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The Marlins are “determined to upgrade” their first base position and have started looking into the trade market as a means of doing so, according to a report from Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Miami is looking to replace or, presumably, platoon with incumbent Garrett Jones.
Among the players as to whom the Marlins have inquired are Evan Gattis of the Braves and Chris Davis of the Orioles, per the report. The pair of 28-year-olds are in quite different situations, needless to say, but obviously each hold their own appeal. Davis is a left-handed hitter who is coming off a down year and looking to bolster his 50-home run resume in his final season before reaching free agency. Gattis, a catcher who could presumably shift over to first, will not even be eligible for arbitration until next season. He hits from the right side and thus would pair nicely with the left-handed bat of Jones, who remains under contract for one more season.
Miami would be required to part with a valued young arm to land either player, the report suggests. One possibility would be a deal involving well-regarded lefty Andrew Heaney, though of course the Fish are generally well-stocked in rotation prospects.
Miami reportedly made an offer to Adam LaRoche — the market’s best pure first baseman — before he signed with the White Sox. Missing on LaRoche left the market without much in the way of established, recently productive first baseman. Michael Morse remains a candidate to play that position, but the Marlins’ interest is “lukewarm,” per the report.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark took a look at the Cole Hamels trade market and spoke to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about the possibility of trading the ace. Amaro took a familiar stance, stating that he’s not under any pressure to move Hamels, whom he rightly deemed one of baseball’s best starters. Rival execs tell Stark that Amaro is still asking for two premium prospects plus another piece or two in addition to the acquiring club taking on Hamels’ entire contract. As Stark notes, it’s unfortunate that a rebuilding club’s best chip is an ace in an offseason where free agency and the trade market are both pitching-rich. With next season shaping up to be a buyer’s market for pitching as well, Stark wonders if July will be the best time for Amaro to move Hamels, as few aces are ever available at the deadline. Multiple clubs have told Stark that Amaro is holding out for “the deal of the century,” as Stark terms it.
Two items of particular note from Stark are that the Blue Jays are said to have very strong interest in Hamels and that reports of Hamels’ no-trade clause are not entirely accurate. Hamels can indeed block trades to eight clubs, but previous reports listed the Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Nats, Braves, Padres, Yankees and Rangers as teams to which Hamels cannot veto a deal. Stark hears that list is outdated, and at least one club has been changed since season’s end.
Some other late-night NL East notes…
- Reports have indicated that the Marlins are serious about adding pieces to contend in 2015 this offseason, and while the focus has been more on bats for the lineup, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Fish have reached out to the Tigers to inquire on David Price and Rick Porcello. Talks aren’t serious at this time, he adds, but the fact that the Marlins are even kicking the tires on a pair of high-priced arms (Price and Porcello project to earn $18.9MM and $12.2MM next year, respectively) suggests that they’re willing to take on some significant payroll.
- The Braves are interested in a reunion with backstop David Ross, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien reported yesterday (Twitter link). Ross spent four seasons as Brian McCann‘s backup in Atlanta from 2009-12, enjoying some of the most productive seasons of his career as a Brave. He could serve as an excellent mentor to Christian Bethancourt, who figures to take the reins as Atlanta’s everyday catcher with Evan Gattis moving to the outfield full time.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports another potential catching target for the Braves, tweeting that they have interest in A.J. Pierzynski. The soon-to-be 38-year-old Pierzynski has never had Ross’ defensive chops, though he’d give the Braves a left-handed bat to insert in the lineup when they prefer to rest Bethancourt against tough right-handers.
- The Mets are interested in lefty reliever Craig Breslow, tweets Morosi. The Mets are thin on left-handed relief, and Breslow should represent a low-cost option. The 34-year-old picked a poor time to have a career-worst season, pitching to a 5.96 ERA this past season in a contract year. However, he entered the 2014 campaign with a career 2.82 ERA in 402 innings. Breslow doesn’t dominate lefties the way many specialists do (.671 OPS), but he’s also more effective against right-handed hitters than a number of his southpaw brethren (.680 OPS).
We heard recently that the Reds will at least listen to offers on outfielder Jay Bruce. While that still seems to be a long shot, it is worth noting that Bruce has an eight-team no-trade clause that would come into play were he shopped.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, Bruce can block deals to the Athletics, Blue Jays, D’backs, Marlins, Rays, Red Sox, Twins, and Yankees. That mix of small and large-market teams presumably shields Bruce from destinations he may prefer not to play in while affording him leverage if a big-spending AL East club were to come calling.
Bruce had an off year in 2014, but has been one of the game’s most consistent power threats and is just entering his age-28 season. He is guaranteed $25.5MM over the next two seasons, which includes a buyout for a $13MM club option in 2017.
Though the Braves met with Jon Lester‘s camp yesterday, the team did not make a formal offer to the free agent lefty, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Beyond that, president of baseball operations John Hart told ESPN’s Jayson Stark that the possibility of Lester signing in Atlanta is a “long shot,” but added that he is keeping all doors open (Twitter link).
Here’s more from the NL East…
- In an interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria says that the Giancarlo Stanton extension is only the beginning of his team’s offseason additions. Loria candidly discusses the team’s 2012 fire sale, stating that he knew he was going to get killed for it in the media but simply didn’t feel the mix of players the club had acquired was going to work. Loria adds that he’s not concerned with what other owners think of the Stanton extension and is putting behind him the days of fire sales as he looks to make winning a “part of the tradition of this baseball club.” Loria says he feels that his team will be competitive next season and that come September, the Marlins will not only be competitive, but contending. Nightengale backs up previous reports that the Marlins have indeed made an offer to Adam LaRoche.
- Jon Niese‘s trade value simply isn’t what it used to be, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears, despite what the Mets consider to be a team-friendly contract. Niese is owed $7MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016 with a pair of club options valued at $10MM and $11MM. However, one executive from a somewhat interested team told Martino, “I think they underestimate the impact his injuries have had on perception. It’s not a team-friendly contract if he is on the DL.” Niese did toss 187 innings in 2014, but he’s had shoulder and elbow issues over the past two years.
- The Mets are interested in re-signing left-hander Dana Eveland and right-hander Buddy Carlyle, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The Mets cut each reliever loose to avoid arbitration increases but have interest in each journeyman on a lower-cost deal. Both were effective in 2014, though Eveland was sidelined for the final few weeks of the season with an elbow injury.
- Rubin also hears that the Mets will wait out some free agent options at shortstop and could take action later in the offseason if players on whom their currently lukewarm drop their asking prices (Twitter links). He also hears that the Mets would be willing to forfeit their second-round pick to add another qualifying offer free agent if the player was stuck without a contract come January. Of course, the Mets already gave up their first-round pick to sign Michael Cuddyer.
Midnight EST is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com lists the notable prospects who are newly Rule 5 eligible. Of course, the decision whether or not to protect a player has as much to do with roster flexibility and his expected ability to stick on a big league roster for a full season as it does the player’s overall prospect value.
We’ll keep tabs on the day’s 40-man additions here, and you can also check Baseball America’s running updates, which includes breakdowns of the players added.
- The Rays have yet to announce their full list of roster moves, but Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets that second baseman Ryan Brett will be added to the 40-man.
- Following their trade with the Dodgers, the Rays announced that they have added Brett (as Cooper tweeted), right-hander Matt Andriese, left-hander Grayson Garvin, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to the 40-man roster.
- The Dodgers announced that lefty Adam Liberatore, acquired in the trade with the Rays, has been added to the 40-man roster.
- The Astros have made one final 40-man roster move, announcing the addition of right-hander Michael Feliz. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper was among those to express surprise that Feliz had not previously been added to the roster, with some executives telling him they’d be shocked if Feliz wasn’t the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Twitter link).
- The Rangers announced that they’ve added righties Luke Jackson and Jerad Eickhoff, infielder Hanser Alberto and catcher Jorge Alfaro to the 40-man roster.
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Olmos had a promising 2013, at least in terms of outcomes, that led to his first cup of coffee at the MLB level. But he saw his ERA rise to 4.06 in the upper minors last year, and Olmos did not earn a call-up. On the other hand, he did post a 3.5 BB/9 walk rate that was by far the best of his young career.
THURSDAY: The deal also includes $1MM annually in assorted award-related performance bonuses, tweets Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs.
TUESDAY, 4:25pm: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets the full breakdown: after earning the previously-reported $30MM total over the first three years of the deal, Stanton will take home annual values of $25MM (2018), $26MM (2019, 2020), $29MM (2021, 2022), $32MM (2023, 2024, 2025), $29MM (2026), and $25MM (2027).
The deal also includes a $25MM club option for 2028, which comes with a $10MM buyout to make up the remainder of the guaranteed value in the deal.
2:29pm: The highest annual salary in the deal is $32MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. As Rosenthal notes, that rate matches the biggest single hit in the Cabrera deal but falls shy of Mike Trout’s highest-paid season.
12:31pm: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that Stanton’s contract is heavily backloaded — a structure which Stanton actually desired in order to leave the front office with flexibility to add significant pieces in order to contend in the immediate future.
Stanton will earn just $6.5MM in 2015, $9MM in 2016 and $14.5MM in 2017 before earning $77MM total over the following three seasons. In other words, should he opt out of his deal, he’ll have received $107MM over six years (an AAV of $17.83MM) and be walking away from seven years and $218MM (an AAV of $31.14MM).
MONDAY, 4:40pm: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has confirmed the signing of Stanton to a 13-year deal, reports Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald. Loria called this a “landmark day” and noted, “It means everything to the franchise. We have a face of the franchise for the next 13 years.” Loria said he expects Stanton to be a Marlin for the next 13 seasons. “I did this for the city, the fans, for Giancarlo, our team, for myself and for baseball,” Loria told Navarro.
2:18pm: Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports (via Twitter) that the deal has been finalized and a press conference will be held at 11am on Wednesday of this week to announce the extension.
10:27am: The Marlins and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton are in agreement on a 13-year, $325MM contract extension that will set the benchmark as the new largest contract in the history of professional sports, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. While the deal hasn’t yet been made official, Heyman reports that a press conference should be held later this week and “there is a clear understanding the deal will be finalized.” Stanton is a client of the Wasserman Media Group’s Joel Wolfe.
The extension contains a full no-trade clause and Stanton “will be able to opt out not long after he turns 30,” according to Heyman, so it would seem that the opt-out clause can be triggered after the 2019 season, or after 2020 at the very latest. Stanton just celebrated his 25th birthday on November 8.
Stanton’s groundbreaking contract will buy out 11 free agent years, valuing each of those seasons in the $26-27MM range, depending on how much he’d have earned in arbitration over the next two seasons (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had pegged him for a $13MM salary in 2015 alone). The new contract will run through the 2027 season, after which Stanton will be 37 years of age. Of course, that assumes that Stanton does not exercise the opt-out clause, at which point he could be able to seek an even larger annual commitment over a longer term, should he continue to perform as he has to this point in his career.
The runner-up to Clayton Kershaw in this year’s MVP voting, Stanton finished the season with a .288/.395/.555 batting line and 37 home runs — a figure that tied his career best and also led the National League. Still just 25, Stanton has nearly five full seasons under his belt and has authored a .271/.364/.540 batting line with 154 home runs while playing many of his games in the pitcher-friendly Marlins Park. Defensive Runs Saved considers Stanton to be an excellent right fielder, pegging his career at +26 run. Ultimate Zone Rating has him at +14.3 — an average of 3.3 runs saved per 150 games. In total, Baseball-Reference.com values Stanton’s career to date at 21.2 wins above replacement, while Fangraphs has him at 19.5 WAR.
Unlike many players that sign prodigious contracts, however, Stanton is not only being compensated for what he has done, but for what he could do in his prime. That he’s yet to reach his prime is a frightening thought (particularly for Major League pitchers), and it’s reasonable to think that Stanton’s best years may not even have come yet. The Marlins will secure far more of Stanton’s prime than most $200MM+ extensions do, and the team is well-positioned to take on a significant long-term deal, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd highlighted recently.
The question, of course, is how Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria will adjust the team’s payroll going forward. The Marlins have operated on a payroll between $40MM and $60MM in four of the past five seasons, but such a sum won’t be feasible if and when Stanton’s annual commitment approaches or even exceeds $30MM per season. Stanton’s extension appears to be as much a statement to the city of Miami that the Marlins intend to compete as it does a commitment to a clearly elite player.
By adding a no-trade clause, the Marlins have broken a club policy. The team’s previous record contract was that of Jose Reyes, but Reyes was dealt to Toronto just one year after signing his $106MM contract, further fueling widespread skepticism and cynicism toward the organization anytime it signed or acquired a player. That trade also enraged Stanton, who candidly tweeted at the time that he was “pissed off.” However, Stanton will have full say over his future, and it can even be argued that the Reyes/Mark Buehrle/Josh Johnson blockbuster helped set the stage for this extension, as it alleviated long-term payroll commitments for the Marlins and brought in talented, controllable names such as Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Justin Nicolino and Jake Marisnick, the latter of whom was a key component in acquiring Jarred Cosart.
The Marlins will now field a long-term outfield mix of Stanton in right field, Marcell Ozuna in center field and Christian Yelich in left field — a supremely talented trio that should hit near the top or in the middle of the team’s batting order for the foreseeable future. Miami also boasts an impressive group of young pitchers, including ace Jose Fernandez (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery), Alvarez, Cosart, and Nathan Eovaldi (to say nothing of top prospects Andrew Heaney and, eventually Tyler Kolek). Additional options that are in or potentially ready to pitch in the Majors include Tom Koehler, Anthony DeSclafani and Brian Flynn. GM Dan Jennings and president of baseball operations Michael Hill will be able to use that pitching talent as they see fit to field a strong rotation and perhaps to acquire young hitters in trades.
Stepping back and looking at the big picture, Stanton’s $25MM average annual value certainly isn’t a record, but the length and guarantee on his commitment certainly are. Currently, Miguel Cabrera is owed $292MM over the life of his contract, although that was actually a $248MM extension on top of two guaranteed contract seasons. In terms of the most amount of “new money” ever guaranteed on a contract, Alex Rodriguez‘s 10-year, $275MM contract set the bar prior to this deal. Other examples of $200MM+ contracts include 10-year, $240MM contracts to both Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano, a 10-year, $225MM extension for Joey Votto and a nine-year, $214MM pact for Prince Fielder. (Clayton Kershaw signed a seven-year, $215MM extension with the Dodgers last offseason as well.)
Stanton will surpass all of those impressive names in setting a pair of records that don’t figure to be broken in the near future. Though he’s been a fixture among trade rumors for the better part of four years, Stanton will ultimately remain rooted in Miami sports for at least the next several years and within the history books long after his days as a Marlin are done.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported that Stanton and the Marlins were discussing a deal in the 10-year/$300MM range. Christopher Meola appears to have been the first to learn of the deal’s finalization, as he tweeted the exact terms on Thursday night.
Earlier today the Marlins officially announced their 13-year, $325MM extension with Giancarlo Stanton. Here’s the latest on the team following that historic agreement…
- The Marlins have made a two-year, $20MM offer to Adam LaRoche, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Recent reports have indicated that the Marlins are strongly interested in LaRoche, and Jackson’s report would back that up, though the $20MM may be a bit light to seal the deal. I recently pegged LaRoche for a two-year, $30MM deal, and he just wrapped up a two-year, $24MM pact. LaRoche is also said to be drawing interest from the Padres and White Sox.
- Also from Jackson, the Marlins have expressed interest in free agents Jason Hammel and Justin Masterson. Miami is said to covet a veteran arm to add to its rotation while ace Jose Fernandez rehabs from Tommy John surgery. James Shields‘ name has also been floated recently, though he’d obviously come at a much higher cost than either of the targets named by Jackson. The Fish are also interested in Wade Miley as a trade target, Jackson writes, but the D’Backs have very little pitching depth as it is, so moving one of their only reliable arms would seem a bit curious.
- The Marlins say their payroll will top $60MM in 2015, according to Jackson. With Stanton set to earn just $6.5MM in the first year of his extension, the Marlins currently have about $22MM committed to next year’s roster. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects an additional $20.3MM in arb raises, but the Fish should be able to add at least $20MM or so worth of salary this winter. A LaRoche signing, I would think, could lead the team to shop Garrett Jones, which would remove another $5MM from the currently projected commitment.
- Jackson’s column is rife with excellent quotes from Stanton’s press conference, including quotes from Stanton himself, from agent Joel Wolfe and from team president David Samson. Jackson hears that the Marlins’ first offer to Stanton came shortly after season’s end and was worth roughly $130MM over six years. However, Wolfe says that Stanton told him, “if it’s not a lifetime contract, there’s no point in talking.”
- The Marlins still won’t be giving out no-trade clauses to other players, according to Samson, but they had no problem giving one to Stanton. The opt-out clause was much trickier, as the Marlins were very resistant. The Marlins wanted the opt-out to be conditional based on team performance, only allowing Stanton to elect free agency if the team lost a certain number of games. Samson explained, however, that Stanton made it very clear he wasn’t interested in opting out to earn more money after that point of the contract, but rather to protect himself from being part of a losing culture. “Once we believed the opt-out clause would be used as a shield and not a sword, we were OK with it,” said Samson. Stanton also comfortable with the idea of earning less money up front in the deal to surround him with better players. A new TV deal could be in the offing for the Marlins soon, which would of course allow them a better payroll.
- Also of note from Jackson is that owner Jeffrey Loria has no intentions of selling the team. Though Samson says many people place calls with interest in buying, Loria is “in it for the long run because he loves it.”
- Shifting away from Jackson’s must-read piece — the highlights here are but a fraction of the interesting points within — former MLBTR scribe Cork Gaines writes in a piece for Business Insider that the Stanton extension can be used as leverage in negotiating a new TV deal. Miami currently has the worst local TV deal in all of baseball, paying them $13-18MM annually (the Dodgers’ deal, in contrast, pays them $334MM per year, Gaines writes). Gaines notes that having a legitimate superstar on the team will increase the value of the new TV deal. Gaines speculates that negotiations could begin in 2016 as there appears to be some kind of opt-out on the current contract, which runs through 2020. Indeed, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that they are aiming for a new TV deal to begin in 2017 — which, perhaps not coincidentally, aligns with the first significant spike in Stanton’s salary.
- In a full column, Rosenthal points out that the Rangers, Tigers and Angels each spent significant money prior to signing their new TV deals so they had a more attractive product in place for negotiations. While history has the skeptics gearing up for a fire sale in the near future, Rosenthal opines that this doesn’t look like a club that’s merely going to tear it all down again in two years.
Here are the latest minor moves from around the game:
- The Marlins have agreed to a minor league deal with infielder Reid Brignac, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Brignac, a former top prospect, hit .222/.300/.346 in 91 PA for the Phillies this season and is a lifetime .222/.266/.314 hitter in 905 PA. The 28-year-old has experience at shortstop, second base, third base and has made brief cameos in the outfield.
- Utility infielder Doug Bernier has re-signed with the Twins, per Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The 34-year-old has seen minimal big league time with Minnesota over the last two years, and has put up strong numbers for the team’s Triple-A affiliate.
- The switch-pitching Pat Venditte has inked a minor league deal to join the Athletics, per a tweet from his agent, Marc Kligman. While it is tempting to write him off as a novelty, Venditte owns a career 3.25 ERA against Triple-A competition and a 3.09 mark at the Double-A level, with solid K:BB numbers to boot.
- The Orioles have re-signed infielder Michael Almanzar and lefty Chris Jones while adding utility option Derrik Gibson as well, all on minor league pacts, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). Almanzar, 23, bounced between the O’s and Red Sox last year, being taken in the Rule 5 draft, returned to Boston, and then dealt back to Baltimore.
- Baltimore went on to announce those signings and a series of others, including southpaws Frank Gailey and Ronan Pacheco and righties Tim Gustafson, Kenn Kasparek, and Mikey O’Brien. None of those hurlers has reached the MLB level yet in their careers.
- The Angels have inked left-hander Atahualpa Severino to a minor league pact, according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Mike DiGiovanna. Severino, 30, spent last year at Triple-A for the Braves. He has yet to make it back to the bigs since a brief cameo with the Nationals back in 2011.
- Right-hander John Ely has agreed to a minor league deal with the Brewers, according to the team’s player development Twitter account. The 28-year-old saw sporadic playing time with the Dodgers over the 2010-12 time frame, missed virtually all of 2013, and re-emerged as a reliever last year in the Red Sox organization. He threw to a 3.04 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9.
There’s already been some Pablo Sandoval chatter today, with the Red Sox reportedly making an offer and agent Gustavo Vasquez set to chat with the Giants via phone tonight. Vasquez and Sandoval are wrapping up a visit to Boston today, and there’s plenty more on the Kung Fu Panda…
- The Blue Jays met with Sandoval’s camp at last week’s GM Meetings, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. While the meeting is said to have gone well, no offer has been made at this point.
- However, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (via Twitter) that while there’s been no offer to this point, within the next 24 hours, the Blue Jays are indeed expected to make a formal offer to Sandoval. That report adds a third seemingly serious club to the mix. Of course, it’s worth remembering that the Jays do have a team policy against contracts of more than five years, and Sandoval is said to be seeking a six-year deal north of $100MM.
- Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com heard from a source that emphatically denied a rumor out of San Francisco that said the Giants were “out” on Sandoval at this point. The Giants are still “very much” in play for Sandoval, McAdam reports, though he does note that it’s unclear how lengthy of a contract the team is willing to issue.
- Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle shoots down another portion of the apparently erroneous report to which McAdam referred, noting that Sandoval never asked for a seven-year deal from the Giants, who are still definitely in the mix (Twitter link).
- ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that even if the Giants don’t end up securing Sandoval, they’ll be able to walk away from the situation knowing they made a very strong, very legitimate effort.
- WEEI.com’s Alex Speier examines why it is the Red Sox prefer Sandoval to Hanley Ramirez, despite the fact that Sandoval is seeking a $100MM+ contract and comes with a significantly lesser offensive track record. Speier lists age, defense, durability and also makeup, which he notes is a concern for the Sox regarding Hanley. While Sandoval’s age and defense are larger factors, his excellent clubhouse reputation is an asset as well.
- The Red Sox and Giants remain the main players, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but the Padres, White Sox and Blue Jays are all still in the mix. Heyman notes that while the Marlins have been a speculative fit in recent months, there’s been no contact from Miami at this point.