Matt Wieters Rumors

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.


AL East Notes: Granderson, Ortiz, Navarro, Orioles

Curtis Granderson is "a serious part" of the Yankees' offseason plans, GM Brian Cashman told George A. King III of the New York Post. Cashman told King that the Yankees remain interested and don't consider Granderson to be a fallback option by any means. Signing Granderson would likely mean the team would look to move Ichiro Suzuki, King adds. Here's more on the American League East.

  • The Red Sox and David Ortiz made an agreement at the time of his last signing that the two sides wouldn't negotiate an extension until the completion of his current deal, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
  • Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets that the Red Sox consider Dioner Navarro to be a fallback option if the free agent market doesn't break their way, but not a primary target.
  • The Yankees are a good fit for Omar Infante, opines MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (Twitter link). Tim wonders if the Yankees, who reportedly don't want to wait for Robinson Cano before pursuing other free agents, should just strike quickly and snatch Infante up.
  • Matt Wieters and Chris Davis of the Orioles are both Scott Boras clients, and they're both two years away from free agency. That means the Orioles need to determine what they plan to do with each player, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski writes. What to do with Davis might be particularly tricky, since his 2013 season was so dramatically different from his past performances.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Wieters, Johnson, Drew, Cano, Nava

In yesterday's Insider-only column, ESPN's Buster Olney broke down the budget problems facing the Orioles this offseason. The team has interest in signing Chris Davis and Matt Wieters to long-term deals, but both are Scott Boras clients and each is just two years removed from free agency. According to Olney, the O's tried to strike up extension talks for Wieters in Spring Training 2013 and were met with a counter-offer in the range of Joe Mauer's eight-year, $184MM deal with the Twins. Coming off the worst offensive season of his career, the price for a Wieters extension is likely down, but that contractual demand shows that the two sides "are speaking a different languague in negotiations," as Olney puts it. More from Olney and the rest of the AL East below…

  • Rival executives feel that Jim Johnson represents "the most painless cut" the Orioles could make in order to ease their payroll constrictions, Olney wrote. I agree that for a team with a tight payroll, Johnson's $10.8MM projected salary is too steep a price to pay despite his strong ground-ball and ERA numbers.
  • MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski weighs in on Johnson in response to Olney's piece, writing that the decision to non-tender Johnson "would be a bombshell" that he simply cannot picture. Melewski points out that in addition to being one of the team's best arms, Johnson is a leader in the clubhouse and has the complete trust of manager Buck Showalter.
  • Even after reaching an agreement to bring Brendan Ryan back into the fold in 2014, the Yankees are still pursuing free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports noted within his report on the Ryan signing. The fit seems a curious one at this point, as the Yankees seem to have bigger needs in the rotation and have already committed $12MM to Derek Jeter.
  • Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes that the Yankees are expected to meet with Robinson Cano's camp this week. McCullough's piece also includes the highlights from a recent Brodie Van Wagenen appearance on MLB Network Radio. Van Wagenen, the CAA agent who is partnering with Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, said that Jay-Z will be "intimately involved in all areas" of Cano's contract negotiations. 
  • The Red Sox are likely to dismiss any trade proposals offered to acquire Daniel Nava this offseason, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.  As Bradford writes, Nava's ability to play either corner outfield position or even first base gives GM Ben Cherington and his staff the flexibility to cast a wide net of free agent targets. Shane Victorino could play center field with Nava taking one corner outfield spot and Carlos Beltran occupying the other, and he also keeps them from having to get into a bidding war to retain Mike Napoli, Bradford points out in a pair of hypothetical scenarios.

Orioles Notes: Wieters, McLouth, Beltran, Pitching

The Orioles have been one of the most mentioned teams on MLBTR with the club trying to decide whether to extend or trade Matt Wieters and approaching the Cardinals about a J.J. Hardy-Shelby Miller trade. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com weighs in on those and other topics in a "Because You Asked" column:

  • The Hardy-Miller talks were just preliminary, but not unexpected because of the Orioles' quest for starting pitching and the Cardinals' need for a shortstop. Kubatko sees the O's acquiring a starter and keeping Hardy.
  • Wieters is not untouchable and the Orioles are willing to trade him, but are not feverishly shopping the catcher. Financial constraints are compounding the Wieters situation, as the front office is trying to figure out how to accomodate within their budget the pursuit of free agents like Carlos Beltran and arbitration raises for Wieters and others (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $41.2MM for eight arbitration eligible players).
  • There is no progress in negotiations with outfielder Nate McLouth. The Orioles are concerned with other clubs offering him a two-year deal. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted two years and $10MM for McLouth to which a person in the Orioles organization, when asked by Kubatko late in the season, responded: "Well, he won't be getting that from us."
  • Kubatko suggests the Orioles swallow hard and give McLouth a two-year contract since they did so for Wilson Betemit. If re-signed, Kubatko doesn't necessarily see McLouth as the full-time starter in left, but a valuable fourth outfielder, occasional DH, pinch-runner, and defensive replacement.
  • The Orioles like Carlos Beltran and see him as a great fit; but, will have to outbid some big spending teams, which they haven't done historically.
  • One option worth debating to free up payroll space for Beltran, according to Kubatko, is trading Jim Johnson and his expected $10.8MM arbitration salary. The Orioles have said they intend to keep their closer.
  • Kubatko spoke with someone in the organization recently who steered him away from Scott Kazmir, as if the Orioles have no interest. The O's, however, do have interest in Tim Hudson.
  • There is a definite possibility Brian Roberts will return to Baltimore. If not, Mark Ellis is on the club's radar as an alternative because he won't command a three-year deal like Omar Infante