Marc Rzepczynski Rumors
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements...
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
- Cesar Ramos got $750K from the Rays in his deal, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
- Sherman tweets that the Athletics' Craig Gentry will get $1.145MM on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
- Jerry Blevins and the Nationals avoided arbitration, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. He will earn $1.675MM for the year, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
- Alejandro De Aza agreed to a $4.25MM deal with the White Sox, Sherman tweets. Within the same tweet, Sherman says the Rays shook hands with Jose Lobaton on a $900K deal and James Russell agreed to a $1.775MM pact.
- The White Sox and Gordon Beckham agreed to a one-year, $4.175MM deal, Sherman tweets.
- The Brewers avoided arbitration with Marco Estrada and Juan Francisco, Sherman tweets. Estrada gets $3.325MM with $100K in innings pitched bonuses while Francisco gets $1.35MM.
- Mike Dunn agreed to a $1.4MM deal with the Marlins, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel (on Twitter).
- Pedro Alvarez will earn $4.25MM on his brand new deal with the Pirates, Sherman tweets.
- The Nationals announced that they've struck an arb-avoiding deal with Wilson Ramos. Ramos gets $2.095MM with the opportunity to get $105K more through plate appearance bonuses, per Sherman.
- Alexi Ogando gets $2.625MM in 2014 from the Rangers, according to Sherman.
- Mark Melancon will get $2.595MM after striking a deal with the Pirates, tweets Sherman.
- Brandon Moss and the Athletics avoided arbitration with a $4.1MM pact, Sherman tweets.
- The Red Sox and Jonathan Herrera avoided arbitration with a $1.3MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets.
- Brian Duensing has agreed to a $2MM deal with the Twins, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Berardino adds in a second tweet that Anthony Swarzak also avoided arb with a $935K deal. The swingman will earn a $25K bonus if he starts 10 games.
- The Rangers and Neftali Feliz agreed to a $3MM deal with bonuses of $25K for 50/55 games finished, Sherman tweets.
- Jake McGee will earn $1.45MM in his new deal with the Rays, Sherman tweets.
- The Royals and Eric Hosmer have agreed to a one-year, $3.6MM deal, Sherman tweets.
- Mike Carp gets $1.4MM in his deal with the Red Sox, according to Sherman (via Twitter).
- Bobby Parnell agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM with the Mets that can increase by $50K if he appears in 60 games, Sherman tweets.
- The Braves avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer with a $1.09MM deal, tweets Sherman. Sherman adds that Andy Dirks and the Tigers have also avoided arbitration with a $1.625MM deal.
- Shawn Kelley and the Yankees dodged arbitration by agreeing to a $1.765MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets. Kelley, 29, has a career 3.77 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
- The Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $1.275MM deal with Junichi Tazawa, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Tazawa posted a 3.16 ERA in 2013 with 9.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
- The Rockies avoided arbitration with Drew Stubbs by agreeing to a $4.1MM deal for 2014, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). With the signing of Stubbs, the Rockies have now taken care of all of their arbitration-eligible players.
- Kyle Blanks has avoided arbitration with the Padres by agreeing to a one-year, $988K deal, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
- Sherman also reports (on Twitter) that the Giants have avoided arbitration with Gregor Blanco and Tony Abreu by agreeing to one-year deals that are worth $2.525MM and $745K, respectively.
- The Cardinals and Peter Bourjos have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM contract, tweets Sherman. Bourjos can earn another $150K based on plate appearances.
- Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have avoided arbitration with a one-year deal, according to Sanchez's agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Sanchez will earn $2.3MM.
- Sherman reports (via Twitter) that the Blue Jays also avoided arbitration with Esmil Rogers by agreeing to a one-year, $1.85MM contract.
- The Nationals announced that in addition to their two-year deal with Jordan Zimmermann, they've also signed Drew Storen to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Sherman tweets that he'll earn $3.45MM in 2014 with an additional $1MM of incentives in his contract for games finished.
- The Rockies and righty Juan Nicasio avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.025MM contract, Sherman tweets.
- The Blue Jays and lefty Brett Cecil have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $1.3MM pact, per Sherman (on Twitter).
- Sherman tweets that the Rays and Matt Joyce agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM contract, thereby avoiding arbitration.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Reds have avoided arbitration with Alfredo Simon by agreeing to a one-year, $1.5MM contract (Twitter link).
- Connolly also reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with Tommy Hunter (Twitter link). Currently the front-runner to serve as Baltimore's closer in 2014, Hunter will earn $3MM after posting a 2.81 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings for the O's in 2013.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles and Troy Patton have avoided arbitration (Twitter link). Patton topped Swartz's $1.2MM salary projection by earning a raise to $1.275MM, Connolly adds in a second tweet.. Patton will be suspended for the first 25 games of 2014 for amphetamine use.
- The Twins and Trevor Plouffe have agreed to a one-year, $2.35MM contract, Sherman tweets. Plouffe saw his power numbers drop as he batted .254/.309/.392 with 14 homers in a career-high 522 plate appearances in 2013 (he'd belted 24 homers in 465 PAs in 2012). He figures to open the season as Minnesota's everyday third baseman but could eventually have competition from top prospect Miguel Sano.
- Jon Jay and the Cardinals have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.25MM contract, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Jay batted .276/.351/.370 with the Cards in 2013 but struggled defensively (particularly in the playoffs) and will have center field competition in the form of offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos in 2014.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Phillies and John Mayberry Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.5875MM. Mayberry slashed .227/.286/.391 in 2013 and has a career .274/.321/.526 batting line against lefties. He came in just under Swartz's $1.7MM projection.
- The Cubs and Luis Valbuena have also avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year pact, tweets Sherman. Valbuena will earn $1.71MM after slashing .218/.331/.378 and setting a new career-best with 12 homers in 2013. He exceeded Swartz's projection by $210K.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Indians have announced the acquisition of left-hander Marc Rzepczynski from the Cardinals in exchange for minor league infielder Juan Herrera. Rzepczynski will report to Cleveland tonight, and a 40-man roster move will be made to accommodate the team's new addition.
Rzepcynzski, 27, was optioned to Triple-A Memphis at the end of April after a rough start to the season. In Memphis, he posted a 3.33 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 44 innings of work -- a significant improvement from the 7.84 ERA he's posted at the Major League level this season. Rzepcynski was recalled recently and has made a pair of July appearances for the Cardinals.
Rzepcynski, whose nickname is "Scrabble" (for obvious reasons), has been effective against left-handed hitters throughout his career, holding them to a .224/.298/.310 batting line over parts of five big league seasons with the Blue Jays and Cardinals. St. Louis acquired him in the 2011 Colby Rasmus trade. He is earning just $1.1MM in 2013 and can be controlled via arbitration through the 2015 season.
Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti said recently that his club has been on the lookout for bullpen arms that can retire left-handed hitters, and Rzepczynski fits that bill at a much lower cost than Javier Lopez and Josh Outman, both of whom also drew interest from Cleveland, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link).
Herrera, 20, is batting .275/.366/.369 in 39 games for short-season Class-A Mahoning Valley. The Dominican native did not rank among Cleveland's Top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was the first to report the agreement (on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark...
- Phillies third baseman Michael Young is open to a deal to just about any contender. Stark sees the Yankees as the best fit, with the Orioles still interested. Talking to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki about waiving his no-trade clause, Young said, "I don't know. The first thing I want to do is talk to the Phillies about that."
- The Phillies have shown very little inclination to move catcher Carlos Ruiz, surprisingly. And while they'd like to trade closer Jonathan Papelbon, their unwillingness to assume some of his contract is likely to prevent a deal. Papelbon is owed at least $30MM through 2015.
- The Phils have quietly been asking potentially interested teams about shortstop Jimmy Rollins, which would be a long shot even if Rollins wasn't likely to block a deal.
- It's just speculation, but Stark says some people have wondered if the Dodgers should be open to trading center fielder Matt Kemp.
- Cardinals lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski is a candidate to be traded.
- Stark suggests the Indians' Carlos Carrasco could be a name to file away for the Rockies, with the Tribe interested in Colorado reliever Josh Outman.
We'll track the day's arbitration agreements under $3MM right here. MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker has the details on this year's cases. Be sure to check out MLBTR's guide to Arbiration Basics as well. Now for Friday's deals...
- The Cardinals avoided arbitration with left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). It's a $1.1MM deal, the AP reports (via ESPN.com). Rzepczynski, a client of John Boggs & Associates, filed for $1.3MM with the Cardinals countering at $900K. David Freese is now St. Louis' lone unsigned arb eligible player, as MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows.
The Angels have expressed interest in Jose Mijares of the Royals and Marc Rzepczynski of the Cardinals in their search for a left-handed reliever, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports (Twitter links). The Angels could also have some interest in Joe Thatcher of the Padres, DiGiovanna suggests.
Mijares, 27, has a 1.72 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 36 2/3 innings with the Royals so far in 2012. The midseason trade candidate earns $925K this year and will be arbitration eligible following the season.
Rzepczynski was traded to the Cardinals last summer in the deal that sent Edwin Jackson to St. Louis. The 26-year-old has a 5.06 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 32 innings this year. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time following the 2012 season.
The Angels, who currently have left-handers Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi pitching out of the bullpen, are willing to offer Peter Bourjos in a trade for the right reliever. Here's MLBTR's preview of the trade market for left-handed relief.
On the off-chance you missed it, the Blue Jays, Cardinals and White Sox announced a pair of major trades today. The Blue Jays acquired center fielder Colby Rasmus and pitchers Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters from the Cardinals for starter Edwin Jackson, relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel, outfielder Corey Patterson, and three players to be named later or cash considerations. Before completing the deal with St. Louis, the Blue Jays acquired Jackson and third baseman Mark Teahen from the White Sox for reliever Jason Frasor and prospect Zach Stewart. Here’s reaction to the trades from around MLB. Be warned, Cardinals fans, you might not like what follows...
- The price the Cardinals paid to acquire Jackson and bullpen help was "just too high," according to ESPN.com's Keith Law, who suggests St. Louis' internal emphasis is on manager Tony La Russa, not the players. Law loves what Toronto did and doesn't understand Chicago's move.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN says the Cardinals had better win this year "or they will really regret this one." He calls St. Louis' move the "worst trade of the year" and gives the Blue Jays an 'A.'
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirms that the Cardinals turned down the Rays' offer of Jeff Niemann and J.P. Howell for Rasmus (Twitter link). Sherman suggests the Cardinals would have been better off accepting Tampa Bay's offer.
- The Giants showed how to go for it today and the Cardinals showed how not to go for it, Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes.
- A longtime scout tells ESPN.com’s Buster Olney that Rasmus has a chance to be a star. “I don't understand that deal at all," the scout said (Twitter link).
- Matthew Leach of MLB.com likes what the Cardinals got for 2011, but finds it hard to like the deal for St. Louis because of what it means for 2012-14 (Twitter link).
- Now that Rasmus and Carlos Beltran are off of the market, the list of teams with possible interest in B.J. Upton is taking shape, as Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times explains. The Braves, Indians, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates and Reds are possible destinations for Upton.
- As Matt Eddy of Baseball America explains, Walters should qualify for a fourth option year in 2012 and Rzepczynski "might be the prototype" pupil for Cards pitching coach Dave Duncan.
- Joe Pawlikowski of FanGraphs explains that it's easiest to see the trade from the Blue Jays' perspective, since they gave up three relievers and a prospect for a player who can help them contend for 2012-14.
- At CloserNews, Dan Mennella wonders if Kyle McClellan could be in line for some saves, now that he's back in the bullpen.
- Tim Dierkes wrote earlier today that “it's hard to see this as anything but a win for the Blue Jays.”
- I agree with Tim and many of the others above- it’s a win for the Blue Jays. Let’s not forget how much has to be in place for this kind of deal to happen: a creative GM who reads the market well, payroll flexibility (for Teahen’s contract), willingness from ownership to take on salary, enough appealing prospects to be able to part with Stewart and enough bullpen depth to send three quality relievers packing on the same day. This trade doesn’t seem simple and in some ways it may actually be more complicated that it appears.
An eight-player deal was struck today, as the Blue Jays announced they've acquired center fielder Colby Rasmus and pitchers Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters from the Cardinals for starter Edwin Jackson, relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel, outfielder Corey Patterson, and three players to be named later or cash considerations. ESPN's Buster Olney first tweeted the full details.
In Rasmus (pictured), Alex Anthopoulos acquired a good young player who had worn out his welcome with management, much like the Blue Jays GM did with Yunel Escobar last summer. Rasmus, 24, is hitting .246/.332/.420 in 386 plate appearances, a down year compared to 2010. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time after this season, so he's under team control through 2014. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak recently called a Rasmus trade "highly unlikely," but as Strauss notes, the center fielder has "fascinated and frustrated" the Cardinals over the last three years and made repeated trade requests. Mozeliak shopped Rasmus to the Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He adds that prior to public criticism from manager Tony La Russa earlier this month, the Cardinals were in contract extension negotiations with Rasmus.
Miller, 38, has been used sparingly by the Cardinals this year, logging only 15 2/3 innings. Most of them came against left-handed hitters, but Miller hasn't pitched well no matter how you slice it. About $700K remains on his contract. Tallet, 33, has been ineffective as well and currently resides on the DL for an intercostal strain. He spent the previous five seasons with the Jays. About $263K remains on his contract.
Walters, 26, has logged 50 innings in the bigs since 2009. The righty has a 4.27 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, and 0.8 HR/9 in 103 1/3 Triple-A innings this year, his fourth stint at the level. Baseball America ranked him 19th among Cardinals prospects prior to the season, praising his plus changeup but projecting a long relief/swingman role.
Jackson, 27, was traded for the fifth and sixth times in his career today. The 27-year-old flourished in nearly 200 innings with the White Sox, and improves a Cardinals rotation that ranks seventh in the NL with a 3.84 ERA. The acquisition gives the Cards the flexibility to move Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen, leaving a rotation of Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jackson, Jake Westbrook, and Kyle Lohse. Jackson, a Scott Boras client, figures to test free agency after the season as a Type B. About $2.9MM remains on his contract.
The Cardinals' bullpen gets a lift from Dotel, Rzepczynski, and McClellan. Dotel, 37, has a 3.68 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.53 HR/9, and 28.6% groundball rate on the season; he excels against right-handed batters. Should the Cardinals turn down his $3.5MM club option, Dotel projects as a Type B free agent in the AL at the moment. If the option is declined, about $1.7MM remains on Dotel's contract.
Rzepczynski, 25, switched to full-time relief this year. He has a 2.97 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.46 HR/9, and strong 65.7% groundball rate in 39 1/3 innings this year. He complements Dotel nicely, having dominated lefties and struggled against righties. Rzepczynski is under team control through 2015. Dotel and Rzepczynski do not appear to be a threat to closer Fernando Salas, writes Dan Mennella of CloserNews.
Patterson, 31, is hitting .252/.287/.379 in 341 plate appearances for the Blue Jays this year. He restores a little bit of outfield depth for St. Louis.
Though there are eight players in this deal, it mostly boils down to the Cardinals renting Jackson and Dotel and getting Rzepczynski long-term in exchange for Rasmus' three arbitration years. It's hard to see this as anything but a win for the Blue Jays. Ultimately Rasmus cost the Jays Zach Stewart, Jason Frasor, Dotel, Rzepczynski, and Teahen's contract.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
12:08pm: The Cardinals will send Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to the Blue Jays for Jackson, Rzepczynski, Dotel, and Corey Patterson, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. Olney adds that Miller is then expected to be traded to the White Sox.
12:01pm: This trade is not yet official because of the money involved, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. He says that aspect may need to be reworked before it's approved.
11:35am: A trade of Rasmus to the Blue Jays for Jackson, Dotel, and Rzepczynski is imminent, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He says an announcement could come early this afternoon.
11:22am: Edwin Jackson is definitely going to be traded by the Blue Jays, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Heyman heard it's going to be for Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus. Rasmus being under team control through 2014 and still highly-regarded, the Cards will require more than just two months of Jackson. The two teams have talked about Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel, notes Olney, and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Cards asked about outfielder Eric Thames.
Rasmus is a popular trade target. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Rays offered one of Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, and Alex Cobb, and the young center fielder is very much available. The Indians have interest as well.
Just when it seemed like the AL East standings were becoming a little less bunched up, the Red Sox dropped four straight and the Rays won seven of eight. New York, Boston, and Tampa Bay are now separated by just two games, as the Rays look for a sweep in Houston while the Sox hope to avoid one in Pittsburgh. Here are today's links from around the division:
- The Yankees will need to add another starting pitcher if they hope to win a championship this season, writes Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News. He notes that starter doesn't necessarily have to come from outside the organization though - it could be Phil Hughes.
- Rival evaluators have taken note of Jesus Montero's decline in offensive production this year, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider only). According to Olney, it's led to some speculation that the Yankees could push to trade Montero this season "in an effort to recoup some value."
- Within Nick Cafardo's Sunday column for the Boston Globe, he writes that Jason Frasor may be the prize of the Blue Jays' bullpen at next month's trade deadline. Cafardo adds that teams figure to inquire on Marc Rzepczynski, but he's the one Jays' reliever who definitely "isn't going anywhere."
- DRaysBay's Steve Slowinksi breaks down Andrew Friedman's trade history in a piece for the St. Petersburg Times. Slowinski concludes that Friedman has netted the Rays 20 extra wins while also saving a sizable chunk of salary.
Jason Vargas and Zach Britton both threw nine shutout innings in a remarkable pitcher's duel tonight in Baltimore. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the 12th, the Orioles came back to win the game in the bottom half of the inning on a bases-loaded single from J.J. Hardy.
Some news from around the majors...
- "The C.C. Sabathia opt out situation is sure to be messy," predicts Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog, but Axisa thinks Brian Cashman's upcoming contract negotiations with the Yankees "will be messier." Cashman is in the last year of his deal with New York and, as per club policy, the team won't discuss an extension in mid-season. There has been some speculation about Cashman's future in the Bronx given his disagreements with upper management about the Rafael Soriano and Derek Jeter signings last winter, but Axisa thinks those signings give Cashman the leverage in negotiations, "plus the fact that there’s no ready-made, in-house replacement available."
- As for Sabathia, Axisa thinks he will almost surely opt out of his contract, and the southpaw will look at Cliff Lee's five-year, $120MM deal with Philadelphia "as a starting point."
- The Blue Jays lost Scott Downs to free agency last winter, but as MLB.com's Arden Zwelling writes, Marc Rzepczynski has been a superb fit as Downs' replacement in Toronto's bullpen.
- Fangraphs' Reed MacPhail wonders why teams are still paying top-dollar for relief pitching.
- When the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane is finalized, Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle reports that former Houston Rockets president George Postolos will be the Astros' new CEO. Justice also speculates that Crane may try to get Andrew Friedman to return to his hometown to become the Astros' new GM, but it's extremely doubtful Friedman would leave Tampa Bay just to start another rebuilding process elsewhere.
- In his latest chat with fans, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star would be "astounded" if the Royals didn't quickly pursue signing Eric Hosmer to a long-term extension, though it could be "a tough sell" given that Scott Boras is Hosmer's agent. Earlier today, Dutton's Star colleague Sam Mellinger, proposed a six-year, $25MM extension for Hosmer (with three option years and possibly $40MM more added on), though MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out that Hosmer and Boras would surely turn down such an offer.