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Matt Garza Rumors
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.
SB Nation's Grant Brisbee examines the ups and downs of Joe Mauer's contract and wonders what Mauer would have signed for had he been a free agent this offseason. Mauer is owed $115MM over the remainder of his contract, and while Brisbee feels he'd fall a bit shy of that, he still predicts a healthy six-year, $101MM contract. Mauer would have been the second-best hitter in this year's free agent class, Brisbee notes, pointing out that among 2013-14 free agents, only Robinson Cano has a higher OPS+ than Mauer over the past two seasons. More Twins-related news and rumors…
- Mike Pelfrey's two-year, $11MM contract with the Twins includes $3.5MM in incentives based on innings thresholds, as broken down by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- There isn't any change in negotiations between the Twins and Matt Garza, according to 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson (Twitter links). As Wolfson reported earlier this week, Minnesota is willing to meet Garza's price but only on a short-term deal, while Garza is looking for a longer commitment.
- The Twins are not one of the six teams that have expressed interest in a minor league deal for Nyjer Morgan, according to Darren Wolfson (Twitter link). Morgan recently switched agents and is weighing a return to the Majors after a strong season in Japan.
- Major League sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that a reunion between the Twins and Johan Santana is a real possibility. Minnesota has continued to discuss its former ace internally, has stayed in contact with Santana's agents and has some interest in a reunion.
- The Twins face an interesting battle for the fifth spot in their rotation, wrote MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger in his most recent Twins Inbox. Samuel Deduno, Vance Worley and Scott Diamond are all out of minor league options, but the rotation figures to have room for just one of the three with Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey all under control. That's to say nothing of top prospect Kyle Gibson, who struggled in 2013 but still projects to be in the rotation at some point. Bollinger feels that Deduno is the front-runner for the fifth spot but doesn't see a Worley or Diamond trade happening until at least midway through Spring Training, as each pitcher's value is at a low point.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
The Twins are once more kicking the tires on free agent starter Matt Garza, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Though the club has already committed $84MM to three free agent starters, it apparently remains active on the open market. (Wolfson tweets that the club is "still circling" on Bronson Arroyo, and he recently reported interest in Masahiro Tanaka.)
In mid-December, Wolfson reported that the Twins "know the price" for Garza. But if Garza has made his terms clear, so too have the Twins. Minnesota's position seems to remain the same, according to Wolfson: the club will put a lot of money on the table, but still will not commit to a lengthy term.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether Twins GM Terry Ryan ultimately adds a fourth multi-year starting pitching contract. As MLBTR's Steve Adams has explained, obtaining quality innings was the most important task facing Ryan before the 2014 season. But the deals given to Ricky Nolasco (four years, $49MM), Phil Hughes (three years, $24MM), and Mike Pelfrey (two years, $11MM) already constitute a huge investment in the team's rotation. Adding another substantial contract would make for a virtually complete overhaul of the staff for the foreseeable future.
The Blue Jays are still interested in acquiring a starting pitcher, but won't say how interested they are in Masahiro Tanaka, the Toronto Star's Brendan Kennedy reports. "I have said that we’re definitely going to inquire on any free-agent pitchers that are out there," is about as specific as GM Alex Anthopoulos is willing to get.
If they don't sign Tanaka (and with the Yankees, Dodgers and other big-payroll teams interested, that might be a tall order), the Jays could pursue pitchers like Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza, whose markets have been slow to develop due to the uncertainty over Tanaka's status. Kennedy suggests that the Blue Jays would be in an especially favorable position with regard to Santana and Jimenez, who declined qualifying offers, because the Jays' first-round picks in 2014, ninth and 11th overall, are both protected.
It's still possible, also, that the Blue Jays could acquire a starting pitcher via trade, but Anthopoulos isn't sure whether a trade or free agency will be the best route. "I would say it’s 50-50 at this point," says Anthopoulos. "Free-agent prices tend to change as the winter goes along. I don’t know that I’d say one is more likely than the other at this point."