LaTroy Hawkins Rumors

NL West Notes: Ziegler, Dodgers, LaRussa, LaRocque, Hawkins

Diamondbacks submariner Brad Ziegler is one of the most fascinating, and most effective, relievers in the game, Rany Jazayerli writes for Grantland. Tracking the notable successes of the small number of soft-throwing, under-handed throwers in baseball history, Jazayerli wonders whether there could be some value in looking for more such pitchers. Of course, as he explains, Ziegler is even more unique than most in that he has figured out how to retire opposite-handed hitters. Here’s more from the National League West:

  • For all its talent, the Dodgers‘ roster lacks flexibility, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That, in turn, complicates any possible maneuvers to upgrade the team, which is off to an uninspiring start. But if upgrades are difficult to identify with regard to the team’s key roles, that could be because they may not really be needed. Los Angeles has an enviable rotation that is not likely to be altered substantially, and actually stands at fifth in the bigs in position player fWAR to date. While it is arguable that the team could stand to enjoy stronger performances out of the bullpen and bench, those are the spots most readily upgraded over the summer. The Dodgers can certainly look to do just that if the struggles continue over the summer, and might also consider displacing or supplementing A.J. Ellis behind the plate. (Of course, the more drastic move of shipping out a high-priced outfielder could also be on the table, even if the return is minimal.)
  • The unyielding Tony LaRussa is a poor fit for the Diamondbacks, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. As Passan notes, he will become the game’s oldest head of baseball ops in his first time in the role, and will need to maintain a much broader focus than he did in the dugout. Moreover, while prominent owner Ken Kendrick has cited the need for the organization to better utilize analytics, says Passan, LaRussa is driven first and foremost by his gut and vast experience.
  • LaRussa talked about his view of sabermetrics today in an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (via Vince Marotta of ArizonaSports.com). “My opinion is that it’s a valuable tool, but mostly a tool to help you identify talent and then prepare the talent,” said LaRussa. “I think the biggest problem I see is there are teams that have gone way overboard and they are really interfering with the way the managers and coaches conduct strategy during the game by running the analytics and forcing them into it.”
  • If and when LaRussa moves to replace Kevin Towers as the team’s general manager, current Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque could be a prime candidate, reports Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (Twitter links). LaRocque has an extensive scouting background, and has overseen the fast-tracked development of many of the Cards’ impressive young players.
  • Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins says he does not expect his age-41 season to be his last, tweets Morosi. “If I stay healthy, I’ll play [in 2015],” said Hawkins. The veteran righty has worked to a 4.11 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, though he has struck out only 3.5 batters per nine (against 1.8 BB/9). He is earning $2.25MM this season, and Colorado has an equally-priced option ($250K buyout) for next year.

Quick Hits: Hoyer, Morrow, Hawkins, Angels

A strong young pitching arm has long been the most valuable commodity in baseball, but as ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest Insider-only column, some executives are beginning to put a greater premium on young hitters.  Position players may rate higher due to defensive value, not to mention that big bats are becoming a rarer commodity as scoring declines around the game.

Here are some news and notes from around the baseball world…

  • The Cubs are widely expected to be sellers at the trade deadline but GM Jed Hoyer told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney) that trade talks are currently “non-existent” and things won’t get serious for at least a few more weeks.  “I certainly talk to a lot of GMs on a daily or weekly basis,” Hoyer said. “But having a GM call about a specific player? I’m not even sure I fielded one of those yet. Really, that trade talk always dies right at the end of spring training.”
  • The Blue Jays have shifted Brandon Morrow to the 60-day disabled list, the team announced to reporters, including MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm (Twitter links).  The right index finger injury that put Morrow on the 15-day DL earlier today was revealed to be a torn tendon sheath, and if the injury isn’t healed by July, Morrow will have to undergo season-ending surgery.  This looks to be the third time in as many years that Morrow has suffered an injury that cost him at least two months of the season.
  • LaTroy Hawkins‘ presence could’ve greatly helped solve the Mets‘ bullpen issues, which is why Andy Martino of the New York Daily News opines that the team isn’t serious about contending.  Hawkins signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with the Rockies, a modest contact that Martino feels the Mets should’ve and could’ve easily topped in order to shore up their bullpen’s questionable depth.
  • The Angels‘ struggling bullpen could get a boost from the farm system very soon, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes.  GM Jerry Dipoto said that Double-A right-handers R.J. Alvarez and Cam Bedrosian could both be “a phone call away. They’re doing it against high-level professional hitters. I feel like both can help sooner rather than later.”
  • Indians catcher George Kottaras is likely to be designated for assignment once Yan Gomes returns from the paternity list, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  Kottaras was just called up today by the Tribe to take Gomes’ place, but he is out of options.  The 30-year-old catcher signed a minor league deal with the Tribe in late March.
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Mike Petriello identifies three early weaknesses plaguing the Cardinals, Dodgers and Tigers in 2014.
  • Ten well-known names ranging from Major League veterans to retired NBA star Tracy McGrady are active in the independent leagues, Zachary Levine writes for FOXSports.com in a brief review of these ten players’ career situations.
  • Giving minor league starting prospects Major League experience as relievers and eventually working them into the rotation is a strategy popularized by Earl Weaver’s Orioles in the 1970′s, and this idea has been one of the cornerstones of the Cardinals‘ success over the last decade, Peter Gammons writes in his latest column for GammonsDaily.com.

Quick Hits: Hardy, D’Backs, Gregg, Hawkins, Payrolls

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy told reporters today (including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) that he won’t comment any further on his contract situation because there haven’t been any new developments. “There’s nothing to discuss,” said Hardy before adding that there haven’t been any recent negotiations between the two sides. Encina writes that Hardy and the O’s haven’t had extension talks since Spring Training. A few more late night links from around the league…

  • Asked about the performance of rookie starter Mike Bolsinger following a strong start on Thursday, Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero launched into an unprompted defense of GM Kevin Towers, manager Kirk Gibson and the Arizona coaching staff, writes MLB.com’s Steve GilbertThe bottom line is, it’s our responsibility to go out there and take care of business,” said Montero. “I just wanted to say that, because the blame should be on us.” Montero said he would be “disappointed” if anything were to happen to Towers, Gibson or any of the coaches. 
  • Right-hander Kevin Gregg tells Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times that he’s in shape and waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. Gregg isn’t sure why he wasn’t able to land a guaranteed big league deal after a solid 2013 campaign with the Cubs but feels he can still get outs in the Majors and would welcome the opportunity to pitch in 2014. Gregg has been working out and pitching to college hitters at his home in Oregon to stay in shape as he waits for a deal. He spoke with a number of teams this offseason, writes Wittenmyer, but the Cubs weren’t one of them.
  • LaTroy Hawkins was surprised when the Rockies‘ offer to him this offseason included an opportunity to close games, writes Tracy Ringolsby for MLB.com. Hawkins says, however, that it was made clear that he was merely keeping the seat warm for Rex Brothers. Hawkins explains to Ringolsby the wisdom he’s trying to impart on Brothers as the young left-hander prepares himself to be the long-term answer for Colorado in the ninth inning.
  • The CardinalsRays and Giants top a list of baseball’s smartest spenders over the past five that was devised by Ira Boudner, Evan Applegate and Ritchie S. King of Bloomberg Businessweek. The three have created a weighted system for all four major American sports based on the price paid per win compared to the league average and also created an interactive graphic for users to customize the list. In contrast, the White SoxMets and Cubs are the bottom three on the list.


New York Notes: Cashman, Drew, Niese, Tulo, Franklin

Earlier today, it was reported that the Yankees will be monitoring the market for infielders in Spring Training but aren't looking to spend any significant cash in order to upgrade their infield. Here are some more items pertaining to New York's teams…

  • Despite the Yankees' 85-77 record, GM Brian Cashman approached the winter as if his club had only achieved its Pythagorean record of 79-83.  “Our team over-performed last year,” Cashman told reporters, including Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. “It’s a credit to everybody involved in that process. But the record didn’t reflect the talent. And so when you take a sledgehammer to the roster like we did this winter and spend the money we did, it’s more reflective of recognizing. Of not being fooled.” 
    the Bombers’ best insurance policy
    the Bombers’ best insurance policy
  • Stephen Drew is "the Bombers' best insurance policy" given the Yankees' thin infield situation, The Record's Bob Klapsich writes.  While the Yankees are concerned about Drew's medicals and seemingly have no payroll space left, Klapisch notes that the club is already putting a lot of hope in an infield with major injury risks (i.e. Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Mark Teixeira).  "Basically, we have to keep everyone from breaking down," a Yankees official tells Klapisch.
  • According to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, Mets GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged that his team appears to be a logical landing spot for Drew, but the team has made its own cost-benefit evaluation and acted accordingly to this point. Alderson opined the Drew and agent Scott Boras "are reviewing the situation and perhaps looking at a strategy that prolongs this situation into the regular season or even into June."
  • Mets lefty Jon Niese was shut down due to a dead arm and is heading back to New York for an MRI, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo (on Twitter). Manager Terry Collins told reporters, including the Daily News' Kristie Ackert, that the MRI is a precaution at this time.
  • In a video blog at ESPN.com, Jim Bowden addresses rumors surrounding Troy Tulowitzki and the Yankees, noting that the Rockies star won't be traded to New York to replace Jeter no matter how much talk of the possibility surfaces.  Bowden says that Rockies president Dan O'Dowd has told him repeatedly that Tulo won't be traded.
  • The Mets will scout Nick Franklin throughout Spring Training and pay special attention to his defense, a team source tells John Harper of the Daily News (Twitter link). The club likes Franklin's pop but isn't sure about his glove at short, the source said. Reports earlier this week connected the Mets to Franklin.

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post


Rockies Sign LaTroy Hawkins

Thursday: Hawkins has passed his physical, and the deal is now official, Hawkins himself tweets.

Monday: The Rockies have agreed to terms with right-hander LaTroy Hawkins on a one-year, $2.25MM deal, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter links) The contract also carries a $2.25MM option for 2015 with a $250K buyout and will be official if Hawkins passes a physical on Thursday.  Hawkins is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.

Hawkins will serve as the Rockies' closer, Nightengale reports.  The club was known to be looking for back-end relief help, and though Rex Brothers pitched well as a replacement close for Rafael Betancourt, Colorado will instead use Brothers as a setup man with an eye towards slowly easing him towards the closer's job (according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post).  Since Hawkins is a righty and Brothers is a lefty, it's possible manager Walt Weiss could platoon his two closing options depending on the situation. 

This is the well-traveled Hawkins' second stint in Colorado, as the veteran righty threw 55 1/3 relief innings for the Rockies' pennant-winning team in 2007.  Hawkins turns 41 in December but is coming off one of his stronger seasons — he posted a 2.93 ERA, 5.50 K/BB and 7.0 K/9 in 70 2/3 IP with the Mets in 2013.  Hawkins has done a good job of keeping the ball on the ground over his career, with a 47.8% grounder rate and an 8.6% HR/FB rate over his 19 Major League seasons, so he projects well at Coors Field.

There was solid demand for Hawkins, as Nightengale reports that the Mets, Braves and Indians were all interested in his services and 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson notes that the Twins "had [a] brief talk" of signing the veteran as well.


NL West Links: Johnson, Hawkins, Rockies, Dodgers

Josh Johnson reached out to the Giants and Padres to let them know they were his first choices for a new team, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (all Twitter links).  Both teams play close to Johnson's home in Las Vegas and also have pitcher-friendly ballparks that are ideal for a hurler looking to rebuild his value on a one-year contract.  Schulman isn't sure if the Giants made Johnson an offer, though Johnson's chances of joining the club have likely dimmed now that San Francisco has signed Tim Hudson.  Starting pitching isn't an offseason priority for the Padres, though a healthy and in-form Johnson projects as the ace of San Diego's rotation.

Here are some more items from around the NL West…

  • The Rockies' one-year, $2.5MM agreement with LaTroy Hawkins "blew away" the Mets' offer to the veteran reliever, a source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.  Colorado also outbid the Braves, who didn't need Hawkins in either a closing or setup role, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
  • Now that the Rockies have signed Hawkins, Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Sulia link) opines that the club needs to pursue the likes of Edward Mujica, Joe Smith or Jose Veras to further upgrade their shaky bullpen.  Renck also looks at how the Hawkins signing impacts Rex Brothers' role as Colorado's "closer of the future."
  • Also from Renck (Sulia link), the Rockies and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa haven't begun talks on a contract extension.  De La Rosa's current deal is up after the 2014 season and Renck reported last month that both sides have interest in continuing their relationship.  The southpaw also tells Renck that he is recovered from the thumb injury that bothered him down the stretch last season.
  • The Dodgers have received "moderate to moderate-plus" trade interest in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, an official tells Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown.  We heard last week that the Dodgers were open to offers for Kemp, Ethier or Carl Crawford in order to free up payroll space and a spot in the outfield.  Brown's piece outlines the Dodgers' offseason priorities, beginning with Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.
  • Juan Uribe is looking for a three-year contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  The Dodgers are interested in bringing Uribe back but not at that length, which Heyman admits is "probably a stretch."  Indeed, Tim Dierkes said that Uribe would be weighing one- or two-year offers in MLBTR's free agent profile of the third baseman.
  • The Dodgers would be better off trading to upgrade their rotation than signing a free agent hurler, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon opines.  "With the exception of [Masahiro] Tanaka, it’s an exceptionally flawed market for free agent starting pitchers and it seems like the Dodgers are more than aware of that. Much as they’d like to improve their rotation, they might be better served to sit this one out," Saxon writes.
  • In other NL West news from earlier today, we collected some more Giants news items and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that the Dodgers signed Brendan Harris to a minor league deal.

Astros Links: Ryan, Young, Hawkins, Tanaka

Astros owner Jim Crane has spoken to Nolan Ryan in the month since he left the Rangers organization, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, but no front office job or advisory position has been offered. Ryan pitched for the Astros from 1980-88, and his son, Reid, is the team's president of business operations, leading many to consider him a logical fit to land in Houston. Crane acknowledged to Drellich that there could be a fit down the road. Here's more on the American League's newest team…

  • Houston native Chris Young would be interested in patrolling the outfield for the Astros in 2014, he told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart: "I love Houston. I’m from Houston and play well in Houston and always have. Something about being home that’s refreshing to me. I love everything about the city and the team. They’re growing, and I feel they’re going to make some moves here soon. They have a good future. I’m open to all the possibilities."
  • Also from McTaggart, a reunion with LaTroy Hawkins doesn't appear to be in the cards for the Astros. Hawkins told McTaggart that he's received interest from multiple teams. I'd imagine that coming off a strong year and heading into his age-41 season, Hawkins would prefer to play for a contending team.
  • In a separate piece from Drellich, Crane took the "never say never" approach when asked about a potential pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, noting that the Astros were one of the three finalists for Jose Dariel Abreu and offered in the neighborhood of $60MM. Of course, that sum might not cover the posting fee for Tanaka alone, and Crane conceded that it's unlikely the team would give out a significant long-term deal with so much talent coming through the minor league system.

Quick Hits: Young, Hawkins, Braden, Girardi

The White Sox owe it to Paul Konerko to bring him back for a final season in 2014 if the long-time first baseman wishes to keep playing, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune opines.  The Sox would have to release or trade Adam Dunn to make room for Konerko with Jose Dariel Abreu now aboard, and while eating Dunn's contract would be expensive, Sullivan argues that Dunn is already a sunk cost and not worth keeping if it means cutting ties with a franchise icon.

Here are some more items from around baseball tonight…

  • Chris Young would like to play for the Astros but the free outfielder didn't say if he'd been contacted by the team, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets.  Young, a Houston native, has drawn some level of interest from the Red Sox and Mets this winter.
  • Also from McTaggart, LaTroy Hawkins said he hasn't been contacted by the Astros this offseason, though the veteran has other "irons in the fire."  The Astros are looking for bullpen help and Hawkins has a connection to Houston, having pitched for the club in 2008-09.  As many as seven teams, however, have already shown interest in Hawkins, including the Rockies and Mets.
  • Dallas Braden tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he intends to try out for teams when he increases his stamina.  After throwing a perfect game in 2010, Braden made just three starts in 2011 and hasn't pitched since due to a pair of shoulder surgeries.  The southpaw elected free agency from the A's following the 2012 season.
  • Brian Cashman tells reporters (including The Chicago Sun-Times Gordon Wittenmyer) that he always expected Joe Girardi to return to manage the Yankees, despite the rumors that Girardi would join the Cubs.  Wittenmyer believes the Cubs' reported "back-channel communication" to try and woo Girardi "underscored an ongoing disconnect between the Cubs’ baseball and business sides of the operation."
  • The qualifying offer may not be the hindrance to some free agents as it appears, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal argues.  Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse were last offseason's two infamous examples of how a draft pick compensation tag could hurt a player's market, but MacPherson opines that the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA system projected Bourn and Lohse as worth the contracts they eventually signed with the Indians and Brewers, respectively.
  • If the Rockies could somehow get Justin Morneau at a reasonable price, he would make an ideal platoon partner for Michael Cuddyer and Jordan Pacheco, Troy Renck of the Denver Post opines (Sulia link).
  • A member of the Yankees baseball operations staff predicts Phil Hughes will sign with an NL West team, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter).  The flyball-prone Hughes could be greatly helped by pitching at AT&T Park, Petco Park or Dodger Stadium, though Chase Field or Coors Field aren't good fits.  The source says Hughes is a "good fit in Minnesota," and the Twins and Royals are the only teams linked to Hughes so far this offseason.
  • Though Tim Hudson is 38 and coming off a nasty broken ankle, a National League talent evaluator still picked the veteran righty as the best risk amongst free agent pitchers who are at least 33 years old, SI.com's Tom Verducci reports.  Bartolo Colon, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren and Ryan Vogelsong round out the top five.

LaTroy Hawkins Drawing Early Interest

Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com writes that the Rockies are interested in free agent LaTroy Hawkins, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter) that Hawkins has received interest from as many as seven teams. The Mets are also known to have interest in Hawkins, who served as their closer in the season's final motnhs after Bobby Parnell was lost for the season due to injury.

Hawkins will turn 41 in December, but he showed no signs of his age in 2013. After signing a minor league deal that guaranteed him $1MM upon making the Mets' roster, Hawkins turned in a stellar 2.93 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 70 2/3 innings — his highest total since 2004 with the Cubs. Hawkins saved 13 games down the stretch, boosting his career total to 101 in the process.

A one-year deal again seems likely for Hawkins, but he should have no problems securing a Major League deal this time around — likely one that will pay him significantly more than his $1MM base salary with the Mets.

The Rockies' reported interest is no surprise, as Hawkins enjoyed a successful season there in 2007, and the team is known to be looking for relief help. Other bullpen targets for the Rockies include Brian Wilson, Jose Veras and Joe Smith.


Mets Notes: Hawkins, Hart, Ellsbury, Choo

Here's the latest out of Queens..

  • The Mets have already reached out to free agent reliever LaTroy Hawkins about returning, a baseball source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News (via Twitter).  Another unknown club has also gotten in touch with Hawkins, who served as the Mets' closer to finish the 2013 season.  The 40-year-old posted a 2.93 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 70.2 innings of work last season.
  • The Mets are one of a dozen teams that have reached out to veteran free agent Corey Hart, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link).  MLBTR's Steve Adams sees Hart getting a one-year, $8MM pact with $2-4MM in incentives.
  • In today's mailbag, a reader asks MLB.com's Anthony DiComo if Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo could be realistic options for the Mets.  After speaking with a number of people both inside and outside the Mets organization, DiComo came away with the impression that no one expects GM Sandy Alderson to do anything of that magnitude.