Mat Latos Rumors

Trade Candidate: Mat Latos

An offseason trade that sent Mat Latos from Cincinnati to Miami in exchange for young righty Anthony DeSclafani and catching prospect Chad Wallach was supposed to be one of the key moves for a Marlins team that was making a push to contend in 2015 on the heels of a record-setting Giancarlo Stanton extension. Things have not gone according to plan in Miami, however.

Mat Latos

The Marlins currently sit at 34-46, a disappointing 9.5 games back from both the division lead and a Wild Card playoff berth. Mike Redmond has been fired and replaced as the on-field manager by former GM Dan Jennings. Stanton is on the disabled list with a broken hand, where he’s joined by Opening Day starter Henderson Alvarez as well Opening Day starters Mike Morse and Martin Prado. Miami has yet to throw in the towel according to multiple reports, but their starters are drawing interest from pitching-hungry teams. All of this brings us back to Latos, whose own 2015 shortcomings have contributed to the Marlins’ sub-par start.

Latos, 27, entered the season with a career 3.34 ERA at the Major League level despite spending three seasons with the Reds, whose home park is among the most hitter-friendly environments in the game. However, as of this writing, Latos is sporting a 5.27 ERA with the highest BB/9 rate he’s posted since debuting with the Padres in 2009. He’s earning $9.4MM after losing an arbitration hearing to the Marlins this winter and is slated to hit free agency at the end of the year. Of that $9.4MM, about $4.83MM remains, and Latos has already missed time this season due to inflammation in his left knee.

None of this paints Latos as a very flattering trade candidate, but there’s still a compelling case to be made that says he can help a team in need of pitching. Latos opened the 2014 season on the DL as he recovered from spring surgery on his left knee — the same knee that sidelined him in 2015. From the time of his activation in 2014 to the time he was placed on the DL in 2015, Latos averaged about 90.7 mph on his fastball — two full miles below the 92.7 mph he averaged from 2011-13.

However, since he’s come off the disabled list, Latos’ missing velocity has suddenly returned. A look at his velocity stats on BrooksBaseball.net indicates that his four-seamer is averaging 93.66 mph over his past four starts, and his sinker is averaging 92.95 mph. Both marks are two miles per hour faster than he averaged prior to hitting the DL. In fact, if you break down his average velocity on a game-by-game basis, his slowest average fastball in a start since coming off the DL is 92.42 mph. That mark is still better than even his best pre-DL days, in terms of radar readings.

Perhaps, then, it shouldn’t be surprising to see that Latos has worked to a much more palatable 3.86 ERA in his small sample of work since being activated. He’s whiffed 24 hitters against just six walks in 25 2/3 innings — each a significant improvement over his K/9 and BB/9 rates earlier in the year when working with diminished velocity. Latos has seen significant jumps in his whiff rate on both pitches since adding velocity, and the same holds true for his splitter as well.

It’s not known for certain whether Latos’ knee will hold up, nor can we definitively say that his velocity increase is sustainable. However, interested clubs will be able to watch another four weeks’ worth of his starts in order to make that determination for themselves. If Latos is back to the form that most came to expect of him from 2010-14, then suddenly, committing $4-5MM to him over the remainder of the season no longer looks to be an unreasonable undertaking.

The Marlins, in fact, could have good reason  deal Latos even if they don’t otherwise act as sellers on the upcoming market. Aside from the obvious up-front financial savings that hold more value to a tight-budgeted team like Miami than a larger-payroll club, the Marlins may be reluctant to extend a qualifying offer to Latos following the season. The value of last year’s QO was a hefty $15.3MM, and that number figures to increase in 2015. A payroll-conscious team such as Miami could be reluctant to roll the dice on Latos remaining healthy for the rest of the season. If he re-injures the knee, the Fish would likely be too apprehensive to make a QO to an injured pitcher. Even if Latos remains healthy and looks like a good bet to reject the QO, Miami might find the small chance that he accepts somewhat risky. Trading him now, especially in a market that is currently tilted in favor of teams willing to sell assets, would be one way to ensure that they receive some long-term value in exchange for their relatively significant offseason investment in Latos.

The Marlins have the depth to replace Latos, as Jose Fernandez is now healthy and joined in the rotation by Dan Haren, Tom Koehler, Jarred Cosart and Latos. Even if Latos is dealt, David Phelps and Brad Hand both have experience starting in the Majors, and Alvarez is expected off the DL later this season. Jose Urena and Justin Nicolino represent rotation options in the upper minors.

The Tigers are said to have scouted Miami’s starters recently, though no interest in specific pitchers was mentioned, so it’s probably best not to read too much into that bit of info. (Multiple teams, after all, figure to be scouting Miami’s starters.) In addition to Detroit, though, plenty of other clubs are interested in adding to their rotation. The Blue Jays, Dodgers, Astros, Royals, Rangers, Yankees and Pirates are among teams that have been connected to pitching upgrades or speculated to eventually be in the market for rotation help.


NL East Notes: Hamels, Marlins, Prado, Wright

Though he admitted that he’s not privy to the front office’s discussions, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he expects ace Cole Hamels to be traded. “We’re not involved on the field,” said Mackanin. “But the whole point of this year basically is to see young guys, help us get ready for next year and beyond. If we can get good deals for Hamels and good deals for whomever else there might be out there, (Jonathan) Papelbon.” Hamels recently told Salisbury that he’s open to a trade to any club, including the Blue Jays and Astros. Previous reports had indicated that Hamels would block a deal to either club.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • The Tigers are scouting the Marlins‘ starting pitchers, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). There could be very little to read into here, as multiple teams are likely scouting the Marlins, and the Tigers of course are scouting other clubs. Nonetheless, a pitching matchup, at least on paper, does seem to exist between the two sides. The Tigers have seen Shane Greene lose his spot in the rotation and received little from Justin Verlander to this point. A solid addition to the rotation would make some sense, and the Marlins have a surplus now that Jose Fernandez is healthy. Fernandez joins Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart in the rotation. Latos and Haren, though, are free agents at season’s end, and the team has internal replacements capable of slotting into the rotation in the event of a trade.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that the Marlins are indeed willing to listen to offers on Latos and Haren. He adds Steve Cishek to that list as well and unsurprisingly says that the fallen closer likely will be non-tendered this offseason. Jackson, like other reporters, hears that the team isn’t entertaining the idea of moving Martin Prado at this point.
  • Mets captain David Wright is “extremely optimistic” that he can begin baseball activities next week, tweets ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Wright won’t begin hitting in that time, however. Previously, the Mets have expressed hope to have the third baseman back by the All-Star break, though that timeline is fast approaching and Wright is still quite a ways from a rehab assignment.

Marlins’ Pitchers Drawing Trade Interest

The Marlins have received multiple trade inquiries on free-agents-to-be Mat Latos and Dan Haren, as well as controllable young pitchers Tom Koehler and Brad Hand, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Morosi notes, with the return of Jose Fernandez looming, the team could potentially afford to part with a starting pitcher. (Hand, a lefty, is currently in the bullpen but has started at the Major League level previously.)

Fernandez will join Latos, Haren, Koehler and one of Justin Nicolino or Jose Urena in the current rotation, though the team also has other options. As noted, Hand is capable of starting, and the Marlins currently have Opening Day rotation member Jarred Cosart in the bullpen. Henderson Alvarez, projected to be one of Miami’s best starters, is on the mend from inflammation in his shoulder, and swingman David Phelps could step into the rotation if needed as well.

A previous report from MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro indicated that the Marlins have at least discussed both Koehler and Hand with an unknown team. Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, has previously heard that Haren is very unlikely to be traded, although that certainly doesn’t preclude teams from calling and inquiring on the veteran right-hander.

Latos, in my eyes, makes some sense as a trade candidate. He’s looked better since returning from his most recent start on the disabled list. While his 4.12 ERA in three pot-DL starts isn’t particularly exciting, his increase in velocity since activation certainly is. Latos dealt with diminished velocity in 2014 and early in 2015, but since coming off the DL, he’s averaged 92-93 mph on his heater as opposed the the 90-91 he showed when his velocity was down. In 19 2/3 innings since his return, Latos has struck out 20 hitters — a significantly better rate than the 7.6 K/9 he averaged prior to his most recent DL stint. It’s a small sample, to be sure, but it’s a source of optimism in what’s been a difficult season for Latos.

From the Marlins’ point of view, if they hang onto Latos for the season and he performs reasonably well, they’ll be in a tough spot in deciding whether or not to make a qualifying offer. The value of a QO could jump to more than $17MM this winter, in which case Latos would be far too pricey an asset for the club. As such, trading Latos and the remaining $5.03MM (as of today) on his salary likely holds some appeal. With another few weeks of improved velocity and results, Latos could become a desirable enough trade chip to outweigh the potential value that Miami would receive from a QO anyhow.

Koehler, 29, is controllable through the 2018 season and will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter. He sports a lifetime 4.03 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 44.6 percent ground-ball rate. His 3.66 ERA is better than in recent seasons, but xFIP and SIERA view him as more or less the same pitcher, pegging him in the low-4.00 range. Koehler’s proven himself to be a durable arm, never having spent time on the DL and pitching 191 innings in 2014.

The 25-year-old Hand is struggling more in 2015 with a 5.95 ERA, but he’s controllable through the 2019 season. Hand is having somewhat of the opposite season that Koehler is, from a statistical standpoint. Despite the high ERA, xFIP and SIERA peg him at 3.77 and 3.85, respectively, thanks in large part to a rebound in his strikeout rate and improved control. As a controllable lefty with velocity that sits around 93 mph, it’s not hard to see why some clubs would have interest.

Haren, of course, has had a nice season for Miami after quite a bit of seemingly overblown talk surrounding his possible retirement this offseason. He’s notched a 3.38 ERA with his typically stellar command (1.7 BB/9), and he’ll be a free agent season’s end. The Dodgers are paying the entirety of Haren’s $10MM salary this season, making him a very appealing chip, though as previously noted, reports have said he won’t be moved. That line of thinking may change as the trade deadline nears, of course. Interestingly, his former team (who is already picking up the tab on Haren anyway) is on the hunt for reliable rotation arms.

Whether or not the Marlins become serious sellers isn’t known, as GM-turned-manager Dan Jennnings has told reporters recently that the team still plans to try to content. Of course, the loss of Giancarlo Stanton for four to six weeks due to a broken hamate bone in his hand further dampen’s Miami’s chances to climb out of a substantial hole in the NL East.

The Marlins, of course, have possible trade chips beyond just the pitchers listed here. MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently examined the club’s trade chips at greater length.



A Look At The Marlins’ Trade Chips

As others have noted today, the news that Giancarlo Stanton will miss four to six weeks with a broken hamate bone increases the likelihood that the Marlins will reach a conclusion that they might have reached anyway: 2015 doesn’t appear to be their year. Under owner Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins have never been shy about change — they’ve traded players, replaced managers and changed organizational directions far more rapidly than other franchises might. Their 31-45 start already seemed likely to lead them to sell, even before Stanton’s injury.

In fact, this year’s Marlins team bears certain similarities to their 2012 club. The 2012 team headed into the offseason intending to make a splash. Instead, they flopped, and in July, they dealt Carlos Lee, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez.

What do the 2015 Marlins have to sell, though? This year’s team doesn’t appear to be primed for a complete rebuild, and thus it doesn’t have many top-quality trade chips like Ramirez or Anibal Sanchez. The Marlins still have Stanton and Christian Yelich signed to long-term deals, and Jose Fernandez is cost-controlled and is clearly an elite pitcher when healthy. The Marlins seem highly likely to keep those players, even though Yelich is having a disappointing season and Fernandez is only on the verge of returning from Tommy John surgery. Here’s a look at who the Marlins could consider trading.

  • Dan Haren and Mat Latos are eligible for free agency after the season, so they seem like obvious trade candidates. The question is what the Marlins will be able to get back. Haren is having a solid season, but he seemed mostly unwanted as of last winter, and his age (34) and stuff (Haren’s admirably self-effacing “Ithrow88″ Twitter handle isn’t even accurate anymore, since his fastball has averaged 86 MPH this season) suggest he won’t fetch much now, either. Still, useful starting pitching is useful starting pitching, and the Marlins might try convincing a team in a homer-suppressing ballpark to give up a prospect or two for Haren. The Phillies got two fairly good lottery tickets in Victor Arano and Jesmuel Valentin for Roberto Hernandez last year — that might provide a good template, even though the stock of both players has slipped in 2015. The Marlins might also have to convince Haren to play for the team they trade him to if it’s not a West Coast team, given that he considered retiring last offseason rather than heading to Miami.
  • Latos currently has a 5.49 ERA and missed time due to a knee injury, so his trade value would appear very limited. Since he would only be a rental, there would be little point in a contending team taking him on as a project, even though his peripherals suggest he should be somewhat better than that ERA. The curse of struggling teams trying to become deadline sellers is that they typically mostly have disappointing players to sell, and Latos is a case in point. It’s not impossible, though, that Latos could raise his trade value by pitching well over the next month.
  • As the New York Post’s Joel Sherman pointed out today, Martin Prado‘s versatility could make him an interesting trade chip next month, since he can play third base, second base and both outfield corners. First, though, he’ll have to show he’s healthy — he’s currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. He’s owed $11MM both this year and next, although the Yankees are paying $3MM in each of those years.
  • Pitchers Tom Koehler and Brad Hand were both recently the subject of rumors. Koehler missed a start last week with neck and back pain, but his successful return today should help the Marlins’ cause if they choose to trade him. The problem is that neither Koehler nor Hand are the kinds of difference-makers most appealing to contenders — a contending team likely wouldn’t want either one of them starting a playoff game. And since they’re also cheap and capable of eating innings, they could have value to the Marlins as they retool. David Phelps, who has been solid but not outstanding in his first season in Miami, falls into the same category.
  • Mike Dunn isn’t having a good season by traditional measures, with a 4.68 ERA, but his strikeout rate (9.0 K/9 in 2015) and velocity remain intact, so a contender might view him as a sneaky way to upgrade the left side of its bullpen, especially since his contract is reasonable. He’s signed through next season, though, so the Marlins could also decide the better route might be to keep him around for another year and hope he rebounds.
  • Like Dunn, Steve Cishek has a poor ERA this year. Unlike Dunn, though, Cishek isn’t cheap, at $6.65MM, and his control issues are a key reason for his downturn in performance. It would likely be hard for the Marlins to deal Cishek without taking on salary, despite his closer pedigree.
  • Infielder Jeff Baker is a career .297/.352/.513 hitter against lefties, so he could conceivably help a contender in need of a right-handed bat. He’s mostly limited to first base at this point, however, so his utility is limited.

Other Marlins veterans, like Michael Morse and Ichiro Suzuki, probably have even less trade value than most of the players mentioned above. The Marlins could, of course, make outside-the-box trades involving some of their better, younger players (Dee Gordon, Adeiny Hechavarria, Marcell Ozuna), and given the Marlins’ history, it would be unwise to discount that possibility. (Relievers A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps would make very interesting trade pieces if the Marlins were to make them available.) Unlike the 2012 team, though, the 2015 Marlins don’t have many veteran trade candidates who appear likely to command a significant return.


NL Notes: Marlins, Gordon, Dodgers, Cardinals

Giancarlo Stanton‘s injury is a loss for baseball as a whole, and the first domino likely to fall as a result is that the Marlins will become sellers, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The team should trade free-agents-to-be Dan Haren and Mat Latos. Infielder Martin Prado is also worth watching if he can prove his shoulder is healthy by the deadline, and he might make sense for the Mets, since he can play multiple positions and provide an insurance policy at third base. Prado’s versatility could make him an attractive target for many other teams as well, Sherman suggests. Here’s more from the National League.

  • Dee Gordon has blossomed with the Marlins, but the seeds of his growth this season had already been planted before his 2014 season with the Dodgers, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes. “I was terrible for two years. No one has to provide any fire for me. The chip on my shoulder is self-inflicted,” he says. After struggling in 2012 and 2013, Gordon seemed to hit his stride last season, but this year, he’s been outright brilliant, currently leading the NL in batting average (.356) and hits (110). Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says he thinks Gordon might have been somewhat motivated by the Dodgers trading him to Miami last winter, but that doesn’t bother Mattingly. “He doesn’t seem vengeful or anything,” says Mattingly. “I hope when he plays San Francisco or Colorado or Arizona or San Diego that he’s really motivated to show us.”
  • More than four months after the FBI seized computers from the Cardinals while investigating their hacking scandal, the team is still waiting for the fallout, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. At this point, there’s no indication that owner Bill DeWitt, GM John Mozeliak, or any other top brass were involved. “I’m not beating myself up, because I feel I haven’t done anything wrong,” says Mozeliak. “I beat myself up because I feel the organization has taken a black eye and I feel bad for that. And I feel bad because the (front-office) team we’ve assembled might be broken up.” Commissioner Rob Manfred could punish the Cardinals with fines, suspensions or lost draft picks, Strauss writes, although there’s little to no chance the team would be denied postseason eligibility.

NL East Notes: Freeman, Marlins, Hamels, Zobrist, Mets, Franco

A bone bruise in his right wrist has landed Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman on the DL, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The team is hopeful that Freeman won’t miss too much time, but Bowman adds that it would be “optimistic” to expect that he will return on July 3 when he is first eligible to be activated.

A few more items pertaining to the NL East…

  • Though they’re 11 games under .500, the Marlins are not yet thinking of selling, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The team could revisit that thinking if things don’t improve after facing the Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants on the upcoming homestand, he says. Still, the team could soon have a surplus of starting pitching on its hands, once Jose Fernandez, Jarred Cosart and Henderson Alvarez are all activated from the disabled list. Mat Latos could end up being the odd man out, Rosenthal speculates, adding that veteran righty Dan Haren isn’t likely to be moved.
  • While reports of scouts watching a certain team/player can sometimes be overblown, there are a pair of NL East clubs scouting possible trade pieces tonight. The Nationals have a high-level scout watching the Athletics tonight, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, noting that Washington has been linked to Ben Zobrist recently. Additionally, Jared Sandler of the Rangers Radio Network tweets that the Phillies have a scout in attendance for Chi Chi Gonzalez‘s start tonight. Gonzalez’s name has been floated in rumors connecting the Rangers to Cole Hamels.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News joined SNY’s Mostly Mets podcast to discuss possible upgrades for the Mets‘ offense (audio link). “They’re moving cautiously, because my understanding is that they have payroll flexibility, but essentially, Alderson has one big bullet to fire that way,” Martino said. Alderson may have the ability to either add a few lower-cost pieces or pursue one more expensive player, but Martino points to Alderson’s history of not parting with significant prospect packages to outbid other clubs in speculating that the ultimate result of the Mets’ trade efforts will be adding a few lower-profile pieces.
  • The Mets announced today that Travis d’Arnaud has hit the DL with a sprain in his left elbow (Twitter link). At this time, there’s no immediate timetable for d’Arnaud’s return, though it’s at least positive that the injury is in his non-throwing elbow.
  • In the wake of Maikel Franco‘s scorching hot streak and his third homer in two games at Yankee Stadium, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that the Phillies beat the Yankees‘ offer to Franco by a mere $5,000 back in 2010. Philadelphia offered Franco a $100K signing bonus, whereas the Yankees’ top offer was $95K. That’s probably another $5-10K that the Yankees wish they’d spent, though there’s little certainty when dealing with players of that age. (Franco was 17 at the time he signed with the Phils.)

Rosenthal’s Latest: Reds, A’s, Orioles, Marlins

The Reds are doomed by injuries and an 11.5 game deficit, says FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in his latest video. However, owner Bob Castellini is not yet ready to concede. The baseball operations staff understands that the club needs to convert veterans and soon-to-be free agents into future talent – they just have to convince their boss.

  • The A’s have performed well by run differential as well as the BaseRuns metric used by FanGraphs. However, they are 13 games below .500 and 10 games back in the AL West. The bullpen is a serious issue. Other clubs are looking to snipe players like Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard. Expect GM Billy Beane to jump on a properly enticing offer.
  • The Orioles have nine impending free agents. They should act as both buyers and sellers at the trade deadline. The club needs a power hitting corner outfield. They could trade a starter like Bud Norris.
  • The Marlins may also look to deal a starter. Jarred Cosart will return from the disabled list soon. Jose Urena or Tom Koehler are candidates to be optioned. However, there will be a surplus once Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery. At that point, the club could look to trade Dan Haren or Mat Latos. The Marlins are currently nine games below .500 but just six back in a weak NL East.
  • If Cincinnati shops Aroldis Chapman, count the Marlins among the potential suitors. The club is always a fit for Cuban talent. Personally, I’m not sure if Chapman is the best use of Miami’s resources. Reliever A.J. Ramos has ably replaced Steve Cishek as the closer, but he has bouts of wildness in his track record. However, Carter Capps is standing by should Ramos falter.

Minor Moves: Mickey Storey, Vin Mazzaro

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Dodgers have signed righty Mickey Storey to a minor-league deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Storey will head to Double-A Tulsa. Storey pitched in the Blue Jays system in 2014 and began his 2015 season with five dominant starts for Somerset in the Atlantic League. The 29-year-old has a career 4.19 ERA, 10.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 34 1/3 career big-league innings with the Astros and Blue Jays.
  • The Marlins have announced that they’ve selected the contract of Vin Mazzaro from Triple-A New Orleans and recalled fellow righty Andre Rienzo. The two pitchers will take the places of Henderson Alvarez (shoulder inflammation) and Mat Latos (knee inflammation) on the Marlins’ active roster as Alvarez and Latos both head to the 15-day DL. The 28-year-old Mazzaro pitched in only 10 1/3 big-league innings for the Pirates in 2014 despite an effective 2013 season in the Bucs’ bullpen. He had a 3.15 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 20 innings of relief at New Orleans this season. The Marlins won’t need another starter until Tuesday, with Dan Haren, Tom Koehler and David Phelps scheduled to pitch the next three days, so Mazzaro and Rienzo will likely provide bullpen help at least until then.

Pitcher Notes: Latos, Gutierrez, Alvares, Qualls

Mat Latos‘ fascinating interview with FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal offers an unusually honest look at transactions, and team machinations in general, from the perspective of a player. Latos says he received assurances from the Padres that they wouldn’t trade him, and then they traded him eight days later and didn’t tell him. “I woke up, had like 50 text messages,” Latos says. “I called my agent. He said, ‘(GM) Josh Byrnes couldn’t get ahold of you.’ I had zero missed calls from him. I had to call him. Maybe he had the wrong number.” He speaks of “great times” in the Reds organization and says he’s satisfied to be with the Marlins, but questions the Reds for pushing him too aggressively as he returned from injury last year, and expresses lingering bitterness at going through the arbitration process with Miami. “You see it as a business,” he says. “You kind of see how much of a pawn you really are.” Here are more notes on pitchers.

  • Cuban pitchers Vladimir Gutierrez and Yadier Alvares won’t be able to sign until July 2, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. Any international free agent born later than September 1, 1995 must register with Major League Baseball to be able to sign, and Gutierrez and Alvares aren’t registered. (The rule is designed to help MLB keep track of young international free agents and prevent identity fraud, although Badler notes that the rule is tough on Cuban players, who can’t register while they’re in Cuba. The rule does not apply to Yoan Moncada, who was born in May 1995.) The two pitchers must register by May 15 to sign beginning in July. Gutierrez won Serie Nacional’s 2013-14 Rookie of the Year award, and Alvares is an interesting young pitcher who can throw 97 MPH.
  • Veteran reliever Chad Qualls is happy about the talent the Astros have added this winter, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes. “They’re going to contribute a lot to the back end of the bullpen,” says Qualls, referring to Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson. “The trades and the signings we made are spot on for our offense,” he adds. Qualls’ perspective on the Astros is different than most, since he spent the first four seasons of his career with the team. In two of those (2004 and 2005), they were an NL powerhouse, advancing to the World Series in ’05. Since then, Qualls has moved around the country, playing for the Diamondbacks, Rays, Padres, Phillies, Yankees, Pirates and Marlins while the Astros eventually became the worst team in the Majors. Now he’s back with them as they’re beginning to show signs of reemerging.

Players Win Six Of 14 Arbitration Hearings

The Mariners’ defeat of reliever Tom Wilhelmsen today ended this offseason’s arbitration season. This year, 14 players went to arbitration hearings, with the players winning six times and teams winning eight. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, here are the results.

Player Team Player Amt. Team Amt. Player won?
Pedro Alvarez Pirates $5.750MM $5.250MM Yes
Jerry Blevins Nationals $2.400MM $2.200MM Yes
Alejandro De Aza Orioles $5.650MM $5.000MM No
Josh Donaldson Blue Jays $5.750MM $4.300MM No
Mat Latos Marlins $10.400MM $9.400MM No
Mike Minor Braves $5.600MM $5.100MM Yes
Jarrod Parker Athletics $1.700MM $0.850MM No
David Phelps Marlins $1.875MM $1.400MM No
Wilin Rosario Rockies $3.300MM $2.800MM No
Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks $6.900MM $5.300MM Yes
Danny Valencia Blue Jays $1.675MM $1.250MM Yes
Neil Walker Pirates $9.000MM $8.000MM No
Tom Wilhelmsen Mariners $2.200MM $1.400MM No
Vance Worley Pirates $2.450MM $2.000MM Yes

A few notes:

  • Via MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker, only three players (Andrew Cashner, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin) had hearings last year, so 14 hearings this year marks a dramatic spike. No players had hearings in the 2012-2013 offseason, and seven players did in 2011-2012. The number of hearings this offseason was the most since 2001, although not everyone is convinced this is the start of a trend, according to the Associated Press. ”Just as I didn’t think [2012-2013] was the start of a trend when we had no hearings, I do not think any conclusions can be drawn at this point from the increased number of hearings this year,” says MLB chief legal officer Don Halem.
  • The Pirates alone took three players to arbitration, as many as all teams combined in the previous two offseasons.
  • Teams will pay the 14 players who went to arbitration $57.925MM next season, saving a total of about $1.5MM versus the midpoints between those 14 players’ proposed figures and those of their teams.
  • There appears to be no obvious pattern in which players won and which lost (which isn’t necessarily surprising, since the terms of each arbitration hearing are set ahead of time by the teams and agents who determine the figures, and not by the arbitrators). As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes (via Twitter), better established players (like Josh Donaldson, Neil Walker and Mat Latos) mostly lost their hearings, while players coming off mediocre or poor seasons, like Pedro Alvarez, Mark Trumbo and Mike Minor, won theirs.
  • In terms of overall dollar value, Donaldson might be the player most affected by the result of his hearing, which he lost. There was a fairly large gap (over $1.4MM) between his proposed figure and that of the Blue Jays. Donaldson is also a Super Two player in the midst of his first year of arbitration eligibility, and his salary for 2015 could impact his salary in the next three seasons after that.