Luke Scott Rumors

Quick Hits: Infielders, Young Jr., Scott, Red Sox

On this day in 2006, the Cubs signed Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year, $136MM deal.  In five seasons with Chicago, Soriano has a slash line of .266/.320/.498 and has averaged 129 games per year.  Here are some links for Sunday afternoon..

  • Mark Townsend of Yahoo! Sports is surprised at what teams are paying for sure-handed middle infielders. Specifically, he says the Twins and Dodgers paid role players like final pieces to the puzzle and are counting on them for too much (referring to Jamey Carroll and Mark Ellis, respectively).
  • Eric Young Jr. decided to play in Venezuela this offseason in order to gain more experience playing second base, writes Rafael Rojas Cremonesi for the Denver Post. Young played second base just seven times for the Rockies last season, and is 6-for-20 with three steals in his first six games.
  • Luke Scott would be open to negotiating a new deal with the Orioles if he's non-tendered, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.  Scott is projected to earn $6MM in arbitration.
  • Bobby Valentine expects to meet with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington on Monday and could emerge as the favorite for the job if his meeting goes well, a source tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo (via Twitter).
  • Astros owner Jim Crane is prepared to make a swift decision on the futures of president Tal Smith and GM Ed Wade, writes Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle.
  • There are team executives who are furious with aspects of the new labor agreement, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney.  Some believe that MLB's new draft structure hurts the league's small-market and mid-market clubs.  One GM told Olney that the changes don't solve any problems and actually make some worse.

Non-Tender Candidate: Luke Scott

Luke Scott had the best full season of his career in 2010, ranking sixth in the American League with a .535 slugging percentage.  As a late bloomer with lightly-regarded defense, Scott has been going year to year through arbitration and is an oft-cited comparable due to the healthy raises he's received.  In his last time through, he beat the midpoint of his and the Orioles' submissions and received a $2.35MM increase, bringing his 2011 salary to $6.4MM.  Scott's offseason, of course, was better known for a Winter Meetings interview with Yahoo's David Brown than his arbitration raise.

Scott

Scott, 33, had his projected position changed twice during the offseason.  When Derrek Lee was signed to play first base Scott became the designated hitter, and then he became the left fielder upon the Vladimir Guerrero signing.

Scott's season started out with a whimper as he battled a groin strain in April, and then a shoulder issue became public in May.  He decided to play through a torn labrum in his shoulder, using a combination of rehab and a June cortisone injection.  But then Scott bruised his knee in late June, and he landed on the disabled list a week later.  During that DL stint the pain in his shoulder worsened, and after another cortisone shot and a rehab assignment he was activated in late July.  It only took one game for Scott to realize he had to have surgery on his shoulder.  From what I've heard, Scott is a disciplined and devoted offseason worker, and is expected to be ready for Spring Training next year.

Scott didn't add much in the way of counting stats in 2011 – nine home runs, 22 RBI, and 24 runs.  So, we project his salary to be in the $6.4MM range again.  Is that a worthwhile gamble for the Orioles, who have gotten power production this year from J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters?  Scott's recovery progress leading up to the December non-tender deadline will be a big factor, but I'm leaning toward the Orioles tendering him a contract.  The O's will have a lot of payroll space, and the free agent market doesn't offer much in the way of alternatives who have Scott's power potential and will sign a one-year deal under $7MM.  The x factor will be a potential new GM in Baltimore, who could certainly find reasons to cut Scott as part of a mini-shakeup.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


AL East Rumors: Frasor, Red Sox, Scott, Yankees

Here's the latest news from "The Beast"…

  • The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks have discussed a trade involving Jason Frasor, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, though the D'Backs aren't close to a deal with the Jays (or any club) for now.  We heard last week that the Jays and Snakes were talking and the two clubs seem like a good fit — Arizona wants veteran relievers and Toronto has Frasor and several other experienced bullpen arms.  Frasor has a 3.12 ERA and a 7.8 K/9 rate this season and recently became Toronto's all-time leader in pitching appearances.
  • The Red Sox have no deals coming in the near future and at the moment, "nothing likely on [the] trade front," several team sources tell The Boston Herald's Mike Silverman (Twitter link).
  • Luke Scott will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury and he may have played his last game with the Orioles, notes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli.  The O's could choose to non-tender Scott, who is entering his last year of arbitration and is due a raise from his $6.4MM 2011 salary.  Scott, for his part, says he wants to stay in Baltimore.
  • ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews thinks the Yankees should pursue another hitter before the trade deadline, rather than starting pitching.
  • The Rays aren't sure if they're sellers or buyers yet, which "is typical of a team with no room for budgetary error and plenty for restocking the cupboard," writes Yahoo's Jeff Passan.


AL East Notes: Scott, Cameron, Red Sox

Links from the AL East..

  • The Orioles could have an interesting decision to make on 33-year-old Luke Scott after the season, writes Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun.  Scott will enter his final year of arbitration after making $6.4MM this season and the O's probably won't want to pay much more than that.  Trading him might be the logical move but Zrebiec doesn't see much of a market for the 33-year-old.
  • After being DFA'd, outfielder Mike Cameron pointed to his lack of playing time with the Red Sox for hurting his overall play.  However, the veteran knew that he'd be seeing a reduced role this season, writes Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald.
  • The New York Times Co. has sold more than half its holdings in the Fenway Sports Group, which includes the BoSox, for $117MM, writes Beth Healy of The Boston Globe.  Times Co. has recouped more than what the media company spent on its entire original investment.  The purchasers of the shares were affiliates of existing partners, according to Sox owner John Henry.

Stark On Marquis, Papelbon, Lowe, Phillies

ESPN's Jayson Stark recently chatted with fans about several topics, including these hot stove-related items…

  • Stark predicts there won't be "a lot of difference-making starters" available at the trade deadline this summer, so a lower-tier arm like Jason Marquis could garner some interest if Washington makes him available. 
  • It has been widely assumed that this is Jonathan Papelbon's last year in Boston, but Stark isn't so sure the stopper will find a better deal elsewhere.  "He'll test the market," Stark writes, "but you'll have a ton of closers out there this winter. [Papelbon] might not get what he thinks he'll get."
  • Stark hears from teams who have "kicked the tires" about acquiring Derek Lowe that the Braves want to keep the veteran right-hander.  (Stark's ESPN colleague Buster Olney reported the same earlier this week.)  Atlanta values its starting pitching depth, which has already been tested this season with Brandon Beachy's current DL stint.
  • The Phillies "can't add anybody who makes even modest money unless ownership signs off on it," which could leave them unable to make a major acquisition at the trade deadline.
  • Stark has heard from some general managers that "eventually, there will be a push to get rid of the DH" to get both leagues playing under the same set of rules.  Such a rule change would be years away from being implemented, however, since teams have spent a lot on players who they intended to use as designated hitters now or in the future.
  • The Orioles don't seem like they'd be willing to trade Jeremy Guthrie, and Luke Scott "isn't an easy guy to deal" given his controversial political views.
  • Jesus Montero "isn't ready" for the majors yet, according to some International League scouts.

Orioles Notes: Scott, MacPhail, Guerrero

The Orioles avoided arbitration with Luke Scott today, but here's a few more tidbits from Charm City…

  • Scott's contract includes a standard awards package that could put another $350K into his pocket according to Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.
  • President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail talked to a group of Baltimore School of Law students today, and The Baltimore Suns' Keith Van Valkenburg has the goods. MacPhail acknowledged that the team will not "be buying No. 1 pitchers" because they're expensive and fragile by the time they hit free agency. "It's just a bad place for us to spend our money."
  • MacPhail said the team intends to stay the course and build from within, especially on the mound. "Given the economics of it, it's the only approach. It's not just the right approach, it's the only approach. We have to stick with it."
  • The franchise is not able to sustain a $140MM payroll, and MacPhail doesn't foresee a salary cap anytime soon. "If you want a cap, OK, but in my opinion that means you're going to have no baseball for at least a year. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking the players will cave."
  • ESPN.com's Keith Law tells Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com that he doesn't like what the Orioles have done this offseason. Vladimir Guerrero is, in Law's estimation, "in the toaster" even if he's not yet toast. Blocking Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie with Guerrero doesn't make sense to Law.

Orioles, Luke Scott Avoid Arbitration

The Orioles avoided arbitration with Luke Scott, agreeing to a $6.4MM deal, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. As our Arb Tracker shows, Scott filed for $6.85MM, while the O's countered with a $5.7MM offer.

Scott led the Orioles in homers (27) last year, when he earned $4.05MM. The 32-year-old hit .284/.368/.535 in 517 plate appearances, mostly as the Orioles' DH. Scott will play left field in 2011, when Vladimir Guerrero takes over as the Orioles' everyday DH.

The Orioles can retain Scott in 2012 if they offer arbitration, but they could choose to cut him loose after the season if they determine that his salary as a fourth-time arbitration eligible player will out-strip his production.

Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie is one of eight arbitration eligible players who is still without a contract for 2011.


AL East Links: Gonzalez, Bautista, Shealy, Orioles

The Yankees already added a reliever today. Here are some notes on what their division rivals are up to…

  • Adrian Gonzalez says he hasn't imposed a deadline for extension negotiations with the Red Sox, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Gonzalez, who worked out at Red Sox camp today, did not seem worried about talks with Boston, according to Cafardo.
  • The Blue Jays' arbitration hearing with Jose Bautista will take place Monday, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • The Jays signed Ryan Shealy to a minor league deal, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The 31-year-old appeared in five games for the Red Sox last year after spending the 2009 season in the minors. Shealy posted a .231/.345/.472 line at Triple-A for the Red Sox and Rays last year.
  • Speaking of Boston, Alex Speier of WEEI.com introduces us to the team's many bullpen candidates. They have lots of left-handers to choose from. Felix Doubront, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, Hideki Okajima and Dennys Reyes will provide manager Terry Francona with plenty of options.
  • The Orioles are actively discussing deals with Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The O’s don’t appear to be on the verge of an agreement with either arbitration eligible player. Scott’s hearing is next Monday and Guthrie’s hearing will take place Wednesday. Keep track of all the remaining arbitration hearings with our Arb Tracker.

Orioles Notes: Guerrero, Duchscherer, Scott

It's been a surprisingly busy winter for the Orioles with their newest acquisition coming tonight in the form of a one-year, $8MM deal with Vladimir Guerrero.  Here's are some of the reactions to the newest Oriole plus other pieces of O's news..

  • The $8MM deal with Guerrero will bring Baltimore's payroll to roughly $93MM, up from $73MM in 2010, tweets Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun.
  • Landing Guerrero puts an exclamation point on an offseason that started poorly, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated.  In a separate tweet, Heyman calls the $8MM deal a "miracle" for the slugger.
  • New Orioles right-hander Justin Duchscherer was asked to undergo a more rigorous physical exam than most, writes Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com.  The 33-year-old has been through two hip operations over the last two years.
  • The O's haven't made any progress on their arbitration case with Luke Scott, tweets Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com.  Both parties are still hopeful that they can avoid a hearing.  Scott has already said that he would like to sign a long-term deal in Baltimore.  You can keep track on all arbitration cases with MLBTR's Arb Tracker.

The Connection Between Pence, Scott And Young

Hunter Pence and his representatives at Beverly Hills Sports Council likely took notice when Mike Napoli and the Rangers agreed to a $5.8MM salary for 2011. And Pence’s agency will probably be watching the cases for Luke Scott and Delmon Young just as carefully (keep track of all arbitration submissions with MLBTR's Arb Tracker).

Pence, a super two who is arbitration eligible for the second time, asked for more money than Scott, Napoli, or Young even though the Astros outfielder is a year further from free agency than the others. Pence can ask for $6.9MM through arbitration, since his career totals compare well with players like Scott and Young, who are on track to hit free agency after 2012. 

Pence

Pence doesn’t have as much big league experience as Scott, Napoli or Young, but he has more career runs and stolen bases than any of them and comparable home run and RBI totals. Pence is also working from a relatively high base salary ($3.5MM) and is the only one of the players above to have made an All-Star team.

Length and consistency of career contribution matter in an arbitration hearing, which plays in Pence’s favor. He has appeared in 156 games or more in each of his three full seasons, hitting exactly 25 homers three times in a row. He has finished the past two campaigns with a .282 batting average, so it shouldn’t be hard for BHSC to show that Pence has been consistent and durable.

Pence is far from a perfect player; he has been successful just 61% of the time he has attempted to steal bases and doesn’t walk as much as Scott or Napoli. But it's his $6.9MM asking price that could become his biggest problem. Napoli, a comparable player in terms of career accomplishments, settled for $5.8MM. Carlos Quentin, another comparable player, already settled for $5.05MM, reducing the others’ leverage.

Young ($6.25MM) and Scott ($6.85MM) filed for less than Pence, but they could still help their fellow-outfielder by winning in arbitration. If they lose or settle, however, Pence will have a hard time explaining that he’s worth more than the $6.025MM midpoint (the Astros filed at $5.15MM) when comparable players are making $5-6MM.

Pence and the Astros are headed to arbitration soon and what happens with Scott and Young could have a major impact on how much the Astros are paying their right fielder for 2011 and beyond.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.