J.P. Howell Rumors
The NL East has been involved in multiple headlines today, with the Nationals signing Dan Haren to a one-year deal and the Marlins trading Yunel Escobar to the Rays. Here's some more news from around the division...
- The Braves have signed catcher Matt Pagnozzi to a minor league contract, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman (on Twitter). Pagnozzi, who hit .224/.329/.359 for the Indians' Triple-A affiliate last season, will likely serve as the team's big league backup while Brian McCann is out.
- Haren is the Nationals' 2013 version of Edwin Jackson, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider req'd). Haren can provide bulk innings behind the Nats' trio of aces, and carries the same "all-or-nothing" upside that Ben Sheets did when he signed with the Athletics for $10MM in 2010.
- J.P. Howell has interest in playing for the Nationals, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson. I can't imagine there are many players who wouldn't want to play for the Nats, given their projected lineup and rotation. The team does have interest in adding another lefty reliever, so Howell could be in luck.
- The Phillies have made plenty of offers so far, but have nothing to show for it at the Winter Meetings thus far, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly. The team is still pursuing outfield and third base help via free agency and trade. Vance Worley and Trevor May are both on the table in trade talks. Worley is "100 percent" following September elbow surgery, according to GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
- We learned earlier that the Marlins are looking to add a third baseman after trading Escobar, who told them he wasn't comfortable playing the hot corner.
Here are the latest news and notes from the NL and AL Central divisions:
- Sources tell FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal the Reds like Dexter Fowler and the Rockies like Homer Bailey. Now the question is whether their mutual interest crystallizes into trade discussions during the Winter Meetings.
- The Brewers are prioritizing a left-handed reliever with the available free agent possibilities including Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell, and Tom Gorzelanny, tweets Morosi.
- Cubs officials have yet to confirm or comment on reports of their signing of Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. The Cubs, however, are willing to talk about their need for a third baseman, an outfielder, and pitching depth. Muskat adds the Cubs could re-sign third baseman Ian Stewart after non-tendering him on Friday.
- The White Sox and Phillies are the two most aggressive teams in pursuit of a third baseman, a source tells Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Kevin Youkilis is the object of both team's pursuit. Hayes writes the Sox may have to move another high salary in order to afford Youkilis and floats the names of Jeff Keppinger, Mark Reynolds, and Eric Chavez as alternatives.
- The Pirates feel they are better equipped to restock their bullpen, despite the free agency of Jason Grilli and the recent trade of Chris Resop, and may be interested in turning closer Joel Hanrahan into a much needed starting pitcher, according to MLB.com's Tom Singer.
- The Twins plan to focus more on free agents than trades during the Winter Meetings, tweets Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. The Twins have already dealt their best trade chip in Denard Span and plan on keeping Josh Willingham, writes Mackey in a separate piece.
Free agent left-hander J.P. Howell told Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times that there are "a handful" of teams interested in signing him. The Angels may be one of those teams, and the southpaw didn't have a timeframe for a decision.
Howell, 29, pitched to a 3.04 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 50.1 relief innings for the Rays this year. He had shoulder surgery in 2010 and held left-handed hitters to a .200/.306/.306 batting line this season. Howell did not rank as one of Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agents.
In advance of tomorrow's 11am central time deadline to exchange arbitration figures, settlements will be rolling in today. Follow all of the action with MLBTR's arbitration tracker. The latest for players under $4MM:
- The Braves and Eric O'Flaherty avoided arbitration, Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. O'Flaherty will earn $2.49MM, just shy of his projected $2.6MM salary.
- The Orioles and Jim Johnson have avoided arbitration, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. The right-hander will earn $2.625MM in 2012, just north of his projected $2.5MM salary.
- The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Franklin Morales, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets. The left-hander had a projected salary of $1MM and agreed to an $850K deal.
- The Rays avoided arbitration with J.P. Howell, agreeing to a $1.35MM deal for 2012, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. Matt Swartz had projected a $1.4MM salary for the left-hander.
- The Royals avoided arbitration with Chris Getz, agreeing to a $967,500 deal for 2012, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. Matt Swartz had projected a $1.2MM salary for the infielder.
- The Nationals announced they've avoided arbitration with catcher Jesus Flores. Flores, who is represented by Praver/Shapiro, received $815K, MLBTR has learned.
- The Brewers avoided arbitration with outfielder Nyjer Morgan, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The ACES client received $2.35MM, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
- The Royals announced they've avoided arbitration with catcher Brayan Pena, a client of Wasserman Media Group. Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star says the deal is worth $875K; Matt Swartz had him at $900K.
- Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day avoided arbitration for a deal worth $1.35MM, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Matt Swartz had projected the same for the Beverly Hills Sports Council client.
- Yankees righty Phil Hughes agreed to a deal worth $3.2MM plus performance bonuses, tweets his agency CAA. The 25-year-old gets a $500K raise after a lost 2011 season.
- The Tigers announced they've avoided arbitration with lefty Phil Coke. Coke, a client of Full Circle Sports Management, gets a $1.1MM base salary with $50K in incentives for appearances or starts, MLBTR has learned.
- The Angels avoided arbitration with infielder Alberto Callaspo, signing him to a one-year deal worth $3.15MM, tweets ESPN's Keith Law. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz nailed this one, projecting a $3.1MM salary. Callaspo, a client of Eric Goldschmidt, received a $1.15MM raise for his second time through arbitration.
Here are some notes from the AL East on the day the Red Sox officially introduced their new manager...
- The Red Sox and manager Bobby Valentine agreed on a two-year deal, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The Red Sox hold team options on Valentine for 2014 and 2015, tweets WEEI.com's Alex Speier.
- Valentine reached out to David Cone about becoming the new Red Sox pitching coach, reports Jack Curry of the YES Network (Twitter link). Cone isn't expected to take the job but was "flattered."
- The Yankees turned down a request by C.J. Wilson's agent for a visit to Yankee Stadium, reports ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand. That's not a good sign for Wilson's chances of signing with the Bombers, which Marchand believes are "less than five percent."
- Erik Hahmann of the DRaysBay blog looks at the situation between the Rays and lefty J.P. Howell. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes listed Howell as one of this winter's non-tender candidates.
- The Blue Jays are still open to bringing back Kelly Johnson next year, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Also from Morosi, he thinks the Blue Jays could -- and should -- sign free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
- Eric Chavez definitely wants to play in 2012 and a number of teams have strong interest in him, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). Some West Coast teams are interested in Chavez and the Yankees appear to be in the mix as well.
- The Rays have some interest in Cuban center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, but probably can’t afford him, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter).
- The Orioles hired former Phillies GM Lee Thomas as a special assistant, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com first mentioned the possibility (on Twitter). It's worth noting that Scott Proefrock and Joe Jordan of the Phillies are former Orioles front office employees.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
Every American League East team except the Orioles has a winning record. We've already checked in on the Red Sox and Blue Jays tonight, now here's the latest news out of the Bronx and St. Petersburg...
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Dan Martin of the New York Post that he doesn't expect to make a trade this week. However, he continues to go through the motions in search of a possible upgrade. “I go into the marketplace with a team that's a championship-caliber team as it sits," Cashman said. "It's hard to upgrade on that.”
- Rays manager Joe Maddon told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he isn't anticipating major trades (Twitter link).
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the Rays didn't offer Jeff Niemann and J.P. Howell for Colby Rasmus, contrary to earlier reports.
At least one of the Rays' free agent relievers is returning to Tampa Bay. The team re-signed left-hander J.P. Howell, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (Twitter links) who reports that the deal is for $1.1MM plus incentives. The Rays non-tendered the 27-year-old earlier this month, but continued working toward a deal with him. Legacy Sports represents Howell.
The 2004 first rounder missed all of 2010 after undergoing left labrum surgery in May. Back in 2009, Howell was effective for 66 2/3 innings, posting a 2.84 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 and picking up 17 saves. He was equally effective in 2008, when he posted a 2.22 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 89 1/3 innings.
The Rays will be able to retain Howell in 2012, since he won't have six years of service time after next season.
Joaquin Benoit already signed elsewhere and Rafael Soriano, Lance Cormier, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler, Chad Qualls and Randy Choate are all free agents, so Tampa Bay's bullpen will likely look completely different in 2011.
The latest on the Rays, who are looking to re-build their bullpen and acquire a hitter or two:
- The Rays have progressed toward a deal with J.P. Howell, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter). The team non-tendered the lefty last week.
- The Rays avoided arbitration with Dan Johnson and agreed on a 2011 salary of about $1MM, according to Topkin (Twitter links).
- The Rays and O's were discussing a trade that would have sent Jason Bartlett to Baltimore for a package similar to the one the Orioles sent to Arizona for Mark Reynolds, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (Twitter link).
- Cardinals GM Joh Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he's not looking to acquire middle infielders, so a Barlett trade seems highly unlikely.
- Rays President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Topkin that he wouldn't be surprised if he ends up making a trade or two this week (Twitter link).
This post will list all the American League players non-tendered today, but the best place to track all 200+ arbitration eligible players is our new non-tender tracker.
- Blue Jays: Fred Lewis, Jeremy Accardo
- Red Sox: Hideki Okajima, Andrew Miller, Taylor Buchholz
- Mariners: Ryan Rowland-Smith
- Rays: Lance Cormier, Willy Aybar, Dioner Navarro, J.P. Howell
- Royals: Josh Fields
- Rangers: Dustin Nippert
- Angels: Kevin Frandsen
- Athletics: Jack Cust, Travis Buck, Edwin Encarnacion
- Yankees: Alfredo Aceves, Dustin Moseley
- Orioles: Matt Albers
- White Sox: Bobby Jenks, Erick Threets
- Tigers: Zach Miner
- Stephen Strasburg didn't allow a run and struck out nine in 6.1 innings at Triple A tonight, as the AP notes on ESPN.com. It's only a matter of weeks before Strasburg starts striking out big leaguers.
- Cha-Seung Baek appears to have found a home in the Yuma Scorpions' rotation, writes Edward Carifio of the Yuma Sun.
- Randy Ruiz, who signed with a Japanese team after getting released by the Blue Jays, told Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star that he's "set for life" (Twitter link).
- Former big leaguer Mike Gosling retired on Monday, according to the Indians' Twitter. The 29-year-old was pitching well in Triple A Columbus, but decided to focus on his family.
- This should come as no surprise, but the Marlins are not looking to trade Hanley Ramirez, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro (via Twitter).
- Former Ranger Kevin Millwood tells Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com that he has no hard feelings about the deal that sent him to Baltimore last offseason.
- Carl Crawford told reporters that he doesn't really think about his impending free agency, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.
- J.P. Howell had shoulder surgery today, but the Rays are "optimistic" that the reliever will be ready for 2011, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter).
- ESPN.com's Rob Neyer doesn't think the red hot Blue Jays are likely to finish the season above .500.
- Matt Klaassen of FanGraphs reminds us that Alex Rios was an excellent player before 2009 and argues that the White Sox got a "very good player at a reasonable price" when they claimed him off of waivers from the Blue Jays last summer.
- The first-year player draft begins on June 7th. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo takes a stab at projecting the first ten picks.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick runs through nine stories that have been overdone this year.
- Crasnick's colleague Buster Olney talked to couple of rival talent evaluators who'd love to see the Marlins shop Hanley Ramirez in the wake of his recent jogging incident. Instead, ESPN's Enrique Rojas reports that Ramirez will apologize to Fredi Gonzalez and the team today.