J.P. Howell Rumors
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.
With Spring Training wrapping up around the country, teams are finalizing their rosters and picking the 25 players they'll start the season with. There's always room for improvement, but some contenders have some very obvious weak spots on their rosters. Here's a look at some of them, which may need to be addressed during the season...
- Angels, third base: Brandon Wood and Maicer Izturis will get the first cracks at replacing Chone Figgins, but if neither is up to par, the Halos might be looking for a fill-in at the hot corner.
- Braves, outfielder: Superstar in training Jason Heyward will start the year in right, but incumbent centerfielder Nate McLouth had a brutal spring (6-for-51), which may push Melky Cabrera into full-time duty.
- Rays, setup man: With J.P. Howell on the shelf due to a bum shoulder, the team has no obvious candidate to hand the ball off to new closer Rafael Soriano. Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour represent solid options, but if Howell misses more time than expected, the Rays might be looking to add a reliever.
- Twins, closer: This is the most obvious hole of them all. Joe Nathan is out for the season after having elbow surgery, and Jon Rauch will get the first chance to replace him.
- Yankees, left field: The team is breaking camp with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn, and Marcus Thames set to share time in left, but we've already seen a scenario laid out in which they might need help sooner rather than later.
That doesn't include all of the clubs that could very well be looking to add a starting pitcher at some point, like the Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers. Some other holes aren't so obvious though. Maybe the Red Sox could use another reliever (who couldn't?), or perhaps Seattle will go looking for a big bat that fits into their extreme run prevention plan.
What other areas of need to do you see out there for contenders?
Links for Saturday...
- Pirates' GM Neal Huntington said that Pedro Alvarez will remain in the minors so he can get more at-bats against lefthanded pitchers, though Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mentions that it could have to do with pushing his service time clock back.
- ESPN's Keith Law broke down Stephen Strasburg's demotion to the minors, and says that "what he does need to improve is only going to improve in the big leagues."
- Ryan Church spoke to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo about his opportunity with the Pirates, saying that "It's either reestablish yourself and be one of the main guys or just be a fourth outfielder from here on out."
- Rays Executive VP Andrew Friedman says the club will explore internal and external options to replace J.P. Howell, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Tampa Bay hopes to have the lefty back by May.
- Most players never shed the dreaded "4A" label, but the Pirates' Garrett Jones did, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.
- Tom Tango will be a big part of the Blue Jays' front office, writes Robert Cribb of The Toronto Star.
- Indians closer Kerry Wood could miss up to two months with a strained back muscle. Brady Gardiner of SIRIUS XM tweets that this is a blessing for the Tribe as Wood's option for 2011 likely will not vest. The 32-year-old would make $11MM in '11 with 55 games finished in 2010.
- Dodgers manager Joe Torre has confidence in Ronnie Belliard's ability to play first base, writes Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. This will likely leave first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz on the outside looking in as he jostles with Garrett Anderson for the club's left-handed pinch hitting spot. However, Belliard still must weigh in at 209 pounds or less at some point during Spring Training to guarantee his deal.
- At the age of 47, Jamie Moyer has no interest in retiring, writes Jayson Stark of ESPN. Moyer is entering the final season of a two-year, $13MM deal.
Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.
We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements. Yesterday's list can be found here.
- Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals. Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts. Willits' contract is worth $625K.
- Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter). Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
- Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players. In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
- Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter). The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
- The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press. MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
- Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
- The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
- Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
- Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.
- Pat Neshek agreed to a one year deal with $625K with another $75K in incentives, avoiding arbitration with the Twins according to MLB.com's Kelly Thesier (via Twitter).
- The Nationals have agreed to terms with Jason Bergmann, Jesus Flores, Wil Nieves, and Josh Willingham according to a team press release. All four players avoided arbitration. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez tweets that Willingham will make $4.6MM next season, while Bergmann will make $750K according to a tweet from MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- MLB.com's Mark Bowman tweets that the Braves and Peter Moylan have agreed to a deal, avoiding arbitration. He gets $1.15MM.
- Matt Garza avoided arbitration with the Rays, tweets Topkin. The two sides agreed to a one year deal worth $3.35MM,
- MLB.com's Jim Street tweets that the Mariners and David Aardsma have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.75MM.
- The Astros avoided arbitration with Michael Bourn, Matt Lindstrom, and Humberto Quintero according to a tweet from MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Bourn gets $2.4MM, Lindstrom $1.625MM, and Quintero $750K (via McTaggart's Twitter).
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post reports that the Rockies and Jason Hammel have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $1.9MM.
- The A's agreed to a one year deal with Kevin Kouzmanoff, reports The Oakland Tribune. Oakland acquired Kouzmanoff from the Padres over the weekend.
- Jered Weaver agreed to a one year deal worth $4.265MM with the Angels to avoid arbitration, according to a tweet from Jon Heyman.
- Topkin tweets that J.P. Howell agreed to a one year deal worth $1.8MM, avoiding arbitration with the Rays.
- According to the team's official Twitter feed, the Blue Jays avoided arbitration with Jason Frasor ($2.65MM) and Brian Tallet ($2MM) by agreeing to one year deals.
- Delmon Young avoided arbitration with the Twins by agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.6MM, according to a tweet by Joe Christensen of The Star Tribune. Kelly Thesier of MLB.com tweets that Young will get $25K each for 575 and 600 plate appearances.
- According to a team press release, the Royals have avoided arbitration with Alex Gordon and Robinson Tejeda. Terms of either deal was not disclosed.
- Heyman tweets that Stephen Drew and the Diamondbacks agreed to a one year deal worth $3.4MM, avoiding arbitration.
- The White Sox and John Danks avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one year deal worth $3.45M, according to ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine.
- Ken Davidoff of Newsday tweets that the Mets and Pedro Feliciano have agreed to a one year deal worth $2.9MM, avoiding arbitration. There's another $100K in performance bonuses.
- The Star Telegram's Anthony Andro reports that the Rangers and Chris Ray have avoided arbitration. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says it's a one year deal worth $975K.
- Russell Martin has agreed to a one year contract worth $5.05MM, avoiding arbitration with the Dodgers according to Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter)
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that the Blue Jays and reliever Jeremy Accardo have agreed to a one year deal worth $1.08MM, avoiding arbitration.
- Rafael Perez agreed to a one year deal with the Indians to avoid arbitration according to a team press release. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince tweets that Perez will make $795K in 2010.
- The Orioles and Luke Scott avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $4.05MM according to Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun. He earned $2.4MM last season, hitting .258/.340/.488 with a career high 25 homers.
- MLB.com's Carrie Muskat tweets that the Cubs have avoided arbitration with Jeff Baker ($975K). Mike Fontenot ($1MM,) Koyie Hill ($700K), Angel Guzman ($825K), and Tom Gorzelanny ($800K). Terms of the deals came from Gordon Wittenmyer of The Chicago Sun Times (via Twitter).
- Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the Pirates and Zach Duke have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one year deal.
- Mike Salk of 710 ESPN Radio reports that Mark Lowe and the Mariners have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $1.15MM salary for next season.
- LaVelle E. Neal III of The Star Tribune tweets that the Twins and J.J. Hardy have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $5MM. He gets a small raise over last year's $4.65MM salary after hitting .229/.302/.357.
- According to the Cardinals' official Twitter feed, the team has avoided arbitration with Ryan Ludwick by agreeing to a one year deal. Heyman tweets that he'll receive $5.45MM next year after earning $3.7MM in 2009.
- The Rangers avoided arbitration with Josh Hamilton, giving him $3.25MM plus awards-based bonuses according to a tweet from SI.com's Jon Heyman. It was his first time eligible. Hamilton hit .268/.315/.426 in 2009, missing time with back trouble and a sports hernia.
- Mark Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times tweets that the Rays and Jason Bartlett have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $4MM salary for 2010. He earned just under $2MM in 2009, hitting .320/.389/.490 with a career high 14 homers.
- Casey Janssen agreed to a $700K deal for 2010 to avoid arbitration, according to the Blue Jays official Twitter feed. It was his first time up for arbitration.
- Juan C. Rodriguez of The Sun Sentinel reports (via Twitter) that the Marlins and Jorge Cantu have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $6MM. Cantu hit .289/.345/.443 while making $3.5MM in 2009, his first year of arb eligibility.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy tweets that both Carlos Gomez and Rickie Weeks have agreed to one year deals to avoid arbitration. Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel tweets that Weeks will earn $2.75MM next year, while Gomez will earn $1.1MM as a Super Two.
- Heyman tweets that the Dodgers have avoided arbitration with both George Sherrill and James Loney. Sherrill gets $4.5MM plus incentives in his third year eligible, Loney $3.1MM in his first go around.
- According to the Blue Jays official Twitter feed, reliever Shawn Camp has agreed to a $1.15MM deal for 2010, avoiding arb. He was eligible for the second time after posting a 3.50 ERA in 79.2 innings last season.
- Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald reports (via Twitter) that Leo Nunez and the Marlins have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $2MM salary for 2010. Sticking with the theme of the day, it was his first time eligible for salary arbitration.
- MLB.com's Ken Gurnick tweets that the Dodgers and Hong Chih-Kuo have agreed to a one-year deal worth $950K, avoiding arb. It was Kuo's first time eligible.
- Jon Heyman of SI.com tweets that the Mets and Jeff Francoeur have avoided arb by agreeing to a $5MM deal. Francoeur earned $3.375MM in 2009 and hit .280/.309/.423 for the Mets and Braves.
- Heyman tweets that Howie Kendrick and the Angels have agreed to a $1.75MM deal with incentives. This was Kendrick's first crack at arbitration.
- Heyman tweets that the A's and Rajai Davis agreed to a $1.35MM salary for 2010, plus incentives. This was Davis' first year eligible for arbitration.
- Heyman tweets that Jonathan Sanchez avoided arb with the Giants by agreeing to a $2.1MM deal, plus incentives. He posted a 4.24 ERA in 163.1 innings last year, and was up for arbitration for the first time in his career.
Some links on this frosty Saturday night...
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic spoke to Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes, who took full responsibility for Eric Byrnes' three-year, $30MM contract. Arizona designated Byrnes for assignment on Friday.
- The Rays have four remaining arbitration-eligible players in Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, J.P. Howell, and B.J. Upton. The club will stick with their policy of cutting off negotiations after exchanging figures, which happens at noon on Tuesday, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Tampa Bay does this to try to bring about a settlement and to avoid settling at an artificial midpoint between the two figures.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com isn't terribly upset that the O's weren't the club to land Kevin Kouzmanoff. Kubatko understands frustrations over the Orioles' lack of production at third, but notes that the 28-year-old's offensive production was nothing to write home about in 2009. Kouzmanoff hit .255/.302/.420 with 18 HRs for the Padres last season.
- As we heard earlier today, a committee is being formed to work on changes to the amateur draft. The committee will look into making the draft worldwide and instituting a slotting system. Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues doesn't see any changes being made until after 2011, when the collective bargaining agreement expires.
- The Orix Buffaloes are close to signing So Taguchi, according to a report from Sponichi passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter). The 40-year-old emerged with the Cubs at the end of last season, making 12 plate appearances in six games.
While many of baseball's contenders are set to stock up on talent, the Rays and Rangers may not be among them. Oh, they're contenders, all right. They just may not add to what they have.
In Tampa Bay's case, MLB.com's Bill Chastain points out that the Rays have already dealt Jason Hammel and Edwin Jackson within the past year, making any further pitching depletion a risky move. He adds:
"Ben Zobrist's improvement has made the right field and second base situations look better, while the double-dose of Gabes in right field -- Gross and Kapler -- has begun to look like what the Rays hoped it would prior to the season. Both are producing when facing either a right-hander in Gross' case or a left-hander in Kapler's. Finally, a proven closer would be nice, but, again, look at what the bullpen is doing without one and you wonder how much better could the bullpen be with such an addition. Meanwhile, J.P. Howell appears to be taking charge of the closing role."
As for the Rangers, it simply comes down to money, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, though Texas would like to add starting pitching.
"The Rangers are also limited in their ability to take on significant payroll with a possible sale of the club by owner Tom Hicks still pending," Sullivan writes.
Of course, it also hurts Texas that Roy Halladay won't approve a trade to Texas, and Cleveland won't trade Cliff Lee, according to Sullivan.