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Kevin Jepsen Rumors
1:44pm: The Twins have announced the trade.
1:27pm: The Rays will be getting minor league righties Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia from the Twins, tweets La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Bullpen help has been the Twins’ primary need for quite some time, as the team lacks quality setup options for Glen Perkins, with the possible exception of converted starter Trevor May, who has recently been handling the eighth inning in Minnesota. Blaine Boyer, Aaron Thompson, Brian Duensing and Casey Fien have all had struggles at various times this year, with Thompson already having been shipped to Triple-A.
Jepsen, 31, should provide some stability, though he isn’t necessarily an elite upgrade. He has a solid track record dating back to 2012 (3.12 ERA in 187 1/3 innings), but his strikeout rate and control have both taken a step back in 2015. Jepsen’s averaged 4.3 walks per nine against 7.3 strikeouts per nine, both of which are departures from his career marks and his rates in recent seasons. Even without a return to his previous strikeout levels, though, Jepsen will improve the strikeout rate in a Twins bullpen that handily ranks last in the Majors in strikeout.
Jepsen is earning $3.025MM in 2015 and is controllable through the 2016 season, so he’ll likely be ticketed for a raise into the mid-$4MM range or so this winter.
Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda is dealing with a right arm injury, as WFAN’s Mike Francesca first reported, although the injury’s severity remains unclear. Joel Sherman of the New York Post cites Yankees executives in saying that the issue is a strained muscle in Pineda’s forearm as opposed to anything in his elbow, and it’s not believed to be serious at this time (Twitter links). Nonetheless, Marly Rivera of ESPN tweets that Pineda won’t start tonight’s game for New York, as had previously been scheduled. While many will speculate that there’s an increased need to add pitching, there’s been no definitive report on Pineda requiring a lengthy absence from the rotation. (And while some have said otherwise, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets that there’s no issue with Ivan Nova‘s arm at present.)
- The Yankees recently reached out to the Mariners to express interest in Dustin Ackley, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). The two sides discussed a scenario in which outfielders Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel would’ve gone to the Mariners, but Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik wanted more for Ackley, and talks have since cooled, per Feinsand. Ackley, the former No. 2 overall pick in the draft, is again struggling this season and has batted a mere .215/.270/.366. Many have speculated that Zduriencik is loath to undertake in any type of sale, as his job security could be tied to the Mariners’ finish this season. Nonetheless, it’s a bit surprising to hear him holding out for any sort of return on Ackley, though Flores and Gamel admittedly aren’t all that well-regarded. Flores ranked 27th on MLB.com’s midseason edition of the Yankees’ Top 30 prospects, while Gamel didn’t place.
- The Orioles are continually being asked for the likes of Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Schoop, Mychal Givens and even Manny Machado in trades, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). Each of those players is considered a deal-breaker for Baltimore, he writes. The Orioles have been seeking upgrades to their corner outfield situation recently.
- The Rays are indeed listening to offers on Nate Karns (as was reported earlier today), tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. However, Topkin feels that the likeliest trade candidate, if the Rays move someone at all, remains right-hander Kevin Jepsen. Topkin reported last week that the Rays may very well trade a relief pitcher prior to the trade deadline.
Here’s a roundup of the latest trade-deadline-related news:
- The Royals are still working to upgrade their bench, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. Kansas City is looking at both infielders and outfielders to improve its reserve group.
- Rays reliever Kevin Jepsen is now a stronger trade candidate now that the Rays have slipped to 49-51, Morosi tweets. Jepsen, who is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season, owns a 2.88 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 through 45 appearances this season.
- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is adamant that his team should not sell before the deadline, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says that he’s not necessarily done shopping even after acquiring Aramis Ramirez, Adam Berry of MLB.com writes. “We’ve shored up what we felt was our biggest soft spot. We’ll continue to look,” Huntington said. “It just gives us some versatility and flexibility to find where we think the next best match and next best fit is.” However, he wouldn’t specify what area he might target in the coming days.
- One issue for the Dodgers is that they aren’t willing to part with top prospects Corey Seager or Julio Urias, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. At that point, there’s a big dropoff to whoever their No. 3 prospect might be, whether it’s pitcher Jose De Leon or someone else.
- The perception in the market is that the Padres will definitely move Joaquin Benoit before the deadline, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.
The Rays, who currently sit six and a half games back in the AL East, are receiving significant interest in their top relievers and could move one of Brad Boxberger, Jake McGee or Kevin Jepsen even if they remain in contention, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Meanwhile, veterans such as David DeJesus and John Jaso could also be available in the coming week, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo, who also lists Jepsen as one of the team’s likeliest trade pieces.
Boxberger will likely be the team’s most sought after trade chip and will have the highest price in a trade, Topkin writes, though he notes that McGee is become pricey, at least by the Rays’ standards. Jepsen though, is the likeliest trade candidate among Rays relievers, according to Topkin, as his salary will get a notable bump this winter, and he’s eligible for free agency following the 2016 season. Cotillo also lists Jepsen among the team’s likeliest pieces to move. (He notes, as well, that starters Erasmo Ramirez, Nate Karns and Alex Colome are drawing interest, but the Rays aren’t inclined to deal from their rotation.)
For the Rays to part with Boxberger, one would have to imagine a fairly sizable haul. The 27-year-old came to the Rays along with Logan Forsythe in the trade that sent Jesse Hahn and Alex Torres to the Padres, and he’s been dominant since his acquisition. (He was quite good in San Diego as well.) Boxberger cemented himself as the Rays’ top setup man in 2014, and when McGee required offseason elbow surgery, Boxberger separated himself from the pack to lock down the closer’s role early in the season as McGee recovered. Over the past two years, he’s notched an excellent 2.67 ERA with 13.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate a bit north of 40 percent.
In addition to Boxberger’s excellent results, he’s also controllable through the 2019 season, so any team picking him up would be doing so for another four and a half seasons. The former No. 43 overall pick won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season, so it’s easy to see why the Rays would place the highest price tag on Boxberger, whose salary should remain near the league minimum in 2016 and at least manageable for the Rays in 2017.
McGee, on the other hand, is already earning $3.55MM and has been nothing short of dominant since returning from the disabled list. Boxberger has remained the closer for most of the season, which will serve to limit McGee’s forthcoming arbitration raise to some extent, but the hard-throwing lefty still has plenty of holds and strikeouts this season that will come into play in such talks. In fact, McGee has allowed just four runs (three earned) all season long, and each of those runs came in one lone disastrous outing. He’s rattled off 20 consecutive scoreless appearances — a span of 19 1/3 innings in which he’s posted a 25-to-3 K/BB ratio.
As for Jepsen, he’s delivered strong bottom-line results since being acquired from the Angels in exchange for Matt Joyce (who has struggled in his new surroundings), but his peripheral stats have also taken a step back. Both his strikeout and walk rates are among the worst of his career, and while his 94.4 mph average fastball is strong, it’s down more than a full mile per hour when compared to his 2014 velocity. His swinging strike rate is down nearly three percent from 2014 as well.
Jepsen’s earning $3.025MM in 2015 and will get a raise this winter, so perhaps the Rays, faced with the possibility of paying a pair of relievers something in the vicinity of $5MM apiece, the team’s preference is to unload one of them right now. If that’s the case, moving Jepsen would be less detrimental to their 2015 chances than moving the more dominant and more controllable McGee.
Getting back to DeJesus and Jaso, both left-handed veterans are hitting reasonably well, though Jaso has spent most of the season on the disabled list. Each is a platoon player, with DeJesus having received just nine plate appearances against lefties all year. DeJesus has hit righties at a .270/.336/.395 clip, though, and he has a history of performing well when holding the platoon advantage. His contract contains a $5MM option for the 2016 season, so any team that picks him up could benefit from his services beyond this year.
Jaso only recently returned from a left wrist injury, but he’s shown no signs of ill effects at the plate. He’s mashed at a .359/.435/.538 clip thus far, and while that type of production clearly isn’t sustainable, Jaso has a very nice track record against right-handed pitching. He’s a career .275/.370/.428 hitter against righties and could help any club in need of help in that area. Jaso’s been a catcher for most of his career, but the Rays have used him at DH and in left field this year, as he does have multiple concussions in his past. He’s making $3.175MM in 2015 and is a free agent at the end of the year.
Earlier this week, Peter Gammons reported that there were as many as 16 clubs looking for bullpen help, so the Rays will have no shortage of trade partners. The Blue Jays, in particular, have been known to be hot after relief help. That’s also said to be the Twins’ top priority, and given the fact that Minnesota has an up-and-coming young core, adding a controllable arm such as McGee or Boxberger to supplement that group could hold appeal to them. The Pirates are reportedly working on a trade for a relief arm right now, with the other team in the mix not yet known. Jeff Todd and I discussed a number of AL teams looking to add relief help on yesterday’s podcast.
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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The Angels have sent reliever Kevin Jepsen to the Rays in exchange for outfielder Matt Joyce, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. The teams have already announced the move, making it official.
In adding Joyce, 30, the Halos have picked up a left-handed bat that has steadily delivered above-average offensive production. While Joyce’s offensive lines over the last three years (.243/.339/.410) have fallen well shy of the two that came before it (.265/.351/.478), he nevertheless is strong against righties.
It must be noted, however, that the Rays have done an excellent job of drastically limiting Joyce’s exposure to same-handed pitching, against whom he owns a lifetime .573 OPS. Joyce is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility, with MLBTR and Matt Swartz projecting a $4.9MM salary. For Los Angeles, he will presumably slot in both in the outfield and at DH, perhaps sharing time with the right-handed-hitting C.J. Cron.
As for the 30-year-old Jepsen, he bolsters the back of a pen that just learned it will be without Jake McGee for at least some time to start the season, with elbow surgery shelving the player who ended last year as the team’s closer. Jepsen tossed 65 innings of 2.63 ERA ball last year with 10.4 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9, by far his most productive season as a pro. His projected arbitration salary is $2.6MM, offering Tampa some savings against the Joyce contract, and he will be controllable for an additional year.
Major names are appearing in plenty of reports, but those are not the only players whose fates could be determined in San Diego. We’ve just looked in at some of the less flashy free agents available, as well as the latest on the Rule 5 draft, and now we’ll do the same with regard to the trade market:
- There is a sense in the Orioles front office that a trade of some kind will be completed at the Winter Meetings, tweets Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com. But Ghiroli cautions that it will likely not be a major move.
- The Angels are continuing to explore their trade options for a utility infielder, and there is a good chance that a deal will be struck today, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter. One player that could be on the move is out-of-options reliever Kevin Jepsen, per Gonzalez.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says his club is looking more closely at the trade than the free agent market as it seeks to bolster its relief corps, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports (Twitter links). Toronto is still willing to listen on catcher Dioner Navarro but otherwise is disinclined to move any of its MLB-ready arms or other active roster players, Anthopoulos added.
The Astros are one of roughly 12 teams who have checked in with free agent righty Jason Hammel, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports. While Hammel makes sense for a lot of teams as a less-expensive option behind some of the pricier names on the pitching market, he seems like a particularly solid fit for an Astros team that is looking to upgrade its rotation without expending a lot of payroll. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd, in his Free Agent Profile of Hammel, predicted the right-hander would receive a three-year, $30MM deal this winter — exactly what Houston spent to sign Scott Feldman last offseason.
Here’s some more from around the AL West…
- Also from Drellich, Jose Veras‘ Barry Praver says his client is interested in returning to the Astros next season.
- The Athletics have called about free agent shortstops Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Shortstop is an area of need for Oakland this winter with incumbent Jed Lowrie also a free agent.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reports (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that the team could consider trading from its shortstop depth. “Its an area of strength for us. We’ve talked about the possibility for a while. We just have to decide if now is the time to make a move there,” Daniels said. Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar are the two biggest names yet a deal involving either player wouldn’t be likely until Spring Training, when Profar can show that he’s healthy after shoulder injuries sidelined him for all of the 2014 season. Earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Yankees were “intrigued” by Andrus. Prospects Luis Sardinas and Hanser Alberto could also be trade chips, either in small deals or as parts of larger trade packages.
- Two sources tell Evan Grant that Colby Lewis will likely re-sign with the Rangers. Daniels said that if he “had to guess, I think it gets done,” though noted that Lewis has “never been healthy and a true free agent before. This is the first real chance he’s had to find out his true value.”
- Kevin Jepsen could be a trade candidate if the Angels wanted to deal from their right-handed relief surplus, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez opines. Jepsen has two more years of control left as a Super Two player, and his rising price tag could make him expendable for the Halos, Gonzalez speculates.
The Angels have reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with righty Kevin Jepsen, the reliever's representatives at Beverly Hills Sports Council tweeted. Jepsen will earn $1.4625MM, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.
Jepsen's deal pays him the exact midpoint between the two sides' filing numbers. He had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to land at $1.4MM. Jepsen managed only a 4.50 ERA in 36 innings last year for the Halos, though he did put up a 9.0 K/9. In 2012, Jepsen threw 44 2/3 innings of 3.02 ERA ball.
On today's conference call to introduce free agent signee Joe Smith, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, that right-hander Kevin Jepsen will be tendered a contract for the 2014 season (Twitter link). Dipoto said he "[n]ever thought it would be an assumption he wouldn't be (tendered)."
Jepsen, 29, pitched to a 4.50 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 36 innings for the Halos last season. Sabermetric stats like FIP (3.38) and xFIP (3.93) feel that he was unfairly victimized by a .345 batting average on balls in play and a low strand rate, suggesting that his ERA was not reflective of his true talent level. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Jepsen to earn $1.4MM via arbitration. He will join Smith, Ernesto Frieri, Sean Burnett, Dane De La Rosa and perhaps newcomer Fernando Salas, among others, in Anaheim's bullpen next season.
Reports from earlier today suggested that there was no clear indication one way or another as to whether or not the Angels would keep Jepsen in the fold for next season, and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes had listed him as a non-tender candidate.