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Kevin Kouzmanoff Rumors
Here are some notes on the A's as they get set to take on the Orioles in Baltimore..
- The A's recalled Scott Sizemore from Triple-A Sacramento, and demoted third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, according to the team's official Twitter page. Oakland acquired Sizemore from the Tigers in exchange for David Purcey in late May.
- The Athletics have confirmed that Jason Bergmann signed a minor league deal with the club on June 1st. The right-hander has been placed on the Double-A Midland roster. The 29-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox in December but was cut loose in March due to a shoulder injury.
On November 2nd of last year I listed 85 non-tender candidates, most of whom were indeed cut loose. Almost five months have passed since the December non-tender deadline, and I'd like to revisit five of those decisions.
- Kevin Kouzmanoff, tendered a contract by the Athletics. The A's certainly shopped around for third base alternatives after tendering a contract to Kouzmanoff, which ended up being for $4.75MM. So far the third baseman has again been part of the problem, though he's not alone as the team ranks 11th in the AL with 3.63 runs scored per game. There weren't many alternatives for the A's this offseason, but they probably should have saved Kouzmanoff's money for a trade deadline addition. They'll still be able to pursue someone, though.
- James Loney, tendered a contract by the Dodgers. Loney is already on notice with the Dodgers given the arrival of Jerry Sands. Loney settled for a predictable $4.875MM salary for 2011. Sands doesn't actually project to do any better than Loney, but the two are close enough that the Dodgers probably should have traded Loney and used the money elsewhere.
- Russell Martin, non-tendered by the Dodgers. According to Yahoo's Steve Henson, Martin wanted a guaranteed $5.5MM rather than the Dodgers' offer of $4.2MM. GM Ned Colletti made the difficult decision to non-tender Martin, but kept the offer on the table while suggesting a possible super-utility role. Martin ended up taking less guaranteed money to start at catcher for the Yankees, and he's off to a great start. The Dodgers could have forced Martin's hand by tendering a contract and arguing for a pay cut through arbitration. That would have been a risky choice, and Martin's health was a concern at the time, so I can't fault the Dodgers for non-tendering him.
- Bobby Jenks, non-tendered by the White Sox. Non-tendering Jenks was the right move given his $7.5MM salary, and the pitcher understood that decision according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin. However, Jenks and the Sox were not on the same page about the team's desire to retain him and confidence in his abilities, so he signed with Boston. The White Sox lead baseball with six blown saves, but it was still best for them to part ways with Jenks.
- Brandon McCarthy, outrighted by the Rangers in November. If they had retained McCarthy, the Rangers probably would have had to pay him something similar to last year's $1.3MM salary rather than the $1MM he received from the A's. McCarthy has looked good so far, though it's only been three starts. The Rangers are second in the AL in starter ERA without McCarthy. Still, given the strong offseason interest in him I think it would have been best to tender a contract and shop him around.
Happy 51st birthday to Steve Sax! Sax was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1982, played on two World Series champions, made five All-Star teams, and holds a special bit of pop culture history as one of Mr. Burns' softball ringers on The Simpsons.
Today's news tidbits…
- As part of a Dodgers-related mailbag, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick cites the Blue Jays, Marlins and Indians as teams that could offer Eric Chavez more playing time than the Dodgers could. Toronto's interest in Chavez is well-known, but Florida and Cleveland are new to the mix. Other teams known to be looking are Chavez include the Yankees, White Sox and Mariners.
- The Angels are looking for a leadoff man and bench help, and don't seem to be interested in Vladimir Guerrero, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Orioles look like they're Guerrero's most ardent suitors at this point.
- A.J. Pierzynski tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he was all but officially signed by the Dodgers before the White Sox swooped in with an offer to bring the catcher back to Chicago. "It all came together in a 15-minute span," Pierzynski said. "I was pretty much resigned to the fact I wasn't coming back." Had Pierzynski not returned, the White Sox would have focused on Miguel Olivo as a replacement behind the plate.
- The Chone Figgins-to-Oakland rumor looks to be dead, which Joe Pawlikowski of Fangraphs thinks may be a good thing for the A's.
- The Royals are converting prospect Wil Myers from catcher to outfielder, reports Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
6:29pm: Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told MLB.com's Jane Lee and Greg Johns that the team's plan is to have Figgins at third base on Opening Day. "I'm looking forward to Figgins being our starting third baseman … He'll be here tomorrow [for the Mariners' FanFest]. He's been agreeable to moving back to third base and that's our plan, to have Chone be our Opening Day third baseman."
1:17pm: The A's are on Figgins' limited no-trade list and he hasn't yet been asked to waive it, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).
12:50pm: There could be a third team involved in trade talks, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter link). Olney suggests the Blue Jays could be the third team. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged last night that the team has toyed with the idea of adding a third baseman, so the Blue Jays could have interest in Kouzmanoff.
8:47am: The A’s are trying to acquire Chone Figgins for Kevin Kouzmanoff and perhaps a pitcher, according to Joe Stiglich of the Contra Costa Times. Figgins, 33, could play third base for the A's, who missed out on free agent Adrian Beltre.
The Mariners owe Figgins $26MM through 2013 and the infielder's contract includes a vesting option for 2014. Figgins hit .259/.340/.306 last year with 42 stolen bases and 74 walks. He led the league with 101 walks in 2009, stealing 42 bases and posting a .298/.395/.393 line for another AL West team, the Angels.
The Braves inquired on Figgins last July, but there hasn't been reported interest in him since.
Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. The sides will then settle on a salary between the team's proposed number and the player's proposed number or go to an arbitration hearing. Arbitration eligible players are under team control, so the clubs don't risk losing them – it's a question of how much the players will earn.
Yesterday, 11 players avoided arbitration. We could see just as many agreements trickle in today and we'll keep you posted on them right here and with our Arb Tracker. The latest updates will be at the top of the post:
- The Angels have agreed to terms with Reggie Willits and Howie Kendrick, tweets Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times. Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register tweets that Kendrick will earn $3.3MM, Willits $775K (on Twitter).
- The Giants agreed to terms with Santiago Casilla on a one-year deal worth $1.3MM with incentives, according to ESPN Deportes' Enrique Rojas (on Twitter). The team also announced that they avoided arb with Jonathan Sanchez and Ramon Ramirez (on Twitter). Sanchez will earn $4.8MM with incentives tweets Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle while Ramirez will earn $1.65MM according to Janie McCauley of The Canadian Press.
- The Braves agreed to terms with Peter Moylan and Eric O'Flaherty, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman (on Twitter). Moylan gets $2MM, O'Flaherty gets $895K according to Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter).
- The Mariners agreed to terms with Brandon League, David Aardsma and Jason Vargas, the team announced. Aardsma will earn $4.5MM with plenty of incentives, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (plus Twitter link).
- The Rangers agreed to terms with C.J. Wilson and Nelson Cruz, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan (Twitter links). Cruz gets $3.65MM, and Wilson gets $7.05MM with a chance to earn another $100K according to his agent Bob Garber, via email.
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Links for Tuesday night..
- Steve Foster of Inside The Rockies takes a look into his crystal ball and predicts what the Rockies might look like in 2017.
- Carlos Gonzalez never wanted to leave Colorado, writes Jim Armstrong of The Denver Post.
- The talk of Adrian Beltre coming to the Athletics made third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff a little uneasy, writes Jane Lee of MLB.com.
- Adam Kennedy is happy to be back in the AL West, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns. Kennedy inked a minor league deal with the Mariners yesterday.
- The Rockies are interested in Troy Glaus, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). Glaus could be a right-handed version of Jason Giambi, who wasn't a natural complement to Todd Helton since both bat from the left side.
- The Rockies are still "in the mix" for David Bush, but probably not for Aaron Harang, according to Renck (on Twitter). Both pitchers appeared on Renck's recent list of pitching targets for the Rockies.
- Renck reminds us that Jorge Cantu, Jose Lopez and Kevin Kouzmanoff are options for the team (Twitter link). Only Cantu is a free agent; Kouzmanoff and Lopez are non-tender candidates.
- Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd says he has told Carlos Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez that he wants to lock them up long-term, according to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post. O'Dowd has discussed a long-term deal with Gonzalez's agent, Scott Boras, but he doesn't have to worry about locking Jimenez up. The right-hander is under team control through 2014.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears (on Twitter) that De La Rosa turned down multiple offers for more money to re-sign in Colorado.
The Rockies have expressed interest in Athletics' third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, tweets Troy Renck of The Denver Post. He adds that Jose Lopez, Jorge Cantu, and Ty Wigginton are also on Colorado's radar in a second tweet, calling the team "quietly aggressive" during the GM Meetings.
Kouzmanoff is a non-tender candidate, even moreso now that the A's have brought in Edwin Encarnacion and are aggressively bidding on Adrian Beltre. Renck adds that he would fill the role of Melvin Mora for Colorado, pushing Ian Stewart at third base and potentially platooning with him. Cantu, Lopez, and Wiggington could all do the same as well. Earlier today we learned that the Rockies also have interest in Alex Gordon.
Tom Krasovic of AOL FanHouse hears that Arizona’s payroll will sit between $50-60MM next year. The Diamondbacks started the season with a $75MM payroll, but shed considerable salary with a flurry of midseason trades. They now have just shy of $20MM committed to the 2011 team (not including potential free agents or arbitration-eligible players). Here’s the latest on the Diamondbacks:
- Krasovic hears that the D’Backs considered offering Mark Reynolds to the A’s for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Vin Mazzaro before Kevin Towers took over as the team’s GM.
- The club also talked to the Tigers about exchanging Rick Porcello for Stephen Drew earlier in the summer, but Detroit wasn’t interested.
- Krasovic wouldn’t be surprised to see the Diamondbacks sell high on Kelly Johnson, who is heading into his final season of arbitration.
At first glance, Kevin Kouzmanoff's 2010 numbers look like exactly what the Athletics must have expected when they acquired him from the Padres in January. His .256/.291/.404 slash line is nearly identical to 2009's .255/.302/.420, and his power numbers have remained fairly consistent for his entire career; in his three years in San Diego, Kouzmanoff hit 18, 23, and 18 homers, along with 30, 31, and 31 doubles. His totals in Oakland so far this year? 14 and 31. Throw in his best defensive season, according to UZR, and it would seem that the 29-year-old should have no worries about being tendered a contract this winter.
There are a few areas of concern though, that the Athletics will undoubtedly take into account. For one, Kouzmanoff has seen his OPS gradually decline since his rookie year, down to .696 this year from .786 in 2007. And while Oakland's Coliseum is hardly a hitter's park, presumably the team was hoping that getting away from Petco would help Kouzmanoff's offense a little. During his Padres years, Kouzmanoff's OPS was typically about 100 points higher on the road – this year, his home and road marks are both below .700.
The Athletics were willing to trade for Kouzmanoff and pay him $3.1MM for his first arbitration-eligible season. Given his impressive defensive performance and only a slight dip in offensive production, perhaps the A's will be happy to tender the third baseman a contract, even taking into account an arbitration raise. But as a starting corner infielder with a sub-.700 OPS, Kouzmanoff has to be considered a non-tender candidate heading into the offseason.