Jose Quintana Rumors

Quick Hits: Angels, Alderson, Dodgers, Ruiz, White Sox

In a must-read piece for ESPN The Magazine, Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus provides a riveting look into the Angels' efforts to turn around the organization's languishing farm system. Focusing on the philosophies of assistant GM (and former big leaguer) Scott Servais, Miller explores how the Halos hope to emulate the shockingly simple methods of the Cardinals while infusing deep, data-driven analysis into their player-development efforts. 

Here are more links from around the game to finish the day:

  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson hopes to stay in his role for two or three more years, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post. The 66-year-old, who took the helm in October of 2010, is currently under contract for the following season with a club option for 2015.
  • New Dodgers TV network SportsNet LA has yet to reach agreement with many local pay-TV distributors, reports Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times, which means that a majority of Los Angeles viewers would be without Dodgers games if the season started today. Though the network expressed confidence that deals will be in place by the onset of the 2014 campaign, Flint explains that negotiations promise to be tense.
  • In an interesting profile of Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that little notice was given to the fact that Ruiz has been cleared by MLB to use Adderall in the coming season. That is the very substance for which Ruiz was suspended at the start of last season. Brookover paints a picture of a genuinely passionate backstop who is ready to earn his new three-year, $26MM contract.
  • A major factor in the White Sox' rebuilding plans is number-two starter Jose Quintana. As MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes, the work of scouts Daraka Shaheed and Joe Siers was responsible for bringing Quintana into the Chicago organization as a minor league free agent from the Yankees, and for setting him on the trajectory to serve as a starter. The 25-year-old, who notched a 3.51 ERA in an even 200 innings last year, is likely to become arbitration-eligible next season as a Super Two. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently looked at the excellent work of Shaheed and Siers in examining the increasing number of Major League deals for minor league free agents.
  • Busy as the Sox were this off-season, no single addition carries as much risk (and, perhaps, upside) as 27-year-old first baseman Jose Abreu. As Merkin reports, the big Cuban — who inked a six-year, $68MM deal in late October — has drawn rave early reviews for his professionalism both at the plate and in terms of effort.

Extension Notes: Segura, Bailey, Quintana, Parker

Shortstop Jean Segura and the Brewers figure to discuss a contract extension this spring, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports. This isn't the first time the Brewers have discussed an extension with Segura, but Cotillo says that two parties haven't talked much since last fall. In September, MLBTR suggested that Segura might receive about five years and $20-23MM guaranteed in an extension, although that number might need to be upward somewhat given extensions that have been reached since then. He's set to become arbitration-eligible after the 2015 season, and free agency-eligible after 2018. Here are more notes on extensions.

  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty still has hope that his team can sign Homer Bailey long-term and believes he has made progress toward that goal, ESPN's Jim Bowden tweetsRecent reports have indicated that Bailey and the Reds aren't close on an extension, which makes sense, given Bailey's situation — he's eligible for free agency after the season and should be in line for a hefty new contract.
  • The White Sox and pitcher Jose Quintana do not plan to discuss an extension during spring training, Cotillo tweets. Quintana, 25, posted a 3.51 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 200 innings in 2013. He will likely be eligible for arbitration next offseason as a Super Two player.
  • Pitcher Jarrod Parker and the Athletics have not talked about an extension this offseason, but they could do so this spring, Cotillo tweets. The righty threw 197 innings in 2013, posting a 3.97 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. He's arbitration-eligible after the 2014 season.

Minor League Free Agents Finding Major League Deals

40-man roster spots are a precious commodity in Major League Baseball.  Many of the transactions on MLB Trade Rumors stem from this fact, as teams decide which players will occupy those last few spots.  The roster squeeze prevents many recognizable free agents from securing a Major League contract each offseason, from useful veterans like Jason Kubel, Shaun Marcum, and Jamey Carroll to former top prospects like Trevor Crowe and Taylor Teagarden.  Those players, despite a decent amount of name value, signed minor league deals.  However, a new trend emerged this offseason, as eight players with scant Major League experience signed Major League deals: Francisco Pena (Royals), Kelvin De La Cruz (Orioles), Edgmer Escalona (Orioles), Erik Cordier (Giants), Francisco Peguero (Orioles), David Cooper (Indians), Angel Castro (Cardinals), and David Adams (Indians).  Four of the players have no Major League experience at all, while none of the eight have more than 100 innings or 226 plate appearances in the bigs.

Upside As A Separator

The average age of these eight players is about 27 years old, significantly younger than a standard free agent who signs a Major League deal.  Many of these seven come with top prospect pedigrees.  Peguero, an outfielder signed by the Giants out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, was ranked as the team's fourth-best prospect prior to the 2011 season by Baseball America.  As recently as last year, Peguero was ranked eighth by BA, who said he "still has the most exciting combination of speed and power in the system, along with perhaps the best bat speed."  He went on to hit .316/.354/.408 in 70 Triple-A games to earn his second big league call-up with the Giants, though he received only six starts in September.

The Giants were faced with a difficult situation.  With Peguero having used his four minor league options, they risked losing him to a waiver claim if they weren't willing to put him on the 25-man roster out of spring training in 2014.  The Giants decided to remove Peguero from the 40-man roster by designating him for assignment in late November, cutting ties by non-tendering him five days later.  As agent Dan Rosquete tells it, "The minute the Giants said 'Hey, we're taking him off the roster,' they backed it up with, 'Well, we want him back, what's it going to take?'"  After Peguero's frustration from the lack of opportunity at the end of the season with the Giants, Rosquete's primary goal was to secure playing time for his client in 2014.  Interestingly, the Giants designated Peguero for assignment in part to make room for Cordier, a big arm who had become a six-year minor league free agent after pitching in relief for the Pirates' Triple-A team.  Cordier is one of four six-year minor league free agents this offseason to sign a Major League deal with no Major League experience.

The Orioles swooped in with an appreciation for Peguero's tools, an opportunity for playing time, and a Major League offer.  Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette "could tell me more about my client than I knew about him," jokes Rosquete.  "Dan Duquette called me and said 'Listen, I'm looking at everything and I can see this guy as an everyday outfielder.'"  In an email, Duquette tells MLBTR Peguero "has good talent as he is a lifetime .300 plus hitter in the minors and [is a] very good defensive player."  As a group, these eight Major League signings possess upside rarely found affordably in free agency. For example, the Indians landed a former first round draft pick in first baseman Cooper, the Orioles added a strikeout lefty who has touched 94 miles per hour in De La Cruz, and the Giants picked up a power reliever who can touch 97 in Cordier.  Plus, all of them are considered to be near big league ready.  

Contracts Dictated By Strong Markets

The majority of the eight players were six-year minor league free agents, with a handful of non-tenders mixed in.  Ultimately, teams wouldn't give Major League deals and the accompanying 40-man roster spot to this level of player unless it was necessary to get the deal done.  Duquette, who authored three of these eight big league deals with Peguero, De La Cruz, and Escalona, notes, "In each case other clubs were offering Major League contracts, so you could say that the Major League contract was required by the market."  

The only way for an agent to really know what it will take is to let the market play out.  Paul Kinzer represents the 24-year-old Pena, who became a six-year minor league free agent after 2013 when the Mets decided not to add him to their 40-man roster.  "I don't know if anybody expected the kind of response we got on him," says Kinzer of Pena.  Kinzer says the strong demand for catchers worked in Pena's favor.  Three teams were close on the player, and the Royals had to offer a Major League deal to separate themselves.  Cooper signed a minor league deal with the Indians in August after recovering from career-threatening herniated disk in his chest cavity.  He opted for free agency at the end of the month, and demand was strong enough that the Indians re-signed him to a Major League deal.  The Rays put pressure on the Tribe by also reportedly making a Major League offer.

A Possible Trend

Though we don't have complete data on the number of inexperienced players signing Major League deals each offseason, the eight such contracts from 2013-14 is definitely the highest number in recent years.  Kinzer, who by his recollection has done three or four of these types of deals in his career, "absolutely" sees a trend toward more of them.  He explains, "Teams can go out and spend a little more on these guys and sometimes get a better return on their money than going with an older, veteran guy."  By "spend a little more," Kinzer is referring to the cost of a roster spot, since none of these contracts were for more than $75K above the $500K league minimum.  The going rate for a veteran backup catcher this winter has been in the $1-3MM range.

Teams are continually trying to find outside-the-box means of acquiring younger talent.  Showing a greater willingness to barter with a 40-man roster spot in November and early December, when most clubs are not near capacity, seems savvy.  The trend could truly explode if more success stories emerge.

The biggest recent success story is the signing of lefty Jose Quintana by the White Sox after the 2011 season.  Quintana was signed by the Mets out of Colombia for $40K in 2006, and signed with the Yankees about a year later after the Mets released him due to a violation of the Minor League Baseball drug policy.  Baseball America never ranked Quintana among the Yankees' top 30 prospects, and he became a six-year minor league free agent after '11.  GM Brian Cashman told Joel Sherman of the New York Post in June 2012, "We looked at him as a fringy prospect. We offered him a minor league contract to stay, but not a 40-man roster position. We didn’t feel he was ahead of other guys we gave spots to. It was a numbers game, but right now it does not look like a good decision."  White Sox scouts Joe Siers and Daraka Shaheed "made him stand out on the six-year free-agent list," then-assistant GM Rick Hahn told Sherman, and the Sox and GM Kenny Williams separated themselves from the pack by offering Quintana a Major League deal.  Fresh off 200 innings of 3.51 ball in 2013, Quintana is a scouting success for Chicago and the best recent example of a Major League deal paying off big for a player with no experience at the game's highest level.  

Quintana, who would go a long way toward stabilizing the Yankees' current rotation, is one that got away.  The team had a firsthand look at the southpaw for five years, but preferred to keep the roster spot open when he reached minor league free agency.  Of the eight who signed this offseason, seven landed with new clubs.  Time will tell whether the Mets, Dodgers, Pirates, Rockies, Giants, and Yankees will regret letting these players go, but if more credible big leaguers emerge from the group, it's likely we'll continue to see an increase in Major League deals for minor league free agents.



White Sox Looking To Trade Starter

The White Sox are looking to move a starting pitcher, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. While the Sox would love to unload John Danks' contract, they recognize how difficult that would be. Passan adds that Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago are both available. In order to move Chris Sale, the White Sox would need a package even bigger than the one that expected to be needed to land David Price, according to Passan (Twitter links).

Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with an executive that has been in regular contact with the Sox regarding Sale (Twitter link) and was told: "We have asked million times about Sale and never felt they would trade him." Likewise, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune spoke with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf who said that while the only untradeable player he's seen in his time as chairman of the White Sox and Bulls was Michael Jordan, the team isn't looking to move Sale and sees him as a big part of its success going forward.

Quintana has been said to be off limits in trades, though reports last night indicated that the Padres have asked for Quintana in trades for Chase Headley. Quintana can be controlled through 2018 while Santiago is controllable through 2017. Santiago has been said to be easier to acquire than Quintana.

As for Danks, he is owed $42.75MM through the 2016 season — an average annual value of $14.25MM. Still just 28 years old, Danks underwent shoulder surgery in 2012 and has a 5.02 ERA over 192 innings over the past two seasons.


White Sox Notes: Sale, Quintana, Santiago, Uribe

The White Sox are open to discussing trades for Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi notes that Sale, who can be controlled for a whopping six years at just over $55MM, would command significantly more than even David Price could net the Rays. Morosi runs down a list of several reasons as to why it could make sense for the ChiSox to move their ace this offseason. Here are a few more links pertaining to the South Siders…

  • Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago spoke to White Sox GM Rick Hahn this morning (Twitter link). Hahn told Hayes that he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't at least listen to offers, but he would need an "unfathomable" return to part with Sale.
  • One GM told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he thinks teams are pushing the White Sox to reconsider their unwillingness to part with Sale when asked this morning (Twitter link).
  • The White Sox are in the process of trying to bring Juan Uribe back to Chicago, reports David Vassegh of FOX Sports 570 AM Radio in Los Angeles (on Twitter). Uribe would fill a need for the Sox, though as GM Rick Hahn told me at last month's GM Meetings, his team prefers left-handed bats.
  • The White Sox never got involved on Chicago native Curtis Granderson, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Grandy Man signed a four-year, $60MM deal with the Mets last week.

Padres, Sox Have Talked Headley, Quintana In Past

Recent reports have linked Padres third baseman Chase Headley to the White Sox, and Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago adds some more details to that story, noting that the two sides have discussed the switch-hitting Headley numerous times. However, Chicago GM Rick Hahn is loath to meet counterpart Josh Byrnes' request of including Jose Quintana as part of the package.

As Hayes notes, Quintana can be controlled for another five seasons, and the Sox like the pairing of him and Chris Sale at the front of their rotation for the foreseeable future. The Sox are more amenable to trading fellow lefty Hector Santiago, according to Hayes, and they've likely offered him in potential deals for Headley. However, one big league evaluator told Hayes that Santiago's value has been negatively impacted by pitching in the same rotation as Quintana, as teams are frequently more interested in talking about Quintana, who is more consistent.

Though Headley figures to be one of the most oft-discussed players at this week's Winter Meetings, the Padres don't expect to trade their third baseman, sources tell Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. As for the White Sox, previous reports have indicated that the White Sox consider Quintana, Sale and Avisail Garcia to be untouchable in trades.


White Sox Won’t Trade Sale, Garcia, Quintana

As the White Sox look to rebound from their 99-loss season, everyone is available on the trade block.  Well, almost everyone.  Avisail Garcia, Chris SaleJose Quintana, and the newly-acquired Jose Dariel Abreu are off limits, executives told Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.

Meanwhile, multiple MLB execs confirmed that the White Sox are open to any and all avenues to reconstruct the roster, outside of moving those four players, of course.  General Manager Rick Hahn wouldn't comment on three of the four but he did take the time to say that Sale is off limits.

There’s a group of guys that we feel are part of our long-term success and having Chris at the front of our rotation we think is a big part of that potential for success,” Hahn said. “Obviously he’s signed for the next six years if we exercise both his options and we fully intend to win within that window. So while we have to not close off any avenues and have to hear other clubs when there is certain valuable commodities, moving him is not something we’re looking to do.

While those players apparently won't be going anywhere, trades involving second baseman Gordon Beckham, shortstop Alexei Ramirez, and outfielder Alejandro De Aza might make sense.