Jose Tabata Rumors

Pirates Outright Jose Tabata

The Pirates have outrighted Jose Tabata to Triple-A Indianapolis, the team announced via press release. The move clears space for second baseman Neil Walker to be activated from the disabled list.

Clearly, this is a disappointing outcome for both team and player, as Tabata was once viewed as a building block for the Pirates as they were re-tooling in 2011. Tabata inked a six-year, $15MM extension with the Bucs at the time that contains a trio of club options which can boost the deal to a total of $37.5MM. At the time of the extension, he had backed up a .299/.346/.400 rookie campaign with a .264/.351/.362 batting line and was just a nine days removed from his 23rd birthday.

Tabata, also a threat on the basepaths and a solid defensive left fielder, seemed to have quite a bit of upside, but his bat never progressed much after signing the deal. He hit .243/.315/.348 the following season and has batted .267/.328/.377 in 869 plate appearances since the contract was signed. With Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and now Gregory Polanco occupying the regular outfield spots, Tabata doesn’t have a route to everyday at-bats, though it’s somewhat surprising, given his solid glove in left and decent numbers against lefties, that he wasn’t kept on the roster in a reserve capacity.

Tabata is owed roughly $1.59MM over the remainder of the current season, $4MM in 2015 and $4.5MM in 2016. The buyout on his first option is $250K, meaning he’s guaranteed roughly $10.34MM through the end of 2016. As a player with more than three years of Major League service time that was outrighted, Tabata has the option to reject the assignment in favor of free agency, though in doing so he would forfeit the remaining guarantee on his contract, making the option more or less a moot point.

Pirates GM Neal Huntington reportedly shopped Tabata throughout Spring Training this season but was unable to find a taker.


AL Central Notes: Tigers, Marcum, Tabata, Twins

The Tigers' best way to address their shortstop issue is to try an internal option, like Danny Worth, then reevaluate the matter if Worth struggles, MLive.com's James Schmehl writes. At that point, if Stephen Drew is still a free agent, the Tigers could call agent Scott Boras. Schmehl also doesn't think the Tigers should pay a high price for the Diamondbacks' Chris Owings when the injured Jose Iglesias remains their shortstop of the future.  Drew was the top option in an MLBTR readers poll earlier today, as over 37% of voters felt that the Tigers will ultimately just sign the veteran shortstop to replace Iglesias.

Here are more notes from around the AL Central…

  • The Phillies and Cubs were among the many teams who had scouts watching the Tigers' minor leaguers in action on Wednesday, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports.  Earlier today, we heard that the Tigers were scouting Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz of the Cubs to address their holes at short and left field, respectively.
  • Shaun Marcum would like to stay in the Indians organization even if he doesn't make their rotation, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets.  Marcum can opt out of his deal if he does not make the team out of spring training.  Marcum was supposed to compete for the Indians' fifth starter job, but he has fallen behind as he has continued to recover from thoracic outlet syndrome and is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season.
  • The Pirates have reportedly been shopping outfielder Jose Tabata, but the Twins are probably not among the interested teams, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Twins' final roster decisions are being complicated by both a number of out-of-options players and the fact that several players competing for jobs simply haven't performed well at Spring Training, MLB.com's Andrew Simon reports.  "Nobody's really stepped up to try to earn the spots, and that's a bad feeling when you're looking at giving spots away," Twins assistant GM Mark Antony told reporters, including Simon.

MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth also contributed to this post


Pirates Shopping Jose Tabata

With Spring Training's end drawing closer, the Pirates are shopping right fielder Jose Tabata and also willing to listen to offers on out-of-options reliever Vin Mazzaro, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter links).

Tabata, still just 25 years of age, is owed $11.75MM over the next three seasons and has a trio of club options on his deal ranging from $6.5MM to $8.5MM. Tabata will earn $3MM in 2014, $4MM in 2015, $4.5MM in 2016 and has a $250K buyout on his $6.5MM option for 2017.

Coming off a poor 2012 performance, he reversed his fortunes in 2013 by slashing a solid .282/.342/.429, but Tabata already runs far less often than he did in his first two seasons (three steals in 2013 versus 35 in his first two campaigns) and hasn't seen much power develop. Beyond that, he's been injury prone, having spent a combined 77 games on the shelf between his 2011 and 2013 DL stints. Tabata plays a fine left field but is miscast as a center fielder and doesn't have a prototypical right fielder's arm.

Tabata's time as a starter with the organization is likely running out anyhow, a top prospect Gregory Polanco is nearly ready for the bigs. The 22-year-old ranks as baseball's No. 10 prospect according to Baseball America and is ranked 13th and 24th by MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, respectively. Though he's already been optioned to Triple-A to open the season, Polanco is coming off a 2013 campaign in which he batted .285/.356/.434 with 12 homers and 38 stolen bases and could be with the Pirates as soon as this summer. Alongside, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, he could help give the Pirates one of the game's most exciting young outfields.

Mazzaro, 27, enjoyed a breakout campaign in his first season with Pittsburgh last year. The former A's hurler was dealt to the Royals in a trade for David DeJesus but entered 2013 with a career 5.22 ERA in 286 innings. The Pirates acquired him cheaply from Kansas City and were rewarded with 73 2/3 innings of a 2.81 ERA with 5.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a career-best 52.2 percent ground-ball rate.

Pittsburgh has a wealth of options in the bullpen, highlighted by All-Star closer Jason Grilli but also featuring Mark Melancon, Justin Wilson and Tony Watson. Biertempfel notes that Mazzaro appears to be the odd man out, and the team is therefore willing to move him, but his phrasing doesn't seem to be as strong regarding Mazzaro as it is in expressing Tabata's availability. Last night, ESPN's Buster Olney speculated that the Pirates, who lost catcher Chris Stewart for an extended period of time, could match up with the Yankees in a trade; New York could use some additional stability in the bullpen, while Pittsburgh could add some depth behind the plate and seek a better defensive backup than Tony Sanchez.



NL Central Links: Taveras, Profar, Lohse, Tabata

Perhaps no player in the game brings as much focus and preparation to his at-bats as Joey Votto, ESPN's Buster Olney details in this must-read profile of the Reds first baseman (Insider subscription required).  "It's all about reframing the challenge," Votto said. "I've stopped caring about runs and RBIs. I care more about how high a percentage of productive at-bats I can have, how consistently tough and competitive I can be for the opposing pitcher. That's my goal every single time I go up there."

Here's the latest from around the NL Central…

  • A swap of Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar for Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras "has not been discussed," one of the involved GMs tells Peter Gammons of the MLB Network (Twitter link).  Needless to say, such a deal would be a blockbuster; Profar and Taveras rank first and third, respectively, on Baseball America's preseason ranking of the sport's 100 best prospects.  Gammons wonders if Profar-for-Taveras would be on the table "if [Scott] Boras didn't represent [Elvis] Andrus," thus making it uncertain if Andrus would sign an extension to remain in Texas.
  • Few teams would benefit from signing Kyle Lohse as much as the Brewers, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opines.  The Brewers have been adamant about going with younger pitchers and not spending big on veteran starters, but Haudricourt wonders if Lohse could be an option given how some of Milwaukee's current rotation members have struggled during Spring Training.
  • Mark Rogers, one of those struggling pitchers, is out of options and the Brewers are looking at several different ways to avoid losing him on waivers, Haudricourt writes.
  • Jose Tabata needs to produce to remain with the Pirates, as Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette outlines how Tabata is out of options and, if he doesn't make the roster, could be a good trade chip due to his team-friendly contract.  Click here for a full list of every player who is out of options this spring.
  • From earlier today, the Cardinals released Ronny Cedeno and we heard the Tigers weren't interested in Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol.

NL Notes: Pirates, Nationals, Cardinals, Kershaw

With Spring Training in full swing, wonderful stories from present and past are always emerging. Take Rays starter Chris Archer, who is not just fighting for a spot on Tampa Bay’s opening-day roster, but is on a quest for self-discovery. (As told by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.)  Or today's matchup between former and current Padres workhorses Jake Peavy and Clayton Richard, who were traded for one another back at the 2009 trade deadline.  (Courtesy of Corey Brock of MLB.com.)  Or, going back further still, recall Roberto Clemente, whose presence was felt strongly in Fort Myers, FL during his playing days and lives on vividly today. (From David Dorsey of News-Press.com.)  On to some National League notes …

  • While there was never a question who would cover the right-field grass for Pittsburgh when Clemente was roaming Forbes Field, the team must find someone to man that role in 2013. Jose Tabata has shown hustle and power this spring that have exceeded the Pirates' expectations, Tom Singer of MLB.com writes.  Still just 24 years old, Tabata’s strong showing thus far has only further complicated Pittsburgh’s right field situation. As Singer explains, in addition to Tabata and trade-deadline acquisition Travis Snider (who the team hopes will lay claim to the position), the Pirates are considering options like Clint Robinson, Jerry Sands, Alex Presley, Garrett Jones, Felix Pie, Darren Ford, and Brad Hawpe
  • Also making a surprising impression in Pirates camp is right-handed reliever Brooks Brown, who Singer says has emerged as an unexpected favorite to earn a spot in the Bucs' bullpen.  Brown was selected by Arizona in the first round back in 2006, but has yet to make a big league appearance.
  • Another darkhorse bullpen candidate who appears to be making strong moves towards a roster spot is the Nationals' Fernando Abad.  As reported by The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, with fellow left-handed relievers Bill Bray, Will Ohman, and Brandon Mann being sent to minor league camp, the 27-year-old minor-league-invitee Abad now stands as the most likely candidate to round out the Washington bullpen should the Nationals decide to keep another lefty alongside Zach Duke.  (Ohman was apparently cut during today's game, just after his poor outing, according to Mark Townsend of Yahoo.)
  • The Nationals also welcomed back catcher Wilson Ramos, who made his first appearance in a game since tearing his ACL early in the 2012 season, reports James Wagner of The Washington Post.  Ramos will likely split time with Kurt Suzuki as soon as he is able to catch regularly.
  • With Rafael Furcal being shut down indefinitely after a setback in his recovery from the elbow injury he suffered late last season, the Cardinals are planning what GM John Mozeliak is calling “an open competition” at shortstop, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. After emerging last season when Furcal went down, Pete Kozma will battle with veteran Ronny Cedeno for the starting job out of camp.
  • The Dodgers' outstanding young starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, says that he is not thinking about whether or not he can top the Felix Hernandez contract, Tracy Ringolsby or MLB.com writes.  Kershaw explains that he'll "play the game the same way" regardless of salary because "it's the best job you could have. … I talk to my buddies all the time.  They are putting on suits and ties, and going to the office every day.  I put on a uniform and play a game."

NL Central Notes: Wandy, Tabata, McCutchen

The latest from around the NL Central…


Pirates Extend Jose Tabata

The Pirates have locked up one of their core players for nearly a decade. The team officially announced today that outfielder Jose Tabata has signed a six-year contract extension with option years for 2017, 2018, and 2019.

114100719037_Brewers_v_Pirates The guaranteed portion of the deal runs through 2016 and includes contract restructuring for 2011. Tabata will receive a $1MM signing bonus, and his 2011 salary increases to $500K. He will then earn $750K in 2012, $1MM in 2013, $3MM in 2014, $4MM in 2015, and $4.5MM in 2016. The three options total $22.5MM – $6.5MM in 2017, $7.5MM in 2018, and $8.5MM in 2019. The Pirates will have the opportunity to buy out Tabata for $250K in any of the three option years, which brings the outfielder's guarantee to $15MM. If the Pirates exercise all three options, the contract could be worth up to $37.25MM.

The contract covers Tabata's three remaining pre-arbitration seasons and his three arbitration seasons. Prior to the completion of the contract, the outfielder amicably parted ways with ACES, his previous agency.  He returned from a stint on the DL with a strained quadriceps this week. Tabata is in his second MLB season, and the 23-year-old has a .264/.351/.362 line with 14 doubles, four homers and 14 stolen bases this year.

He finished eighth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting last year and has played all three outfield positions in the Major Leagues. In just shy of 1500 innings, Tabata's outfield defense is league average, according to UZR. The Pirates acquired Tabata, Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen and Ross Ohlendorf from the Yankees for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady at the 2008 trade deadline.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes first reported that the two sides were discussing a long-term deal (all four Twitter links). Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, and Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes (multiple links) added details.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


Pirates, Jose Tabata Nearing Extension

5:32pm: Rojas reports that the total value of the contract would be $37.25MM if the three options are exercised (link in Spanish). Tabata would receive a $1MM signing bonus, and his salary in 2011 would increase to $500K. He would then earn $750K in 2012, $1MM in 2013, $3MM in 2014, $4MM in 2015, and $4.5MM in 2016. That puts the guarantee at six years and $14.75MM, and the value of the three options years at $22.5MM combined. 

4:01pm: The Pirates are putting the finishing touches on Tabata's deal, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. An announcement could come as soon as tomorrow.

1:48pm: MLBTR's Tim Dierkes hears that Tabata's deal with the Pirates will include three team options (Twitter link). Denard Span's five-year, $16.5MM deal presumably figured prominently in to the discussions.

12:47pm: The sides are nearing a six-year agreement, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (on Twitter). The deal would run through 2016 and include contract restructuring for 2011, according to Rojas. Such a deal would cover Tabata's three remaining pre-arbitration seasons and his three arbitration seasons. 

12:32pm: The Pirates are discussing a multiyear deal with Jose Tabata, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned (all Twitter links). The outfielder recently amicably parted ways with ACES, his previous agency.  Tabata returned from a stint on the DL with a strained quadriceps this week.

Tabata is in his second MLB season, but he didn't debut until last June, so he doesn't project to be arbitration eligible until after 2013 or eligible for free agency until after 2016. The 23-year-old has a .264/.351/.362 line with 14 doubles, four homers and 14 stolen bases this year.

He finished eighth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting last year and has played all three outfield positions in the Major Leagues. In just shy of 1500 innings, Tabata's outfield defense is league average, according to UZR. The Pirates acquired Tabata, Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen and Ross Ohlendorf from the Yankees for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady at the 2008 trade deadline.

This post was originally published on August 19th.


Rosenthal On Nolasco, Rays, Upton, Jimenez

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports brought us another edition of Full Count today while sporting yet another fantastic bow tie.  Here are some highlights..

  • The Marlins could wind up trading Ricky Nolasco if they fail to get back to the .500 mark.  The Rangers have shown interest in Nolasco since last winter and the Yankees could look to reunite him with manager Joe Girardi.  If the Fish make such a deal, it won't be in one of their classic salary dumps, it will be instead for baseball reasons.  They're looking to increase their payroll ahead of their move into a brand new stadium and they could be major players for free agents this winter.
  • The Rays still could end up as sellers but right now they appear to be buyers as they were looking to get Francisco Rodriguez before the Brewers swooped in at the final hour.  If Tampa Bay sells, it's doubtful that they'll move any of their starters but B.J. Upton is another story.  In theory, the Nationals, Phillies, and Braves could all be potential destinations for the outfielder.
  • The three teams with the best chance of meeting the Rockies' asking price for Ubaldo Jimenez are the Yankees, Tigers, and Reds.  The concerns with Jimenez are that he's not back to his 2009/early 2010 form and that his velocity has dropped.  One scout told Rosenthal that he's not back to his ace form yet but he's getting close.
  • The first-place Pirates are after upgrades but they should also improve from within.  They have a number of injured players returning such as Jose Tabata, Evan Meek, and Ross Ohlendorf.  The Bucs continue to search for a bat but they're not terribly interested in the Cubs' Carlos Pena.

Quick Hits: Buchholz, Ishikawa, Tabata, Rivera

Rounding up Sunday's links, as Andre Ethier celebrates his 29th birthday….