Jon Rauch Rumors
Seven years ago today, the Yankees signed Eduardo Nunez as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic. Now 23, Nunez is in the mix to be New York's utility infielder in 2011 after hitting .280/.321/.360 with more walks (three) than strikeouts (two) in his brief big league debut last season (53 PA).
Here are some more notes that have to do with the Yanks and their fellow AL East clubs...
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post reports that the Yankees "have told their scouts to bear down on several teams they think could have starters available" in a trade this summer. The teams they are targeting include the Braves, Angels, A's, White Sox, and Cardinals according to Sherman.
- Jayson Werth told SI.com's Jon Heyman that he had a "great" meeting with the Red Sox earlier this offseason, after which he figured they would offer six years (Twitter link). They only offered five, so he ended up with the Nationals.
- Carl Pavano spoke to Kelsie Smith of The Pioneer Press about being pursued by the Yankees this offseason. "I don't think [the past] would be a hindrance, but there would have definitely been obstacles," said Pavano. "I'm not naïve enough to think that there wouldn't have been things I would have had to overcome, especially the trust of the fans and maybe some of the guys that were there. That's reality."
- Richard Griffin of The Toronto Star notes (on Twitter) that four of the Blue Jays' ten highest paid players are former closers: Jason Frasor, Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, and Octavio Dotel.
- When asked about the payroll disparity between his Rays and other teams in the division, Joe Maddon told Ken Davidoff of Newsday that he's "never seen a dollar bill throw a strike, or hit a homer, or whatever." (Twitter link)
Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony recently sat down for a chat with Jesse Lund from Twinkie Town to discuss a variety of topics. Let's recap the hot stove talk...
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka first popped up on the team's radar after Antony mentioned to his agent that the team was looking to get more athletic on the infield. This was long before they decided to trade J.J. Hardy.
- The Twins believe Nishioka is a good player, but they understand there might be a bit of a transition period. Not just for the move to MLB, but the move to the United States. They've hired an interpreter for Nishioka, and don't believe the additional Japanese media will be an issue in the clubhouse.
- The three-year, $9MM contract Nishioka signed was "exactly what we pretty much anticipated and were willing to give." They were trying to add speed and athleticism to the lineup, but no one on the free agent market jumped out at them, hence the pursuit of Nishioka.
- Hardy was expected to make $5MM+ in 2011 (he eventually signed for $5.85MM), and the team "just decided that we wanted to put that money into other areas." Carl Pavano, Jim Thome, and most of the bullpen were free agents, so they had to prioritize. "Trying to fit all those guys into a budget was going to be impossible."
- The Twins had conversations with other teams about Hardy, but there were never any real offers. The trade with Baltimore was "by far [their] best opportunity to make a deal." It became apparent that Brendan Harris wasn't a fit anymore, hence his inclusion in the trade.
- Antony says the Twins like Rule 5 Draft pick Scott Diamond in long relief, and Dusty Hughes' success against Minnesota last year played a role in claiming him off waivers.
- Although they would have liked to retain Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, and Brian Fuentes, the Twins just "couldn't compete" with the multyear offers they were receiving as free agents.
- Thome decided that Minnesota was where he wanted to be after talking with his family, and the money didn't appear to be much of an issue.
- Antony expected Pavano to get two or three years at $10-11MM per season, and he knows the Brewers had some interest in the right-hander. Pavano's agent basically told the Twins he wanted to play there, and he wasn't a guy that was "chasing the last dollar."
- Rumors of Francisco Liriano being available in a trade were just that, rumors. As far as a multiyear deal with the lefty, Antony said there "can be many reasons why you don't consummate a multiyear deal, and sometimes the player doesn't want to, sometimes the club doesn't want to, sometimes you just don't agree on numbers, or whatever. So we're not going to talk about any of our negotiations with that or anything else, but he was a big part of our rotation. We're not talking to anybody right now on Francisco Liriano."
- The team is at the "far reaches" of where they can go with payroll, so they tried to maintain flexibility for 2012 by not doing any multiyears deals this offseason (aside from Pavano).
- "If the right deal arises and we can improve our ballclub, we could look at it from that point of view," said Antony, regarding a potential trade involving one of the team's excess starting pitchers. "I don't think we'd trade away one of our starting pitchers for a middle reliever or something. It would have to be something that would make sense for us. And a trade isn't even the most likely scenario, it's a possible scenario."
San Diego's relievers combined to strike out more than a batter per inning over the course of the 2010 season, while limiting hits, walks and homers. Manager Bud Black saw five of his relievers appear in 30 or more games and emerge with ERAs under 2.00 at the end of the season and the Padres' NL West rivals weren't the only ones to notice.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says he'd like to have a deep bullpen in 2011, like the Padres did last year. He says he's happy to keep more relievers than usual on his roster this year and that the acquisition of Frank Francisco doesn't mean a trade is imminent. The Blue Jays' plans for their relievers haven't changed.
"No impact at all," Anthopoulos said yesterday on a conference call to announce the acquisition of Francisco from the Rangers. "They're all quality relievers and we love having depth in the bullpen one through seven."
Or maybe one through eight. The Blue Jays have discussed the possibility of opening the season with an eight-man bullpen to accomodate their arms and provide manager John Farrell with a variety of options. Though the Jays could open the year with an extra arm in the 'pen, Anthopoulos said a traditional seven-man ensemble is more likely at this point. The Blue Jays' rotation is relatively young and inexperienced, so the team's front office would like to support starters like Brett Cecil and, possibly, Kyle Drabek with steady relief pitching.
"It's certainly part of it," Anthopoulos said. "We don't want to overtax our young starters."
The Blue Jays don't want to overtax their relievers, either. Anthopoulos says there can be a ripple effect when teams have deep bullpens. If every reliever is capable of performing in meaningful situations, no pitcher gets overused. But Anthopoulos has no illusions; even qualified, well-rested relievers struggle and the 2011 Blue Jays won't be any different.
"We all know that they will get hurt," he said. "Some of them won't perform. They'll have bad months."
Take Jason Frasor (pictured), one of the holdovers in the team's new-look bullpen. He walked nearly a batter per inning in April, 2010 and posted an 8.38 ERA through the season’s first month, but recovered from his turbulent start and put together a fine year. He'll join Francisco and free agent signings Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel, the relievers Anthopoulos expects to compete for the Jays' closing job.
Shawn Camp, Casey Janssen and Carlos Villanueva are also right-handed relievers under team control for $1MM-plus in 2011, so the Blue Jays have a surplus of big league arms and could hear from pitching-starved teams before the season begins.
The Jays have seven established right-handed relievers, but Toronto's left-handers have considerably less experience. David Purcey, an out-of-options 28-year-old, was reasonably effective in 2010. He's a leading candidate to make the club, though his walk rate and fly ball rate have been high throughout his brief MLB career. Jo-Jo Reyes is also out of options, but he has made just 11 relief appearances as a pro. Jesse Carlson, who was a mainstay in 2009, could also crack the team's roster.
While their AL East rivals to the south, the Rays, had to lower payroll this offseason and rebuild their bullpen on a budget, Anthopoulos reaffirmed that he has the flexibility to ask for more money if necessary. The Blue Jays can continue spending on their bullpen, even as their young starters become more expensive.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
Let's take a look at some Twins tidbits..
- The Twins and Carl Pavano are still close to a deal but appear to be in a temporary holding pattern, writes Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune. The sides still have some details to work out but they've agreed to put the talks on hold through Tuesday.
- Tabling the talks with Pavano should allow the Twins to focus on their potential arbitration cases. Matt Capps, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Delmon Young are all scheduled to swap figures with the Twins on Tuesday. Christensen points out that the Twins settled all eight of their potential arbitration cases at the eleventh hour last year.
- The Twins made some attempts to retain Jesse Crain but ultimately knew that relievers Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier, and Jon Rauch would sign elsewhere, according to Christensen.
- Nick Punto is still on the open market but the Twins don't have any plans to bring the infielder back, writes Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. Punto, 33, has spent the last seven years with the Twins, hitting .248/.323/.324.
The Blue Jays announced that they signed Jon Rauch to a one-year deal that pays the reliever $3.5MM in 2011 and includes a club option for $3.75MM in 2012. There's a $250K buyout for the 2012 option, so the deal is worth a total of $3.75MM in guaranteed money, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
Rauch posted a 3.12 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 37.7% ground ball rate in 57 2/3 innings for the Twins last year. The 32-year-old has always been a fly ball pitcher and the Blue Jays play in homer-friendly Rogers Centre. The combination isn't ideal, but the Blue Jays needed dependable arms after losing Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs to free agency. Rauch has made 50 appearances or more in each of the last five seasons.
The Twins did not offer the Type B free agent arbitration after the season, so they will not receive a pick for losing the 6'11'' hurler. The Blue Jays do not forfeit a pick for signing Rauch.
Jon Rauch has drawn interest from the Rays, Blue Jays and others, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The AL East rivals have also expressed interest in left-hander Brian Fuentes this month.
Rauch posted a 3.12 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 37.7% ground ball rate in 57 2/3 innings for the Twins last year. Rauch, 32, has always been a fly ball pitcher. The Blue Jays play in homer-friendly Rogers Centre, but could use a dependable arm after losing Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs. Rauch has made 50 appearances or more in each of the last five seasons.
The Orioles and Rockies showed some interest in the 6'11'' right-hander earlier in the offseason, but both clubs have added righty relievers since. MLBTR's Mark Polishuk looked at Rauch's free agent stock in October.
A year ago today, the Giants signed Mark DeRosa to a two-year, $12MM deal. Due to a wrist injury, DeRosa wasn't a factor in the team's World Championship. Today's links:
- The Chiba Lotte Marines announced the signing of Bob McCrory, writes NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman. McCrory, 29 in May, had labrum surgery in October of 2009, became a minor league free agent, failed a physical for the Red Sox, and ended up making 19 appearances for Baltimore's Double-A affiliate this year.
- Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun is surprised by the lack of a resolution in the Orioles' month-long pursuit of reliever Kevin Gregg. Zrebiec notes that the O's have "some interest" in Jon Rauch, and there are plenty of other available free agents as well.
- Free agent designated hitters lack leverage in contract negotiations, writes Dave Cameron of FanGraphs. We explored this situation yesterday in trying to find possible fits for Manny Ramirez.
- Red Sox lefty Rich Hill explains the origin of his signature curveball, talking to WEEI's Alex Speier.
- A reminder: in addition to our list of remaining available free agents, MLBTR has a free agent tracker that allows you to filter signed players by team, position, years, and amount.
The Rays find themselves in a difficult position as the 2011 season approaches. Forced to cut payroll, they've lost Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, (presumably) Rafael Soriano, and most of their bullpen to free agency, and traded Jason Bartlett as he approaches his final arbitration year.
Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times looks at some of the issues left to be addressed as the Rays begin bargain shopping this offseason:
- The Rays have added some bullpen pieces in Joel Peralta, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, J.P. Howell, and Rule 5 pick Cesar Cabrel, but they'll still need someone to pitch the ninth and probably the eighth, Topkin opines. He lists some potential candidates as Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, Kevin Gregg, Trevor Hoffman, Grant Balfour, and Chad Qualls as options. Remember, the Rays also have Jake McGee.
- There's not much in terms of affordable names for the Rays on the market. Some clarity will be brought to the issue once Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee sign. Topkin mentions Casey Kotchman as a speculative option. Dan Johnson is a fallback if the team can't find an upgrade.
- Johnson is also a backup plan at designated hitter, but the Rays have options at designated hitter, with Johnny Damon, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Jason Giambi on the market.
Links for Sunday, though it's unlikely that any news will top today's Zack Greinke trade:
- The Rays have enough money to pursue another low-end bullpen signing or two, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Topkin quotes executive vice president Andrew Friedman in saying there's no way they could've predicted the relief market would look like this.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier says the Red Sox would like to add a left-hander to their bullpen, but will wait to see if someone falls into their lap. Boston is against multiyear deals for relievers, though they did recently make an exception in the case of Bobby Jenks.
- Rockies' owner Dick Monfort answered some questions for the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck. Topics included Troy Tulowitzki's new contract, extending young stars, and their odds of keeping Carlos Gonzalez long-term.
- Bill Madden of the New York Daily News opines that the Padres' elite bullpen last season which nearly brought them an NL West title has fueled the rising prices in the relief market. Madden also wonders if the Yankees might make a run at Jon Rauch to replace the departed Kerry Wood.
On this date in 1997, the Red Sox traded Tony Armas Jr. and Carl Pavano to the Expos for reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez. A case can be made that Pedro's 1999 and 2000 seasons were the two best pitching seasons in baseball history, in which he held batters to a .186/.231/.274 batting line with 597 strikeouts in 430.1 innings.
It's highly unlikely that we'll see a pitcher of Pedro's caliber traded anytime soon, but that Zack Greinke kid is pretty good in his own right. Here are today's links...
- Two days ago we heard that the Rockies had interest in David Aardsma, Grant Balfour, and Todd Coffey, and now Troy Renck of The Denver post throws Jon Rauch's name into the mix.
- Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times has some quotes from Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who called the size of free agent contracts being handed out this winter "discouraging." He also commented (briefly) on the team's 2011 payroll.
- Bobby Jenks will take his physical on Monday, tweets Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. It was originally scheduled for today but was pushed back, and it's necessary to finalize his contract with the Red Sox.
- Renck also has the goods (Twitter links) on two recent Rockies signings. Ty Wigginton took less money to sign in Colorado, earning $3.5MM in 2011, $4MM in '12, and a club option for $4MM in '13 ($500k buyout). Meanwhile, pitcher Eric Stults has an out in his $435k minor league deal that will allow him to sign with the Hiroshima Carp if he does not make the big league roster.
- Richard Durrett of ESPN.com applauds the Rangers' efforts to bolster their starting depth.
- Dan Wheeler is happy to be a member of Boston's improved bullpen, writes MLB.com's Ian Browne.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Seth McClung's deal with the Rangers will pay him $700K if he makes the team. There are another $700K available in bonuses tied to the number of starts he makes.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a report (via Twitter) indicating that Hideki Matsui's contract with the A's has a limited no-trade clause preventing trades to the Mariners, Orioles, Twins, Blue Jays, Indians, and Royals.
- Mariano Rivera told Erik Boland of Newsday that he plans to give long-time teammate Andy Pettitte a call to try to convince the lefty to come back for another season.
- Finding a left-handed bat off the bench is one of the last remaining items on the Marlins offseason agenda, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says they might already have that guy on their roster. Catcher John Baker, who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, said he would be up for the job until he's cleared to catch again.
- Former Mets GM Omar Minaya told Ian Begley of ESPN New York that he plans to sit down with new GM Sandy Alderson after the holidays to discuss a potential new role with the team. Minaya said he has several offers on the table, including interest from the Diamondbacks.
- Hey iPhone users, do you have the MLBTR app yet? Jason Bartlett does, and that's how he found out his trade to the Padres was in the works.