Melvin Mora Rumors
When Ted Lilly finalized his three-year $33MM deal, he established a standard for other free agent left-handers. The agreement may not impact Cliff Lee, who figures to be in his own tier, but it could be a point of reference for Jorge de la Rosa's contract negotiations this winter. Here's the latest on de la Rosa and the Rockies:
- The Rockies have not offered de la Rosa a contract, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Colorado has opened dialogue with the 29-year-old, but it appears that he's going to hit the open market.
- Melvin Mora is open to returning to Colorado, but Renck says the Rockies anticipate lots of competition for his services (possibly from the Angels). I suggested in September that Mora is likely in line for a one-year deal worth $2-3MM.
- Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post looks ahead to the end of the 2014 season when Troy Tulowitzki can hit free agency and suggests the Rockies may no longer be able to keep the All-Star shortstop.
There's a limit to how much 38-year-old utility men can earn, and Melvin Mora is doing everything within his power to push that limit as he heads for another round of free agency. He's hitting well and playing all over the place as the Rockies make their annual charge towards the postseason. Here's the outlook for Mora this winter:
- Mora is batting .286/.363/.404 this year, a significant improvement from the 2009 line he posted in Baltimore (.260/.321/.358).
- The Rockies called on Mora to be their everyday third baseman when Ian Stewart hit the DL on August 26th and Mora has responded by posting an .873 OPS since then, proving that he can still play every day if necessary.
- He has played first, second, third and left field this year.
- He won't cost a draft pick, since he doesn't project to be a ranked free agent.
- Mora turns 39 before the season starts, so his chances of winning another Silver Slugger or clubbing 27 homers in a season again are slim. He's a role player at this point in his career.
- His batting average on balls in play is the highest it has been in five years, despite a career-low line drive rate. Those numbers suggest Mora has benefitted from some good luck on balls in play.
Mora is not getting a multi-year deal this winter, barring a major surprise, but he has likely earned himself a raise from his current $1.275MM salary. It seems like Mora's in line for another one-year deal this winter, but he could earn $2-3MM this time around.
The Rockies are likely to become sellers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The 51-49 Rockies have lost seven consecutive games and now sit in fourth place in the NL West, 8.0 games behind the division-leading Padres and six games behind the Wild Card-leading Giants.
The Phillies are showing interest in Aaron Cook, though their enthusiasm for him is "limited at best." The Rockies are "quietly shopping" Cook, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post and have stopped pursuing Jorge Cantu, according to Rosenthal. The Phillies are also one of the teams interested in Joe Beimel.
The Rockies will likely keep free agent-to-be Jorge De La Rosa in hopes of signing him or obtaining draft pick compensation, Rosenthal says. The left-hander currently projects as a Type B free agent. The Rockies could deal Melvin Mora and Ryan Spilborghs if they wanted to, since other clubs are interested. However, the Rockies’ rivals are not willing to give up much for either player at this point.
2:54pm: The Rockies had feelers out a week ago on names ranging from Adam Dunn to Dan Haren, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman says the Rockies are now "quietly shopping" Aaron Cook and are willing to help make the financial aspect work. Cook is still owed $3.75MM this year if traded, plus $10.25MM for 2011, a $500K buyout for '12, and $125K per year if he reaches 200 innings.
7:51am: The Rockies are preparing for the possibility of becoming sellers, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. They've not yet committed to that course, but they're eight games back in the NL West. But at 4.5 games out of the wild card, the Rockies still appear to have a legitimate playoff shot. Baseball Prospectus' postseason odds report puts their chances at a healthy 23.4% despite a recent losing streak.
Rosenthal says the Rockies are still eyeing Jorge Cantu and could move Melvin Mora, Ryan Spilborghs, and/or Brad Hawpe regardless of their direction. If the team's rough week continues and they start thinking about 2011, Jorge de la Rosa would be an interesting addition to the trade block. Rosenthal names Aaron Cook, Rafael Betancourt, and Joe Beimel as other possibilities.
De La Rosa has made three starts since returning from the DL for a finger injury. His last effort was solid, and he takes on the Pirates tonight. He'll be a free agent after the season and currently profiles as a Type B.
The Rockies would like to improve upon Melvin Mora, which is understandable, given Mora's age and bat. But that doesn't mean bringing Kazuo Matsui back is the answer for the Rockies, who are interested in the infielder.
Matsui was fantastic during his first stint with Colorado, hitting .300/.353/.426 on his way to a $16.5MM deal with Houston. But two and a half years later, the Astros are about to release him because he's a different player. Matsui remains an efficient base stealer and UZR suggests his recent defense has been average, but his .141/.197/.155 line would not represent an upgrade from the Rockies' current option.
At 38, Mora is not likely to rediscover 25-homer power, but his .250/.308/.350 line is tolerable for a utility player. Mora's value comes from his defense; UZR rates him as an average defender, and he is versatile enough to play around the infield.
Replacing Mora with Matsui would leave the Rockies without much defensive flexibility. Matsui hasn't played a position other than second base in the major leagues since 2006 and he has never played either corner infield position at the highest level. The Rockies, who have used Mora at first, second and third already this year, rely on his versatility, since their bench includes pinch hitter Jason Giambi.
If the Rockies could carry a 26th man, then adding Matsui in the the hopes that he can recapture his batting stroke wouldn't hurt. But in reality, adding Matsui means removing someone else from the team. They aren't about to go to a six-man bullpen, so Mora or Giambi would have to go. Giambi hasn't hit like he did last year, but the Rockies seem to like his clubhouse presence and power bat.
Matsui does not seem to fit in Colorado, but let's not overstate the Rockies' interest. Just because they have some interest in bringing him back doesn't mean that they're actually going to sign Matsui and give up on either Giambi or Mora.
Spring draws in baseball writers from around the globe to Arizona and Florida, including plenty of beat writers from players' home countries who are eager for a full-page interview. Links are, you guessed it, in Spanish.
- David Ortiz comes close to acknowledging that his career may end outside of Boston in an interview with Dionisio Soldevila at the Dominican daily Hoy. He disputes recent reports that he is unhappy the team hasn't preemptively picked up his option for 2011, as they did for Pedro Martinez in 2003, and predicts that the outcome will depend on his performance this season. "Boston will know when they want to approach me to talk about the contract, if they want it," Ortiz says. "I only think about playing baseball, and if I have a good season, they'll make me an offer, but if it's not them it will be another (team)." Terry Francona recently told ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes that other teams' personnel have commented to him that Ortiz looks great this spring.
- Get used to the idea of Miguel Tejada at third. Tejada tells Soldevila that he, rather than the Orioles, made the choice, and he predicts the change will extend beyond his single-season contract. "I think it was time for me to move," Tejada explains. "I decided to change because I'm not the same age and I don't want it said that I don't have the same range." Tejada has been working with both Cal Ripken and Brooks Robinson during spring training to learn the fine art of the five-hole.
- At the other end of the position-hopping spectrum, Melvin Mora tells Carlos Valmore Rodriguez at Lider en Deportes that he relishes Rockies manager Jim Tracy's plan to use him all over the infield and outfield, as it gives the 38-year-old "nostalgia for the excitement I used to feel when I arrived in the majors and did everything." Mora says he was in discussion with the Red Sox, Mets, Rangers, Mariners and Blue Jays during the winter but chose the Rockies because he saw there his best opportunity to return to the playoffs.
- Angel Guzman tells Manuel Lira at Lider that his upcoming shoulder surgery won't spell the end of his career, but not having it would have. "Dr. Andrews told me, this is the same problem we had last year," Guzman says. "I had to stop in September after having rehabilitated for four-and-a-half months, so it made no sense to return to rehabilitation, and the only way to return to baseball is by doing the surgery."
Links for Sunday....
- In his latest mailbag, MLB.com's Jim Street writes that he could see Chad Cordero hooking on with a major league club if he continues to stay healthy and perform well in Spring Training. Cordero is in camp with the Mariners and competing for a job, but is unlikely to make the team as the bullpen is already stocked with quality right-handers.
- Mark Grudzielanek is eager to hook on with the Indians, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. The 39-year-old second baseman, who was absent from the majors in 2009, says he has his eye on the starting job.
- MLB.com's Dick Kaegel reports that Royals shortstop prospect Jeff Bianchi will miss the 2010 season with elbow surgery. Danny Duffy, a left-handed pitcher and the organization's #8 prospect according to Baseball America, will be shut down as well for the time being due to elbow stiffness.
- Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel talks to Brewers GM Doug Melvin about Prince Fielder's future. Melvin reiterates that the team hopes to keep Fielder around for many years, and revisits an instance during his stint as the Rangers' GM when he had to trade a heavy hitter.
- Questions about Kiko Calero's health might have kept him on the market longer than expected this winter, but Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News says that the righty has been throwing off a mound and looks okay for now. "Conditioning-wise he's pretty good," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "He just hasn't seen hitters."
- Newly-acquired Melvin Mora could end up playing nearly every position on the diamond for the Rockies this year, writes Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post.
- WEEI's Alex Speier reports that Brian Shouse's minor league contract will earn him $800K if he makes the Red Sox' major league roster.
Mora, who turned 38 this week, hit .260/.321/.358 for the Orioles last year with eight homers. He spent all of his time at third base last year, where his defense was slightly above average, according to UZR/150. He has experience at all three outfield positions, short and second, too. The Rockies figure to use Mora at third, short and second to spell Ian Stewart, Troy Tulowitzki and Clint Barmes.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
Some links for your Sunday...
- Bryce Harper is not among the top ten on the Pirates' draft rankings currently, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Jason Marquis, Ryan Zimmerman, Nyjer Morgan, and Ivan Rodriguez have all voiced their desire for the Nats to sign Orlando Hudson, tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- The Phillies have talked about Chien-Ming Wang, but don't believe he's a fit, according to Scott Lauber of the News Journal.
- Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson says it's up to Mark Mulder to decide if he wants to pitch for the Brewers, according to this tweet from Haudricourt.
- The Brewers have pulled their latest offer to Corey Hart and are preparing for an arbitration hearing with him, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Orlando Cabrera wasn't willing to move from shortstop, so he picked the Reds over the Rockies, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown.
- Chien-Ming Wang will end up on one of the coasts, according to this tweet from Jon Heyman of SI.com.
- Melvin Mora is talking extensively with the Rockies and another club, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
- The Dodgers are in the midst of talks with Garret Anderson, writes Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times.
- Tony Jackson of ESPN.com adds Reed Johnson, Gabe Gross and Brian Giles to the list of backup outfielders the team is considering.
- The Indians are talking about bringing Russell Branyan back, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A reunion seems unlikely unless Branyan doesn't see appealing offers elsewhere.
- The Brewers engaged Jason Marquis but backed off since they were convinced he would sign with the Mets, writes Ken Davidoff of Newsday.
- With Orlando Cabrera "leaning towards" accepting an offer from Cincinnati, Troy Renck of the Denver Post says the Rockies are "a finalist" in the hunt for Melvin Mora. Renck reports that Colorado, Texas and Seattle are the most interested parties.
- Jim Edmonds tells MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Edmonds on Wednesday that "he didn't see a fit" for the outfielder in St. Louis. Edmonds signed with Milwaukee a day later.
- Righty Joe Nelson is attracting interest from the Dodgers, Nationals, and Red Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The journeyman reliever broke through with the Marlins in 2008, posting a 2.00 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 54 innings. His 2009 with the Rays was less than spectacular, but the 35-year-old points to his performance outside May, as he had a 2.38 ERA in the 10 games prior and a 1.40 ERA in 20 games after.
- Jonny Gomes and the Reds are close to agreeing to a deal, according to ESPN. Yesterday, GM Walt Jocketty confirmed that the club offered a minor league deal to the 29-year-old outfielder. Gomes proved to be one of the best minor league signings of 2009, hitting .267/.338/.541 with 20 HRs in 98 games.
- The Padres have set an arbitration date with outfielder Scott Hairston, though they hope to reach an agreement beforehand, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter). Brock writes that the two sides could come to terms next week.
- ESPN's Jorge Arangure (via Twitter) gets the feeling that Cuban prospect Jose Julio Ruiz may sign this week or shortly thereafter. Ruiz - who has reportedly garnered interest from the Red Sox and Tigers - was "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Asset Control yesterday, allowing him to sign with a major league club.