Mark Mulder Rumors

Cafardo On Lester, Hamels, Iwakuma, Sandoval

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if the Dodgers‘ outfield surplus could net them a solution to their shortstop situation.  Los Angeles isn’t expected to re-sign Hanley Ramirez and with underwhelming options on the open market, it stands to reason that the Dodgers could explore trading from their strongest area to find a replacement.  Earlier this week, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acknowledged that “the best course of action” would probably be to trade one of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, or Carl Crawford.  More from today’s column..

  • While Jon Lester is reportedly receiving “legitimate interest” from six interested clubs, some are skeptical about his market.  “Really? Six teams are going to be six years at $150 million for Jon Lester?” said one NL executive. “Sounds like agent enhancement of his client to me.”
  • The Red Sox have already shot down a couple of proposals from the Phillies involving Cole Hamels.  Cafardo expects the Phillies to reopen talks with Boston.
  • The Mariners have fielded inquiries from a few teams on Hisashi Iwakuma and the Red Sox have had at least internal conversations about the 33-year-old right-hander. The Mariners, meanwhile, would want an impact hitter like Yoenis Cespedes in return.
  • It’s expected that the Red Sox would want to offer Pablo Sandoval a contract with bonuses that would reward him for staying within a certain range.  A Giants official told Cafardo that Sanoval lost almost 30 pounds in the offseason only to gain 20 of them back during the season.  The CBA forbids teams from taking money away from players for gaining weight, but they can incentivize staying trim.
  • Mark Mulder continues to work toward a comeback but he indicated to Cafardo that he’s not 100% sure it will happen.  Mulder was making a run at it last offseason when during one of his workouts he tore his Achilles.  Afterwards, the hurler returned to ESPN as an analyst.
  • Rival scouts have worked hard to cut through the hype in their evaluations of the Red Sox‘s pitching prospects.  The biggest debate concerns Henry Owens and how his 92-mile-per-hour fastball and slow curve would play in the big leagues.  Meanwhile, some believe that left-hander Brian Johnson might be the best pitcher in Boston’s system.
  • Cafardo reported last week that the Tigers are listening to trade proposals on Alex Avila and mentioned the Braves and Red Sox as possible suitors for his left-handed bat. Today, Cafardo added the Cardinals as a team that could see him as a solid backup option.

West Notes: Tulowitzki, Preller, Astros, Mulder

Troy Tulowitzki again today voiced his frustration with the Rockies‘ losing ways, though he clarified to the Denver Post’s Nick Groke that his frustration doesn’t mean that he wants to be traded. Said Tulo: “It doesn’t mean I want out of here. It means I’m sick and tired of losing. Something needs to change. Hopefully that comes fairly quickly.” Tulo went on to cite the Red Sox and their quick turnaround from cellar-dwelling team to World Series champions, also opining that the lineup the Rockies fielded in April was good enough to contend.

Here’s more from baseball’s Western divisions…

  • New Padres GM A.J. Preller won’t be taking many (if any) colleagues with him to San Diego, Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News“In this case,” said Daniels, “with such a notable position and somebody who has been here so long and has unique relationships, there are strong restrictions on their ability to take anybody else.” As Fraley notes, such the Rangers put some strict guidelines in place when granting Preller permission to interview, and such tactics are not uncommon when a front office allows one of its members to interview with another club.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow will monitor the waiver wire with an attentive eye as always in 2014, but he tells MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart that he doesn’t expect to move anyone, as the club did in 2013 with Wesley Wright“I expect if we put our guys on waivers, most of them will get claimed because they’re young and affordable,” said Luhnow, “but we’re not looking to do anything. … Last year, we ended up moving Wesley through that, but we don’t anticipate anything this year.”
  • Left-hander Mark Mulder, who was with the Angels in Spring Training but tore his Achilles tendon before his comeback attempt could get off the ground, tells the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher that he has begun throwing and will attempt another comeback in 2015 (Twitter link). Mulder, who turned 37 yesterday, hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2008 and hasn’t topped 11 innings since 2006.

Cafardo On Morales, Pirates, Buehrle, Hanrahan

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is over his breakup with the Red Sox and now thriving in his new environment with the Marlins.  The catcher is not only hitting well, but overseeing one of the most talented young pitching staffs in baseball. “It’s been fun being back home and just being a part of this team and watching us grow together,” Saltalamacchia said. “I think last year the guys were saying here that we really weren’t a team and now it seems we’re coming together. We have each other’s back. We look out for each other. We win together and we lose together. We know what we have to do to get better as a team.”  More from today’s column..

  • Ike Davis‘ play since his trade from the Mets (.205/.279/.333 in 43 plate appearances) has not deterred the Pirates from trying to acquire a first baseman. However, the Pirates still don’t believe Kendrys Morales is the answer, believing he wouldn’t hold up playing every day and that he should be a DH.
  • Scouts are already indicating the Blue Jays will be a major team to pay attention to at the trading deadline. If they start fading, scouts view Mark Buehrle as a top target of contending teams. There’s also Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to consider, but Buehrle, given his ability to pitch in either league at a high level and to work quickly and effectively, will be valued.
  • It appears Joel Hanrahan, the newest member of the Tigers, will need about a month to get back into playing mode.  Both Hanrahan and GM Dave Dombrowski declined to give a timetable on Friday’s conference call.
  • Mark Mulder, 36, is out of his boot and continues to rehab his torn Achilles tendon.  He says he’d “absolutely” get back out on the field if he heals properly from his injury, but he also has a long way to go before he knows that he’ll get there.  Mulder signed with the Angels after a six-year layoff but saw his comeback bid cut short by the injury.


AL Notes: Kipnis, Sizemore, Mulder

How do teams take players from promise to big league production? Grantland's Jonah Keri takes a look at some different developmental approaches for players approaching MLB readiness, most of them from AL clubs. The Twins, for example, advance players based upon their readiness to fill a need at the MLB level, while the Rays pay close attention to service time in a bid to maximize the value of each player asset. Here's more from the American League:

  • The Indians are still believed to be discussing an extension with second baseman Jason Kipnis, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. With just two years and 69 days of service, Kipnis will not reach arbitration eligibility until next year (though he received a relatively sizeable $554,900 contract from Cleveland for the coming season). As Hoynes notes, there is an interesting comp in the Cardinals' recent six-year, $52MM extension of Matt Carpenter, an older player with less service (and, on the whole, a less impressive overall track record). 
  • Grady Sizemore is an increasingly plausible option not just to break camp with the Red Sox, but to beat out Jackie Bradley Jr. for the center field job, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. He has shown enough for the club (and, perhaps, Sizemore) to dare to dream, even if manager John Farrell is still preaching caution. But the skipper also joined those offering praise for Sizemore's performance thus far in camp. "The fact that Grady's having encouraging signs in spring training is not a bad thing for Jackie Bradley or for anybody," Farrell said. "It means we've got another good player. Grady gives us the potential to build another talented and deep roster." 
  • Though an achilles tear ended Mark Mulder's comeback bid this year with the Angels, the 36-year-old says that does not mean he is giving up entirely, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez"Barring a setback, or me not being able to pitch with my ankle for some reason, I don't see why not," Mulder said. "My arm's still going to be the same next year."

Angels Release Mark Mulder

The Angels have released left-hander Mark Mulder, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Mulder's comeback attempt was cut short by a freak injury in which he ruptured his Achilles tendon during agility drills.

The former All-Star signed a minor league deal with the Angels in January that would have allowed him to earn as much as $6MM in incentives. Mulder was a workhorse from 2001 to 2005 for the Athletics and Cardinals, averaging 211 innings per season with a 3.65 ERA. However, shoulder issues limited him to just 106 innings from 2006 to 2008, his last year in the big leagues. He had worked as an analyst with ESPN since 2011.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


AL Notes: Dempster, BoSox Payroll, Drew, O’s, Mulder

Earlier today, Ryan Dempster announced he will not pitch in 2014 forfeiting the $13.25MM he was due in the final year of his pact with the Red Sox. Boston, however, does not intend to pursue Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, or other free agent starting pitching, writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier. The Red Sox expect to slot Felix Doubront into the starting rotation and Brandon Workman into the swingman role with their stable of pitching prospects providing depth, according to Speier. Elsewhere in the American League:

  • Speier notes in the same article the Red Sox have newfound financial flexibility with Dempster's salary now off the books. Boston projects to have a 2014 payroll of $176MM (including $9MM allocated for in-season trades and roster additions), a $13MM cushion against the luxury tax. The Red Sox could re-sign Stephen Drew, but Speier wonders whether common ground can be found.
  • GM Ben Cherington passed on the opportunity to discuss the Red Sox's unexpected financial windfall saying the focus should be on Dempster, reports the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets the Yankees are not considering any additional free agent acquisitions, which would rule them out on Drew.
  • Jimmy Paredes, claimed on waivers yesterday by the Orioles, is a prime candidate to lose his 40-man roster spot once the team makes its signing of Suk-Min Yoon official, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. Yoon has passed his physical, per multiple reports.
  • Mark Mulder, who saw his comeback bid with the Angels end when he ruptured his left Achilles tendon, told reporters, including Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, he has yet to decide whether he will attempt another return in 2015. "I'd love to say yes, but I don't know. I have to wait and see what the doctors say — see what the process is of how healthy I can get it, how good it feels." Mulder undergoes surgery Monday and the rehab could last up to eight months.

Mark Mulder Ruptures Achillies

Angels signee Mark Mulder suffered a ruptured left Achillies tendon during agility drills, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). DiGiovanna adds that the lefty "is not expected to pitch this year."

The former All-Star signed a minor league deal with the Angels in January that would have allowed him to earn as much as $6MM in incentives. Mulder was a workhorse from 2001 to 2005 for the Athletics and Cardinals, averaging 211 innings per season with a 3.65 ERA. However, shoulder issues limited him to just 106 innings from 2006 to 2008, his last year in the big leagues. He had worked as an analyst with ESPN since 2011.

DiGiovanna tweets that the Angels were "extremely enthused by his throwing sessions and confident he would pitch this year." Mulder stood to earn $1MM if he made the Opening Day roster.


Quick Hits: Bailey, Mulder, Rays, Betancourt

Homer Bailey says he does not want to leave the Reds, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. "To say that I 'want out of Cincinnati' is not true," says Bailey, who is eligible for free agency after the season. "If I am in the organization's future, my priorities are that things make sense for me on the business end, that we are a team that continues to be a highly competitive team in the league and a team that plays the game the right way." Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that extension negotiations with Bailey are on "hold," and Rosenthal writes that they may not pick up until there's more clarity on the free-agent pitching market. Here's more from throughout the big leagues.

  • The Angels signed Mark Mulder because they were impressed with his new delivery, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, who describes in detail the series of events that led Mulder to begin a surprising comeback attempt after not pitching more than 11 innings in a big-league season since 2006. "I haven't had the ball come out of my hand like this in a very long time, and it's fun," says Mulder of his recent workouts. "I never threw like this in all my years in St. Louis. And I mean that. It was smoke and mirrors that first year in St. Louis. … My arm action was kind of deteriorating. And I'm gonna run with it. I'm gonna see what happens."
  • Jeff Niemann and Sam Fuld would have interest in returning to the Rays, MLB.com's Sam Chastain writes. Niemann is rehabbing a shoulder injury and plans to be ready by mid-2014. The Rays non-tendered Fuld last month after he hit .199/.270/.267 in 200 plate appearances for them last year.
  • Rafael Betancourt is making a comeback from Tommy John surgery, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. He believes he could pitch in 2014 despite only having the surgery only late last season. The Dodgers had interest in him as a free agent, but he wants to stay with the Rockies. "If I pitch again, it will be with the Rockies. I can’t see myself anywhere else at this point in my career. I have really enjoyed five years there," Betancourt says.

Quick Hits: Free Agents, Scherzer, Papelbon, Mulder

With Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kendrys Morales and Ervin Santana all in seeming free agent limbo after rejecting qualifying offers, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan argues that the current free agent compensation system has proven to be too limiting.  While teams will give up draft picks to sign bigger stars like Robinson Cano, the so-called second tier of free agents are finding it much harder to get work.  "Last offseason, there were a number of guys affected in ways different than we expected compared to a freer market to pursue jobs.  It appears that's happening again, " MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said.  One club executive suggested to Passan that teams could make qualifying offers to more free agents next winter given the evidence about how it pushes prices down for some players.

Here's some more from around baseball…

  • The Tigers have recently made several important moves in the post-Christmas offseason period, and 2014's big early-year move could be laying the groundwork for a Max Scherzer extension, MLB.com's Jason Beck opines.  Beck thinks GM Dave Dombrowski will look to a one-year deal for 2014 to avoid going to arbitration with Scherzer, and those talks could lead to negotiations with agent Scott Boras over a longer-term extension.
  • Also from Beck, he wonders if the Tigers could discuss a new contract with Miguel Cabrera (signed through 2015) or possibly add another reliever to the bullpen.  Detroit has already addressed its main bullpen need by signing closer Joe Nathan, and also acquired Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain for the relief corps.
  • Jonathan Papelbon discussed his name surfacing in recent trade rumors, the differences between the Phillies' and Red Sox clubhouse atmospheres and his joy at seeing his ex-Boston teammates win the World Series last October in a frank radio interview with Rob Bradford and John McDonald on WEEI's Hot Stove Show.  A partial transcript of the interview is available at WEEI.com.
  • The Phillies were interested in Mark Mulder before the veteran signed with the Angels, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).
  • Forbes Magazine's Maury Brown discusses Major League Baseball's growing revenues and the effect on player salaries and acquisitions in a podcast with BostInno's Alex Reimer, who has a partial transcript of the interview here.
  • MLB.com's Anthony DiComo covers a number of Mets-related topics as part of a reader mailbag, including how he doesn't see Dee Gordon or Didi Gregorius as logical trade targets for the team.

Angels To Sign Mark Mulder

TODAY, 1:25pm: Mulder's deal includes no guaranteed money, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. He will have to make the opening day roster to guarantee his $1MM base, and must stay active and in the rotation for the full season to reach the $6MM in incentives, according to Fletcher.

YESTERDAY, 6:36pm: Mark Mulder has agreed to a minor league deal with a big league invite with the Angels, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter).  The veteran, who is represented by Brian Charles of Big League Management Company, LLC, can earn more than $6MM if all incentives are met, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.  The deal comes with a guaranteed $1MM base salary, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Mulder

Mulder, 36, hasn't pitched since 2008 because of shoulder issues, and has been working as an analyst with ESPN since 2011.  Mulder began his comeback in Arizona in November and auditioned for the Giants, Diamondbacks, and numerous other clubs before reaching agreement with the Halos.  In nine seasons with the Athletics and Cardinals, Mulder owns a 4.18 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.

The veteran will get an opportunity to compete for a starting job while also training near his home in the Phoenix area, tweets Crasnick.  The Halos have Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson atop the rotation, with Joe Blanton, Garrett Richards, and lefties Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago also in the rotation mix.  The agreement with Mulder shouldn't preclude them in their pursuit of Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka or Matt Garza.  The baseball world will be rooting for Mulder, who last pitched in '08 and hasn't spent a full season as a starter since '05.

While it's a minor league deal, Mulder's agent won't commit to the left-hander actually pitching in the minors. "Mark will evaluate that if and when the time comes," Charles told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.  Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe first reported that Mulder was nearing agreement with the Angels.