Luke Hochevar Rumors

Rosenthal On Padres, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies

The Orioles showed serious interest in Justin Upton before talks with the Diamondbacks sputtered, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night. Here are some more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • Rosenthal hears from one executive who expects the Padres to make another significant move. However, the Padres like their group of young starting pitchers and aren’t inclined to make a strong play for one of the remaining free agent starters. San Diego could still trade for a pitcher such as Rick Porcello, Luke Hochevar or Aaron Harang.
  • Talks about a deal involving Upton and Chase Headley didn’t progress, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Orioles continue seeking starting pitching and Joe Saunders remains a target. The Orioles also checked in on Porcello, according to Rosenthal.
  • Though the Orioles spoke with Lance Berkman before he signed with the Rangers, they weren’t interested in spending big for the switch-hitting DH.
  • Jeff Karstens, Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Jair Jurrjens are among the possibilities the Rockies are considering. The Rockies wouldn’t offer all of those pitchers Major League deals, however.
  • Rosenthal suggests free agent reliever Rafael Soriano could be a longshot for the Rockies. Colorado would have to surrender its second round draft pick to sign the Scott Boras client.
  • The Phillies continue seeking a right-handed hitting outfielder, Rosenthal reports. They’re still considering free agent Scott Hairston and trade candidates Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells. It’s possible the Phillies will go with platoons in both corner outfield positions.

Quick Hits: Royals, Stanton, Draft, Mets, Nationals

Earlier tonight, the Royals announced the signing of Miguel Tejada to a minor league contract. Whether or not the deal includes an invitation to Spring Training will be announced at a later date, the Royals said in a release. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweeted the addition of Tejada could make Tony Abreu or Irving Falu expendable. Dutton added Falu has options remaining while Abreu doesn't (Twitter link). As the East Coast drops the ball on 2013, let's enjoy another round of MLB news and notes: 

  • Dutton projects the Royals' payroll to be in neighborhood of $83MM and it's hard for him to see it go much higher (via Twitter). The Royals could free up some salary by moving Luke Hochevar or Bruce Chen, but Dutton doesn't sense any urgency from the club to move either one. Another possibility, although less likely, is Chris Getz (Twitter links).
  • The Mariners have contacted the Marlins about Giancarlo Stanton, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. However, one source Morosi spoke with doubts a trade will occur. 
  • Baseball America's Jim Callis has updated the 2013 amateur draft order. There are four potential compensation free agents remaining on the market (Michael BournAdam LaRocheKyle Lohse, and Rafael Soriano). If they change addresses, their former club will get a pick at the end of the first round and their new team will forfeit their top choice (unless it's one of the top 10 overall).
  • Within the same piece, Callis remains surprised the Mets were able to obtain Noah Syndergaard from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade. By adding Travis d'Arnaud and Syndergaard, which Callis projects as the Mets' second and third best prospects, the club has boosted their farm system into the top 20.
  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post listed the Nationals posting the best record in baseball as the club's top storyline in 2012.

Trade Notes: Hochevar, Athletics, Bourjos

The latest on some potential trade scenarios from around MLB…

  • The Royals called the Rockies about Luke Hochevar, but nothing has materialized, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter). The Royals tendered Hochevar a contract before acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays, which means they’re responsible for his projected $4.4MM salary. Hochevar would have been a better fit in Colorado if he had hit the open market as a non-tendered player.
  • The Athletics are likely to explore trade options to acquire a shortstop now that Stephen Drew is off of the market, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). The Red Sox agreed to sign Drew for $9.5MM, which is “quite a bit more” than Oakland offered, according to Slusser. Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Dee Gordon are among the shortstops who could be traded in my view.
  • The Marlins would have interest in a Ricky Nolasco for Peter Bourjos type of deal, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (on Twitter). The Angels seek pitching depth and the Marlins are willing to trade Nolasco. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com wrote today about the possibility of a Nolasco-Bourjos swap, noting that Miami has longstanding interest in the Angels outfielder.


Central Notes: Soriano, Pierzynski, Adams, Royals

Happy birthday to Cubs great Fergie Jenkins, who was born 70 years ago today in Chatham, Ontario.  The 1971 NL Cy Young Award winner won 167 games in 10 years with the Cubs and wore the red 'C' into the Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1991.

Here are some items from Chicago and elsewhere around both the AL and NL Central divisions…

  • The Braves don't have any interest in trading for Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The Cubs are willing to pay $26MM of Soriano's remaining $36MM salary in a trade and have shopped the veteran to the Astros and Phillies this offseason.
  • The White Sox would like to bring back A.J. Pierzynski but only at the team's price, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago.  While the team has kept in touch with Pierzynski's agent, the Sox are prepared to go ahead with Tyler Flowers as their everyday catcher.
  • The Brewers can probably be counted out of the Mike Adams hunt, opines Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) as the free agent reliever will likely be priced out of the Crew's range.  At least seven other teams besides Milwaukee are known to be interested in Adams.
  • Also from Haudricourt, he outlines how the Brewers have been historically unable to keep their major stars, a trend that may continue given the team's small local TV contract.  The one exception was Ryan Braun, who was already on an eight-year contract when he signed his major extension with the Crew.
  • We heard last month that the Royals were trying to trade Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar, but Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that while the team will listen, they "feel no urgency" to move either pitcher.  The Royals want a lot of rotation depth and could just put either Chen or Hochevar in the bullpen, though K.C. could also wait until March to find better trade offers. (All links to Dutton's Twitter account.)
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters (including John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that his team is pretty much done its winter shopping, though he hinted that the Reds could add a left-handed reliever.
  • As the cost of high-end pitching has risen, Adam Wainwright is in position to receive a huge payday as he enters the final year of his contract with the Cardinals, writes the Associated Press.  Both Wainwright and the Cards are open to the idea of discussing a new contract before Opening Day.
  • From earlier today, the Cubs and Tigers are the final two suitors for Anibal Sanchez.  The Cubs thought they had Sanchez signed to a five-year, $75MM offer, but Sanchez is giving the Tigers a final chance to match or top the offer.

Royals “Calling Everyone” To Trade Hochevar & Chen

The Royals are "calling everyone" in an attempt to trade both Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter). The team is accelerating its timetable to acquire rotation help and wants to free up money.

Hochevar, 29, pitched to a 5.73 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 185 1/3 innings this season. The first overall pick in the 2006 draft owns a 5.39 ERA in 771 career innings. Hochevar is arbitration-eligible for the third time this winter and is projected to earn $4.4MM by Matt Swartz. He's a candidate to be non-tendered by Friday's deadline.

Chen, 35, posted a 5.07 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 191 2/3 innings this year. He's revived his career in Kansas City, pitching to a 4.55 ERA in 549 1/3 innings since 2009. Chen will earn $4.5MM next season as part of the two-year, $9MM contract he signed last winter. The soft-tossing southpaw will become a free agent next offseason.

Earlier today team owner David Glass told Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star that the team needs to maintain a $70MM payroll to break even, but they will "react based on what (their) opportunities are." The Royals have already acquired Ervin Santana and re-signed Jeremy Guthrie this offseason, but they continue to look for ways to upgrade a starting staff that posted to a 5.01 ERA this year.


Non-Tender Candidate: Luke Hochevar

The next strikeout Luke Hochevar records will set a new career-high for the right-hander, but that's one of few positives to take away from an otherwise disappointing season. The 29-year-old has pitched to a 5.46 ERA despite reasonable peripheral stats such as his 6.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and 43.6 percent ground-ball rate. All of those are pretty close to the numbers Hochevar has posted to date in his career: a 5.33 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 47.9 percent ground-ball rate. Suffice it to say, that's not quite what the Royals were hoping for when they selected Hochevar first overall in the 2006 draft. Hochevar

The University of Tennessee product has spent his entire career with the Royals after refusing to sign with the Dodgers when they selected him in both 2002 and 2005. He appeared on Baseball America's list of Top 100 prospects prior to both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, but that pedigree never manifested at the Major League level.

Hochevar avoided arbitration with the Royals last winter, agreeing to a one-year deal that guaranteed him $3.51MM. At the time, he was coming off a 198-inning season in which he posted a 3.52 ERA in the season's second half. That won't be the case this upcoming offseason, but he's still on pace to rattle off roughly 180 innings. That durability will lead to another raise for Hochevar through arbitration, which could push his salary north of $5MM.

As Rany Jazayerli recently pointed out, Hochevar has the fifth-worst ERA and sixth-worst ERA+ of any starting pitcher to ever exceed 120 starts at the Major League level. Given the 752-inning sample size of subpar performance, it seems likely that even a pitching-starved organization like the Royals could move on from Hochevar and seek alternative rotation options. In the event that he's non-tendered, Hochevar would likely be in line for a one-year deal with a low base salary and some performance-based incentives from his new club.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.


Quick Hits: Berkman, Nationals, Royals, Pagan

The Orioles drew first blood in their big four-game series with the Yankees, slugging six homers en route to a 10-6 victory.  Mark Reynolds hit two home runs, and has now enjoyed three multi-homer games against New York within the span of a week.  Baltimore is now tied with the Yankees atop the AL East.

Here's some news from around baseball…

  • If Lance Berkman retires, he tells Mark Berman of FOX 26 Sports Houston that he intends to finish his degree at Rice and be an assistant coach for the school's baseball team.  Berkman said he is still leaning towards retirement but is focused on the Cardinals right now and will save a final decision under the offseason.
  • Between Bryce Harper's play in center field and new leadoff hitter Jayson Werth's performance (a 1.014 OPS in 14 games as the leadoff man entering tonight's action), Amanda Comak of the Washington Times wonders if the Nationals may not need to focus on these long-time problems areas this offseason. 
  • The Royals should re-sign Jeremy Guthrie to a two-year, $15MM contract and non-tender Luke Hochevar, opines Rany Jazayerli of Rany On The Royals.  Jazayerli believes Guthrie would pitch well in the AL Central while Hochevar hasn't been able to translate his decent advanced metrics into on-the-field success.
  • Fangraphs' Dave Cameron cites Angel Pagan as "the most underrated player in baseball."  Pagan has a .284/.336/.430 line with eight homers, 78 runs scored and 23 steals for the Giants this season.  He is also a free agent this winter, and compares well with bigger-name free agent center fielders like Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton.
  • Players and owners aren't close to a decision about limiting September roster sizes, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  We heard earlier this week that MLB was looking to change the rules for next season, but Rosenthal reports that since different teams deal with the September rosters in different ways, some clubs aren't willing to commit to the players' demands for minimum number of active roster spots for each game.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Bay, Bell, Buck, Lee, O’s, K-Rod

The Mets and Marlins discussed a change-of-scenery trade that would have sent Jason Bay to Miami for Heath Bell and John Buck, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. A deal was never close, though the contracts and the money matched up well. Bell is signed through 2014, Bay and Buck through 2013. Rosenthal notes that all three players are likely to clear waivers this month, so the two sides could revisit the deal. Here are the rest of his rumors…

  • The Astros are paying virtually all of the $9MM left on Carlos Lee's contract, but one club that spoke to the Marlins said Miami wanted as much as $2.5MM in return for the slugger. Talks never progressed.
  • The Orioles spoke to the Mariners about Kevin Millwood, but Seattle wanted a better return than what was offered given the right-hander's bargain $1MM salary.
  • The Orioles also discussed a deal with the Royals that would have sent one of their young arms to Kansas City for Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Broxton. Rosenthal speculates that it may have been Jake Arrieta.
  • The Brewers were close to trading Francisco Rodriguez to the Giants about a week before the deadline, but San Francisco backed off after the right-hander blew two saves and allowed six runs in Philadelphia last week.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Tuesday

Dozens of arbitration eligible players have agreed to deals with their respective teams today and we've been tracking all of the developments right here.  Several teams, including the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, and perhaps Astros, are known for committing to going to hearings if they get to the point of filing.  Keep track of all the madness with MLBTR's arbitration tracker, which shows settlement amounts, filing figures, and midpoints.  Today's players to avoid arbitration on deals worth less than $4MM:

(more…)


Royals Agree To Terms With Luke Hochevar

The Royals have avoided arbitration with Luke Hochevar, agreeing to a one-year contract with the right-hander, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.  The club has confirmed the signing in a press release, and Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweets the deal is worth $1.76MM.

Hochevar, the first overall pick of the 2006 draft, is still looking for the breakout season that would pay off that high draft selection.  He missed over two months of the 2010 season with an elbow strain but contributed a 4.81 ERA and a 2.05 K/BB ratio in 18 games, 17 of them starts.  This was Hochevar's first year of arbitration eligibility.

Hochevar is the third arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal with Kansas City this winter, following Wilson Betemit and Brayan Pena.  That's three players down and four to go for the Royals, as you can follow on the MLBTR Arb Tracker.