Kyle Farnsworth Rumors

AL East Notes: Jays, Soriano, Farnsworth, Arroyo

Some news items from the AL East…

  • Toronto's payroll could end up being in the $80-$85MM range, tweets FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi.  The Blue Jays currently have just under $49MM committed for 2011 (according to Cot's Baseball Contracts) and have eight players eligible for arbitration.  Jose Bautista will get the biggest raise of this group, but even with notables like Yunel Escobar and Brandon Morrow also arb-eligible, the Jays should have a bit of money left to spend beyond settling their arbitration cases.
  • Perhaps the Jays' extra money could be spent on Brian Fuentes?  We heard about Toronto's interest in Fuentes earlier this week, and now SI's Jon Heyman tweets that the Jays are still "pressing for" the free agent reliever.
  • Did Scott Boras wait too long for a Rafael Soriano market to develop?  Fangraphs' R.J. Anderson thinks this might be the case, and that Soriano might have to settle another one-year contract with the hopes of finding a long-term deal next offseason.
  • A bit of early reaction to Tampa Bay's agreement with Kyle Farnsworth: CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler thinks the signing is risky, but believes the Rays need to take chances on their bullpen if they want to contend.  Meanwhile, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs thinks the Rays made a better deal for Farnsworth than Boston did with Bobby Jenks, given that Farnsworth and Jenks put up comparable numbers over the last two seasons.
  • Bronson Arroyo tells Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald that he enjoyed pitching for the Red Sox and wouldn't mind returning: "Even though I can safely say that I’ve cemented myself in Cincinnati for a while, [Boston] definitely still feels like home and in the back of my mind I know that there is no better place to play than in Fenway Park."  Arroyo said when his three-year extension with the Reds runs out after the 2013 season, he would be interested in pitching for the Rays (to play close to his family), returning to the Red Sox, or staying in Cincinnati.
  • MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli has details on the vesting option included in Kevin Gregg's contract with the Orioles.  Gregg's 2013 option will become guaranteed if he finishes 50 games in 2012, or if he finishes 100 games total in 2011-12.  As SI's Jon Heyman tweeted in the previous link, Gregg will earn between $6-$10MM in 2013 if his option vests.
  • Matt Bush, the first overall pick of the 2004 draft, talks to MLB.com's Dawn Klemish about his battle with alcoholism and the progress he's made in the Tampa Bay organization.

Rays Sign Kyle Farnsworth

The Rays have officially signed Kyle Farnsworth to a one-year deal, according a team press release.  The agreement was first reported by Steve Slowinski of DRaysBay and confirmed by ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter links). The deal will pay the Barry Meister client $3.25MM in 2011 and could be worth $6MM over two years, since there's an option for 2012. 

Farnsworth posted a 3.34 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 64 2/3 innings for the Royals and Braves last year. The 34-year-old's 41% ground ball rate is unremarkable, but it's higher than it was earlier in his career, when he was more of a fly ball pitcher. Farnsworth doesn't throw quite as hard as he once did, but his average fastball was still 94.9 mph last year. That was enough to place Farnsworth at the top of MLBTR's list of the hardest throwing free agent relievers.

The Rays have added bullpen candidates Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Joel Peralta, Chris Archer, Cory Wade, J.P. Howell and R.J. Swindle this offseason. That's a promising group of players, but Andrew Friedman's acquisitions are considerably less established than the collection of Rays relievers that hit free agency after the season. 

As MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows, former Rays relievers Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour and Chad Qualls are among the remaining unsigned arms.

It's been a publicly quiet offseason for Farnsworth since the Braves declined his $5.25MM option for 2011 at the beginning of November.


Braves Decline 2011 Options For Ankiel, Farnsworth

As expected, the Braves declined their 2011 options for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth, according to the AP (on CBS Sports.com). Ankiel's buyout cost $500K (his 2011 salary would have been $6MM) and Farnsworth's buyout cost $250K (his 2011 salary would have been $5.25MM).  Atlanta acquired both Ankiel and Farnsworth from the Royals at the trade deadline. The Braves won't obtain compensation picks for either player, since Farnsworth and Ankiel are unranked free agents.

Earlier today, the Braves picked up their 2011 options for Omar Infante and Alex Gonzalez and agreed to a one-year deal for 2011 with Scott Proctor.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently pointed out that Ankiel won't have an easy time finding a deal worth more than $1MM in 2010, especially if he wants regular playing time. Farnsworth isn't in line for a big free agent deal either, but he's coming off a season in which he posted a 3.34 ERA with 8.5 K/9 so he should draw some interest.



Braves Notes: Hinske, Gonzalez, Infante, Proctor

The Braves have three free agents and three option decisions; MLB.com's Mark Bowman has the latest.


Odds & Ends: Ankiel, Ohman, Tigers, Mets, Rangers

Links for Sunday, as a handful of players suit up for new teams….


Rosenthal’s Full Count Video: Salty, Braves, Cards

Ken Rosenthal has a new Full Count video up, so let's dive in…

  • The Red Sox scouted Jarrod Saltalamacchia hard before acquiring him this afternoon, and they feel that he is throwing better and will benefit from a change of scenery.  18 months ago the cost for Salty was Clay Buchholz, so they feel he's worth the gamble considering the uncertain futures of Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek.
  • The Braves didn't need either Kyle Farnsworth or Rick Ankiel, but picking up both improves their depth considerably. Ankiel will be the regular center fielder against righties, platooning with Melky Cabrera, while Farnsworth will help lessen the burden on Takashi Saito and Jonny Venters. The Braves are clearly going for it in Bobby Cox's final season.
  • It seems odd that the Cardinals would trade Ryan Ludwick given their offensive inconsistency this year, but the team likes what Jon Jay has done and they'll save big when Ludwick goes to arbitration for the final time next season.
  • Relative to its competition, no team did as poorly as the Mets at the deadline. They were outbid for Ramon Ramirez, and the Cubs wanted no part of a Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez for Carlos Zambrano swap. The Cubbies are hopeful that Big Z will come back and rebuild his value down the stretch.

Braves Acquire Ankiel, Farnsworth

The Braves have acquired Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth from the Royals in exchange for Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, and Tim Collins. Atlanta also received an unknown amount of cash in the deal.

Ankiel, 31, missed over two months with a quad strain this year, but will bring a much-needed .261/.317/.467 batting line to Atlanta's outfield. He is still owed just over $1MM for the remainder of the season, and there's a $6MM mutual option for his services next year that could instead be bought out for $500K.

The 34-year-old Farnsworth is back for a second stint with the Braves, and has pitched to a 2.42 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 44.2 innings this year. He is owed $1.64MM through the end of the season, and Atlanta could buy out his $5.25MM option for next season for $500K. 

Chavez, 26, was acquired in the Rafael Soriano trade during the offseason. He had not performed as expected, with a 5.89 ERA and 7.1 K/9 in 36.2 innings this year. Blanco, 26, is a career .252/.361/.309 hitter in 633 big league plate appearances with experience in all three outfield spots. Both he and Chavez are under team control for another four seasons.

Collins, 20, was acquired in the Yunel Escobar-Alex Gonzalez trade earlier this month. He has struck out 15.4 Double-A batters per nine innings this year, and boasts a 2.35 ERA in his minor league career. 

CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler first reported the deal while Ed Price of AOL FanHouse added details (Twitter link). A Royals press release confirmed the deal.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Red Sox Have Explored Trades For Many Relievers

FRIDAY, 1:03am: Theo Epstein has discussed multiple possible trades with former Red Sox assistant GM and current Padres GM Jed Hoyer, according to Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Globe duo believes Boston could have interest in a reliever like Joe Thatcher, and, given the team's excess of outfielders when Jacoby Ellsbury returns, they may match up with San Diego.

THURSDAY, 12:59pm: Though they're on his no-trade list, the Red Sox asked the Brewers about Trevor Hoffman, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX SportsRosenthal adds that the Brewers are not inclined to move Hoffman.  Meanwhile they're getting calls on Carlos Villanueva and Todd Coffey.

12:05pm: The Red Sox are leaving no rock unturned in their search for relief help.  They've explored Rafael Perez, Will Ohman, Mike Gonzalez, Matt Capps, Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, David Aardsma, and Kyle Farnsworth, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  Cafardo says Scott Downs looks unlikely unless the Blue Jays back down from their top prospect requests.  On a related note, SI's Jon Heyman tweets that the Jays asked the Mets for outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis and one other player for Downs and were denied. 

Marshall is the interesting name here.  The 27-year-old lefty has had a dominant year in relief, posting a 1.71 ERA, 10.4 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 52.6 innings with one home run allowed.  He's been especially strong against lefties.  Marshall is under team control through 2012 and would presumably be very difficult to pry loose from the Cubs.  Gonzalez is another surprising name, since he's spent most of the season on the shelf with a shoulder injury and is still owed good money.

Cafardo adds that the Red Sox have been shopping reliever Ramon Ramirez, and offers the opinion that a National League team might want to take a look at him.  Ramirez has a 4.57 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 3.3 BB/9 in 41.3 innings with six home runs allowed and is a potential non-tender candidate after the season.


Odds & Ends: Lowell, Barmes, Red Sox, Hanson

Links for Wednesday, as the Tigers get some infield depth from a division rival

  • The Rangers haven't ruled out acquiring Mike Lowell, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
  • Agent Bean Stringfellow told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the Blue Jays are not currently discussing an extension with Jose Bautista. It’s not at all surprising given how much else the Blue Jays have to sort out this week. Bautista said on the FAN 590 today that he would listen if the Blue Jays approached him with a multi-year deal after the season.
  • The Cardinals are not interested in Clint Barmes, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter).
  • Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier that the Red Sox will “look aggressively” for ways to improve at the trade deadline.
  • Tommy Hanson explained to Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he chose the Boras Corp. because of the support the agency offers.
  • Brett Myers is untouchable, a source tells Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). With respect to Justice and his source, it seems unfathomable that a 41-59 team wouldn't listen to offers on a player who can walk at the end of the season.
  • Casey Fien cleared waivers and the Tigers outrighted him to Triple A, according to the team (via Twitter). Detroit designated Fien for assignment last weekend.
  • Like Fien, Scott Moore cleared waivers and headed to Triple A, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The O's designated Moore for assignment last week.
  • And another recent DFA, Justin Miller, was outrighted to Triple A Albuquerque, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (via Twitter).
  • The Blue Jays have considered Kelly Johnson, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Aaron Hill recently told the Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair that he would play third if the Jays asked him to, so Johnson could theoretically play second in Toronto. Seems like a longshot to me.
  • Kyle Farnsworth is available to manager Ned Yost (and GMs around the league) after leaving yesterday's game with a hamstring cramp, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
  • Trevor Hoffman can veto deals to 25 MLB teams, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. The all-time saves leader and his $7.5MM salary would likely clear waivers, so interested teams will probably be able to pursue him in August.
  • One player told Morosi that he'd be "shocked" if the Brewers trade Prince Fielder this week.
  • Mike Axisa counts down the Yankees' top five trade chips at River Ave. Blues.
  • The Dodgers won't discuss prospect Dee Gordon with other teams, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

Royals Open To Making More Deals

Several clubs were ‘kicking the tires’ on Scott Podsednik this summer, but until 24 hours ago, the Dodgers weren’t one of them.

“Ned Colletti and I spoke for the first time last night,” Royals GM Dayton Moore told reporters this evening.

Just 24 hours later, the clubs finalized the deal that sent Podsednik to the Dodgers for minor leaguers Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel. The negotiation process with the Dodgers was simple and Moore can imagine tinkering a little more before Saturday at 3pm CST.

“There may be a small deal or two that we could do going forward,” Moore said.

Some players – like Joakim Soria, Zack Greinke and Billy Butler – would be extremely difficult to pry away, but the Royals insist they’re “open-minded” about others.

“Guys in the final year of their contract, we’ll be more aggressive with potentially moving them,” Moore said.

Jose Guillen (who has drawn interest from the Giants), Bruce Chen and Willie Bloomquist are set to hit free agency after the 2010 season. The Royals have a $5.25MM option for Kyle Farnsworth in 2011, but he could attract interest before the deadline as well. The Royals lost a major trade chip last week when David DeJesus injured his thumb.