Jose Contreras Rumors

Quick Hits: Wright, Contreras, Draft

A few odds and ends as Saturday becomes Sunday …

  • Mets third baseman David Wright announced yesterday that he doesn't want to enter into extension talks during the season, and he added tonight that was his plan since before the season began, writes Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. "It’s just not necessary. As I said, I think with the good vibes that are going on right now and the good surrounding this club, I just feel somewhat selfish to be talking about myself, talking about me when we should be talking about we.” 
  • Phillies reliever Jose Contreras will need major surgery and is out for the year, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Contreras, 40, would like to rehab and return next season, although he conceded that the odds are against him. The Phils hold a $2.5MM option on the right-hander for 2013, which seems likely to be declined. The buyout is $500K.
  • In addition to Jorge Soler, several other Cuban prospects have been granted free agency, writes Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Those players are right-hander Armando Rivero, outfielders Henry Urrutia and Gerald Sanchez, and teenage lefty Omar Luis.
  • For a breakdown of how draft spending breaks down under the new CBA, check out this New York Times piece by Benjamin Hoffman.
  • MLB could soon render a decision on the Rangers' signing of Dominican outfield prospect Jairo Beras, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. There is some discrepancy among teams who were scouting Beras as to his age, which triggered MLB's investigation. Beras signed for $4.5MM.

Spanish Links: Sanchez, Hanley, Contreras

Links are, you guessed it, in Spanish…

  • Anibal Sanchez has looked strong this preseason, but the 29-year-old told Wilmer Reina at the Venezuelan daily La Verdad that his history of shoulder problems is more than just a memory. "I've never pitched without pain. There's always a small problem with something," Sanchez said. "I have five scars inside my shoulder, and some nerve has to be touching those." Sanchez has bounced back from three injury-shortened campaigns to log 190-plus solid innings in 2010 and 2011, but he said last month the team has yet to approach him about keeping him off the the free agent market next winter. Back in January, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith analyzed Sanchez as an extension candidate.
  • Despite an offseason of predictions to the contrary, Hanley Ramirez says he is confident and, yes, even content at third base. "I feel really happy. If I had known that, I would have changed before. I really feel comfortable here," Ramirez told Juan Mercado at the Dominican paper El Día. "I like playing third base, because I'm more relaxed and it makes me focus more, because I have to be prepared for every pitch." 
  • Jose Contreras told Luis Rangel at the El Nuevo Herald that he feared the worst when he learned he needed surgery on his pitching arm last summer. "When they told me that, I said, 'Wow! My career is done,'" Contreras recalled. "I'm not a young man. I'm 40 years old, and an operation is difficult." However, the Cuban swingman has worked his way back and says he's nearly ready to fulfill the second year of the two-year deal he signed with the Phillies in 2010. "At the moment I can say that I feel good, and if everything goes well in Spring Training, with a couple more good outings this spring, I'll be ready for the season," Contreras said.

Jose Contreras’ Season In Jeopardy

Jose Contreras has suffered a setback in his recovery from a right forearm injury, and Will Carroll tweets that the setback is "very serious" and has the remainder of the season in jeopardy for the 39-year-old right-hander.

Contreras has been limited to just 14 innings due to injuries in the first year of the two-year, $5.5MM extension he signed with the Phillies this offseason. This setback is just the latest in what's been a season of bad luck for the Philadelphia bullpen. Both Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson are on the shelf, which has led to Antonio Bastardo's emergence as the Phillies' closer for the time being.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has already said he's seeking bullpen help. The Phils have contacted the Padres about Heath Bell and Chad Qualls, and a serious injury to Contreras will likely strengthen their desire to add some proven arms to the back-end of the bullpen. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes listed some potentially available right-handed relievers last month, many of whom could now be on Amaro's radar with Contreras' future in question.



Phillies Re-Sign Jose Contreras

The Phillies re-signed reliever Jose Contreras to a two-year, $5.5MM deal, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.  The contract includes performance incentives and a club option for 2013.  Year-by-year details can be found here.  ESPN's Enrique Rojas first reported last night that a deal was close.

Contreras, 39 in December, posted a 3.34 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9, and 44.7% groundball rate for the Phillies in 2010.  It was his first full season as a reliever, and his fastball played up to a 94.0 mph average.  He even served as the Phillies' closer for a while in May.  At just $1.5MM, Contreras was a major bargain for the Phillies in 2010.  This time around the second year is less than ideal, but it was likely necessary to secure him early.  Plus, Contreras' salary remains reasonable.

The Phillies' bullpen spending is far from finished.  They've added Contreras and Eddie Bonine, and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told ESPN's Jayson Stark he's contacted "40 free agents, predominantly bullpen guys."  The Phils are prioritizing left-handed relief and are known to be interested in Hisanori Takahashi.


Phillies, Contreras Close To Two-Year Deal

The Phillies and reliever Jose Contreras are close to reaching an agreement on a two-year deal worth $5MM, reports ESPNDeportes.com's Enrique Rojas. The deal also includes an option for a third year plus performance based incentives.

Contreras, 39 next month, was very good for the Phillies in 2010, pitching to a 3.34 ERA in 56.2 innings. He struck out 9.1 and walked just 2.5 batters for every nine innings pitched. Earlier this week we heard that the Phillies were "working aggressively" to re-sign him.

Tim Dierkes broke down Contreras' free agent stock back in May, saying that he could be in line for a two-year deal if his strong work as a reliever held up.


Stark On Greinke, Jeter, Phillies, Uggla

It's looking more and more likely that MLB will add a second wild card team to each league, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. He also has the latest rumblings from around the league; here they are:

  • Clubs that have spoken to the Royals say Kansas City would only accept a bunch of front-line players for Zack Greinke. One of those players must be a pitcher with a Greinke-like ceiling, so GM Dayton Moore expects a lot for his ace.
  • Clubs that have checked in with the Royals believe Greinke would veto a deal to any major market East Coast team. However, one official says the pitcher “would at least think about the L.A. clubs.”
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post recently suggested that the Yankees make Derek Jeter a Yankee for life with a 25-year contract that would keep him involved in the organization once his playing days end, but Stark hears that Jeter’s next deal will be “a baseball contract. Period.”
  • A Phillies source summed up the chances of Jayson Werth returning to Philadelphia concisely: "No chance. None. Zero.
  • "The Phillies are working aggressively to re-sign Jose Contreras, according to Stark.
  • GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Stark that he has been working the phones this week. "We've made contact with 40 free agents, predominantly bullpen guys." He said. "Left-handed relief is a priority for us."
  • Teams that have contacted the Marlins about Dan Uggla see definite signs that if extension talks don’t go anywhere, the second baseman could soon become trade bait.

Phillies Face Multiple Decisions In Offseason

With their 2010 season officially in the books, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki examined the Phillies' decisions regarding both free agency and arbitration this offseason. Here are some highlights:

  • The Phillies and Jayson Werth will both say they have interest in working something out, and while that's probably true, Zolecki agrees with the common belief that Werth will be playing elsewhere in 2011. The Phillies already have $145MM committed to 16 players in 2011, and Werth's probable $15MM+ salary will be too much to add on.
  • J.C. Romero's option will probably be declined due to the left-hander's injury problems and control issues (7.1 BB/9 the past two seasons).
  • Jose Contreras could be this season's Chan Ho Park. Both pitched well out of the Philadelphia bullpen, but in doing so significantly raised their stock. Contreras could be in line for more money than Philadelphia wants to offer. Zolecki does note that Contreras' best friend and fellow Cuban, Danys Baez, is under contract for 2011, so that may help sway Contreras.
  • Chad Durbin is 50-50 on whether or not he'd take less money than he could get on the open market to stay with the Phils. As Zolecki points out, this could be Durbin's only chance to secure a decent multiyear deal.
  • Jamie Moyer, Mike Sweeney, and Greg Dobbs are all unlikely to be brought back.
  • Ben Francisco will almost certainly be tendered a contract, and could platoon with Domonic Brown. Kyle Kendrick is due a raise and could be non-tendered and then re-signed at a more affordable price.

Odds & Ends: Chapman, Gordon, Winn, Brewers

Some Thursday notes from around the majors…

  • Aroldis Chapman recorded seven strikeouts while allowing three hits and a walk over five shutout innings for the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville tonight, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  Chapman is in the midst of a 10 2/3 inning scoreless streak.
  • Fangraphs' Jack Moore looks at Alex Gordon's ongoing demolition of Triple-A pitching and says "there’s no excuse if he’s not back in Kansas City by June."
  • Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets that "many people believe" the Yankees will designate Randy Winn for assignment when Curtis Granderson returns from the DL.  Feinsand believes the Yanks should keep Winn and instead send Kevin Russo back to the minors.
  • MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports (via Twitter) that the Brewers have signed right-hander Eduardo Morlan to a minor-league deal.  The Brewers selected Morlan from Tampa Bay in the 2008 Rule 5 draft but he was designated for assignment and returned to the Rays during spring training of that year.  The Rays just released Morlan two days ago.
  • ESPN's Insider Rumors section (subscription required) speculates that Rickie Weeks could be a trade candidate if Milwaukee doesn't want to pay his likely arbitration raise in the winter.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explored the Brewers' trade options last week, and noted that Weekes' arbitration salary bump might also cause teams to shy away from acquiring him.
  • John Schuerholz chatted on the air with Sirius XM Radio's Jim Bowden today.  Bowden tweeted that Schuerholz feels the Braves have enough pop in their lineup and don't "need to make a Fred McGriff type trade."  The Crime Dog was acquired by Atlanta in July 1993 for Donnie Elliott, Vince Moore and Melvin Nieves — don't you always need to make a deal like that?
  • Bowden also had Baltimore president Andy MacPhail on his show, and speculates (via Twitter) that the O's will look to draft Jameson Taillon based on MacPhail's description of his club's wants.  Bowden also tweeted that MacPhail didn't offer an endorsement of manager Dave Trembley, and instead just noted that it's still early in the season.
  • Omar Minaya said the Mets might look to trade for a starter later in the summer, reports Kieran Darcy of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Fanhouse's Ed Price explains how Philadelphia's unheralded signings of Jose Contreras and Danys Baez have bailed out their bullpen over the first two months of the season.
  • Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com answers Cleveland-related fan questions in a mailbag about such topics as when Michael Brantley will return to the majors, the recent release of Scott Lewis, and how the Tribe passed on Jason Heyward in the 2007 amateur draft.

Stark On Oswalt, Braves, Carmona, Yankees

Astros scouts haven't been told to watch specific teams or players, so Roy Oswalt doesn't need to start preparing for life after Houston just yet. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark has the details on Oswalt and more rumblings from around the major leagues:

  • Oswalt has told friends he'd love to play in St. Louis and it's believed that he would be interested in joining the Dodgers and Braves.
  • We've heard lots about the $29MM remaining on Oswalt's deal, but the Angels have some money, according to an official Stark spoke to. The Nationals may be "the one team that would pay the whole freight on the contract."
  • GM Andrew Friedman says he wasn't sure how Rafael Soriano's National League experience would translate to the American League East when the Rays dealt for him last offseason. Needless to say, the Rays have been pleased with Soriano's dominant start to the season.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Stark that other teams offered Jose Contreras "much more money" last winter.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren says he's pleased with Eric Hinske's play and notes that teams probably don't pay enough attention to their benches.
  • Wren says the Braves would not have interest in adding a starting pitcher. Besides their current rotation, they have the injured Jair Jurrjens and Triple A pitcher Chris Resop.
  • GM Jon Daniels says the Rangers saw "a guy with major league ability and pedigree" when they scouted Colby Lewis in Japan last year.
  • One scout says the Blue Jays are definitely tracking Fausto Carmona and have watched his last 12 starts.
  • The Red Sox have tried trading Mike Lowell unsuccessfully, but they aren't eager to eat the $8MM-plus remaining on his salary. 
  • Rival clubs say the Yankees haven't decided what their trade deadline needs are, though they're showing some interest in versatile outfield bats.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Jose Contreras

After an ugly outing against the Yankees on August 29th of last year, Jose Contreras' record stood at 5-13.  He had a 5.42 ERA on the season and was well overpaid at $10MM.  At the August 31st deadline, the White Sox shipped Contreras to Colorado for minor league pitcher Brandon Hynick plus cash in a salary dump move.  The 38-year-old Cuban pitched well in his Rockies debut but suffered a quad injury in his second start.  Contreras returned from the injury as a reliever and did a good job in five appearances.  

The Phillies signed Contreras in January to a $1.5MM deal.  He's been lights-out this season, and has already ascended to second in line to close if Brad Lidge struggles or isn't available.  Contreras' dominance is no fluke – as a reliever this year his average fastball has jumped up to 94.7 mph and he sports an 11.6 K/9 with a career-best 54.2% groundball rate.  The relief sample is growing – since his Rockies role change Contreras has a 0.95 ERA, 10.4 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9 in 19 innings.

Contreras appears to have found a second baseball life as a reliever.  Admittedly, the 2010 season has just begun.  But if Contreras' excellence continues until free agency, he'll be positioned for a two-year deal or even a closing job.