Justin Speier Rumors

Has Justin Speier Retired?

The Rockies are operating under the assumption that reliever Justin Speier has retired, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. 

Colorado signed the 36-year-old to a minor league deal in January and cut him loose on April 3rd.  Upon being released, Speier said that he would retire if he could not land a major league gig even though the Rockies had offered him a spot in Triple-A.  Because he never reported to Colorado Springs, the organization assumes that he is done with baseball.

According to Baseball Reference, Speier has earned more than $20MM for his career, not including the $5.25MM he is owed by the Angels this season.  In twelve big league seasons, the righthander has posted a 4.11 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.

Rockies Release Justin Speier

The Rockies have released righty reliever Justin Speier, tweets Tracy Ringolsby of Inside the Rockies. Ringolsby says that Speier will retire if he can't land a big league job, but the door is open for him at Colorado's Triple-A affiliate.

Speier, 36, signed a minor league deal with the Rockies back in January, and posted a solid 3.42 ERA with a 12/3 K/BB ratio in 13 innings this spring. The last time he was an effective big league reliever was back in 2007, when he posted a 2.88 ERA in 50 innings during the first year of the four year, $18MM he signed with the Angels.

Anaheim still owes him $5.25MM this season, which he'll add to the $20MM Baseball-Reference.com says he's earned to this point in his career.

Rockies To Sign Justin Speier & Jimmy Gobble

The Rockies agreed to deals with Justin Speier and Jimmy Gobble, tweets MLB.com's Thomas Harding. The pair will come to camp on minor league deals as non-roster invitees.

Speier, 36, pitched 40 innings for the Angels last year. He allowed 44 hits and 15 walks, striking out 39 for a 5.18 ERA. We heard earlier in the week that the Rockies were in on the 12-year MLB veteran, who pitched for the Rockies from 2001-03. 

The White Sox signed Gobble to a minor league deal last April and he didn't pitch particularly well in the 12 appearances he made. The lefty, now 28, allowed 14 hits and 7 walks in 12 innings, striking out 10. The White Sox designated him for assignment in July.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post hears that Derrick Turnbow should make a decision soon, perhaps within hours. We heard earlier today that the Dodgers are finalists for the reliever, who is weighing bids from a number of teams.

Rockies Notes: Mora, Giambi, Speier

Troy Renck of the Denver Post looks at a number of Rockies-related items in his latest blog entry….

  • Eric Goldschmidt, agent of veteran infielder Melvin Mora, says his free-agent client is "definitely interested" in playing for Colorado.  Renck points out that Mora's versatility would make him a logical signing for the Rockies, given that their other recent bench signing (Jason Giambi) can only play first base.  Mora could decide on his future by the end of the week as he picks from between "roughly" five interested teams.
  • Speaking of Giambi, Renck said that his clubhouse presence was a big factor in his re-signing with the Rockies.  Troy Tulowitzki credited Giambi with "helping…with the mental side" of baseball.
  • Renck says the Rockies are "expected to sign" reliever Justin Speier to a minor-league contract.  Released by the Angels in August, Speier pitched for Colorado from 2001 to 2003 and has a 2.55 K/BB ratio in 12 major league seasons.
  • Eric Gagne is "becoming a more likely non-roster invite than Derrick Turnbow."  We heard yesterday from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) that Arizona is also interested in Turnbow, so perhaps Colorado doesn't want to get into a bidding war with its divisional rival.
  • Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd told Renck he was "surprised" when Jose Contreras signed with Philadelphia.  O'Dowd said the Rockies wanted to use Contreras out of the bullpen while the Phillies offered him a chance to start.  Interestingly, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said today (as reported by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com) that Contreras will only start during spring training and will be a reliever by Opening Day.

Odds & Ends: Draft, Moyer, Cubs

Links for Thursday…

La Russa Wants Speier, Smoltz?

According to Bernie Miklasz at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter), Cardinals manager Tony La Russa indicated that he would be interested in adding the recently dismissed veterans John Smoltz and Justin Speier. Both would be candidates to strengthen the depleted right side of the Cards' bullpen.

Against righties this season, Smoltz put up a 21/2 K/BB ratio while limiting them to a .232 batting clip. Speier has a 20/5 K/BB against them and has kept them to only a .239 average. So despite each having early difficulties, it looks like they each still could be of use to a team like the Cardinals. It's also notable that Tony La Russa had been clamoring to acquire Matt Holliday last year until the Cards finally pulled the trigger to grab him — La Russa has a history of getting his man.

Angels Release Justin Speier

According to the AP via ESPN, the Angels have released RHP Justin Speier. The 35-year-old has put up a 5.18 ERA and 39/15 K/BB ratio in 40.0 innings this season.

Speier is in the third year of a four-year deal worth $18MM and he's set to earn $5.25MM in 2010. With his past success, you can bet he'll find work somewhere else.

Speier and Stanton close to finding new homes

The big news this morning is that the Angels are close to a four-year deal with Justin Speier, who is very possibly the best reliever on the market this year.  Tim predicted that Speier would get a three-year deal worth $17M–my guess is that the money per year is right, just with that extra year, for a total of $21-$22M or so.

Speier was a possible closer for many teams, so it’s something of a surprise that the team that ponied up for him already has a great closer and a solid setup man in Frankie Rodriguez and Scot Shields.  It’s not cheap, and it’ll certainly be more expensive once Frankie gets deep into his arbitration years, but LA could have the best 1-2-3 bullpen punch in baseball for a couple of years.

The market for relievers wasn’t pretty in the first place; now the best guys out there are, uh, Danys Baez and David Weathers?  The price was already high for Scott Linebrink; it just went up again.

One of the possibilities for Boston (who was presumed to be a suitor for Speier) is Joe Borowski, who sounds more than generically interested in the Red Sox.  And who wouldn’t be?  Short of every fanboy’s dream of Roger Clemens pitching the ninth inning, Borowski could end up closing games in Boston.

Yesterday I said nice things about the Reds signing of Alex Gonzalez.  Today I can’t be so kind to Wayne Krivsky.  Apparently he’s about to sign Mike Stanton to a two-year deal with a vesting option for a third.   Stanton turns 40 in June.  He had a nice run in San Francisco last year, but let’s face it: the guy hasn’t put up a good full season for two years.  Sure, he might be worth more than the $1M he got for last year, but a vesting option for 2009?  I guess that if you’re worried David Weathers won’t come back, there’s only one choice: get older.

By Jeff Sackmann

2007 MLB Free Agents: Justin Speier

After wrongly leaving Justin Speier off my Top 50 Free Agents list, I felt the need to make it up to him by giving him his very own post.

Speier was drafted by the Cubs back in ’95, buried in the 55th round.  He was a reliever from Day 1.  The Cubs made a pretty poor trade for bullpen help at the trading deadline in ’98, sending Speier, Kevin Orie, and Todd Noel to the Marlins for Felix Heredia.

Things didn’t go well for him in Florida, leading to a trade to Atlanta for a no-namer. Speier was placed on waivers at year’s end and the Indians claimed him.  He pitched well for the Tribe in 2000 but was sent to the Mets for a no-namer the next year.  The Mets designated him for assignment after ten days, but Speier was out of options and didn’t make it through waivers.  He became a Rockie.

After two solid seasons in Colorado (including some closer duty), the Blue Jays rescued him in the winter of ’03 in the Joe Kennedy/Mark Hendrickson trade.  Speier got some saves in ’04 under Carlos Tosca, though a sore elbow sidelined him in May.

He was to begin ’05 as the Jays’ closer, but Miguel Batista got the gig instead.  Ligament damage in the middle finger of his pitching hand popped up in September to end a fine season (Speier allowed fewer than one baserunner per inning).

The finger injury recurred in spring of 2006, but he was fine to start the season as B.J. Ryan‘s setup man.  Forearm issues came about this August, causing Speier to post his smallest inning total in a long time.

Speier has solid command, with a career K/BB of 2.5.  Scouting report from Keith Law:

"Speier is a three-pitch reliever with good command of all three. He has a low-90s fastball with a little run but no sink; a tight slider with good tilt; and a splitter that he has improved to the point that it’s a very effective weapon against left-handed hitters. When he’s on, he keeps everything at or just above hitters’ knees, garnering strikes and some bad swings. His fastball is flat, however, and he’ll give up a lot of home runs if he has to pitch in the upper half of the zone."

According to ESPN, Speier throws about 64% fastballs, 29% sliders, and 7% other stuff.

I could see Speier commanding a deal similar to Kyle Farnsworth‘s – three years, $17MM with incentives and a signing bonus.  The closer market is terrible, and Speier is one of the better choices.