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Kyle McClellan Rumors
After spending three years in the Cardinals' bullpen, Kyle McClellan has become the favorite to win the fifth starter's job in their rotation. The 26-year-old entered the spring as a setup man, started auditioning for a rotation spot when Adam Wainwright injured his elbow and has pitched well enough to have a realistic chance of becoming a starter for the first time in his MLB career.
McClellan started 51 minor league games, then moved primarily to the bullpen after undergoing the same operation as Wainwright – Tommy John surgery – in 2005. The transition worked well for the right-hander, who thrived in the bullpen for three years, averaging 73 innings, a 3.23 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 from 2008-10.
Though McClellan has never started a major league game, the Cardinals have stretched him out at times. He worked 19 outings of at least four outs last year and logged at least two innings ten times.
As a reliever, McClellan has used either his fastball or his curveball 77% of the time, but he does have a change-up and a slider to complete the traditional four-pitch mix. It's possible that hitters will adjust to McClellan's repertoire when they see him for the second or third time in a game and at this point it looks like the Cardinals are willing to take that risk.
Moving McClellan to the rotation would weaken the Cardinals' bullpen and could motivate a trade for bullpen help at some point this summer. The Yankees, Blue Jays, Athletics and Rockies come to mind as teams with deep bullpens, but St. Louis may not be interested in striking a deal and the market for relievers can shift quickly.
The Cardinals were never going to replace Wainwright, one of the top pitchers in the league, but McClellan and his 50% ground ball rate could make the loss more bearable by becoming a passable fifth starter. If not, the Cardinals can move him him back to the bullpen and use the trade chips or cash they otherwise might have saved to trade for or sign a starting pitcher such as Kevin Slowey or Kevin Millwood.
After losing Adam Wainwright for the season, it's been speculated that the Cardinals would go out on the free agent or trade market to acquire his replacement. GM John Mozeliak showed a much more patient approach last week, saying they'll first look in-house for a solution. SI.com's Jon Heyman reports today (on Twitter) that reliever Kyle McClellan will get the first crack at the job, but if not one emerges within two weeks, the team will "consider outside options."
The 26-year-old McClellan has 202 career relief appearances to his credit but zero big league starts. His last start came in Single-A in 2007, and the last time he started on a regular basis was back in 2004, again in Single-A. McClellan was working under a starter's program in Spring Training before Wainwright's injury, and according to the PitchFX data at FanGraphs, he throws enough pitches for the role: sinker (33.0% of the time), fastball (25.9%), curve (22.3%), and slider (11.9%) while mixing in a changeup (6.1%). Cardinals fans, chime in in the comments if you've seen something different out of the right-hander.
Eighteen years ago today, the Angels traded Lee Stevens to the Expos for minor leaguer Jeff Tuss, but Tuss refused to report to his new team. Keith Morrison, another minor leaguer, was included in the deal instead, and Tuss never played affiliated baseball again.
Here are today's batch of links…
- Chris Carpenter told MLB.com's Matthew Leach that he's not worried about his future with the Cardinals. The right-hander is under contract for 2011 with a $15MM club option for 2012, but an extension for Albert Pujols might push the 35-year-old Carpenter out of town if the team needs to shed payroll.
- Richard Griffin of The Toronto Star reports that the Blue Jays offered Russell Martin the same amount of money as the Yankees, but the catcher signed with New York because of a better opportunity to win (Twitter link). Shi Davidi of The Canadian Press tweets that the Jays wanted Martin to catch four times a week as well as play another position.
- Jeff Francis said the Blue Jays did not show any interest in him before he joined the Royals according to Davidi on Twitter. Francis grew up in Canada, but nowhere close to Toronto.
- Chad Jennings of the The Journal News takes a look at the Yankees' multiyear relief contract from the last decade.
- Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has pledged to keep negotiations about a contract extension with Albert Pujols private.
- The Rangers offered Jim Thome more than $4MM before he decided to sign with the Twins for $3MM, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). We knew that Thome turned down more money from Texas, but now we know how much.
- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told fans that he has confidence in GM Jim Hendry at today's Cubs Convention according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat (on Twitter).
- Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer says this winter's market for free agent relievers has been wonderful for Ryan Madson. The Phillies' setup man is due to become a free agent next offseason after his three-year, $12MM contract expires.
The Cardinals and reliever Kyle McClellan have agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration according to the team's Twitter feed. The deal is worth $1.375MM, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. With the right-hander's contract taken care of, the Cardinals have no more arbitration eligible players for 2011.
Last season McClellan, 26, turned in a career-best 2.27 ERA last season with 7.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 75.1 innings of work. This winter marked McClellan's first crack at arbitration eligibility. To keep up on all of the 2011 arbitration cases, check out our Arb Tracker.
Links for Tuesday…
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin tells MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that there's "no sense of urgency" to the Prince Fielder extension talks, since Fielder's "not going anywhere" for now.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that Chris Young (the Padres' version) could be a trade candidate this year, but that the right-hander would be better served staying in the National League.
- Morosi also lays out the decision facing the White Sox as A.J. Pierzynski's contract approaches its end. We discussed the catcher's next contract here.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka wants to play in the majors for at least another decade, according to WEEI's Rob Bradford.
- SI's Tom Verducci explains a radical floating realignment concept that was discussed by Bud Selig's "special committee for on-field matters."
- Joe Posnanski describes Aroldis Chapman's spring debut in this SI column.
- Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog reports that the Mets re-signed pitcher Kyle Snyder to a minor league deal. Snyder posted a 4.23 ERA, 6.4 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9 in 104.3 Triple A innings last year.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explores the recent pattern of the Cardinals acquiring rejected Red Sox players.
- ESPN's Keith Law opines that "if the season started this week, [Kyle Farnsworth would] have to be a candidate for unconditional release."
- MLB.com's Jason Beck caught up with Blue Jays pitcher Casey Fien, who bounced around between three clubs in a short span this winter.
- Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald says the 2007 Marlins-Tigers Miguel Cabrera blockbuster hasn't panned out as planned so far.
Full Story | 46 Comments | Categories: A.J. Pierzynski | Aroldis Chapman | Boston Red Sox | Casey Fien | Chicago White Sox | Chris Young | Cincinnati Reds | Daisuke Matsuzaka | Detroit Tigers | Kansas City Royals | Kyle Farnsworth | Kyle McClellan | Miami Marlins | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | Prince Fielder | San Diego Padres | St. Louis Cardinals | Toronto Blue Jays
SATURDAY, 7:05pm: Peter Gammons tweets (account protected) that any discussions would have to start with Brett Wallace, as the A's don't need to trade Holliday.
FRIDAY, 11:13pm: The Cardinals are "redoubling efforts to acquire" Matt Holliday, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says the Cards have warmed to the idea of offering a multiplayer package. They were previously reluctant to send a Ryan Ludwick-fronted package to Colorado in November. Strauss believes that the Cardinals would now probably be willing to offer Ludwick, one of Jason Motte, Chris Perez, and Kyle McClellan, and a prospect to Holliday's current team, the Athletics. Strauss adds:
Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., who opposed the November deal for Holliday, is apparently on board with assuming the remainder of Holliday's $13.5 million salary.
Only about $7.6MM remains on Holliday's contract, and he is of course a free agent after the season. Holliday, a Scott Boras client, currently profiles as a Type A free agent despite a decrease in production with Oakland.
Ludwick has about $2MM remaining on his contract this year. He's under team control through 2011 as an arbitration-eligible player. Ludwick was actually drafted by the A's in 1999, 60th overall. In 2002, they sent him to the Rangers with Gerald Laird and others for Carlos Pena and Mike Venafro. Ludwick, like Holliday, has dropped off significantly from his huge 2008 season.