Matt Harrison Rumors
FEB. 24: It's good news for the Rangers, as Harrison's MRI came back clean, tweets Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. Though Harrison will not be ready by Opening Day, he is expected to re-start his throwing program in just two days.
FEB. 20: After missing most of last season due to a series of surgeries -- two relating to a herniated disk in his back along with a procedure on his non-throwing shoulder -- southpaw Matt Harrison entered camp hopeful of regaining his form as one of the Rangers' top starters. But after experiencing lower back stiffness, Harrison is now set for an MRI and examination by his spine surgeon, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Harrison will not participate in baseball activities until his appointment on Monday, at the earliest. The news was met with a blend of concern and cautious optimism. "With everything he went through last year, there is a level of concern," said GM Jon Daniels. "Hopefully, it's just some irritation from getting going. ... He did a lot this winter without having any issues." Harrison, too, acknowledged "some concern" but said he "hope[s] that it's not a serious issue."
The 28-year-old inked a five-year, $55MM extension in January of last year, but has not yet had much of a chance to make good on it. Fortunately for the club, an insurance policy is reportedly in place that should ease the burden of his absence on the pocketbook.
But with sights set on a World Series run, cost savings will not ameliorate the impact on the field of any missed time. The Rangers are already dealing with an injury to another key starter, Derek Holland. It is far from clear, of course, whether Harrison's injury -- even if it is serious -- would precipitate a new addition. But as ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote recently, the club already faced questions at the back of the rotation, where several candidates are vying for spots. Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, and Alexi Ogando figure to be good bets to occupy a regular turn, but several players of less-certain capabilities line up behind them. The team recently signed Tommy Hanson, adding him to a mix that potentially includes Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers, Nick Tepesch, Michael Kirkman, and Colby Lewis.
The list of pitchers likely to receive qualifying offers this year includes Hiroki Kuroda, Ervin Santana and A.J. Burnett, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. But Cameron also looks into some less obvious candidates, like Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Josh Johnson of the Blue Jays. Three pitchers (Kuroda, Rafael Soriano, and Kyle Lohse) received qualifying offers last offseason; Cameron seems to think that number should be slightly higher this winter. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Jhonny Peralta, who was suspended for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, will soon be eligible to begin a rehab assignment, but the Tigers aren't sure what they'll do with him, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. The season has ended for all the Tigers' minor-league teams, which makes the Florida instructional league, which begins September 19, the most likely possibility. The Tigers must decide by September 26 whether to place Peralta back on the active roster. They don't appear to have made that decision yet. Peralta becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
- Starter Matt Harrison had his third surgery of the season on Monday, but the Rangers have insurance on his contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Harrison is signed to a five-year, $55MM contract that begins this season. He's set to make $13MM annually in 2015 through 2017. The insurance on Harrison is fortunate for the Rangers, as is the fact that Harrison's latest surgery is on his non-throwing shoulder.
Recent Mariners callup Taijuan Walker's skin color is important for the future of baseball, as just 2.3 percent of the 648 pitchers who have thrown in the majors this year are American-born black players, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes. The rise of Walker, whose father is black and mother is half-Mexican, half-white; and the Rays' Chris Archer, who was born to a black father and white mother, "represents what the league desperately hopes is a trend and not an anomaly," Passan says. On to more Saturday night major league links:
- Over the last two seasons, National League starters acquired by the Rangers have failed to succeed in the AL West, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, posting a collective 4.72 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and 1.37 HR/9. Though Grant rightly acknowledges that the sample is far too small to be conclusive, it is certainly true that both of the team's major trade-deadline acquisitions -- Ryan Dempster (2012) and Matt Garza (2013) -- have put up pedestrian numbers for Texas.
- Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison will have surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder on Monday, Grant reports. Harrison had the same procedure, in which a rib is removed, on his throwing shoulder in 2009. “Since I’m already shut down with the back issues for the year, I might as well get it taken care of,” Harrison commented. Rangers GM Jon Daniels says he believes Harrison will be ready for 2014 spring training, Anthony Andro of Fox Sports Southwest tweets.
- Blue Jays assistant GM Andrew Tinnish and scout Danny Evans were in Japan in August to scout Masahiro Tanaka, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports via Twitter. Clubs connected to Tanaka so far include the Twins, Giants and Yankees.
Paul Konerko could draw interest from the Orioles, who tried to acquire another right-handed bat at the deadline, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com opines. Konerko considered signing with the O's after the 2005 season, according to Dubroff, who says the 37-year-old could fill the club's DH slot. Though he's hitting just .243/.306/.359, Baltimore would prefer Konerko over a reunion with Mark Reynolds, Dubroff says. Here's more from around baseball..
- Rangers starter Matt Harrison's back issues will cause him to miss the remainder of the season, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. Harrison, 27, underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in April. The Rangers were targeting a September return for the left-hander, but his back "isn't strong enough," according to Andro.
- Bill Ladson of MLB.com ran down the Nationals that might not return to the club in 2014. The list starts with non-tender Roger Bernadina and one talent evaluator tells Ladson that GM Mike Rizzo has never been a fan of his.
- Cuban prospect Alexander Guerrero is still waiting to be unblocked by the U.S. Government and cannot enter into a contract until that happens, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The infielder has three teams vying for him including the Twins and the Dodgers, who are believed to be the favorites.
- The Twins placed Justin Morneau on waivers, but manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't think that it'll hurt the veteran's play, writes MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. "It just gets out there," Gardenhire said. "There's so many people getting run through waivers now. It's just part of the year here. We understand that this was probably going to happen. It happens to pretty much all our players and everybody else's players."
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
THURSDAY: The Rangers announced they've agreed to sign Harrison to a five-year extension that includes an option for 2018. The club will hold a press conference at Rangers Ballpark today to announce the deal.
WEDNESDAY: The Rangers have agreed to a five-year, $55MM extension with Matt Harrison after the left-hander passed a physical, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (Twitter links). The contract contains an team option for a sixth year in 2018 that can become a vesting option if Harrison reaches certain innings plateaus, Wilson adds. Harrison, 27, is represented by the ACES agency.
Harrison will receive a $1MM signing bonus and the rest of his contract breaks down as follows, according to Wilson. The southpaw will earn $5MM in 2013, $8MM in 2014 and then $13MM in each of the following three seasons. The 2018 option is worth $13.25MM (with a $2MM buyout) but could be worth as much as $15.75MM. That option will vest if Harrison pitches at least 200 innings in each of the 2015-17 seasons.
The two sides were known to be exploring a multiyear deal earlier this offseason. The deal covers Harrison's final two years of arbitration eligibility and his first three free agent years. I noted back in November that Chad Billingsley's three-year, $35MM extension with the Dodgers was a decent comparable for a possible Harrison extension and in fact this new contract will pay Harrison an average annual value of just under Billingsley's AAV.
This extension could end up being very team-friendly if Harrison continues his development as a front-of-the-rotation starter. Harrison has a 3.34 ERA with a 2.28 K/BB ratio and 5.8 K/9 rate over 399 innings in 2011-12 and showed a talent for keeping the ball on the ground at Rangers Ballpark, with a 49% groundball rate in 2012 and a 47.5% GBR in 2011.
Texas GM Jon Daniels has been quick to lock up key members of his roster, as Harrison joining Derek Holland, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz as Rangers who have signed extensions within the last 12 months. As Wilson points out, the Rangers now have four young starting pitchers (Harrison, Holland, Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando, the oldest of the group at age 29) who are controlled through at least the 2016 season.
The Rangers remain in the market for pitching, but FOXSportsSouthwest.com's Anthony Andro reports the team will bring Robbie Ross to camp as a starter if they don't make any more additions this winter. Texas currently has Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and Alexi Ogando slated for the rotation with Colby Lewis due to return at midseason.
Here's the latest from around the league as Friday turns into Saturday...
- "There are still some players that in the right scenario that could be fits for us ... There is a reasonable chance that we could add somebody from outside," said Rangers GM Jon Daniels to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, though he also said it could just be a player on a minor league contract. Ownership is willing to add payroll "within reason."
- "We're definitely still talking ... We'll see where that goes," said Harrison to Andro. The southpaw and the Rangers were reportedly discussing an extension earlier this offseason.
- Manny Corpas will earn $800K in the big leagues as part of his minor league deal with the Rockies, reports Troy Renck of The Denver Post. The right-hander will earn $14K per month in the minors.
- Ken Davidoff of The New York Post spoke to Braves president (and former GM) John Schuerholz about his team, including the performance of the front office staff.
- Zack Meisel of MLB.com wrote about under-the-radar bargains, something every team tries to find throughout the offseason. Low-risk deals are commonplace in the weeks leading up to Spring Training.
- In an Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Jim Bowden listed the best fit for unsigned big-name free agents like Michael Bourn, Rafael Soriano, and Kyle Lohse.
The Rangers have begun "preliminary negotiations" with Matt Harrison's representatives about a contract extension, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Texas GM Jon Daniels said earlier this month that the left-hander was among the extension candidates on the Rangers roster.
"We've touched base with all the guys we want to extend," Daniels said. "Harry's one of them. He's earned that conversation."
Harrison has developed into one of the cornerstones of the Texas rotation after back-to-back quality seasons, posting career-bests in ERA (3.29), K/BB ratio (2.25), groundball rate (49%) and innings pitched (213 1/3) in 2012. The ACES client's strong campaign will earn him a nice raise in his second trip though the arbitration process; MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Harrison will earn a $6.1MM contract, most than double Harrison's $2.95MM salary from 2012.
A Harrison extension would be more expensive than the five-year, $28.5MM deal the Rangers gave to another young left-hander, Derek Holland, last March. Holland was 25 years and still a year away from arbitration when he signed his extension, whereas Harrison turned 27 in September and is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season. Chad Billingsley's three-year, $35MM extension with the Dodgers before the 2011 season is a decent comparable for Harrison, though Billingsley had thrown over 200 more innings at the time of his multiyear deal than Harrison has at this point in his career. It seems likely that Daniels will look for at least one option year, as he did in recent extensions for other Texas pitchers such as Holland and Scott Feldman.
The Rangers usually don't finalize contract extensions until the spring, as Wilson notes, so Harrison could settle his 2013 contract first before he and the team look to the multiyear contract. Wilson also speculates that Alexi Ogando and Elvis Andrus could be extension candidates for Texas this winter, which could make it two extensions in as many offseasons for Andrus, who is locked up through 2014.
Dozens of arbitration eligible players have agreed to deals with their respective teams today and we've been tracking all of the developments right here. Several teams, including the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, and perhaps Astros, are known for committing to going to hearings if they get to the point of filing. Keep track of all the madness with MLBTR's arbitration tracker, which shows settlement amounts, filing figures, and midpoints. Today's players to avoid arbitration on deals worth less than $4MM:
- The Cardinals avoided arbitration with pitcher Kyle McClellan, tweets B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest. Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter) that the one-year deal is worth $2.5MM with incentives based on starts. MLBTR projected a $2.7MM for the Steve Comte client.
- MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (on Twitter) that the Padres and Chase Headley agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.475MM, avoiding arbitration. Earlier this evening, the Padres announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Gregerson, Edinson Volquez, Carlos Quentin and Will Venable. They also avoided arbitration with lefty reliever Joe Thatcher on a deal worth $700K, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. CAA announced catcher John Baker has signed for $750K. Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune first reported that the Padres reached agreements with Hundley, Chase Headley, and Tim Stauffer. Hundley will earn $2MM in 2012, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. Dan Hayes of the North County Times tweets the salaries for Volquez ($2.2375MM), Venable ($1.475MM), Gregerson ($1.55MM)
- The Rangers avoided arbitration with Matt Harrison, tweets Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. The ACES client gets $2.95MM on a one-year deal. MLBTR had projected a $2.9MM salary.
- The Cubs announced that they have avoided arbitration with Jeff Baker ($1.375MM), Blake DeWitt ($1.1MM), Ian Stewart ($2.237MM) Chris Volstad ($2.655MM), and Randy Wells ($2.705MM). MLB.com's Carrie Muskat tweeted the salary figures.
The baseball world figures to remain relatively quietly until after the New Year, but as Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes, there is still a lot of work to be done before the season begins. Let's round up Morosi's rumors...
- The Blue Jays are saying they will not give a hitter a contract of more than five guaranteed years, though they'll likely have to violate that policy if they want to sign Prince Fielder.
- The Brewers, Cubs, Nationals, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Rays, and Pirates are all considering non-Fielder upgrades at first base. Carlos Pena, Casey Kotchman, and Derrek Lee remain unsigned, among others.
- Some within the game believe that Joakim Soria and Carlos Marmol could be had at the right price. The Cubbies are said to be planning a "complete and total rebuild."
- Both Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook remain available, and the Rangers may be willing to trade Matt Harrison for a more established starter.
- Most believe Yoenis Cespedes will sign for more than the $30.25MM Aroldis Chapman received because as a position player, he carried less risk. A larger number of interested teams and the new collective bargaining agreement will also help his cause.
Let's see what Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has for us in his latest Full Count video..
- If the Marlins do not start playing more consistently, manager Fredi Gonzalez will be on the hot seat. Florida is one win below .500, which probably does not strike most as a failure considering their modest $47.4MM. However, as Rosenthal put it, owner Jeffrey Loria is not exactly "Mr. Patient". At the start of Spring Training, Loria said that the team had all the ammunition needed to make the postseason.
- Roy Oswalt could be the best starter available at the deadline, depending on three factors. The team must be willing to move him, the 32-year-old must be willing to waive his no-trade clause, and a team must be willing to take on the rest of his contract. Oswalt will only approve deals to certain clubs and two of them, the Braves and Cardinals, are already flush with starting pitching. Money will be a major factor, as he is set to earn $15MM this season and $16MM in both 2011 and 2012. The final year of the deal holds a $2MM buyout.
- Rangers pitchers Matt Harrison and Rich Harden are effectively on notice. Tommy Hunter is set to begin a rehabilitation assignment and Derek Holland has been stellar thus far in Triple-A. There are even more arms waiting in the farm system, including Tanner Scheppers, the 44th overall selection in the 2009 draft.