Juan Pierre Rumors

Quick Hits: Pierre, Garza, Coffey, Crane

We're less than six weeks away from the first regular season game of 2012, and less than one week away from Spring Training games. Let's take a look at some odds and ends from around the league…

  • Phillies outfielder Juan Pierre can opt out of his minor league contract if he's not on the Major League roster on March 31, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Pierre, however, is a leading candidate for a roster spot, notes Brookover.
  • The Cubs will have to double down on Matt Garza or trade him for a haul of prospects to make the best of his acquisition last offseason, opines Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Dodgers reliever Todd Coffey took a circuitous route to the Majors, writes Tony Jackson of ESPNLA.com. Coffey was a 41st-round pick of the Reds under the now defunct draft-and-follow practice, but he instead accepted a nominal contract offer and began his professional career as a 17-year-old.
  • New Astros owner Jim Crane is well on his way to showing that he's a good MLB owner, writes Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
  • It's time for the KBO to alter some of its policies, writes Allen Wolf of the Korea Times. Although this is an opinion piece, Wolf offers some interesting insights into the machinations of the KBO.

MLBTR's Dan Mennella contributed to this post.

Contract Details: Pierre, Belisle, Andrus

Juan Pierre, Matt Belisle and Elvis Andrus recently agreed to new deals; here are details on their respective contracts:

  • Pierre would earn $800K on the Major League roster and he could earn additional incentives based on plate appearances, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. The outfielder signed a minor league deal with the Phillies last week.
  • Belisle will earn $4.1MM in 2013 and his extension includes a mutual option worth $4.25MM for 2014, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. If Belisle accepts his half of the option, the Rockies can still decline for $250K. The deal includes $450K in incentives for games finished.
  • Andrus gets a signing bonus of $750K, $2.375MM in 2012, $4.8MM in 2013, and $6.475MM in 2014, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Phillies Sign Juan Pierre

The Phillies have signed Juan Pierre to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training, the team announced. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com first reported the deal (on Twitter). SFX represents Pierre, who joins a left field mix that includes John Mayberry, Laynce Nix and Domonic Brown.

Pierre spent the 2011 season with the White Sox and posted a .279/.329/.327 line with 27 stolen bases (44 attempts) in 711 plate appearances as the team's everyday left fielder. The 34-year-old has averaged 155 games played and 50 stolen bases since breaking in as an everyday player with the 2001 Rockies. 

The Mets and Tigers were also linked to Pierre this offseason. He placed 43rd on MLBTR's list of top free agents entering the offseason.

Mets Monitoring Outfield Market

The Mets are "diligently monitoring" the market for left-handed-hitting outfielders such as Johnny Damon, Kosuke Fukudome, Rick Ankiel, Raul Ibanez and Juan Pierre, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Crasnick adds that the surplus of players who fit that bill affords the cash-strapped Mets with some much-needed negotiating leverage (Twitter links).

Andres Torres is the Mets' projected starting center fielder, and he'll be flanked by Jason Bay in left and perhaps a platoon of Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda in right, so it's unclear as to what role one of the above-mentioned players would fill.

As our Transaction Tracker shows, it's been a pretty quiet offseason for the Mets, their most notable moves being the acquisitions of Torres and relievers Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez.

Phillies Likely To Sign Juan Pierre

9:55am: The Phillies are likely to sign Pierre, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. It's expected to be a minor league deal.

9:30am: The Phillies have had "serious discussions" with free agent outfielder Juan Pierre about a minor league deal, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets. The Mets and Tigers have also been linked to the SFX client in recent weeks, though the Tigers' interest in adding position players has diminished now that they've added Prince Fielder.

Pierre spent the 2011 season with the White Sox and posted a .279/.329/.327 line with 27 stolen bases (44 attempts) in 711 plate appearances as the team's everyday left fielder. The 34-year-old has averaged 155 games played and 50 stolen bases since breaking in as an everyday player with the 2001 Rockies.

This post was first published on January 27th, 2012.

Tigers Considering Damon, Pierre

2:22pm: Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN tweets that the Tigers are also considering Juan Pierre. The thought would be to add a table-setter type and then let Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young drive in the extra runs rather than trying to add a middle-of-the-order hitter.

1:07pm: The Tigers are pursuing Johnny Damon, a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Morosi adds that at this point, he's a stronger possibility for the club than Derrek Lee.

Detroit lost designated hitter Victor Martinez for the 2012 season last week when the switch-hitter tore his ACL during his offseason workouts, leaving a hole in their lineup. Though Damon turned 38 this offseason, he still posted respectable offensive numbers last season, batting .261/.326/.418 with 16 homers and 19 steals in 647 plate appearances for the Rays, most of which came as a DH.

A signing would make for a reunion between the two sides, as Damon spent the 2010 season as Detroit's primary DH, though he did make 36 outfield appearances that year. His outfield time was even more sparse in Tampa, with only 16 appearances to his credit.

Since becoming a full-time player in 1996, Damon has never played in fewer than 141 games in a season; he's averaged 655 plate appearances per season and played for six different teams in that time.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.

American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here

Updated team decisions:

Teams with decisions still due:

White Sox Notes: Williams, Quentin, Pierre, Morel

Dylan Axelrod, the son of agent Barry Axelrod, provided the White Sox with six solid innings in his first MLB start this afternoon. Here's the latest on the White Sox, who have 14 games remaining after today…

  • White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has told GM Kenny Williams that he’ll be back in 2012, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times
  • Manager Ozzie Guillen told Cowley that he could work for anyone, including Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. 
  • In a chat with fans, Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com says there's a very high chance that the White Sox trade Carlos Quentin this offseason.
  • Juan Pierre is expected to sign elsewhere when he hits free agency after the season, according to Padilla. Pierre "has the most respect of anybody in the White Sox clubhouse," so there's a chance he'll be back. 
  • Brent Morel will definitely be playing third next season and the White Sox will expect a little more on offense from Morel in 2012. I mentioned the White Sox as a possible destination for Aramis Ramirez earlier today, noting that the club probably can't afford him. 
  • The White Sox will definitely reduce payroll from $127MM next season, Padilla writes.

Dead Money: Paying Players To Play Elsewhere

Eating money in trades or by releasing players is far from an ideal business practice, but sometimes it's a necessary evil. The Mets believe they are better off paying Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo a combined $18MM not to be on their team this year, and released the two just last month. David Wharton of The Los Angeles Times wrote about the concept of "dead money" today, speaking to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, sports economist J.C. Bradbury, and Scott Boras.

With some help from Cot's Baseball Contracts, let's look at the teams that are paying players to be anywhere but on their roster this season…

This doesn't include money the Braves owe Kenshin Kawakami ($7.4MM) or the Yankees owe Kei Igawa ($4MM). Both Japanese imports remain in the organization, but they've since been banished to the minor leagues. It also doesn't include all the money the Mets famously owe Bobby Bonilla for the next two decades.

Yuniesky Betancourt is the only player collecting paychecks from three different big league teams at the moment, but Carlos Silva could join him if he's called up by the Yankees. Gary Matthews Jr. could also be in that mix if he catches on somewhere this summer.

Discussion: Los Angeles Dodgers

Ever since the news of Frank and Jamie McCourt's divorce proceedings broke last October, Dodgers fans have been wondering (and dreading) if the ownership dispute would impact the team's operations.  The first two months of the offseason have been quiet enough in L.A. to make it look like the Dodgers are themselves also still waiting to see how things will play out with the McCourts and have thus been in a holding pattern in regards to next season's payroll.

This isn't to say that Los Angeles hasn't been active.  The Dodgers traded Juan Pierre to the White Sox, were involved in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes, tried to acquire Aaron Harang from Cincinnati and signed utilityman Jamey Carroll.  But, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports pointed out today, the club is playing even-steven with its offseason moves in order to steady the budget.  For instance, the Dodgers saved $8MM over the next two seasons by dealing Pierre, and spent $3.85MM of those savings to sign Carroll.  Acquiring another notable free agent (such as Rosenthal's example of Joel Pineiro) would require L.A. to make another move to free up the cash to sign the right-hander.

We've already seen a bit of penny-pinching from the team this winter when they didn't offer arbitration to any of their free agents, passing on the chance to acquire compensatory draft picks for Type A free agents Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf out of fear that Hudson or Wolf might accept the offer.  The bright side for Dodgers fans is that the team is at least keeping the payroll stable, rather than shifting into outright cost-cutting mode.  Rosenthal notes that there are no plans to deal any of L.A.'s young stars before their arbitration years — trading the likes of Andre Ethier, for example, would be "counter-productive" given Ethier's reasonable arbitration number and Manny Ramirez's slight decline. 

This stand-pat strategy will force Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti to be creative in filling the holes on a club that has lost the NLCS to Philadelphia in each of the last two seasons.  Rosenthal said that George Sherrill is "a candidate to be traded," but L.A. wouldn't save much money from the deal and getting rid of Sherrill would weaken their bullpen. There is also a need to sign a veteran like Pineiro to anchor the otherwise young starting rotation.