Kevin Slowey Rumors

Quick Hits: Davis, Barton, Cole, Slowey

Links from around the majors, as Manny Ramirez takes on one of his former teams and the regular season draws one day closer…


Latest On Rotation Battles

Rotation battles are being decided left and right.  Here's the latest.


Kevin Slowey: A Fit In Toronto?

The Blue Jays appear to be interested in Kevin Slowey and he makes a certain amount of sense for the Jays, who don't have established starters at the back of their rotation. But acquiring Slowey would mean Jo-Jo Reyes, Jesse Litsch, Marc Rzepczynski, Kyle Drabek, Zach Stewart, Brad Mills and Scott Richmond compete for a single rotation spot. That possibility may not appeal to Blue Jays executives, since the front office appears to like its current options.

GM Alex Anthopoulos recently told Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi that Litsch looked "very, very good" while pitching against the Braves in his most recent exhibition start. Litsch, who is coming back form elbow and hip injuries, reminded the GM of another soft-tossing right-hander.

“The one thing I’ve always said is when Jesse’s been healthy, he’s been very productive," Anthopoulos told Davidi. "He’s not Shaun Marcum, they’re not the same style, but he certainly has a chance for the results to be similar in terms of win totals and innings pitched."

Slowey

Like Marcum and Litsch, Slowey (pictured) averages less than 90 mph on his fastball and has never appeared in an All-Star game or collected a Cy Young vote. Despite his modest fastball, he was deceptively effective last year, when he posted a 4.45 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 28 starts (155 2/3 innings) for the Twins. In fact, Slowey tied Phil Hughes, Trevor Cahill and James Shields with 2.2 WAR last year, ranking 36th among AL starters.

Every starting pitcher in baseball who logged at least 100 innings last year posted a higher ground ball rate than Slowey, so he doesn't appear to be a natural fit for the homer-friendly Rogers Centre. However, Marcum and Brandon Morrow both succeeded in 2010, even though both pitchers induced more fly balls than ground balls. That should provide some hope that Slowey and his 28.3% ground ball rate could survive in Toronto.

Slowey's relatively cheap ($2.7MM salary) and he's under team control through 2013, but acquiring him could prevent top-rated prospect Kyle Drabek from continuing to develop in the major leagues. Drabek, who tops Baseball America's list of Blue Jays prospects, pitched well in a three start cameo last fall and the 23-year-old may be ready for the majors. The same goes for #5 prospect Zach Stewart and Reyes, a favorite of Anthopoulos' who is a trade candidate now that he's out of options. 

There's more to the Blue Jays' rotation battle than WAR or any other stat. The team presumably wants to determine which arms can thrive in the AL East as it prepares for what Anthopoulos says will be an extended period of contention. The Blue Jays could get creative – we shouldn't put that past them given the trades they've made in the last year – and acquire Slowey without blocking their top young arms. He's a potential upgrade for the Blue Jays, but he's not a fit for their ballpark and it appears that acquiring him would limit the Blue Jays' ability to expose their prospects to big league hitters in 2011.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.



Blue Jays Appear Interested In Kevin Slowey

The Blue Jays like Kevin Slowey, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (on Twitter). Christensen hears that the Blue Jays have relievers to spare and had three scouts watching Slowey pitch in a 'B' game against the Pirates this morning. The right-hander logged three innings without allowing a hit or a run, striking out three.

ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported on Sunday that the Twins are "very much willing" to discuss trading Slowey. The Blue Jays are not desperate for pitching help; Jo-Jo Reyes, Jesse Litsch, Marc Rzepczynski and Kyle Drabek are battling for two rotation spots and Zach Stewart, Brad Mills and Scott Richmond are also in the mix for jobs.

Toronto does have lots of relief depth, particularly from the right side. Frank Francisco, Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch and Jason Frasor all have closing experience and Shawn Camp and Casey Janssen are coming off of strong seasons. Throw in two more right-handers, Carlos Villanueva and Josh Roenicke, and it's easy to see why teams might ask the Blue Jays about potentially available arms. 

Slowey posted a 4.45 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 155 2/3 innings last year. The 26-year-old has never posted a walk rate above 1.7 per nine or a strikeout rate above 6.7 per nine in four big league seasons. He'll earn $2.7MM this year and is under team control through 2013.


Twins Willing To Talk Slowey Trade

With few options remaining on the free agent market, teams in need of starting pitching help may have to put Minnesota GM Bill Smith on speed dial. ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider-only link) hears that the Twins are "very much willing" to discuss trading Kevin Slowey these days.

This isn't the first time we've heard reports about Slowey's potential availability. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote during the Winter Meetings that the Twins would consider moving the right-hander, particularly if Carl Pavano re-signed with the club – which, of course, he eventually did. More recently, Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune said that the Twins were more likely to deal Slowey than Francisco Liriano.

Sporting a career high of 160.1 IP in the bigs, Slowey isn't the sort of innings-eating workhorse a free agent like Kevin Millwood would be. However, the righty is just 26 years old, remains under team control through 2013, and has displayed impeccable control (1.5 BB/9) throughout his career. If the Twins are open to fielding offers, I'd expect the Yankees and Cardinals to be among the handful of clubs to kick the tires.


AL Central Notes: Choo, Slowey, Konerko

A few items from the middle section of the American League map…

  • Shin-Soo Choo says he hasn't heard from agent Scott Boras or from the Indians about the status of contract extension talks, or if the two sides are even currently talking, reports Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.  Boras and the Tribe were negotiating earlier this winter, and Choo has said that he doesn't want the talks to stretch into the season.  The fact that Boras has described the Indians as "a developmental team" is not a good sign for Cleveland fans, though since Choo is under contract through 2013, it gives the club a couple of years to break in their young prospects.
  • Kevin Slowey is the Twins pitcher that's most likely to be traded, not Francisco Liriano, writes Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  We heard during the Winter Meetings that Minnesota was considering using Slowey as trade bait.
  • From the same item, Souhan reports the Rangers (in addition to the Yankees) also inquired about Liriano's availability.
  • Paul Konerko had "a feeling of closure" last season in Chicago and "was preparing himself emotionally to devote himself to a new organization," writes Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com.  Isaacson talks to Konerko about his free agency and how he ended up back with the White Sox.   

Twins, Slowey Avoid Arbitration

The Twins avoided arbitration with Kevin Slowey, agreeing to a one-year, $2.7MM deal, according to MLB.com's Kelly Thesier (on Twitter). Slowey had filed at $3.1MM and the Twins had filed at $2.3MM, which puts the agreed-upon deal right at the midpoint of the two submissions.

Slowey posted a 4.45 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 155 2/3 innings last year. The 26-year-old has never posted a walk rate above 1.7 per nine or a strikeout rate above 6.7 per nine in four big league seasons.

As MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows, the Twins have unresolved arbitration cases with Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano. Both made my list of ten unsigned arbitration eligible players to watch.


Arbitration Figures: Tuesday

Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. Let's keep track of those figures here, with the latest updates on top. You can track all of the players that avoided arbitration today here.

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Twins Notes: Pavano, Liriano, Crain, Punto

Let's take a look at some Twins tidbits..

  • The Twins and Carl Pavano are still close to a deal but appear to be in a temporary holding pattern, writes Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune.  The sides still have some details to work out but they've agreed to put the talks on hold through Tuesday. 
  • Tabling the talks with Pavano should allow the Twins to focus on their potential arbitration cases.  Matt Capps, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Delmon Young are all scheduled to swap figures with the Twins on Tuesday.  Christensen points out that the Twins settled all eight of their potential arbitration cases at the eleventh hour last year.
  • The Twins made some attempts to retain Jesse Crain but ultimately knew that relievers Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier, and Jon Rauch would sign elsewhere, according to Christensen.
  • Nick Punto is still on the open market but the Twins don't have any plans to bring the infielder back, writes Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune.  Punto, 33, has spent the last seven years with the Twins, hitting .248/.323/.324.

Twins Would Consider Trading Slowey

The Twins would consider trading Kevin Slowey - especially if they re-sign Carl Pavano - reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman says the Twins have actually received inquiries on ace Francisco Liriano from the Yankees and others, but a team official can't imagine moving the lefty.

Slowey, 26, posted a 4.45 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9, and 28.3% groundball rate in 155 2/3 innings this year for the Twins, missing time with elbow and triceps injuries.  He's a control artist who works around 90 mph, and with one of the highest flyball rates in the game Slowey would be best-suited in a big ballpark.  He's arbitration eligible for the first time this winter.