Juan Nicasio Rumors

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
  • The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
  • Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
  • Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
  • The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
  • Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
  • Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
  • Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
  • Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
  • Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
  • Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.

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Rockies Acquire Noel Cuevas To Complete Juan Nicasio Trade

The Rockies announced that they have acquired 23-year-old center fielder Noel Cuevas from the Dodgers to complete last month’s Juan Nicasio trade.

Cuevas spent the entire 2014 season in Double-A at age 22 and struggled after an excellent year at Class-A Advanced in 2013. The Puerto Rican outfielder followed up a .284/.341/.454 season with a disappointing .231/.285/.351 campaign. Cuevas went from 12 homers in 2013 to seven in 2014, which isn’t too troublesome, but it’s surprising to see his stolen base total drop from 38 at High-A to six at Double-A. Presumably, he will open the 2015 season at Double-A with the hope of better results.


Dodgers Acquire Juan Nicasio, Designate Ryan Jackson

The Dodgers announced that they have acquired right-hander Juan Nicasio from the Rockies in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. To make room for Nicasio, who was designated for assignment last week, the Dodgers have designated infielder Ryan Jackson for assignment.

The 28-year-old Nicasio has struggled as an on-and-off member of the Rockies’ rotation for the past four seasons, but he did post a handful of nice innings as a reliever for Colorado last year (3.48 ERA in 20 2/3 frames). Nicasio has averaged about 93 mph on his heater throughout his career, and a look at his velocity chart (courtesy of Fangraphs) from 2014 shows that his fastball jumped to nearly 95 mph when pitching out of the ‘pen late in the season.

Overall, Nicasio has a career ERA of 5.03 with 6.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 44.6 percent ground-ball rate in 381 innings. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected the arb-eligible righty to earn $2.4MM next season, which was likely a large factor in the Rockies removing him from the 40-man roster.

The 26-year-old Jackson has just two hits in 25 career plate appearances in the Majors. He was claimed off waivers from the Padres, and many speculated that former San Diego GM Josh Byrnes, now working in the Dodgers’ front office, had a hand in that decision. A shortstop by trade, Jackson is a career .274/.344/.369 hitter at the Triple-A level. He missed most of the 2014 season recovering from surgery on his right wrist.



Rockies Designate Juan Nicasio

The Rockies have designated righty Juan Nicasio for assignment, the club announced. Projected to earn $2.4MM through arbitration by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, the 28-year-old proved too costly a gamble for new Colorado GM Jeff Bridich.

Nicasio should draw interest around the league given his big arm, even if it has never quite all come together for him. Odds are he will clear waivers, as that price tag is substantial for a player who owns a career 4.85 ERA.

Of course, Nicasio’s future role remains a question mark. He had started in all 55 of his MLB appearances heading into this year, but transitioned to the bullpen after a rough early going. He proved better in that capacity, posting stronger overall run prevention (3.48 ERA  vs. 5.92 ERA as a starter) and better metrics across the board.


West Notes: Athletics, Nicasio, Rangers

The Athletics recently changed Triple-A affiliations from nearby Sacramento to far-away Nashville, but there are benefits to the move despite the distance, Eno Sarris of Fangraphs writes. Sacramento is certainly more convenient to the Athletics for travel purposes, but the A’s lately haven’t promoted more players from Triple-A than other teams, and Nashville has a new ballpark opening next season. In the last decade, big-league teams have frequently picked minor-league affiliates that are relatively close by, but judging from this year’s affiliate changes so far, perhaps that’s changing. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • Rockies hurler Juan Nicasio will likely be a reliever next season, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. Nicasio has struggled as a starter this season, posting a 5.92 ERA with peripherals to match, but he’s had much more success out of the bullpen, with a significantly higher strikeout rate and many fewer walks. The righty has mostly been a starter in his big-league career, but he’s at little success while trying to survive at Coors Field, posting a 5.06 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in parts of four seasons.
  • The Rangers have won seven straight games, which is great for them, except that they’re doing all that winning with 12 players on the 60-day DL, the Dallas News’ Evan Grant writes. That means they’re winning thanks to contributions from less established players like Jake Smolinski, Adam Rosales and Phil Klein. With so many injured players who will have to be re-added to the 40-man roster this offseason, and with players like Smolinski making a case for future roles with the team, the Rangers have some tough decisions ahead of them.

Rockies Notes: Fowler Trade, Nicasio, Pitching Staff

Today, the Rockies are trying to avoid the fate of being on the losing end of the Dodgers’ 10,000th victory in their storied franchise history (per Elias Sports Bureau via MLB.com). The Rockies already have the distinction of being the Cubs’ 10,000th victim six years ago.

Here’s the latest on the Mile High City’s team from Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post:

  • The Rockies have reaped unexpected benefits from the Dexter Fowler trade thanks to the strong play of Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes (both acquired from the Astros), Justin Morneau (signed as a free agent using the salary allocated for Fowler), and Charlie Blackmon (who assumed Fowler’s leadoff spot in the lineup).
  • The Rockies are at a crossroads with Juan Nicasio, whose ERA has risen to 5.27 (with a 10.9 H/9 and 1.6 HR/9 rate) as he has failed to pitch beyond the sixth inning in his past four starts. Saunders opines Nicasio could be bumped from the rotation when Jhoulys Chacin completes his rehab assignment, but there has not been much talk of moving him to the bullpen lately.
  • The Rockies’ philosophy of utilizing the sinkerball has led to an improvement in the overall performance of the club’s pitching staff.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).

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NL Notes: Pence, Rockies, Lutz

Hunter Pence felt guilty after being traded from the Phillies to the Giants last season, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. "To be honest with you, I felt really guilty," says Pence. "I was heavily invested in bringing the Phillies back, and it felt like… I felt guilty. I felt like it was my fault that it fell apart." Pence hit .271/.336/.447 for the Phillies in 2012, and the team was 45-56 when it dealt Pence near the end of July. Here are more notes from around the National League.

  • The Rockies are off to a surprising start, but Jeff Francis and Juan Nicasio haven't been positive parts of it, and it remains to be seen how long they'll be in the rotation, the Denver Post's Troy Renck writes. Francis has a 7.27 ERA thus far, and Nicasio has only lasted longer than five innings once this season.
  • The Rockies might have payroll flexibility to take on salary in a trade for a starter at midseason, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. But that payroll flexibility will be tied to increased revenue, a club official says.
  • Outfielder Donald Lutz of the Reds, who made his big-league debut last week, is likely the first German-raised player in MLB history, says Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Lutz was born in the U.S., and his father is American, but his mother is German, and Lutz moved to Germany as a baby. Morosi points out that Germany lags behind the Netherlands and Italy in its development of baseball players, but that could easily change, since Germany is so populous.

NL Notes: Phillies, Reds, Rockies, Figgins

As players, coaches, and front office personnel begin to arrive in Florida and Arizona for Spring Training 2013, let's take a look at the news and notes from the National League: