Jordan Schafer Rumors

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).

(more…)


Braves Claim Jordan Schafer

The Braves announced that they claimed outfielder Jordan Schafer off of waivers from the Astros. Schafer played in the Braves' organization from 2005-11 before going to Houston in last summer's Michael Bourn trade.

Schafer appeared in 106 games for the Astros this past season, posting a .211/.297/.294 batting line with 27 stolen bases as the team's primary center fielder. The 26-year-old spent most of August on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Now that Bourn's a free agent Schafer provides the Braves with some insurance in center field. Atlanta originally selected him in the third round of the 2005 draft.


Braves Acquire Michael Bourn

After seeing top outfield trade candidates Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence land with National League rivals, Braves GM made a splash today by acquiring center fielder Michael Bourn and cash from the Astros for center fielder Jordan Schafer, southpaw Double-A starter Brett Oberholtzer, righty Double-A starter Paul Clemens, and righty Triple-A reliever Juan Abreu.  The Astros announced the deal via press release.

Bourn

Bourn (pictured) is hitting .303/.363/.403 in 473 plate appearances, and he leads MLB with 39 steals.  He fills the Braves' need for a center fielder and leadoff man through next year.  The 28-year-old Scott Boras client has $1.45MM remaining on his contract this year and is arbitration eligible for 2012 before hitting free agency.  The Astros' outfield purge continues, as they sent Pence to the Phillies on Friday.  The Reds, Giants, Indians, and Nationals had also shown interest in Bourn.

Schafer, 24, figures to replace Bourn as the Astros' regular center fielder once he returns from the disabled list for a finger injury.  He owns a .223/.310/.303 line in 414 big league plate appearances, coming in '09 and this year.  Before the 2008 and '09 seasons, he was considered one of the best 50 prospects in the game, but an HGH suspension and wrist surgery dropped his stock.

None of the three pitchers are top 50 prospects, but they did rank ninth, 26th, and 27th respectively for the Braves on Baseball America's preseason rankings, and the team has a highly-regarded farm system.  Oberholtzer, 22, ranked ninth and is seen as a potential third or fourth starter in the big leagues.  Clemens and Abreu both have big upside and impressive fastballs.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports broke the story, with Jayson Stark adding the prospects and Ken Davidoff adding the financial detail.  Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.



Odds & Ends: Baldelli, Wang, Jackson

A few more newsbits as we near the end of a busy Tuesday…

  • Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times singles out the Cubs and Yankees as "among those interested" in Rocco BaldelliBryan Hoch of MLB.com thinks Baldelli would be a good fit in the Bronx, though he notes that New York GM Brian Cashman "refused an internet rumor" claiming that the Yanks had already signed Baldelli.
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are looking over Chien-Ming Wang's medical history.
  • Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports (via Twitter) that pitcher Steven Jackson was designated for assignment by the Pirates to make room for Ryan Church on the 40-man roster. Jackson posted an impressive 3.14 ERA in his 2009 rookie season, making 40 appearances out of the bullpen for Pittsburgh.
  • MLB.com's Mark Bowman thought the Braves might try to trade Jordan Schafer earlier this winter, but no more.
  • The Cubs have settled with five arbitration-eligible players, but still don't have deals worked out with Carlos Marmol and Ryan Theriot, reports Dave van Dyck of The Chicago Tribune.
  • Grant of the McCovey Chronicles blog is, shall we say, less than enthused about the Bengie Molina signing.

Braves Notes: Soriano, Gonzalez, Wagner

Mark Bowman of MLB.com discussed some of Atlanta's options in the free agent market, and here are a few of the more notable pieces of news….

  • Relievers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez "will likely leave Atlanta" for greener free agent pastures, and thus the Braves are looking for new options at the back of their bullpen.  Bowman says the Braves have talked to free agent closer Billy Wagner's representatives and "won't necessarily be scared" by Wagner's Type A status since Soriano and Gonzalez are also both Type A's.  If those two were to sign elsewhere, the compensation that Atlanta would receive would more than make up for the picks they would lose for signing Wagner.  The Braves and Wagner's most recent club, the Red Sox, may end up virtually trading relievers since Soriano and Gonzalez are two names on Boston's lengthy list of possible free agent targets.
  • Bowman lists former Brave Octavio Dotel as a potential set-up option, and Fernando Rodney as a signing who could serve as either a set-up man or a closer.
  • There isn't anything to rumors that Atlanta will try to trade with Detroit for Miguel Cabrera, or sign free agent Jermaine Dye.  Cabrera's big contract is too rich for the Braves' blood, and as for Dye, there is no DH spot in the National League to stash a right fielder who posted a -20 UZR and -24.5 UZR/150 last season.
  • Signing Marlon Byrd would make Jordan Schaefer expendable, Bowman reports.  Byrd wouldn't necessarily solve Atlanta's need for a right-handed outfield bat, however, given that Byrd's career splits against right-handed and left-handed pitching are pretty even — a .769 lifetime OPS against southpaws and a .759 OPS against righties.  Byrd actually hit significantly better against righties (.835 OPS) last season than he did against lefties (.744 OPS).
  • The Braves are prepared to see what other offers Adam LaRoche receives before they decide if they want to bring him back next season.

Odds & Ends: Towers, Randy Johnson, Arroyo

Links for Monday…


Nationals Scouting Outfield Options?

Talks have swirled this weekend about the Nationals' pursuit of Pirates CF Nyjer Morgan, but it looks like he's not the only outfielder on the team's radar. Bill Ladson at MLB.com has updated his previous post on the discussions, and this time he throws Braves CF prospect Jordan Schafer's name into the mix as a potential target for the Nats.

Ladson says the Nationals are seeking an improvement in their outfield defense, as they have apparently concluded that Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham profile more as designated hitters and Elijah Dukes still makes too many mental errors. Schafer was sent down earlier this season to make room for Nate McLouth, but it isn't clear if the Braves would be willing to move him.

It seems like the Nats are looking for a young, cost-controlled and speedy outfielder as well as a defensively adept one. Who else comes to mind that might be attainable for the Nationals?


Odds And Ends: Peavy, Cards, Strasburg

More links for Tuesday…


Pirates Rumors: McLouth, Maholm, Doumit

WEDNESDAY, 6:22pm: Kovacevic says Doumit’s agent will meet with the Pirates later tonight to discuss their offer.  Rob Biertempfel says the Pirates did make offers to all three and want to finalize deals within six to eight weeks.

TUESDAY, 11:28pm: Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers up the latest information on the Pirates.

  • The Pirates have initiated extension talks with Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, and Paul Maholm.  The Braves inquired on McLouth and Maholm, but the Pirates’ demands were "way high" according to an Atlanta official.  Kovacevic mentions Jordan Schafer as someone who could be offered.
  • The Pirates had conversations with David Eckstein‘s agent, but not negotiations.  The Bucs would probably have to trade a middle infielder for it to make sense.  They never made a formal offer to Mark Loretta, who signed with the Dodgers today.
  • The Jack Wilson market is tepid – the Twins have mild interest, the Dodgers have moved on to Rafael Furcal.
  • While the Pirates have gotten inquiries on John Grabow, teams apparently want to look at free agent options first.
  • John Perrotto says Jason Davis will refuse the Pirates’ Triple A assignment and head to Japan.

Jake Peavy Rumors: Monday

Summing up this weekend’s Jake Peavy information…

  • David O’Brien noted that the friendship between Padres GM Kevin Towers and Peavy’s agent Barry Axelrod has raised some eyebrows.  O’Brien also learned that Peavy’s concern over Yunel Escobar being in the deal was overblown – it’s more a general concern that the pitcher joins a strong team.
  • On Saturday, Ken Rosenthal had the Braves and Cubs as frontrunners with the Yankees and Dodgers on the backburner.  He said the Padres discussed keeping Peavy if offers do not suffice.  The Braves were said to be growing impatient.
  • Astros owner Drayton McLane indicated the Padres’ demands for Peavy were too high for his club – "multiple players and some of our best players."
  • Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times had it as a race between the Cubs and Braves, with the Dodgers a long shot.  De Luca said no other teams will be considered at this point.  A Cubs deal would apparently include Sean Marshall, and possibly Kevin Hart and Mike FontenotJeff Samardzija is not in the mix.
  • Dave O’Brien says the Braves’ offer looks something like this: Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez or Jordan Schafer, and one or two pitching prospects (possibly Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes among them).  Tommy Hanson is not in the mix.  O’Brien agrees that it’s between the Braves and Cubs, and likes the Braves’ package more.  O’Brien expects a deal before Thanksgiving, which is November 27th.