Kevin Jepsen Rumors

Angels, Rays Swap Kevin Jepsen, Matt Joyce

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.


Trade Notes: Orioles, Angels, Blue Jays

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.

AL West Notes: Hammel, Veras, A’s, Daniels

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.


Angels Avoid Arbitration With Kevin Jepsen

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.


Angels Will Tender Contract To Kevin Jepsen

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.


AL West Notes: Kazmir, Colon, Angels, Bloomquist

The baseball world is still buzzing over Scott Kazmir's two-year, $22MM agreement with the Athletics. Here's a bit more on that signing as well as the rest of the American League West…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Athletics offered the same two-year, $22MM contract to Tim Hudson prior to his two-year, $23MM agreement with the Giants.
  • That Kazmir signed for two years and $11MM annually speaks to the expectations of Bartolo Colon, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Colon feels he can get multiple years at a higher annual value, according to Passan.
  • Kazmir's agreement firmly takes the Athletics out of the mix for Colon, a source confirmed to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • The Angels remain interested in Bronson Arroyo but the Dodgers aren't really in the mix, a source tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (on Twitter). However, the source adds that the market for the veteran hasn't really "heated up" yet.
  • DiGiovanna adds that the Angels are expected to clear more than $10MM in payroll by non-tendering Tommy Hanson, Jerome Williams and Chris Nelson, which should allow them to pursue a free agent starting pitcher (Twitter links). DiGiovanna also mentions that Kevin Jepsen's status is still up in the air at this time and there's no decision on whether or not to tender him a contract.
  • Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that one of the reasons Joe Smith signed his three-year deal with the Angels is that his wife works as a sports radio host in Orange County.
  • In a harsh review of today's Willie Bloomquist signing by the Mariners, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and the U.S.S. Mariner writes that Bloomquist "is Nick Punto minus all the things that make Nick Punto valuable." As Cameron points out, they're comparable hitters but Punto provides more baserunning and defensive value. However, Seattle paid nearly double the price for Bloomquist that Oakland did for Punto.

West Notes: A’s, Mariners, Bourjos, Samardzija, Kemp

The Athletics have reached a new lease agreement with O.Co Coliseum that runs through December of 2015, according to an Associated Press report (via ESPN). The A's will pay $1.75MM in each year of the lease. Here are some more links pertaining to baseball's western divisions…

  • The Mariners are pursuing both Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltrantweets Buster Olney of ESPN. He wonders — as many do — whether or not Seattle will appeal to major free agents, as they've had difficulty luring top hitters there in previous years.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports definitively writes that the Mariners are interested in Mike Napoli (he'd received conflicting information earlier in the month). Rosenthal also notes the difficulty that the Mariners have had in luring top free agents such as Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder but notes that Seattle could simply overpay to land their free agent targets. Two separate sources called the Mariners "desperate," and as Rosenthal notes: "Desperate teams spend money. Desperate teams are capable of just about anything." Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury are also on the team's wish list, says Rosenthal.
  • Also from Rosenthal, the Angels learned that Peter Bourjos didn't have enough value to land them the controllable young starting pitcher they coveted on the trade market, and so they elected to use him to fill another hole — third base. While many in the media have pegged the deal as a win for the Cardinals, Rosenthal writes that the common perception of Bourjos' value may not line up with the actual perception among teams.
  • Lastly from Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks know what it would take to land Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs, but their fear is that if they pounce too soon on a deal, they could miss out on a bigger value later in the offseason. The Angels aren't a fit for Samardzija, Rosenthal adds, because the Cubs want young pitching in exchange for Samardzija.
  • The Dodgers' biggest risk in weighing Matt Kemp trades isn't deciding to hang onto him and finding out he's no longer an MVP-caliber player, opines Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Rather, the biggest risk facing the Dodgers is learning that Kemp indeed still is that player, but finding out by seeing him prove it in a Mariners, Red Sox or Rangers uniform. Brown feels it's in the Dodgers' best interest to hang onto Kemp.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that the Angels' acquisition of Fernando Salas and Joe Smith could make Kevin Jepsen a non-tender candidate.

Arbitration Deals: Daniel Murphy, Kevin Jepsen

We'll keep track of today's arbitration agreements under $3MM right here..

  • The Mets have avoided arbitration with Daniel Murphy by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $2.925MM, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports (Twitter links).  The final total is a bit less than the midpoint between the figures exchanged by the two sides; Murphy asked for $3.4MM, the Mets offered $2.55MM.  This was Murphy's first year of arbitration eligibility.  Murphy, an ACES client, was the last of three arb-eligible Mets players to agree to a deal, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows.
  • The Angels and reliever Kevin Jepsen have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1,181,250.  The contract includes awards-based bonuses, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).  Beverly Hills Sports Council represents Jepsen. The deal now means that the Angels have wrapped up all of their arb eligible players this offseason, as the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker shows.