Kyle Farnsworth Rumors
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.
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:
- The Rays are willing to trade closer Kyle Farnsworth, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. The 35-year-old has a 1.99 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 0.44 HR/9, and 53.8% groundball rate in 40 2/3 innings this year. He's more than a rental, with a $3.3MM club option for 2012. Joel Peralta might be next in line to close if Farnsworth is dealt, suggests Dan Mennella at CloserNews.
- Trade rumors have "become a comedy to me," Rays center fielder B.J. Upton told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Upton wants to stay in Tampa Bay, though he's heard himself linked to the Giants, Indians, Nationals, and Phillies.
- The Yankees are among the teams pursuing the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Yanks had a scout at Edwin Jackson's start yesterday in Cleveland, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Orioles' next GM will have his hands full with many team needs this offseason, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.
- WEEI's Alex Speier looks at the circumstances that led to the Red Sox acquiring catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Rangers last summer.
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.
Here are a few items of note for Jan. 29, 53 years to the day after Stan Musial became the National League's highest-paid player with the one-year, $100K contract he signed with the Cardinals ...
- The Rays will pay Kyle Farnsworth $2.6MM in salary in 2011, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. If Farnsworth's option for 2012 is picked up, he will earn $3.3MM that year. If it's declined, the buyout is $650K. The deal also includes up to $300K in incentives for games finished.
- The Phillies have not re-signed free-agent reliever Chad Durbin because he is seeking a two-year deal at a higher annual salary than the club is comfortable giving him, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Philly is also intent on preserving the roster spot for the sake of grooming younger relievers, according to Stark.
- The Reds will decide whether to sign free-agent reliever Jason Isringhausen after watching him throw a bullpen session on Monday in Arizona, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Isringhausen signed a minor-league deal with the Reds last July but did not appear in any games for them. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Rays in June 2009, a stint that ended when he suffered an arm injury that required Tommy John surgery.
- The Orioles remain fairly interested in free-agent pitcher Justin Duchscherer after receiving positive feedback on the right-hander's Friday bullpen session, blogs Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
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.
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.
It's been a publicly quiet offseason for Farnsworth since the Braves declined his $5.25MM option for 2011 at the beginning of November.
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.
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.
The Braves have three free agents and three option decisions; MLB.com's Mark Bowman has the latest.
- Of free agents Derrek Lee, Troy Glaus, and Eric Hinske, only Hinske has a chance of returning. Bowman expects him to survey the market first.
- Billy Wagner still hasn't changed his plan to retire.
- Bowman expects the Braves to announce later today that they've exercised their $2.5MM options on Alex Gonzalez and Omar Infante. They'll be declining on Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth.
- Scott Proctor, who is arbitration eligible, is expected to agree to a deal with a $750K base salary and incentives allowing him to approach $1MM. The Braves also have Jair Jurrjens, Eric O'Flaherty, Martin Prado, Peter Moylan, and Matt Diaz eligible for arbitration.
Links for Sunday, as a handful of players suit up for new teams....
- Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth are happy to be playing meaningful games with the Braves, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
- Will Ohman had a hunch that he would be moved before the deadline, writes MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- The Tigers have yet to make a blockbuster deadline deal under GM Dave Dombrowski, writes Steve Kornacki of MLive.com.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter) thinks it's very likely that the Mets will sign their first round selection, pitcher Matt Harvey. However, Callis doesn't feel that the pitcher is worth going over slot for.
- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban could be putting himself in position to buy the Rangers, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- Cristian Guzman initially vetoed a deal to the Rangers, but changed his mind, according to Anthony Andro of the Dallas Morning News. MASN's Ben Goessling notes that the Nationals will pay for the rest of Guzman's salary this year (approximately $2.78MM), but will also receive $1.1MM from the Rangers.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney looks back on the deadline deals in his latest Insider-only blog, writing that "what in the world was Washington thinking?" was a question frequently asked by frustrated rival executives.
- The Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin says that the price of bullpen help was too steep for the Red Sox, who made "competitive offers" on Scott Downs, Brandon League, and Brian Fuentes.
- Daniel Paulling of the Kansas City Star reports that Gil Meche won't have season-ending surgery after all, since doctors told the right-hander it would have kept him out of action in 2011 as well.
- The Brewers were never close to making any trades, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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.