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Adam Wainwright returned to the mound today and threw a 30- to 40-pitch bullpen session without issue, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wainwright gave Cardinals fans a bit of a scare last week when he had to return to St. Louis to see a specialist for pain in his abdomen, but he was diagnosed with a strain and merely prescribed some rest. Manager Mike Matheny said his ace will first have to face hitters in a live batting practice session before getting into a game, but he didn’t give reporters a timeline on that next step.
More from the NL Central…
- Matt Holliday said to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports today that he hopes the Cardinals will eventually pick up his 2017 option (Twitter link). Holliday says he’s not concerned with the financial component of the $17MM option, but rather that he likes playing in St. Louis and hopes to remain as long as he can. In reply, Goold tweeted to Heyman that team president Bill DeWitt Jr. has told the Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz that the current intention is indeed to exercise the option. Of course, plenty could change that line of thinking over the next two seasons, especially considering the fact that Holliday is already 35.
- Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review opines that new addition Jung-ho Kang is more likely to eventually cut into the playing time of Jordy Mercer or Josh Harrison than Neil Walker in the short-term. He also tackles recent reports that the Pirates are open to an extension with Andrew McCutchen at a premium price, wondering if such a move would be wise for the Bucs four years in advance of the end of a contract that already runs through McCutchen’s age-31 season. As Sawchik notes, paying for a player’s decline phase rarely proves to be a sound decision for any team, and the team could have younger assets like Gerrit Cole or Gregory Polanco on which to use that hefty sum as they enter their arbitration years.
- Mike Leake tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s happy to have survived the Reds‘ offseason with the team, as he and fellow right-handers Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon entered the offseason fully aware that they could be traded. (Latos and Simon, of course, were indeed traded.) Leake hasn’t been approached by the Reds about an extension yet and isn’t expecting them to do so, although he’d like to see them at least try to work out a long-term deal. The 27-year-old former No. 8 overall pick can become a free agent at season’s end and has enjoyed a pair of productive seasons in 2013-14, posting a 3.54 ERA in 406 2/3 innings.
The Nationals haven’t managed to avoid the possibility of losing key members of their team due to free agency, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports. The Nats could be without Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister after the season because they haven’t managed to sign those players to long-term deals that delay free agency. That might not be entirely their fault, Svrluga suggests — they tried to sign all three players. In the meantime, though, they have another wave of core players (Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon) to whom they could turn their attention. Strasburg, Harper and Rendon are all represented by Scott Boras, who does not generally like long-term deals for pre-free-agency players. Some of his clients, such as Jered Weaver and Carlos Gonzalez, have signed them, however. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Yunel Escobar wasn’t happy to have been traded away from the Rays to the Athletics and then from the Athletics to the Nationals, and he also wasn’t happy he’d have to move from shortstop to second base, the Post’s James Wagner writes. Escobar has changed his mind since then, however. “They’ve reached the playoffs two of the last three years,” says Escobar. “I want to help them win a World Series. If the missing piece is me playing second base, then I’m here for anything.” Escobar says certain aspects of playing second base, like turning double plays, are “confusing,” but says that he’ll improve that them with practice.
- Baseball is full of incredibly disappointing free-agent contracts, but Matt Holliday‘s current seven-year, $120MM deal with the Cardinals isn’t one of them, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I really wanted it to work out great for both sides,” says Holliday. “A lot of times with a long-term contract, you hear ‘They hope to get a couple of good years out of it.’ My goal from the day I signed was to get to the end of the contract and have everybody feel really good about it.” Holliday’s defense has slipped since signing, but he’s maintained a high standard offensively, and with just two years (plus an option) left on the deal, it looks like the Cardinals are going to get more than their money’s worth.
- When Cuban righty Yoan Lopez signed with the Diamondbacks, he joined the organization he rooted for as a child, Carlos Torres Bujanda writes for Baseball America. “Since I was a kid, I followed the D-backs when Randy Johnson was on the team,” says Lopez. “To see the games or check the stats I had friends who worked in hotels with Internet access. They download the games so I can watch later, or see the numbers.” Lopez adds that he’s happy the Diamondbacks also signed another Cuban player this offseason, Yasmany Tomas.
A number of impressive postseason achievements have occurred on October 6th over the years, yet perhaps the most notable was Babe Ruth slugging three home runs in Game Four of the 1926 World Series. The Bambino’s huge day helped the Yankees to a win and (according to legend) fulfilled his promise that he would homer in honor of a hospitalized young fan on that day.
Could another incredible playoff moment take place tonight? While we wait for today’s NLDS Game 3 action, here are some notes from around the majors…
- The Cubs could be interested in outfielder Jonny Gomes, league sources tell ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. The Cubs are known to be looking for both veteran leadership in the clubhouse and depth in the outfield, and Gomes could check both boxes as a platoon partner with Chris Coghlan.
- The Cardinals received some criticism when they signed Matt Holliday to a seven-year, $120MM free agent deal in January 2010, yet as MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby writes, both the team and the player are very happy with how everything worked out five years into the contract. Holliday has averaged .295/.383/.496 with 24 homers and 92 runs scored from 2010-14, and while he posted career lows in average (.272) and slugging (.441) this season, it could be argued that the deal has already been worth it for St. Louis.
- The Marlins are looking to add a starting pitcher this winter, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. A new arm plus the return of Jose Fernandez could lead to some rotation shuffling, and Frisaro cites Tom Koehler and Nathan Eovaldi as possible candidates to move to the bullpen. Also in the piece, Frisaro examines some other Miami position changes that could occur depending on how the Marlins’ offseason shopping plans develop.
- On paper, Yoenis Cespedes fits as a long-term power bat for the Red Sox, though Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald notes that Cespedes’ free-swinging, low-OBP style doesn’t fit into the Red Sox organizational philosophy of taking pitches and grinding down opposing pitchers. Silverman thinks Cespedes could potentially better help the Sox as a trade piece, perhaps as part of a major package to pry Giancarlo Stanton away from Miami.
- Hunter Strickland‘s rise from being an unheralded Red Sox draft pick to a flame-throwing postseason reliever for the Giants is chronicled by WEEI.com’s Alex Speier.
- Stephen Drew, Jed Lowrie, Jason Hammel, Rafael Soriano and Alfonso Soriano stand out as potential bargains on the free agent market, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post opines.
In the first of a six-week series at MLB Trade Rumors, B.J. Rains spoke with Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday on his agent Scott Boras and why he picked him and the relationship the two have.
Here is what Holliday had to say about Boras:
"I signed with Scott Boras after my first year in the big leagues in 2004. My brother had him as an agent so I was familiar with him and interviewed him when I interviewed a bunch of agents while trying to decide after the 2004 season.
I went to California to meet with Scott and Mike Fiore (works for Boras) and Steve Odgers (a training guru employed by Boras) and some of their people and saw their facility and I just felt like to me, in doing the research and looking into all of the possible agents, I felt like it was a good fit. I felt like they did a fantastic job. They had research capabilities and staff and they had an institution in California for working out and longevity of careers and it just felt like they had all of their bases covered. Scott had a lot of experience as a player and obviously his resume as an agent spoke for itself and the players he’s had.
You want an agent that you can trust that they know what they are doing. I think for me, he’s somebody that has your best interest in negotiating your contract and he also has people on staff that can help you with your game and not just your contract. They offered a lot of services outside of here. They have a psychologist on staff, people who are doing research for arbitration cases years in advance. They have a research team, a marketing team, a sports nutrition team. I just felt it wasn’t just about negotiating your contract. They offered a lot more.
Also the personal relationship with somebody that you enjoy sitting down and talking to them. Scott is as accessible as you want him to be. I could call him right now. He’s got a lot of clients and people say they don’t hear from Scott but he’ll give you as much or as little attention as you want. I’m not a high maintenance guy, I don’t need to talk to him a lot, but if I need anything, I can call him anytime. I talk to Mike Fiore once a week, but like I said, Scott is as accessible as you want him to be.
I see him from time to time. Whenever we play in L.A. I’ll have lunch or dinner with him. If I wanted him to come to St. Louis he’d come anytime I want. It’s just one of those things where again, I don’t need a lot of maintenance.
Scott has been better than I hoped he would be. I’ve really enjoyed it, not only what he’s offered me as an agent but just getting to know him as a person and the father and husband that he is and all the wisdom that he has that I’ve enjoyed from not just baseball but all walks of life.
I laugh a lot of times when people have opinions of Scott. They couldn’t be further from the truth, the majority of them. I enjoy spending time with him and I think he’s really fun to be around and really good at what he does. I don’t have a negative thing to say about him."
The Red Sox and Yankees are rivals all year long, even during the Home Run Derby. But Robinson Cano and the rest of the Yankees will be suiting up alongside Adrian Gonzalez and the rest of the Red Sox for one night only during tonight's All-Star Game…
- The Red Sox signed second round pick Williams Jerez, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The Dominican-born center fielder will obtain the bonus recommended by MLB, which will likely be $444K.
- Matt Holliday told the Boston Herald that he “thought there was a chance” of signing with the Red Sox after the 2009 season, when he hit free agency. The outfielder ended up staying in St. Louis on a seven-year, $120MM deal.
- Agent Scott Boras told Speier that Jackie Bradley Jr., a supplemental first round pick of the Red Sox, is doing well in his recovery from wrist surgery. Boras says Bradley is preparing to return to college (though he’s not going to concede leverage by saying that Bradley is preparing to sign).
- At Baseball America, Speier explains that Kyle Weiland has been the best player in Boston's minor league system this year. The 24-year-old has a 3.00 ERA in the minors and debuted in the Major Leagues before the break. Speier goes on to explain why Miles Head has been a pleasant surprise and why Drake Britton has been a disappointment in the subscriber-only piece.
Some links to browse through on your Sunday afternoon…
- The Matt Holliday contract is looking better every day, writes Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Miklasz compares Holliday's deal to several other outfielders, including Alfonso Soriano and Jason Bay, in pointing out the early returns on the Cardinals' investment in Holliday.
- Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at some of the biggest trades to date from Twins GM Bill Smith as the trade deadline approaches. The Twins figure to be full-fledged sellers for the first time under Smith's watch.
- Neither the Astros nor the Rockies are looking like winners of the Clint Barmes-for-Felipe Paulino swap this past offseason, writes the Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine. The Rox just DFA'ed Paulino while Barmes is hitting .191 in Houston. As Levine points out, the Astros' bigger loss to the Rockies was former closer Matt Lindstrom.
- Zach Berman of the New Jersey Star Ledger takes a look at Nationals third base coach Bo Porter and his quest to become a Major League manager.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports opines that the Red Sox are a great team, but not yet complete as their bullpen has been overworked and exposed by a struggling rotation. He wonders if Boston will be in the hunt for an elite upgrade to its rotation prior to July 31 to take some of the pressure off the bullpen.
A few days before the Albert Pujols deadline came and went without a long-term agreement, Matt Holliday said (in an ESPN Radio interview) that he would consider deferring part of his contract if it helped the Cardinals sign their superstar first baseman. GM John Mozeliak told SI.com's Jon Heyman that the team has no plans to accept Holliday's offer, and that it was "not game altering." (Twitter link)
Part of Holliday's seven year, $120MM contract is already deferred, to the tune of $2MM annually without interest. That money will be paid out from 2020 through 2029. Holliday did say in the interview that a scenario in which he deferred money to allow the team to sign Pujols was "very hypothetical," and that he had not been approached by the club about doing so.
In a ceremony today at the White House for winners of the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, President Obama described Cardinals legend Stan Musial as "an icon, untarnished, a beloved pillar of the community, a gentleman you would want your kids to emulate." Congratulations to Musial for adding this prestigious award to his overflowing list of lifetime achievements.
Let's look at the middle of the baseball map for news from the NL and AL Central divisions…
- Tony La Russa is facing sharp criticism over his comments that the MLBPA was pressuring Albert Pujols to sign a record-setting contract. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports calls La Russa's statement "excessive and nonsensical." Agent Scott Boras, speaking to Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy on MLB Network Radio today, said La Russa's comments were "really not well thought out" and lacking in evidence.
- Boras noted that he hasn't spoken "at length" with his client Matt Holliday about Holliday's recent statement that he would consider deferring money from his own contract if it meant St. Louis could keep Pujols. "Matt is very generous and Matt really wants the best for his team and he wants to win," Boras said. Thanks to Andrew FitzPatrick of SiriusXM for providing a transcript of Boras' interview.
- Ed Wade discussed Hunter Pence's leadership abilities, his club's bullpen depth, Brett Wallace's opportunity to win an everyday job and other Astros topics in a media Q&A session. MLB.com's Brian McTaggart has the partial transcript.
- Braden Looper tells MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that he would've retired if he hadn't been signed by the Cubs, since he and his family live in the Chicago area. Looper expressed his interest in pitching for the Cubs last winter and sat out the 2010 season after not finding an acceptable contract.
- Chris Antonetti says the chances of the Indians acquiring another starter are "slim," tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Also from Hoynes, Orlando Cabrera's deal with the Tribe will become official once the infielder passes a physical over the next two days.
- Daniel Hudson talks to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune about the deal that sent the young right-hander from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks last summer.
- The Royals finalized their $300K contract with Dominican pitcher Darwin Castillo, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The team has yet to determine if the 6'5" right-hander will go to the Arizona Rookie League or pitch for the Royals' Dominican academy.
The deadline for an extension between Albert Pujols and the Cardinals is nearly upon us and the sides don't appear to be making much progress in advance of Wednesday's deadline. As tempting as it is to start imagining the three-time MVP in a Royals cap or an Orioles jersey, that's probably premature. If you ask Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, talk of the deadline is overblown because the sides could decide to push it forward. Here's the latest on the Cardinals and their star first baseman, with the latest updates up top:
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney agrees: there has been no recent progress (Twitter link).
- One observer tells Jon Heyman of SI.com that the Cardinals and Pujols are "speaking two different languages'' and not close to a deal. By all accounts, the sides have lots of work to do, according to Heyman.
- It looks like a Pujols extension is less likely than Mark McGwire playing this year, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
- Matt Holliday said on ESPN Radio that he would consider deferring part of his contract if it meant the Cardinals could extend Pujols. But Holliday tells MLB.com's Matthew Leach that the suggestion was "very hypothetical" and that the Cardinals haven't brought up the idea of deferring money.
Players take a lot of pride in individual awards. While most will say that team success outweighs winning a Cy Young, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, or MVP, there's no question that these achievements still serve as highlights in any player's career. There's more to it than just that, though. Many players have clauses in their contracts which award them extra cash for taking home these individual marks of excellence. As we're in the midst of award season currently, let's take a look at who's cashed in so far:
- Mark Buehrle: The Chicago lefty took home his second Gold Glove and was rewarded with an extra $25K on top of his $14MM salary.
- Joe Mauer: Minnesota's catcher earned his third Gold Glove and his fourth All Star nod, each netting him another $25K on top of his $12.5MM salary.
- Evan Longoria: Longo grabbed his second Gold Glove and his third All Star appearance, bringing in $25K and $50K, respectively, for an additional $75K on top of his ridiculously affordable $950K salary.
- Franklin Gutierrez: Seattle's standout center fielder finally took home a Gold Glove after missing out last season despite a terrific performance, and he'll bring home $50K to go along with his $2MM salary.
- Yadier Molina: Both Molina's second straight All Star selection and third straight Gold Glove will earn him $50K, for a total of $100K, pushing his 2010 earnings to $4.35MM.
- Albert Pujols: The NL's best player took home $25K for his All Star selection, $50K for his second Gold Glove, and $50K for his sixth Silver Slugger. Depending on where he finishes in the MVP voting, he'll take home $50K (third), $100K (second), or $200K (first).
- Brandon Phillips: His second Gold Glove earned him a whopping $250K, as it caused his 2011 salary to increase from $11MM to $11.25MM.
- Scott Rolen: Gold Gloves are nothing new for Rolen. He earned his eighth this season, and took home an additional $50K as a result. He also earned $25K for his sixth career All Star selection, for a total of $75K on top of his $6.5MM payday.
- Troy Tulowitzki: It was a big year for Tulo, who earned his first All Star selection ($25K), Gold Glove ($25K), and Silver Slugger ($50K) to go along with his $3.5MM salary.
- Michael Bourn: Bourn's second Gold Glove was good for $25K on top of his $2.4MM salary.
- Shane Victorino: The Flyin' Hawaiian's third consecutive Gold Glove gave him a $50K bonus on top of his $5MM salary.
- Matt Holliday: His fifth NL Silver Slugger brought in $50K, as did his All Star Selection, netting him $100K in addition to the $17MM he had already earned.
- Felix Hernandez: King Felix's 2010 Cy Young earned him a cool million dollars, as his 2011 salary will now increase from $10MM to $11MM.
- David Price: The sensational lefty's second-place Cy Young finish earned him $80K on top of his $1MM salary.
- Jered Weaver: The AL strikeout king's fifth place finish in the Cy Young voting earned him $50K.
- Adam Wainwright: A second place finish in the 2010 Cy Young voting earned Wainwright an additional $100K on top of his meager $4.65MM salary.
- Ubaldo Jimenez: His third-place finish in the Cy Young voting added $50K to his dirt cheap $1.25MM salary.
Obviously, this isn't a complete list, as not all players' award clauses are available to the public. Still, that's a total of over $2MM in award bonuses, with the MVPs still to come this week.
Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.