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Matt Garza Rumors
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio opened Brewers On Deck, the team's annual winter fan festival, earlier today by announcing the signing of right-hander Matt Garza (#7 on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list). The four-year, $50MM contract also includes deferred money, $1MM per year in incentives, and a $13MM vesting option for 2018. The total take for Garza could total $67MM over five years. In other Brewers news and notes coming out of Milwaukee today:
- "I was expecting an open market, and that’s what I got. I’m really happy I’m a Milwaukee Brewer," Garza told reporters, including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy (Twitter link), in an impromptu news conference. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides a transcript of Garza's comments including this tidbit: Brewers fans heard about the deal before he did because he was attending his son's basketball game.
- GM Doug Melvin said the Brewers' interest in Garza dates back to the Winter Meetings and his addition provides rotation depth, but will wait until Spring Training to see how the starting five shakes out, Rosiak reports (Twitter links).
- Melvin told WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee the lack of draft pick compensation attached to Garza was a very important factor in the signing (h/t Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Twitter).
- Ryan Braun was in attendance at the fan event and continues to be apologetic for his actions which led to his 65-game suspension, writes Rosiak. "I don’t ever know if I could apologize enough for what’s occurred, you know?" said Braun. "I just continue to move forward and obviously I’ll be apologetic. I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can’t. All I can do is move forward and make the best of the opportunities presented to me." Braun refused to divulge further details of why he was suspended saying he addressed everything last November at a team-sponsored food drive and "I think I addressed it pretty specifically in the statement that we gave (in August)."
- Braun also offered praise for his newest teammate, Garza, according to McCalvy. "I’m excited about it," Braun said. "I think he could be a difference-maker. Facing him over the last few years, I think he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. One of the toughest at-bats. Great stuff. Very competitive — a fiery competitor, which is something I think could benefit the whole pitching staff and our whole team."
- Mark Reynolds says he signed with the Brewers because of the starting opportunity at first base, playing in the NL, and the fan support in Milwaukee, Rosiak tweets.
- Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, has yet to begin a throwing program, but he expects to be ready for Opening Day, tweets McCalvy.
- In response to a fan's question about payroll, Melvin said (as tweeted by Rosiak), "Ask Mark." To which the principal owner replied, "Wallet is a lot lighter now."
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets his approval of what Melvin and the Brewers have been able to accomplish this offseason: spent money on a starting pitcher, filled the hole at first base with a solid combinaton of Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, kept right-hander Tyler Thornburg (the Mets' reported price for Ike Davis), and their draft picks.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the latest on the Matt Garza-Brewers situation, reporting that it's still unclear what might have delayed things when the two sides appeared to be close to annoucing a deal. While some have posited that the club may be waiting to announce the contract until its On Deck fan fest on Sunday, nothing indicates that is the case, Haudricourt says, writing, "I'm not even sure that Garza is still in town." The situation appears to be little changed from Thursday, when MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reported that progress wasn't halted because of medical concerns. Here's more from baseball's Central divisions:
- Twins first baseman Chris Colabello discussed his decision to decline an offer to play baseball in South Korea with Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "A lot of people have told me: 'This is an opportunity you can't pass up,'" the 30-year-old slugger said. "I don't think I've ever chased money in my life. Why start now?" Collabello reportedly turned down an offer that would have paid him nearly $1MM this season and will instead compete for a Twins bench job. Another Minnesota farmhand, Andrew Albers, accepted an offer to pitch for the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization earlier this week.
- Jason Kubel, back with the Twins on a minor-league deal, is well-positioned to make the club as a DH and corner outfielder, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com writes. Jason Bartlett is another familar face who'll be competing for a Major League job, but he's seen as having less of a chance to make the team after missing all of 2013 with knee issues, according to Bollinger.
- The Indians have hired former Diamondbacks pitching coach Charlie Nagy, though they've yet to determine what his role will be, Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer reports. The 46-year-old spent almost all of his 14-year career with the Tribe, throwing nearly 2,000 innings for Cleveland from 1990-2002 with a 4.51 ERA. Hoynes says Nagy is likely to serve as an instructor in the club's farm system.
There were no new developments today relating to Matt Garza, who looked to have a deal in place with the Brewers yesterday before an unidentified snag held things up. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provided some updates from the inside, however, reporting that a source said negotiations were "ongoing." When asked whether there were any new developments, GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt "nothing yet."
Here are a few bits of information elsewhere on the current free agent pitching market:
- Bronson Arroyo and the Dodgers have had discussions since Masahiro Tanaka chose not to sign with Los Angeles, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The level of interest remains uncertain, Heyman notes.
- The Angels have "a bit" of interest in Arroyo but are also content to take their current group to Spring Training, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Angels acquired Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs this offseason to join Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards in the rotation.
- It's been a different type of offseason for the Angels this year, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, noting the patience and restraint the team has shown on the free agent market. Gonzalez notes that the Angels aren't interested in Matt Garza at the $13MM AAV he would receive in his near-deal with the Brewers, as it would push them up against the luxury tax threshold. He lists Arroyo, Jason Hammel, Chris Capuano, Scott Baker and Paul Maholm as potential rotation options that would leave some cushion between Anaheim's payroll and the luxury tax.
- With a lot of starters still available on the open market, there are plenty of teams that have yet to fill up their slate of rotation candidates. Joining the O's and Jays among the clubs that are looking for starters are both of Chicago's two franchises, according to Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (via Twitter). Levine indicates that the Cubs are looking over the list of remaining free agents, but he does not say whether the White Sox have any interest in open-market players.
- MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks the team is done making "major" additions, but tweaks are still possible. However, semantics could come into play heavily, as manager Lloyd McClendon said the team would still like to add a No. 3 starter, per ESPN 710's Shannon Drayer (Twitter link). New team president and COO Kevin Mather indicated today that the club would have the financial resources necessary to make more additions before the start of the season.
- There are five clubs vying for the services of Hammel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Hammel is expected to choose a landing spot within a week.
- Swingman Jerome Williams has offers on the table from at least three clubs, Cotillo tweets. He, too, appears to be nearing a decision point.
- Southpaw reliever Tim Byrdak will not be re-signing with the Mets, the reliever tweeted (via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com). The 40-year-old indicated that the team decided against signing him.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
6:25pm: McCalvy hears that the holdup in the contract is not due to medical concerns (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Rosenthal hears from a source that Garza took his physical today, and the Brewers had been prepared to introduce him at a press conference (Twitter link).
6:13pm: Despite previous reports that the two sides have agreed to a four-year, $52MM contract, the Brewers announced (on Twitter) that there's no agreement in place with free agent right-hander Matt Garza. Talks are ongoing with the CAA client, according to the team's tweet.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that he has never seen the Brewers issue this type of statement and wonders if there was an issue in Garza's physical (Twitter links). Assistant GM Gord Ash would not comment to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy as to whether or not there was an issue with Garza's physical (Twitter link). The initial tweet from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal did note that the deal was pending a physical at the time.
I wrote recently that the reported contract was a surprising coup for Milwaukee, as Garza was supposedly obtained for the same price the Cubs paid to land Edwin Jackson last winter. It's rare for teams to come out and explicitly deny that an agreement with a free agent has been reached, which only adds to the curiousity of this situation. Should this deal fall through due to medical reasons, it would be the second major multiyear deal to crumble after a physical returned unfavorable results. Coincidentally, the other such case — Grant Balfour — finalized a new deal with a new team today by inking a two-year pact with the Rays.
Note: Since the time this post was published, the Brewers have issued a statement announcing that the deal with Garza is not yet complete, and negotiations are ongoing.
Prior to the offseason, few would have predicted that the contracts inked by Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza would land just $3MM apart. Garza was pegged by some as the market's second-best starting pitching option behind Masahiro Tanaka, whereas Nolasco was thought of as a steady, reliable option in the second tier of starters. This was true on MLBTR as well; Garza ranked No. 7 on Tim Dierkes' list of Top 50 free agents, while Nolasco came in at No. 20. Yet, here on Jan. 23, we now know that Garza will pitch for Milwaukee in 2014 on the first season of a four-year, $52MM contract, while Nolasco will be one state to the west, in Minneapolis on a four-year, $49MM deal.
The addition of Garza strengthens Milwaukee's rotation and continues what has become a trend for the Brewers in recent years. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined their rash of late-offseason signings earlier this month — a list that is now punctuated by Garza and Kyle Lohse (who signed a three-year deal in March of last season). The fact that Garza comes without draft pick compensation and at the same price the Cubs paid to secure the services of Edwin Jackson just one year prior can be seen as a surprising coup for the Brew Crew.
So then, did the Twins make a mistake by signing Nolasco early in the offseason? It's easy to apply hindsight here and say that had they waited, perhaps they could have topped Milwaukee's offer by a slight margin and landed the consensus superior pitcher, but things aren't that simple.
For one, the Twins entered the offseason likely feeling that they were in desperate need of repairing one of baseball's bleakest rotations. The Brewers, on the other hand, had solid arms returning in 2014 in the form of Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta. While that's hardly an elite rotation, it's significantly better than what the Twins were deploying late in 2013.
Minnesota GM Terry Ryan bided his time in free agency last offseason and ultimately wound up with Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey as the only supplements to a rotation that clearly needed more. Predictably, that didn't stop the hemorrhaging, and the Twins entered this offseason with a similar need. After telling reporters last winter that sometimes you "can't give your money away," early-season aggression was likely a key for Ryan and his staff to landing some rotation assistance. The total commitments to Nolasco, Phil Hughes ($24MM) and Pelfrey ($11MM) are a reflection of that aggression. Feeling comfortable with three to four of its rotation spots, Milwaukee laid in wait.
The other key factor in this situation was Tanaka. At the time of the Nolasco signing, Tanaka was a mystery as Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball looked to hash out an agreement on a new posting system. At that juncture, it wasn't even certai if Tanaka could be headed to the Majors. It also wasn't readily apparent that he would take until Jan. 22 to agree to a deal, nor was it clear that his market would effectively create a gridlock for the rest of the top free agent starters. Had all of the parties that were interested in Nolasco, Jason Vargas, Bartolo Colon and Scott Feldman known that Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Bronson Arroyo would be available in late January, they may not have acted quite as quickly in striking those deals.
Such is the case in any offseason; teams weigh the risk and reward of pouncing early — and thereby paying more — or waiting out a potential bargain while knowing the result could be empty hands and a disappointed fan base. This particular offseason is one of the most unique in recent memory, as the consensus top three domestic free agent pitchers were without jobs as late as Jan. 23.
Teams that have weathered the storm stand to be rewarded, and Garza's contract is proof of that. Even Santana, who at one point was said to be eyeing $100MM, is thinking something closer to the four-year, $60MM range, according to a report from earlier today. It will be interesting to see the eventual price tags for Santana and Jimenez — two pitchers that (unlike Garza) are attached to draft pick compensation and are looking for jobs at a time when many interested parties have already spent a good deal of their offseason budget.
Tanaka's long, drawn-out free agency has likely created the opportunity for teams to acquire upper-level talent at (relative) bargain prices, as evidenced by Garza signing for Jackson money. While the Twins were handcuffed by their overwhelming need for rotation help, the Brewers' status as a team not desperate for starting pitching allowed them to sit on the periphery of the free agent market and strike quickly following the resolution of the Tanaka saga. Garza's $52MM guarantee could serve as a talking point in discussions for Santana and Jimenez, creating opportunities for pitching-hungry teams to strike deals that most would not have thought possible just two or three months ago.
The Brewers are in discussions with Matt Garza on a deal believed to be for four years and $52MM, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). News of the club's pursuit of Garza was first reported by MLB.com's Brewer Nation blog.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that outside of his own representation, you won’t find a lot of legal experts who believe Alex Rodriguez will win in federal court. “I would be surprised if the decision is reversed,” Stanford law professor William B. Gould IV said. “Since 1960, arbitration awards can only be reversed when the arbitrator decides on his own ideas of justice rather than the CBA or because of fraud, corruption or partiality. The merits are for the arbitrator, not the courts. Probably the arbitrator should have called Selig to the stand to avoid partiality, but that won’t be a basis for reversal on its own. As for the union, their obligation is to investigate A-Rod’s claim in good faith — they did so and took his case. And allowing his own counsel.” More from today's column..
- Teams are staying away from Nelson Cruz because salary demands still haven’t come down quite enough, according to one National League GM. He made sense for the Orioles as a power-hitting right-handed bat, but their recent acquisition of Delmon Young may have squashed their interest.
- Teams have been reluctant to pony up a four- or five-year deal for Matt Garza and he may have to settle for fewer years, even with the price of pitching very high. “There may be concerns about him physically,” said one AL exec. “I think most teams are thinking four or five years is just too risky, even if he’s a no-compensation guy.”
- Cafardo hears that the bidding for Masahiro Tanaka could get as high as $120MM over six years and that he could shake hands on a deal before the January 24th deadline.
- The Red Sox were not among the teams who watched Chone Figgins workout in Arizona as he attempts a comeback. Figgins hopes to resurrect his career, even if it’s as a utility man. It appears he’ll get the chance to be in camp with someone.
- After recovering from life-threatening injuries and having his spleen removed, Carl Pavano is throwing off of flat ground in Arizona, according to his agent, Dave Pepe. “Some teams have popped in to see where he’s at. Our intention is for him to throw bullpens for teams in mid-February,” Pepe said.
- Former Rockies and Red Sox pitcher Aaron Cook is also looking to bounce back after a tired arm ended his season in July. He did not pitch in the majors last season, making eight starts with Triple A Colorado Springs.
- Agent Alan Nero says he'd be surprised if any of the arbitration-eligible players went to a hearing this year.
- Former Indians and Mariners skipper Eric Wedge will likely take a network television job soon but he'd like to get another chance in the dugout at some point.
- Reliever Cedrick Bowers, who spent last season in the Atlantic League, is starting to catch the eye of scouts in Venezuela.
- Explaining that the club is still looking to add arms, Moreno told Morosi that the club has had discussions with free agent starter Matt Garza. The Angels have been rumored to prefer Garza to Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, due at least in part to the lack of draft pick compensation required to sign him.
- Meanwhile, Moreno said that he is "very optimistic" that the Angels will reach a deal with the city of Anaheim to keep the club playing at Angel Stadium for the next two decades. The deal under consideration would see the team pay for infrastructure improvements while picking up rights to revenue from redevelopment initiatives in the stadium's vicinity.
- Of course, with Clayton Kershaw's record-setting extension from earlier today, Mike Trout becomes the young superstar whose possible extension becomes most interesting to consider. Moreno, however, said that there was "nothing to speak of" regarding Trout's contract status.
Here's the latest on the Cubs from CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney…
- Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs are still far apart on a contract extension, "though there’s mutual respect on both sides and hope they can eventually find common ground." Samardzija's name has surfaced in several trade rumors this offseason but Mooney reports that the Cubs now plan to keep the righty until closer to the July 31 trade deadline. This would theoretically improve the quality of trade offers, such as how the Cubs scored a nice package of prospects from the Rangers last summer in exchange for Matt Garza.
- The Cubs are prepared to give Masahiro Tanaka a nine-figure contract, a source tells Mooney. The Cubs have long been considered a major suitor for the Japanese right-hander, with one MLB source telling Mooney's CSN colleague David Kaplan last month that the Cubs wouldn't be outbid for Tanaka's services. That said, Mooney hears from several baseball officials that the bidding will get "silly" and another team will offer Tanaka a longer-term and more expensive deal.
- If they can't sign Tanaka, the Cubs aren't interested in pursuing Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez or Garza. The Cubs would have to surrender their second-round draft pick and corresponding draft pool money as compensation for signing either Santana or Jimenez.
- Santana "is the kind of buy-high pitcher the Cubs are trying to avoid now," Mooney writes. The Cubs did explore trading for Santana last winter when the righty was coming off a tough season with the Angels, and Santana ended up reviving his career with a good 2013 campaign with the Royals.
The Indians have signed a couple of notable names to minor league deals this week, picking up right-hander Scott Atchison and outfielder Jeff Francoeur. They were also one of the two finalists on infielder Jamey Carroll. Here's the latest out of Cleveland (All courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes)…
- Hoynes writes that the Indians have been in contact with Masahiro Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, and could meet with him and his client in the coming days. The Indians "are in the game" and could make a lucrative multiyear offer, but Hoynes calls the chances of a deal "slim," noting that Cleveland isn't likely to outbid big spenders like the Yankees and possibly the Diamondbacks.
- From that same piece, Hoynes writes that if they do not land Tanaka, they're content to wait for a starter to come to them at their price. Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Bronson Arroyo could all be of interest and could all sign after Tanaka. Hoynes writes that Cleveland has long coveted Garza, and also adds that they may be able to sign Jimenez if he's the last man standing from the remaining free agent starters. At that point, they could get Jimenez at their price and would have an advantage over other teams due to draft pick compensation. Cleveland is also content to let Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Shaun Marcum and Josh Tomlin battle for the fifth spot if they can't find a starter at the right price.
- In a mailbag piece, Hoynes tells readers that while the Indians have spoken to Johan Santana's agents, his sense is that the team is focused on adding healthier, more dependable arms if it makes further pitching additions.
- Cleveland isn't likely to sign Bobby Abreu because Jason Giambi is already in the fold, Hoynes reports. However, the Indians are impressed by Abreu's swing and improved conditioning. If it becomes clear that Giambi cannot fill the role he did for the Indians in 2013, then Abreu would be a candidate to do so.