Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors

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

Heyman On McCarthy, Morales, Fujikawa, Morgan

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com ran through some final details on several transactions this morning. Rather than bumping all of those posts to the top of the page at once, I have added the new information and will round up the changes here. (All links to Twitter.)

  • Brandon McCarthy‘s four-year contract with the Dodgers includes a conditional club option that reflects, but is not entirely synonymous with, the one that led to John Lackey playing the upcoming season at league minimum. As Heyman tweets, the Dodgers would hold a 2019 option for $5MM if McCarthy has spent more than 179 days on the DL due to a specific injury, or an $8MM option if he has missed between 119-179 days.
  • In his new deal with the Royals, Kendrys Morales will earn $6.5MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016, says Heyman. He also has a $1.5MM buyout on a $11MM option for 2017.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa will actually receive a $1.1MM total guarantee from the Rangers, Heyman tweets. His deal comes with a $2MM club option and $100K buyout, and that option could rise to as much as $3.5MM if Fujikawa meets certain games-finished thresholds.
  • Outfielder Nyjer Morgan received a $700K deal with the KBO’s Hanwha Eagles, Heyman tweets. That includes a $150K signing bonus and $550K salary.

Dodgers Shopping Brandon League

After designating fellow high-priced reliever Brian Wilson earlier today, and cleaning house more generally, the Dodgers are apparently looking to move on from another expensive remnant of the prior administration. Acordding to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), the club is talking with competitors about righty Brandon League and offering to pick up “almost half” of the $7.5MM he is owed this year in a trade.

League, now 31, was signed to a three-year, $22.5MM deal just after the end of the 2012 season. Pursuant to that contract, he is owed the above-noted $7.5MM sum for 2015. The deal also includes a vesting option, though it is only triggered if he finishes 55 games in the coming season.

The contract was widely disparaged immediately upon signing, and League fell far short of expectations in its first year. But he was actually productive last season, working to a 2.57 ERA over 63 frames. Though his 5.4 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 do not inspire much confidence, he did generate an obscene 67.5% groundball rate. ERA estimators like FIP (3.40), xFIP (4.09), and SIERA (3.58) viewed him, collectively, as an essentially average relief pitcher.

Of course, there is value in being average, and some teams will perhaps be enticed by League’s groundball abilities, generally strong history before his 2013 meltdown, and his bottom-line results last year. As the Dodgers continue to clean out some of the team’s more notable players, the ability to move on from League and save some cash in the process apparently holds some appeal as well.


Dodgers GM Talks Brandon McCarthy, Brian Wilson

The Dodgers’ major overhaul continued today when they officially signed right-hander Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal worth a reported $48MM.  Few doubt McCarthy’s ability and those who put a great deal of faith in his sabermetric numbers are excited about what he can do in 2015 and beyond.  However, the length of the 31-year-old’s pact gave pause to some people due to his injury history.  Not only did the Dodgers take a risk with McCarthy – they doubled down by agreeing to sign Brett Anderson to a one-year, $10MM contract.  Earlier today I asked Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi about the club’s willingness to roll the dice on those pitchers.

There’s a risk-reward calculation that all teams make.  Teams always have to consider these things with pitchers and [Dodgers head trainer] Stan Conte has been very involved in our process as far as histories and health risks go,” said Zaidi, who did not mention Anderson by name as his deal is not yet official.  “Going forward with any pitcher now, it’s part of the cost-benefit analysis.  You could have a guy who pitched 200-plus innings in the last four years that has a really bad elbow and that could go at any moment. Conversely, you could have a guy who has an injury history that you feel may be over the hump,”

With Brandon and the other pitcher we’re evaluating, we’re trying to figure out how they’ll perform in 2015 and beyond.”

Zaidi, of course, is familiar with McCarthy and Anderson thanks to their time together with the A’s. He had nothing but praise for McCarthy, saying that there was no other pitcher in Oakland that he felt more comfortable with on the mound.  Zaidi had a tremendous amount of confidence in the right-hander, he said, due to his “intelligence and attention to detail and game planning” as well as his command.

The Dodgers GM sounds equally confident in the status of McCarthy’s shoulder.  Zaidi believes that those issues will be in the past thanks to a new offseason routine that calls for additional upper body work.  The “proof is in the pudding” when it comes to McCarthy, who managed to add an extra 2 miles per hour to his fastball late in his career.

Midway through the conference call, reporters were informed that Brian Wilson was designated for assignment to make room for McCarthy on the roster.  I asked Zaidi if Wilson was struggling this winter in his effort to get back to his old form.

We’ve been keeping tabs on him in the offseason and this was not a move we made out of any medical concern.  It was more related to performance and it’s a position where we had to make a move because we had a surplus,” Zaidi explained.

It appears that recent bullpen additions like Joel Peralta, Juan Nicasio, and Chris Hatcher have leapfrogged Wilson, leaving him without much of a role to play in Los Angeles in 2015.  Their newest addition, meanwhile, will be counted on to serve as the fourth starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu.



Rockies Acquire Noel Cuevas To Complete Juan Nicasio Trade

The Rockies announced that they have acquired 23-year-old center fielder Noel Cuevas from the Dodgers to complete last month’s Juan Nicasio trade.

Cuevas spent the entire 2014 season in Double-A at age 22 and struggled after an excellent year at Class-A Advanced in 2013. The Puerto Rican outfielder followed up a .284/.341/.454 season with a disappointing .231/.285/.351 campaign. Cuevas went from 12 homers in 2013 to seven in 2014, which isn’t too troublesome, but it’s surprising to see his stolen base total drop from 38 at High-A to six at Double-A. Presumably, he will open the 2015 season at Double-A with the hope of better results.


Dodgers Sign Brandon McCarthy

The Dodgers have officially signed a four-year contract with Brandon McCarthy, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported (Twitter link). The four-year deal will pay McCarthy $48MM, Rosenthal tweets. McCarthy receives a $6MM signing bonus, $11MM per year in 2015-16, and $10MM annually in the final two years of the deal, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

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The contract also gives the Dodgers a conditional club option for 2019, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. If he has spent more than 179 days on the DL due to a specific injury, McCarthy would be subject to a $5MM club option. If he has missed between 119-179 days, it would be a $8MM club option.

A four-year guarantee would’ve seemed like a fantasy for McCarthy as recently as last summer when he had a 5.01 ERA through 18 starts with Arizona.  Advanced metrics revealed that McCarthy pitched much better than his ERA indicated, however, and he ended the year on a dominant run after being traded to the Yankees.  In 90 1/3 IP in New York, McCarthy posted a 2.89 ERA, 6.31 K/BB rate and 8.2 K/9.

MLBTR’s Steve Adams projected McCarthy would receive a three-year deal this winter, though a four-year deal wasn’t out of the question given the amount of interest the veteran righty was likely to generate.  The wait for Jon Lester to sign likely held up McCarthy’s market, as only the Royals and Yankees had been linked to him, and New York was hesitant to give McCarthy even a three-year contract given his injury history.  Needless to say, the fourth year was a nice get for McCarthy and agent Ryan Ware.

If the deal is finalized, McCarthy joins Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu in what should be a very strong top four in the Dodgers rotation, with lefty Brett Anderson now reportedly also on board to fill the fifth slot.  Los Angeles had been linked to high-profile aces like Cole Hamels or James Shields, and though you can never say never with the Dodgers, McCarthy’s signing could mean the team is done with its rotation shopping this winter.

There is no denying the risk that the Dodgers are taking on with this deal. While any long-term pitching contract comes with it, McCarthy has a particularly spotty injury history. And while the conditional club option included in the deal offers some measure of protection, it is not as clear cut a benefit as was the John Lackey option. Then, of course, there is the fact that McCarthy greatly improved his stock with a strong second half and will need to maintain it for a full season. All of that is not to say, of course, that McCarthy is not capable of meeting and exceeding the value of the deal; the price tag obviously reflects his ceiling.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported on Twitter that the deal was completed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Minor Moves: Teahen, Pridie, Kelly, Worth, Francisco

Former Royals infielder/outfielder Mark Teahen has retired from baseball, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Now 33 years old, Teahen last appeared in the Majors in 2011 and most recently split the 2013 season between the D-Backs’ minor league system and indy ball. Teahen had an outstanding 2006 season in which he batted .290/.357/.517 with 18 homers and 10 steals, but he was never able to repeat that success. Teahen eventually found himself the recipient of a three-year, $14MM extension with the White Sox that provided the bulk of his $21MM career earnings. All told, he will finish his career as a .264/.327/.409 hitter in 3171 plate appearances.

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Outfielder Jason Pridie and right-hander Merrill Kelly have signed with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The 31-year-old Pridie has received cups of coffee in each of the past three seasons but accrued most of his big league service time with the 2011 Mets when he batted .231/.309/.370 in 236 PA. He’s perhaps best known for being part of the trade that sent Delmon Young to Minnesota and Matt Garza to Tampa. Kelly, on the other hand, has spent his entire career with the Rays organization. He’s posted a career 3.40 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 527 1/3 innings and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2014.
  • Former Tigers infielder Danny Worth has signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks, reports MLive.com’s Chris Iott. Worth received offers from multiple clubs, including one who had interest in him as a pitcher, Iott adds (Worth pitched twice in 2014 and actually throws a decent knuckleball). The 29-year-old Worth is a career .230/.293/.295 hitter with Detroit and a .242/.320/.350 hitter at the Triple-A level.
  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports (via Twitter) that the D-Backs have also signed former big league outfielder Ben Francisco to a minor league deal. Francisco, now 33 years of age, didn’t see big league action in 2014 but has a career .253/.323/.418 batting line in parts of seven big league seasons.
  • Eddy also tweets that the Red Sox have signed right-hander Nestor Molina and catcher Luke Montz to minor league deals. Molina struggled in parts of three seasons in the White Sox’ minor league system after being acquired in the Sergio Santos trade. Montz is a 31-year-old veteran with 56 big league plate appearances and a .232/.318/.456 batting line in parts of four seasons at the Triple-A level.
  • The Royals have signed infielder Gabriel Noriega, tweets Eddy. Noriega is described by Eddy as a slick fielder who made a couple of Royals Top 30 prospects lists. The 27-year-old hit .275/.299/.360 between Double-A and Triple-A in the Mariners organization last year.
  • The Marlins have acquired righty Craig Stem from the Dodgers to complete the Kyle Jensen trade, Miami announced. Stem reached Double-A last year at age 24, but struggled mightily upon his promotion. The Dodgers are now expected to designate Jensen for assignment to clear room for the signing of Brandon McCarthy, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • First baseman Clint Robinson has joined the Nationals on a minor league pact, Ryan Walton reported on Twitter (and Robinson himself confirmed through a tweet). The 29-year-old has scant MLB experience, but torched the PCL with a .312/.401/.534 line over 499 plate appearances last year.
  • Dan Johnson is set to reach a minor league deal with the Astros, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. Johnson is 35 and has not reached triple-digit MLB plate appearances since 2010 (and 2007 before that), but owns a lifetime .281/.401/.509 slash at the Triple-A level.
  • The White Sox have added lefty Zach Phillips on a minor league deal, Eddy reports on Twitter. As Eddy notes, the South Siders have been loading up on LOOGY depth this offseason. The 28-year-old has seen sporadic big league action, with 15 2/3 innings to his credit over 2011-13, and spent some time last year playing in Japan.
  • The Indians have added catcher Brett Hayes and corner outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands on minor league deals, Eddy tweets. Hayes has appeared in six-straight big league seasons, though he’s never seen more than 144 plate appearances in a season. Sands, 27, has mostly played at the Triple-A level in recent seasons, but did get 227 plate appearances in 2011 (.253/.338/.389).
  • After being non-tendered, Jose Campos (Yankees) and Gus Schlosser (Braves) have returned to their prior organizations, Eddy reports on Twitter. Both righties have moved into swingman roles in their organizations, though Campos has yet even to reach High-A while Schlosser saw 15 games in the big leagues last year.

Dodgers To Sign Brett Anderson

6:49pm: Anderson would earn the full $4MM in incentives if he reaches 200 innings, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

4:53pm: The incentives kick in at 150 innings pitched, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. The Braves and Royals were also among the final teams in pursuit, he adds.

4:20pm: The Dodgers have agreed to a one-year, $10MM deal with lefty Brett Anderson, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Anderson, a client of the Legacy Agency, can earn up to $4MM in incentives through the deal, per Olney.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs

The signing represents yet another fascinating move out of the new L.A. front office. Anderson is still only 26 years old and has generally been quite effective when healthy. But he has not thrown over 100 innings since 2010, falling prey to a variety of maladies, including a UCL tear (and resulting Tommy John surgery) and a stress fracture in his foot. Last year, Anderson fell victim to a freak finger fracture on a hit-by-pitch and ended the year on the operating table for a bulging disc in his back.

With risk looming large in his profile, the Rockies paid Anderson a $1.5MM buyout rather than picking up his $12MM club option. Anderson was also pursued by the Yankees and Athletics before picking his new home, Olney further tweets.

For their money, the Dodgers will be adding a true high-ceiling, high-risk arm for the following season. That is the kind of chance a deep-pocketed club can take, of course, as Los Angeles will have options to fill the void if Anderson fails to stay healthy.

If it all works out, it would not be surprising to find that Anderson becomes the steal of the offseason. He threw to a 2.91 ERA last year in just 43 1/3 frames, posting 6.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 along with a typically outstanding 61% groundball rate.

Over 494 career innings, Anderson’s earned run average stands at 3.73, but his career FIP (3.51), xFIP (3.52), and SIERA (3.55) all paint him in even a better light. If one accepts the premise that Anderson would have posted better numbers had he not been constantly succumbing to and returning from injury, his true talent ceiling is probably quite high.

Anderson and Brandon McCarthy will, when their signings are official, step into a rotation fronted by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu. If all five of those arms manage to stay on the rubber for the most part, that has the look of quite an imposing group. Behind them are pitchers such as Joe Wieland, Zach Lee, and Mike Bolsinger. It would not be surprising, perhaps, to see the Dodgers pursue a veteran to hold down the swingman role played last year by Paul Maholm.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

 


Quick Hits: Stanton, Mets, Tulowitzki, Miller, Mariners

The Marlins do not think they’ll have to pay out the entire $325MM balance of Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract, Pirates president Frank Coonelly told a crowd (including the Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel) at PirateFest Saturday. Speaking very candidly for a team president, Coonelly recalled a recent conversation with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson: “They said to me, ‘You don’t understand. (Stanton) has an out clause after six years. Those first six years are only going to cost $107 million. After that, he’ll leave and play for somebody else. So, it’s not really $325 million.'” Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Mets should trade for Troy Tulowitzki, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Yes, Sherman says, Tulowitzki has $106MM on his contract and a long list of injuries, but if he were a perfect player, the Rockies would not trade him at a reasonable price. (In fact, they still might not trade him at a reasonable price.) And the time is right for the Mets, who have plenty of promising pitching but don’t have a shortstop. A trade for Tulowitzki could be just the risk the Mets need, Sherman writes, like their trade for Gary Carter 30 years ago. As for Tulowitzki, Sherman says that it’s “a poorly kept secret in the game is just how badly he wants out of Colorado now.” He doesn’t have a no-trade clause, but the Rockies’ front office would likely consult him about a possible trade, and Sherman thinks he would appreciate the chance to play for the Mets.
  • The Cardinals say they are not actively pursuing Max Scherzer, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Scherzer is from the St. Louis area, and he reportedly met with the team earlier in the offseason.
  • A Mariners official says the team doesn’t want to trade Brad Miller, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “[U]nderstand this: We’re not looking to trade him,” the official says. “I’m not saying it won’t happen, but it’s a lot less likely than some people seem to think.” Dutton adds, however, that Miller was part of a deal the Mariners proposed to try to get Matt Kemp from the Dodgers. The Dodgers then demanded the Mariners include either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. The Mariners declined, and the Dodgers agreed to trade Kemp to the Padres instead.
  • The Twins have shown interest in former Reds third baseman Jack Hannahan, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com tweets. Hannahan was born in St. Paul and went to both high school and college in the Twin Cities. He played sparingly in 2014 and posted just a .470 OPS in 50 plate appearances, so as Wolfson notes, the Twins would likely have interest in him only on a minor league deal.

NL West Notes: Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres

GM Dave Stewart says the Diamondbacks‘ acquisitions of Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster in the Wade Miley trade this week was about adding power arms, Nick Piecoro reports. “We, organizationally, haven’t had any real power arms in our organization since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling,” says Stewart. “So this gave us an opportunity to put two power arms in our rotation.” That’s not entirely accurate, of course — as Piecoro notes, the Diamondbacks’ rotation has recently included Max Scherzer and Daniel Hudson. There have also been any number of relievers, like Matt Stites, who pitched in the Snakes’ bullpen last year. Still, there’s no doubt the Diamondbacks added velocity in the deal. Stewart now says he sees his rotation as Josh Collmenter, De La Rosa, Jeremy Hellickson and Webster, with Vidal Nuno, Trevor Cahill, Chase Anderson, Hudson, Randall Delgado, Andrew Chafin and Robbie Ray battling for the fifth spot, with the possibility that they could use the savings from the Miley and Miguel Montero deals to acquire a higher-end starter.

  • One of the Diamondbacks’ top scouts, Todd Donovan, has departed to become a special assignment scout with the Rays, Piecoro writes. Donovan’s move comes on the heels of former scouting director Ray Montgomery leaving for a front office job with the Brewers.
  • Many of the Dodgers‘ moves this offseason were made with team defense in mind, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports. Matt Kemp, who’s headed to the Padres, rates as one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball, and Hanley Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox as a free agent, is a weak defensive player as well. Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick should be a defensive improvement over Ramirez and Dee Gordon in the middle infield, and the Dodgers’ outfield defense should be better as well.
  • Even after acquiring Kemp, the Padres are still looking for a hitter. They’ve already been connected to Justin Upton, but Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune lists four more hitters who might make sense: Reds outfielder Jay Bruce (who might not be available), Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez, C/OF Evan Gattis of the Braves, and free agent 1B/OF Michael Morse. Other than Bruce, though, all four are weak defensive players, and one wonders how they might fit in San Diego, particularly the outfielders. One would think the Padres would want to continue with Seth Smith in a starting role after his strong 2014 season, so adding another corner outfielder to the mix would force Kemp into center, where he’s well below average. Perhaps Smith would become a trade candidate if the Padres do add another outfielder.

West Notes: Hawkins, Ellis, Gregerson, Melky

Veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins announced this morning on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show that the 2015 season will be the last of his lengthy career (h/t: Ken Rosenthal). The soon-to-be 42-year-old posted a 3.31 ERA with 23 saves, 5.3 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings for the Rockies last season. While he may not get the Mariano Rivera farewell tour, Hawkins has appeared in 1000 games (currently 16th all-time) dating back to 1995. Selected by the Twins in the seventh round of the 1991 draft, Hawkins could move into the top 10 of all-time in terms of career appearances with a full, healthy season.

Here are a few more notes from around the game’s Western divisions…

  • The Padres asked the Dodgers about A.J. Ellis in Matt Kemp trade talks but weren’t able to get him in the deal, tweets MLB.com’s Corey Brock. As Brock notes, Clayton Kershaw may not have been pleased to see Ellis traded away, as he prefers throwing to his longtime teammate.
  • An American League club with an established closer was the runner-up to the Astros in the bidding for Luke Gregerson, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The unnamed club also offered a three-year deal. Drellich spoke to Gregerson’s agent, Tom O’Connell, who said that the opportunity to close and Gregerson’s relationship with new Astros manager A.J. Hinch were crucial factors in the deal.
  • Drellich’s article also provides the breakdown of Gregerson’s incentives: he will receive a $250K boost to the next year’s salary for finishing 45, 50, 55 and 57 games in 2015 and 2016. If he finishes a combined 100 games between 2015-16, his 2017 salary jumps another $500K.
  • Robinson Cano has spoken briefly to his close friend, Melky Cabrera, about signing with the Mariners, Cano told Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Cano also told Divish that he spoke to Nelson Cruz multiple times about coming to Seattle before Cruz inked his own deal with the Mariners.