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Jordan Zimmermann Rumors
Previous reports have indicated that Desmond rejected a seven-year, $85.5MM contract, but Rosenthal spoke to one source who said as much as $98MM was on the table over a seven-year period. Rosenthal notes that the Nats would clearly never trade Desmond or right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (also a free agent after the 2015 season) while the team was making a playoff push, but one or both could be on the market this winter.
The team isn’t likely to deal pieces from its Major League club this July, as they’re firmly in the playoff race. Instead, Rosenthal writes, Major League ready prospects like catcher Sandy Leon, outfielder Steven Souza and infielder Zach Walters could be used to entice teams instead (the mention of Walters is at least somewhat puzzling, as he is a shortstop himself, albeit one with poor on-base skills in Triple-A). Pitching prospects such as A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito figure to be off limits due to uncertainty regarding Zimmermann’s future with the team, Rosenthal adds.
The Diamondbacks naturally come to mind when reports indicate that a club is looking for young shortstops, as they have Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed in their organization. In the Nationals’ case, however, it seems likely that they’d be ok with targeting someone who is a bit further from Major League ready than that trio, as the team could simply retain Desmond for the 2015 season and give a younger shortstop another year to develop.
Barry Bonds will work with the Giants as a special instructor in spring training next month, Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reports. Bonds has not had an official relationship with the Giants since 2007, his last season in the big leagues, so his presence could make quite an impression in Giants camp. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Indians will "soon make a serious push" to extend second baseman Jason Kipnis, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Kipnis is eligible for free agency following the 2017 season, and Pluto notes the Indians would likely try to sign Kipnis to at least a five-year deal, picking up at least one free-agent season. MLBTR recently suggested Kipnis could make $30MM-$35MM over the course of a five-year deal.
- The Brewers will likely have a team-record payroll, and owner Mark Attanasio expects to win this season, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel reports. "We’re at the point now where we’re well into the top half of payrolls in the major leagues. We have more pitching depth than we’ve had, really, in 10 years. As I’ve explained to everybody, as investors you wouldn’t make that decision to lose," Attanasio says. "The ownership group felt like this was the year to invest (more) in the team. I think we’re going to surprise people this year." After an offseason that featured the high-profile addition of Matt Garza, the Brewers have $86MM committed to 12 players, which could give them a higher payroll than they had in 2012, when their opening-day figure was $101.2MM.
- The signing of Ubaldo Jimenez has had a dramatic impact on Orioles fans, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski writes. The Orioles' offseason had been very quiet, but suddenly they've landed Jimenez and now have Nelson Cruz as well.
- Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is happy with his two-year, $24MM contract, and isn't concerned about the recent Homer Bailey extension, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Zimmermann and the Nationals tried to negotiate a long-term deal, but ultimately couldn't find enough common ground. "They came to us with a two-year deal. Let's get this out of the way, so we don't have to worry about arbitration for the next two years," Zimmermann says. "We felt it was right, and I think it was fair for both sides, and we got the deal done."
- Arbitration-eligible players received an average raise of 117 percent this offseason, with their average salaries rising from $1.78MM to $3.86MM, the Associated Press reports. The heftiest raise went to Freddie Freeman of the Braves, who went from $560K in 2013 to a multiyear deal with an average salary of $16.875MM.
The Nationals tried to negotiate a long-term deal with pitcher Jordan Zimmermann before eventually signing him for two years and $24MM, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. The deal avoids arbitration this offseason and next, but does not buy out any years of free agency. Zimmermann says the two sides tried to find common ground on a longer contract this week, but were "too far apart to get that done." Kilgore also notes that the structure of Zimmermann's contract — he gets $7.5MM in 2014 and $16.5MM next year — could make it a bit trickier for the Nationals to deal him in the coming seasons. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- It's unclear what the Orioles will do with Matt Wieters, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. The two parties exchanged arbitration figures yesterday, with the O's proposing $6.5MM and Wieters filing for $8.75MM. He's the only arbitration-eligible Oriole who hasn't already agreed to a contract. He's eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, but Melewski suggests there are few indications the two sides have made progress on a long-term deal. Wieters' weaker numbers last season (.235/.287/.417 in 579 plate appearances) also make it increasingly unlikely he'll get a bank-breaking deal like Joe Mauer's or Buster Posey's.
- The Mets have not made Tim Byrdak an offer this offseason, the lefty himself tweets (via MetsBlog). Byrdak, 40, missed much of 2013 with a shoulder injury. His fastball velocity averaged just 85.4 MPH after he returned in September.
- The Phillies' moves for the rest of this offseason are likely to be minor, writes MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. One priority might be a left-handed bench player, perhaps an outfielder.
The Nationals and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann have agreed to a two-year, $24MM deal to avoid arbitration, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Zimmermann, a client of Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX), will earn $7.5MM in 2014 and $16.5MM in 2015, Sherman adds. The contract buys out Zimmermann's final two years of arbitration but no free agent years.
Zimmermann, 27, has emerged as perhaps the most consistent pitcher in the Nationals' rotation. The former second-round pick has pitched to a 3.12 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 43.8 percent ground-ball rate in 570 1/3 innings since his return from Tommy John surgery in 2011. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected Zimmermann to earn $10.5MM in 2014, so he likely took a hit on his 2014 salary in exchange for the security of locking in a significant payday in 2015.
The Nationals have made no secret about the fact that they'd prefer to keep Zimmermann around well beyond his final two years of arbitration, and I'd imagine that they'll continue to discuss a longer contract extension between now and Opening Day.
Last month, reliever Darin Downs found out the Astros had claimed him off waivers from the Tigers as he was driving his wife to deliver the couple's second child, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. "I had a couple missed calls, a couple text messages. So I call one of the front office staff from the Tigers, he says, 'Oh, you've just been claimed by the Astros.' I'm like, 'All right, cool. I'm going to the hospital,'" Downs says. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- A year removed from their nightmarish 2012 season, the Red Sox are again a desirable team for free agents, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Some of that, Lauber notes, has to do with the team's willingness to spend money. The team also seems to have rehabilitated its reputation among players after reports of 2012 locker-room disarray. But another important consideration is simply that every season is different. "I always chuckle inside when you see the quote from a free agent, 'I want to go to a contender,'" says Jonny Gomes. "Oh, you mean the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008? Or the Oakland A’s in 2012? That contender? I know anything can happen. Every single year, good, bad and in between, is like an individual season. All you have to do is turn the page."
- Reliever Jim Hoey is trying to return to the big leagues, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweets. Hoey, who will be 31 next week, last appeared in the Majors in 2011, when he pitched in the Twins' bullpen. He is perhaps best known for being traded (with minor-leaguer Brett Jacobson) for J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris in 2010. He pitched briefly in the Brewers' system in 2013, and also pitched in independent ball.
- The Nationals have a variety of extension candidates and may not have an easy time deciding how to handle them, writes Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com. Pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond are both open to extensions, Kerzel notes, but GM Mike Rizzo also needs to think about whether to extend Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg long-term (if that's practical — Scott Boras represents both of them, and one would think his demands would be through the roof). An extension for Zimmermann could exceed Matt Harrison's five-year, $55MM deal, possibly winding up somewhere near $85MM, Kerzel suggests. Both Zimmermann and Desmond can become eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
- The decline in Jonathan Papelbon's stuff last season could make other teams reluctant to trade for him, and Jason Collette of Fangraphs shows exactly what went wrong. Papelbon's velocity dropped as the season progressed, which allowed batters to make more frequent contact with his fastball. Hitters also made more contact with his splitter when he left it in the zone. While Papelbon's superficial statistics (a 2.92 ERA and 29 saves) were reasonable, his peripheral numbers mark him as something like an average closer at this point. Since he's making $13MM a year, that's a problem, and it could be tricky for the Phillies to deal him.
- The Yankees have had talks with Mark Reynolds about a deal to return next season, but the corner infielder appears set to sign somewhere else, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Reynolds, 30, joined the Yankees in August after being released by the Indians, and hit .236/.300/.455 in 120 plate appearances, with characteristically high strikeout totals.
Trading Jonathan Papelbon wouldn't solve much for the Phillies at this point, opines Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. Seidman runs down a possible scenario in which the Phillies ate $6MM to move Papelbon, noting that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would then still try to sign a replacement. Names like Grant Balfour and Joaquin Benoit could cost upwards of $10MM per season anyhow, meaning the Phillies may not even save much money should that scenario play out. Papelbon will have more value to teams at the trade deadline when fewer quality options are available, writes Seidman. Here's more from the NL East…
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves have approached some of their young stars about extensions over the past two years but felt they'd have to overpay to get something done.
- O'Brien also runs down the Braves needs on the heels of a quiet Winter Meetings, noting that they're optimistic about re-signing Eric O'Flaherty. Atlanta is still pursuing a veteran bench bat — O'Brien mentions Eric Chavez — and are still interested in Jeff Samardzija. The Braves may be considered the favorites to land Samardzija at this point, says O'Brien, noting that payroll constraints will likely preclude them from pursuing David Price.
- After adding to their rotation, bench and bullpen, the Nationals will now turn their focus to extending Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Should the Nats be unable to extend Zimmermann, they may be forced to consider trading him this time next season, one source told Kilgore.
- Nate McLouth spoke to former teammate Adam LaRoche (whom he called one of his favorite teammates ever) and asked what the Nationals clubhouse was like before deciding to sign there, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. McLouth doesn't hold ill will toward the Orioles for not retaining him.
The Mets made a big splash this afternoon when they inked veteran starter Bartolo Colon to a two-year deal. Here’s the latest out of the NL East..
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter links) asked Nationals GM Mike Rizzo if he’d consider trading Jordan Zimmermann. The Nats have tried to extend Zimmerman twice and, like David Price of the Rays, he has two years of club control remaining. “We’d certainly love to get something done with him. But like any premium guy on your team, if here is something that can’t be done, then you would think about a trade. But that’s the furthest thing from our minds,” Rizzo said.
- Colon’s age and history allowed the Mets to land him at a reasonable price, tweets Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors. In Tim’s view, it’s easy to see him returning $20MM+ of value over the next two years.
- Jerry Blevins found out that he was traded from the Athletics to the Nationals around noon time, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson (on Twitter). He was initially shocked because, unlike our readers, he did not pay attention to any of the trade rumors going on.
- The Braves were interested in Roy Halladay before he chose to retire and would like to add a veteran starter on a short-term deal, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
- Mets officials met with Ervin Santana‘s people, but that appears unlikely in the wake of the Colon signing, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Phillies didn’t meet with Bronson Arroyo yet and while that doesn’t necessarily preclude a deal, others are more serious about him, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
We just saw one bit of news from the Nats, as the club released Yunesky Maya. Though the move was hardly surprising and will not have any substantial impact going forward, it is a final conclusion to the saga of a player who President and GM Mike Rizzo had heralded as the Nats' "first major international signing." Fortunately, Rizzo has also acquired and developed other talent that more than makes up for the failed Maya experiment. Some of those players were covered in Rizzo's interesting discussion with MLB.com's Bill Ladson:
- Addressing lefty Ross Detwiler, Rizzo said that he "could bolster our bullpen and give us some depth as a starter." Rizzo proceeded to emphasize again that the club is enthusiastic about young starters Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark, and Nate Karns, each of whom, he said, "should be able to help us next season."
- It is somewhat of a surprise for Rizzo to have referred to Detwiler as rotation depth, as he had generally been expected to slot in the rotation, where he has been effective. There are, however, valid reasons to prefer Detwiler in the pen, including his slight build, injury history, and primarily two-pitch repertoire. Certainly, it is hard to imagine the Nats handing both the fourth and fifth starter roles to unproven arms. If Rizzo does indeed intend to use Detwiler in relief, there are two important takeaways: first, the club would have a much less pressing need for a premium southpaw setup man; and second, it would have a roughly proportional increase in its need for a new starter.
- Rizzo also talked about possible extensions for two of the team's best players: shortstop Ian Desmond and pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, each of whom has long been discussed as an extension candidate. "We certainly have an interest in getting it done," Rizzo said in reference to extensions for both players. "But I don't know if we'll get it done before Spring Training. We've made overtures and we haven't had a deal done yet."
- As I noted in my offseason outlook for the Nats, starting pitching and new deals for Desmond and Zimmermann are probably the best ways for Rizzo to add value to the club over the coming off-season. But those things won't come cheap. Starters are coming off the board with substantial numbers. And MLBTR's TIm Dierkes reasons that Desmond could cost nine figures to extend, with Zimmermann warranting $85MM.
- On the revelation that the club has contract issues to work out with star youngster Bryce Harper, Rizzo told Ladson that the club "ha[s] Bryce under contract for the foreseeable future" and "want him around for a long time." The organization was, of course, aware that Harper's arbitration opt out eligibility could become an issue. Said Rizzo: "It was a contract of a drafted player that we negotiated and agreed upon. That's as far as I can go with it."
- Pressed by Ladson as to whether Anthony Rendon would man second for the Nats in 2014, Rizzo would not commit but did say that "he will be a National." "I don't know where he is going to play or what he is going to do," continued Rizzo, while also praising Rendon's "high ceiling" and noting that he "can play many positions." It is hardly surprising that Rizzo would hesitate to hand the starting gig to Rendon before the spring, and the GM's comments were, as usual, rather oblique. That makes it difficult to ascribe any particular relevance to these statements with respect to the club's free agent shopping plans or Rendon's possible availability in a major trade.
Alex Rodriguez's public battle with the Yankees took another turn today when the slugger denied a report that the club intends to fine him a day's pay for conduct during his recent rehab assignment. According to ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, a hand-delivered letter written by Yankees GM Brian Cashman informed A-Rod that the club plans to punish him for seeking a second opinion on his quadriceps injury and also for failing to appear at Yankee Stadium last month after meeting with MLB officials to discuss the Biogenesis investigation. In an article by Bryan Hoch and Josh Vitale of MLB.com, however, A-Rod denied receiving the letter. "Maybe they sent it to my lawyers," Rodriguez said. "But I'm not really going to talk about that." More Saturday night MLB links…
- Neither Ian Desmond nor Jordan Zimmermann appear close to contract extensions with the Nationals, Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports. Zimmermann, 27, said his camp and the Nationals broached the subject in the offseason but didn't come close to an agreement. "I'm not going to give a huge team discount," Zimmermann warned. "Just something fair is all I ask."Meanwhile, Desmond recognizes that he has two years of arbitration remaining and doesn't appear to be in a hurry to put together a deal, according to Ladson.
- Everth Cabrera's recent suspension has reinforced the fact that the Padres' farm system is thin on shortstop talent, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune says. “You’d like to have a shortstop at every level that you feel is a prospect – has a chance to be an everyday guy,” assistant GM Chad MacDonald said. However, as Sanders notes, the club's best prospects at the position remain in the lower minors. For now, former first-round pick Logan Forsythe figures to get an extended look at short for the Friars.
- Astros top prospect George Springer may finish the season at Triple-A, Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire of MLB.com say. Springer, 23, is hitting .303/.410/.597 with 38 stolen bases across stops at Double-A and Triple-A this season. However, Astros manager Bo Porter didn't give any indication of when Springer might be called up to the major league club when discussing the outfielder today.
- Will Middlebrooks was called up to man third base for the Red Sox because he has more experience at the hot corner than Xander Bogaerts, Scott McLaughlin of WEEI.com reports. Many speculated that Bogaerts, who's hit .300/.392/.487 in 481 minor league plate appearances this season, would get the call, but manager John Farrell says the team prefers that he continue to take reps at third in the minors. The Sox want Bogaerts to be ready in case Middlebrooks struggles or hits the disabled list, according to McLaughlin.
Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann recently shot down rumors that his representatives at SFX and the Nats were exploring a multiyear extension, and the pitcher expanded on that statement by telling Adam Kilgore and James Wagner of the Washington Post that he doesn't expect contract negotiations to get going until the offseason.
“We talked a little bit in Spring Training,” Zimmermann said. “My agent and I said once the season starts, we’re going to wait until after the season. Hopefully, we’ll maybe spring something up at the end of the season or going into next season or something."
It was rumored last winter that the Nationals were interested in locking Zimmermann up in a long-term agreement but the two sides instead just settled on a one-year, $5.35MM contract for 2013. Zimmermann, a Super Two player, still has two remaining years of arbitration eligibility and is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season when he is 29 years old.
MLBTR's Steve Adams recently speculated that a Zimmermann extension could take the form of a five-year, $60MM-$65MM deal. That said, Adams noted that "Zimmermann's case is unprecedented to some extent," and the right-hander could earn more given the new collective bargaining agreement and the fact that the Nationals (like every team) has more money to spend due to TV contract money. These factors could bump the value of a five-year deal up to the $75MM-$80MM range, not to mention the fact that Zimmermann has raised his own value by pitching like a Cy Young candidate thus far in 2013.
If Zimmermann was confident enough to put off long-term contract talks for now, it seems as if he's also confident in his current and future performance to only accept an extension on his own terms.
“I’d be interested, see what they have to say. At the end of the day, it’s got to be the right deal for me," Zimmermann said. "I’m not just going to take a deal that’s team friendly. It’s got to be fair."