely find one in Triple-A Toledo, writes Steve Kornacki of MLive.com.
- Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times likes the Ben Zobrist contract extension for both parties. Zobrist officially agreed to a three-year extension with the Rays on Friday.
- Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter) says it's time for the Giants to call up a certain young right-handed slugger who can fill in at catcher and first base.
- We should see Coco Crisp's Oakland A's debut in about two weeks, writes Jane Lee of MLB.com. Billy Beane & Co. signed the outfielder to a one-year, $5.5MM deal in December of last year.
- Jim Bowden of FOXSports.com breaks down his favorite offseason moves. Bowden praises the Angels' acquisitions of Joel Pineiro, Hideki Matsui, and Fernando Rodney.
We heard all winter that the Mets were interested in free-agent starter Joel Pineiro, and at one point it appeared as if New York had a two-year offer worth around $15MM on the table to the right-hander. Pineiro ended up signing with the Angels for slightly more money and it simply appeared that the Halos won a bidding war that also included the Dodgers.
John Harper of the New York Daily News, however, revealed a bit more to the story in an interview with the veteran right-hander. According to Pineiro, he had heard from neighbor Alex Cora that the Mets were going to make Pineiro a top target of their winter shopping, and the right-hander was more than willing to hear New York out. However, the club allegedly never made an offer to Pineiro until the Angels had already moved in and that $15MM offer "may well have been for the sake of appearance" since the Mets knew Los Angeles had made a bigger offer.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York has the Mets' take on the situation, which is unsurprisingly different. According to team representatives, they Mets "were willing to meet or narrowly exceed" the contract that Pineiro got from the Angels, but the club felt that "Pineiro wasn't sincere" in his desire to become a Met.
Given that the difference between the Mets' purported offer and Pineiro's Los Angeles contract was only $1MM, it's hard to believe that the Mets couldn't have made up that gap if they were really serious about bringing Pineiro to the Big Apple. If "the sake of appearance" is as important to the Mets as Harper's article claims, then making the larger offer would've allowed the Mets to say offered the most money but the onus was on Pineiro for turning it down.
This kind of free agent gamesmanship no doubt occurs a dozen times over every winter, but in this case, it stands out given the small dollar amount involved and (as Harper points out) the major struggles of the Mets' pitching staff early in the season. It's also possible that both sides were playing a game of chicken with the other and, in this case, both blinked.
Links for Thursday...
- Slate's Dan Morrell discusses the influx of Cuban talent into the Majors, as well as the many quality players who have not defected.
- Outfielder Terry Evans cleared waivers and was sent to the Angels Triple A club to clear a spot for Scott Kazmir, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. Evans, 28, hit .291/.341/.520 at Triple A last year, his third stint at that level.
- Gary Sheffield has "something on the table" to look at after he returns from vacation, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggested a few weeks ago that Sheffield is talking to an NL club (not the Nationals).
- Kevin Slowey said he wouldn't mind a contract similar to Nick Blackburn's four-year, $14MM deal, according to Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Slowey will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after the season.
- Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star tweets a correction to something he wrote yesterday, explaining that Adeiny Hechavarria does indeed qualify for a fourth option.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Yankees essentially chose Javier Vazquez over Joel Pineiro. Sherman feels that Vazquez has "re-opened the wounds from 2004" with his two subpar starts.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders why more teams don't take advantage of arbitration hearings. Clubs do have a history of winning cases against their players in recent years. Here are Cafardo's latest rumors:
- A Red Sox source tells Cafardo that it's unlikely the team signs Ben Sheets. Not a surprise, given Boston's rotation depth.
- One scout is certain Ron Mahay will be on a major league roster by the time Spring Training starts.
- An NL scout considers Miguel Batista a "very serviceable piece."
- Since Miguel Cabrera was in rehab for alcoholism this offseason, teams weren't eager to trade prospects for the first baseman and pay his $20MM salary.
- As we heard last week, the Twins are interested in signing Jim Thome.
- The Red Sox and Angels considered swapping Mike Lowell for Gary Matthews Jr. before concerns about Lowell's thumb emerged.
- An AL GM considers Joel Pineiro "another middle-rotation guy."
Joel Pineiro officially signed a two-year deal with the Angels worth about $16MM today. The Cardinals will receive a supplemental first round pick as compensation for losing the Type-B free agent. The 31-year-old Pineiro probably won't match the departed John Lackey, but he was the best available free agent starter.
Pineiro will apparently receive just $1MM more than Jason Marquis despite having a much better 2009 season. Pineiro pitched like an ace, with a 3.49 ERA in 214 innings for the Cardinals. His 60.5% groundball rate and 1.1 walks per nine innings were both MLB bests. Cards pitching coach Dave Duncan deserves credit for the former, as Duncan convinced Pineiro in February to try a sinker. The walk rate may be more difficult to repeat.
The Mets and Dodgers were also known to be pursuing Pineiro. They'll now have to turn to Jon Garland, Jarrod Washburn, and Braden Looper for bulk innings. Ben Sheets, Erik Bedard, John Smoltz, and Chien-Ming Wang provide the post-injury upside. Pedro Martinez sits somewhere in-between.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.
Some New York news and notes courtesy of Newsday's Ken Davidoff..
- Davidoff's understanding is that the Mets' offer to Joel Pineiro was very similar to the Angels' offer of two-years, $16MM. While it would be natural to assume that the free agent hurler preferred the stability of the Halos franchise to the Metropolitans, he writes that he doesn't know that for certain.
- The Mets would definitely like to sign John Smoltz, though it would cause a logjam of starting pitchers. Davidoff suggests that the team could move John Maine in order to create space for him.
- Speaking of Smoltz, Davidoff hears that the Yankees were interested in the 42-year-old prior to landing Javier Vazquez.
- As we've heard elsewhere, the Bombers are looking for one more outfielder and are considering right-handers Xavier Nady and Rocco Baldelli.
Here's the latest on the Mets, who still have significant work to do...
- MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone hears Ben Sheets will seek "at least $10 million, plus lots of incentives, and a second-year, player-controlled option." He says that while the Mets' interest in Sheets is legitimate, they prefer Joel Pineiro. The Mets made an offer - probably two years - to Pineiro.
- Cerrone writes about Bengie Molina, saying the Mets "offered at least $1 million more than the Giants, and also offered a player-controlled option for 2011." Cerrone believes Molina grew skeptical of playing in New York.
- Ken Davidoff of Newsday writes of a "team-fan disconnect," in that a Mets official he spoke to expected the team to get hammered for not signing Molina, but most fans don't mind.
- ESPN's Buster Olney writes of "signals being sent out on Tuesday night that the Mets are turning to Yorvit Torrealba." David Waldstein of the New York Times suggests the Mets would have to pay extra for Torrealba to settle the catcher's two-year-old grievance as part of a new deal. Rod Barajas is probably the only other starting-caliber free agent catcher remaining.
Metsblog's Matthew Cerrone reports that the Mets are interested in signing John Smoltz and one of either Joel Pineiro or Ben Sheets. Cerrone notes that "all three have legit interest in pitching for the Mets on short-term deals," and that signing Pineiro or Sheets would indicate that Smoltz's role in New York would be as a reliever.
The Mets have been linked to this trio and several other starters this winter, but they have yet to make any significant additions to their starting rotation. It's possible that pressure from fans and the New York media might be starting to take a toll on the club. Cerrone cites a report from SI.com's Jon Heyman on The MLB Network in relation to Sheets, where Heyman said the Mets would like to make a "positive" signing in the wake of missing out on free agent catcher Bengie Molina.
Cerrone passed on more info from Heyman and Tom Verducci's discussion of Sheets' throwing session today. More than one scout told Heyman the pitcher looked like "the old Ben Sheets," and both Heyman and Verducci agreed that Sheets will sign a contract similar to Brad Penny's one-year, $7.5MM pact with the Cardinals. Heyman named the Mets, Cubs and Rangers as interested suitors, while Verducci named St. Louis and Seattle as "a likely destination."
The Angels are in on the Joel Pineiro bidding, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter). We first heard of their interest in the righty back in December, but they'll have to compete with the Mets and Dodgers for his services.
After losing John Lackey to the Red Sox and making a push for Roy Halladay before he landed in Philadelphia and Aroldis Chapman before he signed with Cincinnati, it's clear the Angels are looking to add another quality arm to their rotation. Despite that, they will not in attendance for Ben Sheets' workout today.
Free agent catcher Bengie Molina has rejected the latest offer from the Mets, according to a tweet by ESPN's Buster Olney. The team is now beginning to focus it's attention on Joel Pineiro.
We heard that the Mets were close to landing Molina earlier in the week, but apparently he had a change of heart. The two sides have been haggling over the length of a potential deal seemingly all offseason. The Mets are one of several teams interested in Pineiro, and they'll also be on hand to watch Ben Sheets throw today.
Earlier today we learned that GM Omar Minaya was never given a budget this offseason, and instead must seek approve from COO Jeff Wilpon on a case-by-case basis.