Kyle Farnsworth Rumors

Rays Looking For Relief Pitching

The Rays are looking to add another reliever or two, Tampa Bay executive VP Andrew Friedman tells Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.  The Rays have made a few bullpen moves already this winter, such as signing Roberto Hernandez as a free agent, exercising Fernando Rodney's 2013 option and re-signing Joel Peralta.  If another reliever isn't added, internal options like Cesar Ramos or Brandon Gomes could play larger roles in the bullpen, plus the Rays could use whatever starting pitchers don't make the rotation. 

A quick look at the list of remaining free agents reveals a number of solid right-handed relief options still available.  As Smith points out, Friedman has been successful at acquiring relievers over the last several years, especially at finding unheralded arms who deliver big returns for Tampa.

Rodney and Peralta might not be the only Rays relievers bought back next season, as both J.P. Howell and Kyle Farnsworth are "still in the mix to return," writes Smith.  Howell, the top southpaw reliever left on the market, has at least five other suitors.  Farnworth has been targeted by the Brewers this winter, though Milwaukee may have completed its bullpen remodeling after agreeing to sign Mike Gonzalez.


Quick Hits: Mets, Anibal, Brewers, Bourjos

MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts discussed the R.A. Dickey trade, the Josh Hamilton signing, the Anibal Sanchez deal and the latest rumors on todays’ edition of the Rosters & Rumblings podcast. Click here to listen in, and continue reading for the latest from around the league…

  • The Mets are closing in on adding an outfielder, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma's source tells him that the player hasn't previously been linked to the Mets (Twitter links). Puma doesn't specify if the acquisition would come via free agency or trade. New York has previously been linked to Cody Ross, which seems to rule him out.
  • Sanchez's agent, Gene Mato, told Anthony Fetch of the Detroit Free Press that Sanchez left a larger offer from an unnamed team on the table at the Winter Meetings. The right-hander didn't want to make his decision based solely on money but also on where he felt comfortable.
  • Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM that his team is interested in Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, Kyle Farnsworth and Mike Gonzalez (Twitter link).
  • Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets that the Marlins aren't particularly interested in Peter Bourjos because they'd prefer a better hitting outfielder. Earlier today it was reported that the Fish may be interested in Bourjos.
  • Some teams aren't convinced that Hiroyuki Nakajima's glove is good enough to play shortstop at the Major League level, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN. The Japanese slugger signed with the Athletics earlier today.
  • Former Cubs coach Pat Listach has been hired by the Dodgers as the team's new minor league infield coordinator, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).

AL East Links: Bailey, Farnsworth, Alvarez, Yankees

It was on this day in 1919 that Yankees outfielder Ping Bodie defeated an ostrich named Percy in a spaghetti-eating contest.  The valiant bird made it through 11 plates before finally passing out.  We here at MLB Trade Rumors usually stick to reporting transactions, but we promise to provide up-to-the-minute coverage of any modern player vs. bird eating duels.

Here's the latest from the AL East…

  • The Red Sox announced that Andrew Bailey will undergo surgery on his right thumb's UCL tomorrow, a procedure that a team source tells Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald will sideline Bailey for 4-5 months (Twitter link).  The Rays look like they'll also be without a closer, as Kyle Farnsworth is expected to start the season on the DL with an elbow issue.  To keep tabs on who the Sox and Rays will use in the ninth inning, follow Tim Dierkes on Twitter @CloserNews.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington says he is continuing to explore external pitching options since he never feels comfortable about the club's depth, tweets Michael Silverman.
  • Blue Jays right-hander Henderson Alvarez has switched agencies and is now being represented by Proformance, reports MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
  • No team claimed either Jayson Nix and Dewayne Wise today so both players will start the season with the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network.  Any team that had claimed Nix or Wise would've had to put them on their 25-man roster.
  • With more teams willing to spend money on signing or extending top pitchers, Joel Sherman of the New York Post feels the Yankees need their young arms to deliver since the Bombers can no longer rely on outspending the competition.
  • Rule 5 draft pick Ryan Flaherty will make the Orioles, and thus will have to spend the entire season on the team's 25-man roster or else be offered back to his original team, the Cubs.  Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun relates how O's manager Buck Showalter told Flaherty the news in front of the rest of the team.


Rays Exercise Farnsworth’s Option, Not Shoppach’s

The Rays exercised Kyle Farnsworth's 2012 option while declining Kelly Shoppach's, according to the Tampa Tribune (on Twitter). Farnsworth obtains a $3.3MM salary instead of a $650K buyout and Shoppach obtains a $300K buyout instead of a $3.2MM salary.

Farnsworth posted a 2.18 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 57 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2011. Shoppach, 31, hit just .176/.268/.339 in 253 plate appearances, but he led the league by preventing 41% of stolen base attempts. The Rays will look to get more offense from behind the plate in 2012.


Free Agent Closers’ Usage

The upcoming class of free agents figures to present an interesting study in the way teams are evaluating relievers these days. After Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, many of the most recognizable names are closers or relievers who have previously closed.

Modern analysis suggests it's foolish to invest heavily in relief pitchers due to their limited contributions and volatility in year-to-year production. But someone has to get those crucial late-inning outs, and the temptation for a team that thinks it's a contender to throw a lot of money at a guy who's coming off a year in which he posted a minuscule ERA or eye-popping strikeout rate is often too great.

Undoubtedly, suitors will use a variety of criteria to evaluate free-agent closers, one of which will be usage. Because usage can encompass so many things — innings, appearances, pitches, "high-stress" pitches, and so on — it's tough to say which is the most accurate reflection of a pitcher's workload; of course, this debate continues on for starters, too.

During the season, with the launch of CloserNews.com, we began keeping an eye on relievers who had pitched on three (and four) consecutive days, as that seems to be the breaking point for when most relievers must be rested. We've tallied that up here in a spreadsheet, along with a few other measures (standard and otherwise) of reliever usage, for the upcoming class of free-agent closers.

The objective here isn't to make any bold proclamations based on who threw the most innings; I may as well pen the inevitable mea culpa right now if it were. Rather, there are some interesting tidbits of note here, a few things to file away as these relievers ready themselves for free agency and teams prepare to bid.

  • Heath Bell and Francisco Cordero were the only two of this group to pitch on four consecutive days in 2011. Bell is the only one to do it twice.
  • Bell's abundance of pitches certainly seems to correspond with his dip in strikeout rate (7.32 K/9 in 2011 vs. 9.22 for career). Looks like he was having trouble putting away hitters, at least relative to his past performances.
  • Francisco Rodriguez paced the group by pitching on three consecutive days six times. 
  • Heavy usage is not unusual for K-Rod, though. He's pitched fewer than 65 innings only once in his nine full big league seasons, the red herring due to an off-field incident in 2010.
  • Info was culled from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.

Players Claimed And Pulled Back

A player who is claimed on waivers can be pulled back by his original team, and it happens regularly.  It could be that the two sides just couldn't reach a deal, or it might be that the original team never intended to trade the player.  Technically a player can be placed on waivers a second time, but it's rare because in that case he cannot be pulled back.  Reportedly, at least 16 players have been claimed and pulled back this month: 

Many players were placed on waivers and were not traded, including John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Paul Konerko, Matt Thornton, Brett Myers, Clint Barmes, and Craig Breslow.  It's safe to assume several of these players were claimed and then pulled back.  Additionally, at least 23 players have cleared waivers and can be traded to any team.


Zambrano, Farnsworth Placed On Waivers

The Cubs' Carlos Zambrano and the Rays' Kyle Farnsworth were among the players placed on waivers yesterday, according to MLB.com's Peter Gammons (via Twitter).  Teams have 48 business hours to make a claim on either player, giving them until Tuesday.  This news doesn't necessarily mean that the Cubs and Rays are looking to deal Zambrano and Farnsworth, respectively.  Hundreds of players are expected to hit the waiver wire in the month of August.

Earlier this week, both players were identified as August trade candidates by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.


Stark On Bell, Beltran, Rays, Giants

The latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark

  • The Rangers and Phillies are the favorites for Padres closer Heath Bell, with the Cardinals, Angels, Braves, and Reds also in the mix.
  • One executive Stark spoke to wouldn't be surprised to see a dark horse like the Reds or Brewers make a late run at Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran.
  • An official who spoke with the Rays over the weekend said that while they're not trading James Shields, they'll decide later this week on players like Johnny Damon and Kyle Farnsworth.  B.J. Upton could be dealt even if the team closes its 6.5 game wild card deficit.
  • The Rays and Blue Jays have been scouting each other's farm systems recently.  One scout speculated that the Jays could join a three-team Upton trade somehow.
  • One team says Brian Sabean's off-limits prospects are Zack Wheeler, Heath Hembree, and Gary Brown, along with Brandon Belt.  That'd leave the team without any top 50 prospects to move, with Francisco Peguero and Ehire Adrianza in the next tier based on Baseball America's preseason rankings.  There's also Double-A lefty Eric Surkamp, who brought his ERA down to 2.00 yesterday.
  • The Phillies are steering teams to their High-A Clearwater club, as they don't want to trade big leaguers and not to add much more than a million bucks in payroll.  Jonathan Singleton, Brody Colvin, Trevor May, Sebastian Valle, and Jiwan James are names to watch there assuming Jarred Cosart is untouchable.  Stark says the Phillies have cooled on Beltran and Hunter Pence is a long shot, so the focus is now the back end of the bullpen.  Heath Bell is the top target, with Brandon League also on the radar.

AL East Rumors: Farnsworth, Upton, Kuroda

The Rays remain on the fringe of contention, 6.5 games out in the wild card.  The other four AL East teams have clear positions: the Yankees and Red Sox are buyers, and the Blue Jays and Orioles are sellers.  The latest:


Olney On Deadline Plans For AL Teams

ESPN's Buster Olney outlined plans for National League teams heading into the trade deadline yesterday, and today he follows up with the American League in an Insider-only column that comes highly recommended. Here's a brief recap…

  • The Mark Ellis trade could just be the first domino that falls for the Athletics. Other veterans like Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, and Grant Balfour could follow him out the door.
  • The Twins aren't as willing to trade now as they were a few weeks ago, and the big question they have to ask themselves is if eating a chunk of the $5.5MM left on Michael Cuddyer's contract is worth it to trade him.
  • We've heard this before, but B.J. Upton and Kyle Farnsworth of the Rays figure to draw interest.
  • The Red Sox and Angels don't have a lot of financial flexiblity and are more likely to target smaller pieces.
  • Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, and Wilson Betemit are all affordable and reasonably productive, but Olney notes that the Royals might want to keep some veterans around so the youngsters don't get pounded.
  • The Indians and Mariners will not blow up their rebuild processes despite their surprising runs at contention. Erik Bedard's injury took away Seattle's best chip.
  • Poor seasons from Alex Rios and Adam Dunn make it difficult for the White Sox to do anything. They need those two to get back on track more than anything.
  • The Yankees are convinced their internal pitching options are better than what's available on the market right now. A Rafael Soriano setback would put them in the reliever market.
  • It's all about right-handed relief pitching for the Rangers, who will have plenty of options to choose from. The Blue Jays have lots of bullpen help to deal.
  • The Tigers are asking around about pitching, specifically left-handers.
  • The Orioles are having an internal debate about whether or not to trade Jeremy Guthrie, but they are expected to at least listen to offers.