Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors

Los Angeles Angels trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Free Agent Pitching Notes: Mulder, Zito, Coke

Here are a few pitching notes from around the game:

  • Long-time big leaguer Mark Mulder will not go after another comeback attempt this year, he tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The 37-year-old lefty has not seen MLB action since 2008 and had a brief spring stint with the Angels cut short last year with a rupture of his Achilles tendon.
  • Like Mulder, fellow southpaw Barry Zito made his name with the early-21st century Athletics. Though he remains on track with his own comeback bid, Zito will not be making a late-career return to Oakland, which was not among the teams to watch him work out today, per Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter).
  • Free agent LOOGY Phil Coke threw recently for the Rangers and Blue Jays, his agent tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link.) Coke worked to a 3.88 ERA over 58 frames last year with the Tigers.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Garrett Richards

Here’s the rundown of players who avoided arbitration today:

  • Starting pitcher Garrett Richards has settled with the Angels for $3.2MM, Mike Perchick of WAPT tweets. Richards, who’s eligible for arbitration for the first time as a Super Two player, was in the midst of a breakout season (with a 2.61 ERA, 8.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 168 2/3 innings) when he suffered a season-ending knee injury from which he’s now recovering. He’s set to begin throwing off a mound in the next two weeks. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, Richards had asked for $3.8MM, and the Angels had countered with $2.4MM, so $3.2MM is a bit above the $3.1MM midpoint. With Richards’ signing, Matt Joyce is the only Angel remaining with a pending arbitration case.

West Links: Luhnow, Reimold, Angels, Dodgers

In an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link), Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said his club had looked at signing Kevin Correia and Kyle Kendrick.  Houston’s interest in Correia was reported earlier this week, while Kendrick has been linked to the ‘Stros as another potential fit to fill out the back of their rotation.  Luhnow also stated that the Astros had been looking at other similar starters with Major League experience.  Here’s some more from both the AL and NL West divisions…

  • The Athletics have checked in on free agent outfielder Nolan Reimold, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets.  The Indians and Orioles are also known to be interested in Reimold, and Dan Duquette said earlier today that the O’s have extended an offer for Reimold to return to Baltimore.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was non-committal about the idea of his team pursuing any of the top arms available in next year’s free agent market, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes.  Payroll space could be an issue given how (according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts) the Halos have over $128MM committed to only seven players for the 2016 season.
  • With Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson both set for free agency after 2016, Gonzalez wonders if the Angels could sign a major starter and then use Weaver or Wilson as trade bait, similar to how the Nationals signed Max Scherzer and now have the depth to explore trading Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister.  There were rumors earlier this winter that the Angels were already shopping Wilson, though Dipoto issued a denial.
  • Sergio Santos will earn $1MM if he makes the Dodgers‘ Major League roster, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports (via Twitter), plus another $3.05MM is available in incentives.  Santos signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month.
  • The Dodgers are committed to rebuilding their minor league system and thus are wary about exceeding their international bonus pool to sign Yoan Moncada, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick writes.  While L.A. is very interested in Moncada, any team that wants to sign the Cuban phenom would have to greatly exceed their bonus pool to do so, and thus be limited to international signings of $300K or less for the next two international signing periods, or until July 2017.  Of course, several teams have employed the strategy of exceeding the pool limit to load up on premium international talent during one signing period — the Red Sox, Angels, Rays, Yankees and Diamondbacks already face that $300K limit during the 2015-17 international signing market.
  • The Diamondbacks hired former slugger Joe Carter as a special assistant to GM Dave Stewart, the team announced.  Carter and Stewart were teammates in Toronto in 1993-94, both playing major roles in the Blue Jays’ 1993 World Series title.


Angels Avoid Arbitration With David Freese

The Angels have avoided arbitration with third baseman David Freese, Mike Perchick of WAPT tweets. Freese will earn $6.425MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter.

That settlement amount represents the exact mid-point between the player and team filing points. Freese, a client of CAA Sports, ultimately lands just $125K over the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. His signing leaves the Halos with two players — Matt Joyce and Garrett Richards — with open arbitration cases.

The 31-year-old will enter his second season in Los Angeles coming off of a mixed 2014 campaign. On the one hand, he posted a career-worst .704 OPS (.260/.321/.383) and scored middling-to-poor defensive ratings. On the other hand, that roughly league-average offensive output landed a reasonable sight above replacement level for the hot corner, and Freese’s total worth came out to 1.3 rWAR and 2.1 fWAR.


Minor Moves: Morris, Stewart, Herrmann

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • First baseman Hunter Morris has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, the Brewers announced this week. Morris was at one point considered to be the Brewers’ first baseman of the future, and he posted an impressive .303/.357/.563 batting line at Double-A in 2012. However, he’s slipped to a .260/.315/.453 line in two seasons at Triple-A and missed time with a fractured forearm this season. Morris will play the coming season at age 26.
  • The Angels have signed right-hander Zach Stewart to a minor league deal with no invite to Spring Training, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Stewart, 28, once looked to be a fairly promising prospect but has registered just a 6.82 ERA in 103 innings with the Blue Jays, White Sox and Red Sox. The former Reds third-rounder has a lifetime 4.15 ERA in 364 2/3 Triple-A innings.
  • The Angels announced the signing of righty Frank Herrmann to a minor league deal with a spring invite, via Twitter. The 30-year-old last worked in the bigs back in 2012, and owns a 4.26 ERA with 5.4 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 over 120 1/3 career frames. After Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2013, Herrmann struggled last year in 29 2/3 Triple-A frames with the Indians, the only organization he had previously played for.

Angels Open To Extensions With Street, Iannetta, Richards

The Angels are planning to discuss an extension with closer Huston Street in Spring Training and are also open to extensions with catcher Chris Iannetta and budding ace Garrett Richards, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The Halos, in fact, have already approached Street about the possibility, Gonzalez adds.

An extension with Street has been a known possibility for some time, as GM Jerry Dipoto told Gonzalez back in November that the two sides would talk during Spring Training. However, interest in extending Iannetta had not surfaced publicly prior to this point.

Interestingly, Street will represent himself in any contract negotiations, the reliever himself told Gonzalez in that same November piece by Gonzalez. A former client of Hendricks Sports, Street earned $7MM in both 2013 and 2014, and he’ll earn the same amount in 2015.

Street’s strikeout rate rebounded from a career-low 7.3 K/9 in 2013 back up to a more typical 8.7 K/9 in 2014, and he enjoyed his second sub-2.00 ERA campaign of the past three seasons. Although his ERA has fluctuated significantly over the past four seasons, his efforts have netted a 2.49 ERA in 213 1/3 innings with 8.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. ERA estimator SIERA has pegged Street as a sub-3.00 ERA reliever in five of the past six seasons, with the lone exception being the aforementioned 2013 season in which his strikeout rate dipped.

As for Iannetta, it makes sense to see the Halos interested in retaining him, given the fact that the soon-to-be 32-year-old is slated to be one of the top backstops available on next year’s open market, alongside Matt Wieters and Alex Avila. Iannetta offers not only respectable pop from behind the dish (.148 ISO with the Angels) but also has posted gaudy OBP numbers for much of his career thanks to a lifetime 14.2 percent walk rate. He does leave something to be desired in terms of pitch framing and is a bit below average in terms of career caught-stealing rate, but he’s a consistently valuable option behind the dish.

Richards and the Angels have to hammer out his arbitration salary — he filed for a $3.8MM salary, while the team countered at $2.4MM, as can be seen in our Arbitration Tracker — and talks are said to be progressing slowly, per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link). DiGiovanna adds that to this point, there’s been no discussion of a multi-year pact with Richards’ representatives at Relativity Baseball, and Gonzalez did caution that such negotiations might not even begin until after Opening Day.

However, as MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows, Relativity has been amenable to extensions for young starters in the past, as they negotiated long-term deals for Chris Archer, Julio Teheran, Madison Bumgarner and Jon Lester prior to those players reaching three years of big league service. Of course, Richards is a Super Two player and already eligible for arbitration, so he figures to be a more expensive commodity than the aforementioned names, who signed prior to arbitration.

Uncertainty surrounding Richards’ health as he recovers from knee surgery may be a factor in potentially delaying talks until the season begins, though Gonzalez reports that the right-hander is running on 75 percent of his body weight and should progress to 100 percent next week. He’s expected to be ready to begin throwing off a mound around the time the club begins its workouts in Spring Training. GM Jerry Dipoto wouldn’t comment on extension talks with Richards (or any other player), but he expressed confidence that the Angels would avoid an arbitration hearing with Richards, Matt Joyce and David Freese, Gonzalez writes.


Pitching Notes: Johan, Shields, Twins

Most of the meat left on the free agent bone belongs to the pitching segment of the market. Indeed, five of the seven players who I listed this morning as intriguing free agents were right-handed pitchers.

Here’s the latest on some arms from around the league:

  • There was more cloudy news out of Venezuela regarding Johan Santana‘s comeback attempt, as his agent tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports that he will not attempt to pitch again in the winter league. (Twitter links.) Santana may still aim to take a mound for scouts, but any such plans are “unclear” at this point.
  • The Angels are still not interested in chasing James Shields, even if his price may have dropped somewhat, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).
  • For their part, the Twins have no intentions of going after free agent righties John Axford and Alexi Ogando, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune tweets. As he notes, the market has several attractive right-handed relief arms, though it is not clear whether Minnesota has any interest in adding to its pen. Both Axford and Ogando made my list of interesting players to watch. I consider the pair to be among the remaining free agents who could either break out or break down in 2015.

Minor Moves: Jurrjens, Rodriguez, Ohlendorf, Rowen, Beltre, Carpenter

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Righty Jair Jurrjens has agreed to return to the Rockies on a minor league deal with a big league camp invite, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports. The 28-year-old righty has never regained the form he showed early in his career with the Braves. Last year, he was hit hard in two big league starts and worked to a 4.54 ERA over 81 1/3 Triple-A frames with the Reds and Rockies organizations.
  • The Orioles sent cash to the Braves in exchange for lefty Daniel Rodriguez. Baltimore had tried to nab Rodriguez out of Mexico several years ago, says Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). The 30-year-old came to Atlanta from Saltillo before the 2012 campaign and went straight to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he has generally struggled while working as a starter. The team is likely interested in taking a look at Rodriguez out of the pen, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • The Rangers have signed righty Ross Ohlendorf to a minor league deal that includes a spring invite, the club announced. Ohlendorf had a quality 60 1/3 inning run with the Nationals in 2013, working to a 3.28 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. That earned him a $1.25MM arbitration deal, but injury derailed his entire 2014 campaign.
  • Two former Rangers ballplayers are among the recent moves reported by Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (links to Twitter). The Dodgers have signed righty Ben Rowen, a 26-year-old righty who cracked the Rangers’ pen last year and who has had solid results in the upper minors. And the White Sox signed center fielder Engel Beltre, a defense-first player who has struggled to produce offensively and missed most of last year with a fractured tibia.
  • Also via Eddy, the Braves have inked former Angels reliever David Carpenter — not to be confused with the other right-handed reliever by the same team that Atlanta just traded. Carpenter has struggled in limited MLB exposure, but last year put up a 2.17 ERA over 62 1/3 innings, with 8.3 K/9 against 6.4 BB/9, despite pitching in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL.

Angels Release Yoslan Herrera To Pursue NPB Opportunity

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Angels have released righty Yoslan Herrera in order to afford him a chance to join the Yokohama BayStars of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League, Halos VP of communications Tim Mead tweets. Herrera, a 33-year-old righty out of Cuba, threw 16 2/3 frames of 2.70 ERA ball last year for Los Angeles with 7.0 K/9 against 4.9 BB/9. That was his first big league action since way back in 2008. He had been non-tendered and re-signed to a minor league deal.

Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.