Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors

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

Dodgers, Kenley Jansen Avoid Arbitration

The Dodgers and Kenley Jansen have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $7.425MM deal, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. That sum falls shy of the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, whose model estimated a salary of $8.2MM.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday

As we approach tomorrow’s deadline for exchanging filing numbers, the volume of arb deals will increase. All arb agreements can be monitored using MLBTR’s 2015 Arbitration Tracker, but here are today’s smaller agreements, with all projections referring to those of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz:

  • The Indians have avoided arbitration with third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  It’s a slight bump over Chisenhall’s projected $2.2MM salary.  Chisenhall hit .280/.343/.427 with 13 homers in 533 PA with the Tribe last season.
  • The Indians and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski have agreed to a one-year, $2.4MM contract to avoid arbitration, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  Rzepczynski surpassed his projected salary with the contract, as he was pegged to earn $1.9MM next season.  The southpaw posted a 2.74 ERA, 2.42 K/BB rate and an even 46 strikeouts over 46 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen last season.
  • The Nationals and catcher Jose Lobaton will avoid arbitration after agreeing to a deal, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman reports.  Lobaton will earn $1.2MM, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets, which exactly matches his projected 2015 salary.  Lobaton hit .234/.287/.304 over 230 PA in backup duty for the Nats last season.
  • The Athletics and outfielder Craig Gentry agreed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal to avoid arbitration, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets.  Gentry was projected to earn $1.5MM.  After posting a .759 OPS over 556 PA in 2012-13, Gentry took a step back at the plate last season, slashing just .254/.319/.289 over 258 plate appearances but still providing tremendous defense (a +16 UZR/150).
  • The Nationals have avoided arbitration with second baseman Danny Espinosa, agreeing to a one-year, $1.8MM contract, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports.  This deal falls below Espinosa’s projected $2.3MM contract, though Espinosa hit .219/.283/.351 in 364 plate appearances for the Nats last season and managed only a .465 OPS in 167 PA in 2013.
  • The Indians agreed to a one-year, $2.337MM deal with right-hander Carlos Carrasco, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).  This figure is a significant increase over the $1.4MM contract that was projected for Carrasco in his first arb-eligible year.  The righty enjoyed a breakout 2014 season, posting a 2.55 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 4.83 K/BB rate over 134 innings with the Tribe.  Carrasco pitched mostly out of the bullpen but also delivered several quality starts down the stretch.
  • The Dodgers and outfielder Chris Heisey agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.16MM to avoid arbitration, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  This is slightly less than the $2.2MM Heisey was projected to earn.  Heisey is coming off a .222/.265/.378 slash line over 299 PA with the Reds last season and was dealt to L.A. last month.
  • The Angels inked catcher Drew Butera to a one-year, $987.5K deal to avoid arbitration, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.  Butera was projected to earn $900K next season.  The catcher posted a .555 OPS in 192 PA with the Dodgers last season and was dealt to the Halos last month.
  • The Nationals agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM contract with Craig Stammen, avoiding arbitration with the right-hander, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).  This figure slightly tops Stammen’s projected $2.1MM contract.  Stammen posted a 3.84 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and a 4.00 K/BB rate over 72 2/3 innings out of Washington’s bullpen last season.
  • The Cardinals agreed to a one-year, $1.65MM deal with outfielder Peter Bourjos to avoid arbitration, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Bourjos was projected to earn $1.6MM.  Bourjos displayed his usual top-shelf defense with the Cards last season but only hit .231/.294/.348 over 294 PA.


West Notes: Gattis, Rangers, Astros, Padres, Dodgers

It’s been a hectic day in the AL West to say the least, with the Astros acquiring Evan Gattis from the Braves and the Athletics flipping the recently acquired Yunel Escobar to the Nats for Tyler Clippard. However, multiple reports indicated today that the Rangers were heavily interested in Gattis as well, and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram sheds a bit of light on those talks (Twitter link). Per Wilson, the Rangers were in on Gattis but balked at Atlanta’s asking price of right-hander and former first-round pick Alex Gonzalez and/or top outfield prospect Nomar Mazara (who received a hefty $5MM bonus to sign with Texas in 2011 and reached Double-A last year). In the end, the Astros landed Gattis for righty Michael Foltynewicz, right-hander Andrew Thurman and third baseman Rio Ruiz.

Here are a few more notes on Houston and the game’s Western divisions…

  • The Astros still have some money to spend, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and the team is currently looking at both the starting pitching market and at corner infielders. Astros fans with visions of elite starters in their minds should temper those thoughts, however, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the club is thinking more along the lines of back-end starters such as Ryan Vogelsong and Kyle Kendrick.
  • MLB.com’s Corey Brock spoke with Padres GM A.J. Preller and chairman Ron Fowler about the team’s flurry of moves this offseason. Specifically, Brock and Preller touched on how differently the offseason could have played out had the Friars secured their top target: Pablo Sandoval“You’ve got to be prepared to move on to Plan B, C, D or F or Z. We don’t have a [front-office] group that dwells on things too long,” Preller told Brock in reference to losing out on Sandoval, who signed with Boston. “…Each decision takes you down a slightly different path. … If we had signed Pablo, it would have changed our course a little bit. That’s just the nature of the offseason.” Fowler told Brock that Preller has often worked on four or five deals at once, and his approach was so tireless that right after acquiring Matt Kemp, Preller said to Fowler, “Let’s go after [Justin] Upton.” The Upton acquisition, Fowler said, was possible due to the fact that the Dodgers front-loaded the money they sent to San Diego in the Kemp deal, sending $18MM of the $32MM right off the bat.
  • Earlier tonight we noted Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi’s candid acknowledgment of the club’s pursuit of Yoan Moncada when speaking with Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio. The audio clip of that discussion is now available, and within it, Zaidi sidesteps a fairly loaded question about Max Scherzer and James Shields, to an extent, but acknowledges that the L.A. front office won’t close any doors. Said Zaidi: “I’m going to give you the same boring and annoying answer that I give to our local media — and they already love me for it — that we don’t comment on free agents that are out there. I will just say we’re not closing any doors at this point. I get asked a lot, ‘Are you guys done?’ And you’re never done. You’re constantly evaluating new options to improve the team, and we’re still in that phase. And if there’s a guy out there that we think makes us better and is available at the right price, we’ll absolutely consider it.”

Dodgers Will Pursue Yoan Moncada

JAN. 14: Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi spoke with Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio’s Inside Pitch (via MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick) about Moncada and candidly declared his club’s interest in the Cuban star:

“Moncada, we’ve scouted extensively. We have the checkbook. Young elite talent in baseball is the most valuable asset to have. To the extent that our evaluation of him matches or exceeds where the market goes, we’ll definitely be players for him.”

Zaidi continued, explaining that in this type of situation the Dodgers will evaluate Moncada as a talent and Moncada as a person. The GM noted that with an investment of this size, no stone can be left unturned.

JAN. 13: To this point, the Yankees and Red Sox have been the teams most commonly connected to 19-year-old Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada, but MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds the Dodgers to the mix of clubs expected to make a serious run (Twitter link). According to Sanchez, the Dodgers “aggressively” pursued right-hander Yoan Lopez, and, having missed out on Lopez to the division-rival D-Backs, will now shift their focus to Moncada. Sanchez adds that a private workout for the Dodgers can be expected.

Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel has called the Yankees and Red Sox the “heavy favorites” to sign Moncada, but the Dodgers certainly possess the financial wherewithal to go toe-to-toe with both of those clubs in terms of spending. Los Angeles has invested heavily in Cuban players over the past 18 months, spending a combined $57MM on Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena. While those acquisitions were made under different management — Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and Josh Byrnes were tasked with leading a revamped baseball operations department this winter — the signings do show that ownership is willing to devote significant resources to the international market.

Moncada, of course, is expected to absolutely shatter Lopez’s record-setting bonus of $8.25MM; estimates on his signing bonus have ranged from $30-40MM. And, because clubs are required to pay a 100 percent tax for any spending that exceeds their assigned international bonus pools, the total outlay for Moncada could approach $80MM.

A switch-hitting infielder said to have four plus tools — hit, power, arm and speed — Moncada has been labeled by Baseball America’s Ben Badler as a potential franchise player. For the time being, however, Moncada cannot sign with any club, as he is still awaiting clearance from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control, and there’s no word on a timeline for his approval.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Tuesday

One-year agreements for arbitration-eligible players figure to begin coming in rapidly this week, with the deadline to exchange figures coming this Friday. We’ll keep track of today’s agreements in this post, with all projections mentioned referring to those of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz:

  • The Dodgers and catcher A.J. Ellis have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM contract, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Ellis, 33, had the worst offensive season of his career in 2014, slumping to a .191/.323/.254 batting line in 347 plate appearances. However, he proved capable with the bat from 2011-13, hitting .256/.351/.389 with 25 homers in 1056 plate appearances. From a defensive standpoint, he’s never graded out well in terms of framing pitches, but Ellis has thrown out a very impressive 33 percent of attempted base-stealers in his career. The ACES client’s salary comes in north of Swartz’s projection model, which had Ellis at $3.8MM.

Pitching Notes: Shields, Cards, Ogando, Albers, Baker, Coke, Comebacks

As things stand, the Nationals have the game’s best rotation while the Royals have the top pen, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney opines (Insider links). Of course, the offseason is not yet over. Here are the latest notes on the pitching market:

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart confirmed that the team has active interest in starter James Shields, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Stewart adds that he likes the idea of  Shields serving as a mentor while fronting the team’s rotation. Fellow free agent Max Scherzer, however, is too spendy for Arizona.
  • When the Cardinals pursued lefty Jon Lester, the team indicated it was willing to spend only to the $120MM range, Olney tweets. That could give an idea of what kind of payroll space the club feels willing to occupy, says Olney. St. Louis was recently linked to a trio of top starting pitchers, each of whom would represent quite a different investment.
  • Alexi Ogando apparently produced solid results in his recent workout, with Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweeting that scouts were impressed. The Red Sox and Dodgers are “aggressive” on Ogando, Gammons adds. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had tweeted that Boston was in attendance.
  • Righty Matt Albers is throwing in preparation for a showcase early next month, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). The shoulder issues that shut him down last year did not involve any structural damage, says Morosi.
  • Agent Bobby Witt says that client Scott Baker, another free agent righty, prefers to join a team that will allow him to enter camp as a starter, Morosi reports (Twitter links). Baker has five minor league offers in hand but is hoping to receive a major league contract.
  • Interest in lefty Phil Coke is “amping up,” Chris Iott of MLive.com tweets. Nevertheless, a signing does not appear to be imminent, per the report.
  • The Twins are planning to watch lefty Johan Santana throw today after already seeing him on the mound last week, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. Santana is not the only prominent hurler eyeing a comeback, it seems. Former closer Carlos Marmol threw in the Dominican earlier this winter and is now pitching in Venezuela, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. And one-time relief ace Daniel Bard, whose career derailed with a failed conversion back to the rotation, is also seeking a return, Cafardo reports. The 29-year-old says he is finally healthy and expects to sign a deal this week.

Cuban Right-Hander Yoan Lopez Weighing Offers

JAN. 12: Lopez is already weighing multiple offers and could receive the largest bonus ever for an international amateur prospect, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Currently, Roberto Baldoquin‘s $8MM signing bonus stands as the largest ever signed by an international amateur. (Players such as Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo, Yasiel Puig, etc. were considered professionals when they signed.)

If a record-setting bonus is to be expected, then it stands to reason that the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Rays all have a leg up when it comes to signing Lopez, as each team has already incurred the maximum penalties for exceeding their bonus pool this signing period. None of those four will be able to sign a player for more than $300K next two signing periods, so they may be more willing to take on the added cost right now while they’re still able to add talent. The Cubs and Rangers, on the other hand, can’t sign a player for more than $250K after exceeding their pools last signing period, and therefore can’t bid aggressively on Lopez.

JAN. 9: The United States Office of Foreign Assets Control has cleared Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez to sign with Major League teams, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The 21-year-old Lopez was already cleared by Major League Baseball back in November, meaning that he can now officially sign with a big league club at any time. Sanchez writes that Lopez is expected to sign with a club prior to Spring Training.

Because Lopez is just 21 years of age and has only three seasons of professional experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he will still be subject to international spending limitations. To this point, the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres and D-Backs have shown the most serious interest in Lopez, according to Sanchez.

Of that group, the Yankees have already gone well over their 2014-15 spending pool. As such, it stands to reason that they could be willing to outspend other interested teams, as they’re already set to incur the maximum penalties during the next international signing period. Additionally, the Rays, Red Sox and Angels have gone over their pools, though Sanchez doesn’t specifically link any of those three clubs to Lopez.

Lopez has held multiple showcases for Major League clubs since defecting from Cuba and establishing residence in Haiti, and he’s also held private workouts for multiple yet-unreported clubs. Sanchez writes that Lopez’s fastball sits 93 to 95 mph, but he’s touched 100 mph on occasion. He also throws a cutter, curve, changeup and slider, per Sanchez, who adds that Lopez worked to a 3.12 ERA with a 28-to-11 K/BB ratio in 49 innings in his final season in Cuba.

Minor Moves: Butler, Pridie, Anderson, Solis

Here are the latest minor league moves.

  • The Rays signed former Cardinal Joey Butler, tweets Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. The outfielder, 29 next season, appeared briefly for St. Louis last year (six plate appearances) but finished the season in Japan with the Orix Buffalo.
  • The A’s signed 31-year-old outfielder Jason Pridie, per Eddy (also Twitter). His last substantial action came in 2011 when he hit .231/.309/.370 in 236 plate appearances with the Mets. Pridie has appeared in the majors in each of the last three seasons, but he’s compiled only 24 plate appearances in the process. He was thought to have signed with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization, but the deal fell through. The A’s also signed minor league reliever Jonathan Joseph.
  • The Dodgers reached agreement with nine minor leaguers, including Lars Anderson, Ali Solis, and Ryan Buchter, tweets Eddy. Anderson, 27, was once a highly regarded first base prospect with the Red Sox, but his failure to develop power has left him without a big league role. Solis has appeared twice in the majors with the Padres and Rays. In a tiny 11 plate appearance sample, he has six strikeouts and a 30% swinging strike rate. Buchter, 27, made his major league debut with the Braves last season. He tossed one scoreless inning. In the minors, he’s shown a strong strikeout rate and a disconcertingly high walk rate.

Dodgers Sign David Huff, Ryan Buchter

Per a team announcement, which listed the non-roster invitees to big league camp this spring, the Dodgers have agreed to minor league pacts with lefties David Huff and Ryan Buchter. It is also apparent from the announcement that shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena has cleared waivers and been outrighted, as he too received a spring invite.

Huff, 30, tossed 59 innings last year with the Giants and Yankees. He was hit hard in San Francisco, but held opposing clubs to 1.85 earned runs per nine over his 39 frames in New York. Then again, Huff’s FIP was in the same range in each stop, suggesting that he was much the same pitcher. Over parts of six MLB campaigns, Huff has thrown 382 innings of 4.77 ERA ball with 5.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9, though he has been more effective since transitioning primarily to relief.

Buchter, meanwhile, has made just one (scoreless) MLB appearance, which came last year with the Braves. He has been effective at the Triple-A level, working to a 3.45 ERA over 133 total innings. Though his 11.6 K/9 strikeout rate at the final stop in the minors is impressive, it is accompanied by a troubling 7.3 BB/9.

Cafardo On Shields, Zobrist, Uggla, Papelbon, Aoki

The return of Alex Rodriguez headlines the top ten baseball storylines in 2015, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With the 39-year-old Rodriguez and his two degenerating hips returning after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Cafardo posits the best-case scenario for the Yankees would be if A-Rod cannot hold up physically or the team and/or MLB come up with more damaging material to keep him out of baseball for good. Also making Cafardo’s list, the start of Rob Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner and Pete Rose testing the waters of reinstatement in the wake of the retirement of Bud Selig, a staunch opponent of allowing the all-time hits leader back into the game.

In other tidbits from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:

  • It has been hard to gauge the market for James Shields because his negotiations have been private. However, a MLB source tells Cafardo the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have had discussions or shown interest in the right-hander. Cafardo adds the Giants have cooled on Shields after re-signing Jake Peavy, but remain open-minded.
  • The Giants, Nationals, Angels, and Cubs are seriously pursuing Ben Zobrist with the Rays‘ asking price being at least one top prospect and a mid-level one.
  • Dan Uggla is confident in returning to his former self after being diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction (poor motion vision when moving the head or body), which was caused by being hit in the head by a pitch on two separate occasions. After a two-week exercise regimen, doctors have declared the second baseman’s motion vision normal. The Nationals, who signed Uggla to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite the day after Christmas, have prior experience in dealing with oculomotor dysfunction, as Denard Span suffered through it in 2013. The Orioles and Rangers also expressed interest in Uggla.
  • Despite his less-than-stellar reputation, Cafardo finds it hard to fathom a team would not trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Cafardo notes Papelbon has found a way to keep getting batters out with diminished velocity as evident by his 106 saves over the past three seasons, including 39 (with just four blown saves) for a bad Phillies team last year.
  • Clubs are only offering outfielder Nori Aoki two-year deals. The Orioles have definite interest in Aoki, who also has some appeal to the Giants.