Jose Contreras Rumors
Three NL Central teams had winning records in 2012, but the Reds, Cardinals and Brewers won't get the chance to play the Astros regularly anymore. The Pirates narrowly missed a .500 record in 2012, and the Cubs' pitching staff looks much deeper following a busy offseason for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, so it now looks like the division will be tougher in 2013. Here are some NL Central notes, starting with the Cardinals’ top starter...
- The Cardinals will be able to afford an extension for Adam Wainwright if they truly want to retain the right-hander long-term, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. With TV revenue on its way to St. Louis and a strong player development system in place, the Cardinals could likely afford Wainwright. They must now determine whether they value him at $20MM-plus per season for four or five years.
- The Cubs haven't shied away from veterans of Tommy John surgery, since pitchers like Arodys Vizcaino have considerable upside, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
- The Pirates took a similar approach to their division rivals, signing Jose Contreras to a minor league deal even though he's still recovering from the Tommy John operation that he underwent last June. GM Neal Huntington said the Pirates' scouts have always been impressed with Contreras, Tom Singer of MLB.com reports. "We felt this was a low-risk acquisition that can help this team at some point this summer," Huntington said. Contreras threw off a mound in front of Pirates personnel before completing his deal.
After Brian Sabean traded Matt Williams to the Indians for a package that included eventual San Francisco cornerstone Jeff Kent, the public reaction against the newly minted Giants general manager was so strong that he felt compelled to declare: “I’m not an idiot.” Sixteen years later, with two World Championships under Sabean’s belt, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby writes that he “has proven that, emphatically.” Sabean still abides by the credo he adopted while working for George Steinbrenner: “keep your head down and do your job.” Here are some notes on teams hoping to dethrone Mr. Sabean’s Giants in 2013:
- Having agreed yesterday to a minor league contract with the Pirates, 41-year-old reliever Jose Contreras reported to camp quickly with plans to take it slow, says Tom Singer of MLB.com. Still recovering from Tommy John surgery, and having just returned from his first visit to his native Cuba since defecting over a decade ago, Contreras said that the Pirates instructed him “to take my time and recover at my own rate.” Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, for whom the signing was a “low-risk” gambit to bolster the club’s bullpen, stated that Contreras would “rehab throughout Spring Training” and that the team would “be patient with him and get him back as quickly as his body allows.”
- The Indians have set up a three-way competition for the last spot in the team’s starting rotation, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. Scott Kazmir and Carlos Carrasco, both of whom are attempting comebacks, will compete with recently-acquired prospect Trevor Bauer. All three pitchers appeared in today’s Cactus League game. While MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk maintains that Kyle Lohse could fit nicely in the Tribe's rotation, the team seems likely to utilize one of the options it already has on hand.
- With Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis likely out for more than six weeks with a fractured collarbone, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro discusses the club’s search for a new second backstop behind presumed starter Rob Brantly. In addition to considering internal options like Kyle Skipworth, “the club is combing through other rosters, exploring possible trade options and trying to figure out which teams have a surplus.”
- Other than Sabean, only one current GM has overseen multiple championship clubs: the Yankees’ Brian Cashman. Cashman revealed today that, contrary to his previously stated belief, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli is in fact out of options, writes MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. MLBTR has labeled Cervelli as out of options from the start; check out our full list of players here. Of the three primary catchers competing to break camp with the Yankees, then, only Austin Romine can still be optioned. (Chris Stewart, like Cervelli, has had his options exhausted.) When asked to comment on the catching situation, Cashman wryly reported: “We’ve got two guys out of options and one guy with an option. I think the two guys are winning.”
- Of more immediate concern to Cashman and the Yankees, of course, is the injury to outfielder Curtis Granderson. In addition to the analysis of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, other commentators have begun to weigh in. Bill Madden of The New York Daily News explores the options for replacing Granderson and worries that the club could face a power shortage. MLB.com’s Richard Justice opines that Cashman should stick to his winning strategy of “being smart and efficient” and “not overreacting to every crisis.” For FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, on the other hand, the injury “exposed the Yankees’ flawed roster construction” and leaves the club’s 2013 postseason prospects in doubt.
The Pirates have agreed to terms with Jose Contreras on a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, according to a team report. The veteran right-hander, represented by Jaime Garcia, will spend a portion of the spring rehabbing his elbow as he is expected to report to camp on Sunday.
Contreras, 41, spent the 2012 season with the Phillies where he posted a 5.27 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in just over 13 innings of work. The former All-Star will be used out of the bullpen if he makes the team's Opening Day roster.
The Tigers are showing a lot of faith in 22-year-old Bruce Rondon by making him the frontrunner for the closer role, but Detroit would be better served by having legitimate closing options to choose from, opines Dave Cameron of Fangraphs in a piece for ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). Developing your own closer rather than paying free agent prices for one is a good idea, but Cameron believes that the Tigers should probably have someone to hold down the fort while Rondon gains some big league experience. Here's more from the AL and NL Central..
- The Twins haven't completely ruled out free agent outfielder Scott Podsednik, but nothing is close to being imminent, writes Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. So far this offseason, the Twins have appeared to be the only club with serious interest in the veteran.
- A Twins official told Wolfson that there isn't much to the news of 41-year-old free-agent pitcher Jose Contreras was working out at the Twins' Fort Myers facility. When asked if it was meaningful or random, the official simply said, "Random."
- Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright says that extension talks won't derail him during spring training as they did five years ago, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. General Manager John Mozeliak hopes to work out a new contract with Wainwright by Opening Day while Wainwright says that he isn't setting a deadline for talks.
- Edwin Jackson is considered an important piece in the Cubs' rebuilding process, both as an experienced starter under contract through the projected turnaround years and in the short-term as support for the rotation in the event of a likely Matt Garza trade this year, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Contreras, 40, spent most of the 2012 season on the disabled list. He didn't pitch after June 2nd, when the Phillies placed him on the DL with a torn elbow ligament. His option was worth $2.5MM.
Wigginton appeared in 125 games this past season, playing first base, third base and left field. The 35-year-old posted a .235/.314/.375 batting line with 11 home runs in 360 plate appearances. Wigginton's two-year, $8MM contract with the Phillies included a $4MM team option for 2013.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.