Matt Wieters Rumors

Orioles Notes: Machado, Extensions, Santana, Schoop

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette spoke with reporters today, including MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli, and covered a host of topics, beginning with Manny Machado. The standout third baseman called his $519K salary for the 2014 season "disappointing" last night, but Ghiroli reports that Machado will also receive a $100K bonus for winning a Platinum Glove award — an award being the best defensive player, regardless of position, in the league. Here's more on Machado and the Orioles…

  • Duquette told Ghiroli and others today that the team visited the idea of a long-term deal for Machado last year, but talks didn't come to fruition. Those talks weren't resumed this spring, as the focus has been on getting Machado healthy. The third baseman said to Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com (Twitter link), however, that he likes the idea: "I’d be up for it, I’m open to it. Nothing has come up yet."
  • Duquette added that there is no progress to report on extension talks with J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis or Matt Wieters. Hardy told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that it's been 17 days since his agent even had discussions with the Orioles' front office (Twitter link). He's set to hit free agency next winter, while Davis and Wieters are controlled through 2015. Machado, of course, is under control for much longer and cannot become a free agent until the 2018-19 offseason.
  • The market for Ervin Santana has become "interesting," per Duquette, who alluded to the fact that other teams are beginning to show interest due to various injuries in camp. Most notably, the Braves have begun to show interest in Santana after an MRI showed ligament damage in Kris Medlen's right elbow.
  • Ghiroli wrote last night that top prospect Jonathan Schoop is impressing the Orioles both on and off the field with his relentless work ethic and his constant desire to pick the brains of veteran players to learn something new. Schoop added a good deal of muscle this offseason and is making a strong case to open the season as Baltimore's second baseman. However, he'd never be here if his baseball coach at age 13 hadn't slapped him on the back of the head and pulled him off a soccer field, Schoop recalled. The now-6'2", 228-pound Schoop had decided to try focusing on soccer, believing himself to be too small (he was 5'4" at the time).

Orioles Avoid Arbitration With Matt Wieters

The Orioles have agreed to a one-year, $7.7MM deal to avoid arbitration with catcher Matt Wieters, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The deal also includes award incentives, Heyman notes.

Wieters was one of the highest-profile arbitration cases remaining. He lands $200K short of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's projection, but will earn just above the mid-point of the sides' filing figures ($8.75MM vs. $6.5MM). Of course, the one-year arrangement does not extend the club's control over its top backstop. With extension talks reportedly stuck in neutral, Wieters remains on track to hit free agency following the 2015 season.


Quick Hits: Burnett, Wieters, Mets, Ryan

Eno Sarris outlined the rigors of the life of a beat writer in an article for The Hardball Times. While the perks of the job — watching games, interacting with players — make it an envious profession at first glance, the endless travel and strict deadlines mean it's not a lifestyle for everyone, Sarris writes. Veteran Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle emphasizes that time away from one's family is one of the most difficult aspects. “There’s a reason few beat writers reach my age. Most decide they need to quit so they can have a more normal family life,” he says. Let's round up the latest from around the majors:

  • Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review examined the risk that 37-year-old A.J. Burnett presents to suitors. Burnett, who reportedly wants to continue pitching, has seen his velocity fall in recent years. However, he's also enjoyed a career rebound with the Pirates, a trend Dan Brooks of Brooks Baseball attributes to increased use of a two-seam fastball.
  • Matt Wieters told reporters at the Orioles' FanFest this weekend that he's not directly involved in ongoing discussions regarding his 2014 contract, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reported. "That's what I have agents for," Wieters commented. The 27-year-old is represented by Scott Boras and is pegged to earn $7.9MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
  • CBS Sports' Dayn Perry highlighted recent comments from Dodgers Vice President of Ticket Sales David Siegel, who says the team's recent hike in ticket prices is merely a response to increased demand. Fans often incorrectly assume that higher ticket prices are directly connected with rising payrolls, Perry notes.
  • The Mets' newfound financial health, exemplified by a recent report that the club is close to refinancing a loan with a lower interest rate, should provide the team with more flexibility going forward, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Davidoff says the Mets must now avoid signings like the megadeals for Jason Bay and Johan Santana, which hamstrug them in free agency for several seasons.
  • Astros owner Jim Crane is hopeful that Nolan Ryan will join the organization, but says the decision now rests with the Hall of Famer, according to Richard Dean of MLB.com. Envisioning what role he might play, Crane suggested Ryan would likely "advise in all aspects of the business" and confirm some of the decisions of GM Jeff Luhnow.


Orioles Notes: Hardy, Wieters, Davis

Here are a few notes from Orioles FanFest this morning.

  • Before the start of the season, the O's will try to engage shortstop J.J. Hardy in extension discussions, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Hardy is in the final year of a three-year, $22.25MM deal.
  • The Orioles have tried to extend Chris Davis, but with no success so far, Kubatko tweets. Davis is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. He will make $10.35MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility after a monster .286/.370/.634 season in 2013.
  • Orioles executive Dan Duquette says the O's have not tried to deal catcher Matt Wieters this offseason, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Like Davis, Wieters is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season.

East Notes: Zimmermann, Wieters, Byrdak, Phillies

The Nationals tried to negotiate a long-term deal with pitcher Jordan Zimmermann before eventually signing him for two years and $24MM, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. The deal avoids arbitration this offseason and next, but does not buy out any years of free agency. Zimmermann says the two sides tried to find common ground on a longer contract this week, but were "too far apart to get that done." Kilgore also notes that the structure of Zimmermann's contract — he gets $7.5MM in 2014 and $16.5MM next year — could make it a bit trickier for the Nationals to deal him in the coming seasons. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • It's unclear what the Orioles will do with Matt Wieters, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. The two parties exchanged arbitration figures yesterday, with the O's proposing $6.5MM and Wieters filing for $8.75MM. He's the only arbitration-eligible Oriole who hasn't already agreed to a contract. He's eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, but Melewski suggests there are few indications the two sides have made progress on a long-term deal. Wieters' weaker numbers last season (.235/.287/.417 in 579 plate appearances) also make it increasingly unlikely he'll get a bank-breaking deal like Joe Mauer's or Buster Posey's.
  • The Mets have not made Tim Byrdak an offer this offseason, the lefty himself tweets (via MetsBlog). Byrdak, 40, missed much of 2013 with a shoulder injury. His fastball velocity averaged just 85.4 MPH after he returned in September.
  • The Phillies' moves for the rest of this offseason are likely to be minor, writes MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. One priority might be a left-handed bench player, perhaps an outfielder.

Arbitration Filing Numbers

MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker is the place to go to see the arbitration contracts agreed upon thus far, as well as the figures exchanged between teams and players that were not able to reach agreement before today's noon deadline to swap salary positions. Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available here.

As MLBTR has previously explained, 146 players officially filed for arbitration (after some eligible and tendered players had alread reached agreement). Of those, 40 players will exchange figures with their clubs. Of course, those players can still reach agreements before their hearings (which will take place betwee February 1st and 21st). If the case goes to a hearing, the arbitrator must choose one side's figures, rather than settling on a midpoint.

For the Braves players listed below, however, Atlanta says it will cease negotiations and take all cases to a hearing. Two other teams that have swapped figures with some players — the Nationals and Indians — also have employed variations of the "file and trial" approach with their arbitration cases.

Though a tweet from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal indicates that the Reds have joined the list of teams employing "file and trial," GM Walt Jocketty did not seem to echo that position in comments today to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. It turns out that the team has only taken that position with respect to players whose deals were valued under the $2MM level, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

We will use this post to keep tabs on the the highest-stakes arbitration situations remaining — those where the player files for at least $4.5MM:


AL Notes: Jenks, Tanaka, Angels, Yankees, Wieters

Former White Sox reliever Bobby Jenks has his sights set on a return to baseball, reports MLB.com's Scott Merkin. As Merkin chronicles, mutually compounding difficulties with injury and addiction saw the once-feared closer wash out of baseball after an ill-fated season with the Red Sox in 2011. Still just shy of 33 years of age, Jenks says that he is mentally prepared to try and work his way back to the hill. 

Here are some notes from the American League to round out the evening:

  • Though reports from Japan have tabbed the Angels as one of the favorites to land Masahiro Tanaka, GM Jerry Dipoto confirmed today that his club was not among the teams that met with the Japanese sensation last week in Los Angeles, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times"We did not meet with Tanaka," said Dipoto. "We were not scheduled to meet with him." The GM otherwise declined to comment, but DiGiovanna offers on Twitter that the lack of a face-to-face could indicate that the Halos "won't break [the] bank" for Tanaka.
  • For the Yankees, signing Tanaka could be the key to making the team a serious post-season contender, opines MLB.com's Richard Justice. Though another arm could be added if Tanaka goes elsewhere, Justice notes that the club has shown little interest in other top starters like Ervin Santana and Matt Garza
  • While the suspension of Alex Rodriguez will unquestionably benefit the Yanks' bottom line, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, it nevertheless leaves the club with major questions in the infield. With injury and aging concerns around the diamond, accompanied by seemingly limited upside, Castrovince says that the infield is a close second to starting pitching in terms of need. Though chatter of a Brandon Phillips deal has faded, Castrovince writes that a swap of some kind still "makes a ton of sense" for both the Yankees and Reds.
  • Catcher Matt Wieters has long been rumored as an extension candidate for the Orioles, as the 27-year-old is entering his second-to-last arb-eligible campaign. From the player's perspective, however, the urgency of a new deal is seemingly fading, according to a report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). "It's not a big worry for me," said Wieters. "I think in years past it's taken a little more of my thoughts than this year." With a $5.5MM arbitration payday already in his pocket, and a projected $7.9MM on the way for 2014, it is certainly understandable that Wieters is increasingly comfortable with waiting to hit the open market.

Cubs Likely To Trade Samardzija This Offseason

DEC. 4: The Cubs are preparing to do some "serious listening" on Samardzija at next week's Winter Meetings, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).

NOV. 27, 7:08pm: The Cubs are going to keep trying to sign Samardzija long-term despite the trade rumors, a major league source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter).

6:30pm: Jeff Samardzija's name has been swirling about the rumor mill for quite some time, and David Kaplan of CSN Chicago reports that as many as eight teams have shown "considerable" interest in Samardzija. Kaplan lists the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Diamondbacks as frontrunners to land the pitcher often referred to as "Shark," though as Kaplan notes, the asking price is substantial.

One Major League source told Kaplan, "I don't see him throwing another pitch for the Cubs," while a second offered a laundry list of reasons that Samardzija is an excellent trade candidate: he has two years of control remaining, has no injury history, comes with relatively low mileage on his arm due to his prolific football career at Notre Dame and is an excellent clubhouse presence. "Add in the fact that this guy is a big-time competitor, and I would have no hesitation in acquiring him," said Kaplan's second source.

Kaplan points out that teams run a serious risk by waiting for resolution to the Masahiro Tanaka situation  since teams that miss out on the Japanese standout will swarm on Samardzija and other alternatives.  One NL scout suggested that if he were a GM and didn't have pockets deep enough to guarantee landing Tanaka, he'd give up more than he'd like to get the Cubs' hurler. 

The Orioles are among the frontrunners for Samardzija but most scouts that Kaplan checked in with do not expect the Cubs to trade for catcher Matt Wieters unless he was part of a much larger deal that also included young starting pitching that is nearly MLB ready.

Zach Links contributed to this post.    


Orioles Will Tender All Arb-Eligibles; Have Yet To Talk Extension With Wieters, Davis

Orioles GM Dan Duquette spoke with reporters today about the latest in Birdland. As reported by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, Duquette said that the club is planning to tender contracts to each of the nine Orioles players that are eligible for arbitration.

Here is the slate of players who stand to receive a tender, along with the salaries projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz: catcher Matt Wieters ($7.9MM); first baseman Chris Davis ($10MM); outfielders Nolan Reimold ($1.2MM) and Steve Pearce ($1.1MM); relievers Troy Patton ($1.2MM), Brian Matusz ($2.1MM), Tommy Hunter ($3.1MM), and Jim Johnson ($10.8MM); and starter Bud Norris ($5MM). In total, Swartz projects a $42.4MM tab for the group.

As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explored in reporting Swartz's projections, Reimold in particular had been a questionable tender recipient. As MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko notes on Twitter, the decision on Reimold was made after receiving positive updates on his health status as he rehabs from another neck surgery. "He's coming along pretty well," Duquette relayed. "He's ahead of where he was at the same time in 2012." As Connolly explained, the O's feel that he has been good when healthy and expect him to be ready for the spring. Per the analysis of Dierkes and Kubatko (via Twitter), Johnson, Patton, and Pearce all were also possible non-tender candidates. 

The two least surprising members of the list of Orioles set to be tendered — Wieters and Davis — are also, of course, the two major Baltimore extension candidates. Duquette said that the club is focused on making additions to the club at present, and has yet to enage agent Scott Boras (who represents both players) in off-season contract talks.


AL East Rumors: Blue Jays, McCann, Kuroda, Orioles

Teams have asked the Blue Jays about Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he hasn't "entertained the idea" of trading either player.  Bautista hit .259/.358/.498 with 28 homers in 2013 and saw his season end early after being shut down due to a hip issue.  Encarnacion had a solid campaign, posting a slash line of .272/.370/.534 with 36 home runs.  Bautista is owed $14MM annually through 2015 with a club option for the same amount in 2016 while Encarnacion will make $19MM through '15 with a $10MM club option for '16.  Here's more out of the AL East…

  • The Yankees are refusing to punt and are living for today with their Brian McCann signing, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  McCann's lefty pull power should provide a huge boost in 2014 (and probably '15 and '16), but beyond that is a mystery.
  • Within the same article, Sherman writes that the Yankees are now more upbeat about the chances of Hiroki Kuroda returning.  There remains a chance that the veteran pitcher decides to play in Japan next season. 
  • The McCann agreement allows the Yankees to take their time developing Gary Sanchez, their top prospect per MLB.com, knowing McCann will eventually move to first base or they can use him as a trade chip, tweets the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand
  • Feinsand, in a second tweet, sees the backup job coming down to Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli with Chris Stewart being non-tendered. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz estimates the arbitration eligible Cervelli and Stewart will each earn $1MM.
  • Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders how McCann's new $85MM deal with the Yankees affects the Orioles' Matt Wieters.  Wieters’ offensive numbers aren’t as good, but he is is two years younger than McCann and Scott Boras will certainly dig up data to show that Wieters is deserving of more money.
  • Meanwhile, Alex Speier of WEEI.com looks at what McCann's deal might mean for Red Sox free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Salty is now the best avaialble free agent catcher and his market should now start to take shape. 
  • A combination of familiarity and affordability led to Jose Molina returning to the Rays, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  Financial terms of the yet-to-be-completed deal are not yet known, but Topkin writes that it's unlikely that he received more than the $3.3MM total he made the last two seasons.
  • The Orioles won't re-sign Tsuyoshi Wada, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. The O's declined their club option on Wada earlier this month; but, at the time, the door was said to be open for a minor league deal in Baltimore.
  • The Orioles need to be creative in wringing the most value out of Jim Johnson, writes the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina. Encina dangles the idea of moving Johnson, who MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects to receive $10.8MM in arbitration, into the rotation, but that begs the questions of whether starting is a good fit for the 30-year-old right-hander and who will step in as closer. 

Edward Creech contributed to this post.