Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Rumors
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark doesn't expect the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be reopened before its 2016 expiration to address issues with the qualifying offer system, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. "It’s very difficult to open up a CBA," said Clark. "Suffice it to say, if there are issues during the course of any agreement, we continue to have discussions that may not require the CBA be to opened up, making sure that whatever the concerns are, whatever the issues are, and if they can be discussed in some more formal fashion, so be it, but more often than not, come 2016 when we have an opportunity to sit down is when we’ll do so." Last night, Aaron Steen asked MLBTR readers about the qualifying offer and nearly 47% want to tweak the QO while 25% want to eliminate it entirely.
In National League news and notes on Oscar Sunday:
- With the ink barely dry on Homer Bailey's six-year, $105MM contract extension, the Reds will be in the same situation with starters Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Johnny Cueto next year. Owner Bob Castellini told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay the team wants to retain all three. "We’re going to try to sign all these guys," Castellini said. "Whether we can or not, I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball."
- Castellini also told Fay he is not pleased with the media's coverage of the Reds' offseason because it has had an adverse affect on the team's revenues. "That season-ticket number is the most important number we can generate," said Castellini. "We knew we wanted to sign Homer. We knew we were going to make some other commitments. It’s not that we didn’t look. It gets written in such a way – 'Well, the Reds aren’t doing anything' – that really does affect people buying season tickets." Castellini provided Fay with details of the club's revenue generated through ticket sales, sponsorships, and the national TV contract adding neither he nor any of the other principal owners or investors have ever taken money out of the franchise.
- Last month, the Braves gave Jason Heyward a two-year, $13.3MM contract. In two years, the perfect storm of baseball's economics, Heyward's age, and actions taken by the Braves will set the 24-year-old up for a huge payday on a likely barren free agent market, according to Mike Petriello of ESPN.com in an Insider-only piece (subscription required).
- With mixed reviews to date, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez made his Spring Training debut yesterday. Phillies GM Ruban Amaro Jr. was upbeat about what he saw, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. "He probably threw better with his stuff as far as his velocity and breaking ball since he's been in camp," Amaro said. "I was encouraged that his stuff was better than it had been in his sides. And hopefully it will continue to progress in a positive way." Pitching coach Bob McClure added (as quoted by Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Inquirer), "I saw a very competitive (guy), and that is what I was really hoping for. And he might be one of those guys that’s not the best practice player, but you put him in a game and he competes." Reports surfaced last week Gonzalez could open the season in the minors.
- Solid pitching will be key to any improvement the Rockies hope to make this season. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick focuses on young starters Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler while the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck examines the Rockies' adherence to pitch counts to protect their starting rotation and the corresponding reliance on their bullpen, which could be called upon to record 10 or 11 outs every game.
Mike Puma of the New York Post wrote last night that Ike Davis concealed an oblique injury for much of the season prior to Aug. 31, when it worsened and sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Davis took exception to the story and addressed Puma and other reporters today, writes ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin. He quotes the first baseman: "You made it look like an excuse. It’s an excuse. It shouldn’t have been a story anyway. ... I sucked last year because I sucked. It’s not because I had an injury. You always have injuries. And now it just looks bad."
More from the NL East...
- Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has indicated that the team is likely to pick up GM Sandy Alderson's option for the 2015 season, writes Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Alderson's contract expires after the season, and while some have mentioned his name as a possible replacement for retiring commissioner Bud Selig, David Wright thinks Alderson wants to stay with the Mets and complete the rebuild he's begun since taking over as GM. Said Wright: "Everybody is kind of concerned with how they are remembered. ... he wants to be remembered for taking an organization that was struggling and slowly building it up with the system with some good trades and free-agent signings."
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines the psychology behind long-term deals for young players, noting that some believe extensions can relieve pressure, while others feel the extensions provide extra pressure, as players feel they must live up to that contract. O'Brien spoke with each of the five players the Braves have signed to multi-year deals in the past three weeks and got their takes on their new contracts.
- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond spoke with Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com and reflected on the decade he's spent with the organization. Desmond is appreciative of GM Mike Rizzo for declining trade offers when he was struggling and also appreciative of managers Davey Johnson and Jim Riggleman for playing him through those struggles.
- Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will make his debut for the Phillies on Thursday this week, giving the club a chance to evaluate the pitcher they signed for $12MM last August, writes CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. Salisbury writes that Gonzalez has merely looked "so-so" to this point and could end up in the minors to open the season if he doesn't win the fifth starter's job.
Ben Wetzler, the fifth-round pick of the Phillies who elected to return to Oregon State rather than sign with the club, has been suspended for 11 games (one-fifth of his senior season). According to the NCAA press release announcing the suspension, the "student-athlete" Wetzler violated the NCAA's rules when he "sought help from an agent who attended meetings where Wetzler negotiated contract terms with the team." A report yesterday indicated that the Phillies reported Wetzler to the NCAA after he failed to sign with the club, even though Wetzler utilized an advisor (so far as has been reported) in the same manner as virtually all players weighing their first baseball contract against a college education. Oregon State official Steve Clark said today that "it is our understanding the Phillies reported it," tweets Aaron Fitt of Baseball America. The initial reaction around the game has suggested that the Phillies may face blowback from agents as they work to sign amateur talent in the future.
In other news out of Philadelphia ...
- Initial reviews on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez have been middling, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Though the Cuban hurler ultimately signed for just three years and $12MM, he had originally agreed to a $48MM guarantee before the deal was reduced when issues arose with his physical. Salisbury writes that the team has not been impressed with Gonzalez, who has shown underwhelming stuff and "spotty" control. (David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News had more details on Gonzalez's struggles.) When asked for his reaction, manager Ryne Sandberg said that Gonzalez was "still a litle bit of a mystery" and explained that the club would be "using a lot of patience with him."
- Among the players garnering more favorable reviews to date is top third base prospect Maikel Franco, reports Salisbury. Sandberg offered glowing praise for his bat, and said that the 21-year-old looked strong in the field early on as well. Though Salisbury says that it remains unlikel that Franco breaks camp with the big club, Sandberg maintains that he will not hand the job to Cody Asche, who saw his first 50 MLB games last seasons.
- Reliever Mike Adams, who is set to earn a $7MM salary this season, has finally progressed to throwing on flat ground after undergoing shoulder surgery last summer. As Paul Hagen of MLB.com reports, the 35-year-old is expected to throw off of the mound on Thursday. With uncertainty still lingering over the bullpen, the club is surely hopeful that Adams can regain his form as a dependable, sometimes-dominant setup man.
The Braves have announced (via Twitter) that Hall of Famer Hank Aaron suffered a fall on the ice and underwent partial hip replacement surgery. The surgery was successful, and he should recover and return to his usual activities within two months. Here are a few notes from around the National League.
- The Mets added Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young this offseason, but those moves mostly simply replaced money that had come off their payroll, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes. Notably, Johan Santana (who made $25.5MM last year and had a $5.5MM buyout for 2014) is gone, as are John Buck ($6.5MM), Frank Francisco ($6.5MM) and Shaun Marcum ($4MM).
- The Mets were the only team to offer Colon a two-year deal this offseason, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets. Colon, 40, signed for two years and $20MM.
- The Phillies still aren't sure what they have in Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Associated Press reports. The Cuban pitcher signed for $12MM in August, an amount that was drastically reduced from $48MM after the Phillies became concerned about Gonzalez's elbow. The Phillies watched Gonzalez pitch as spring training opened on Thursday. "He shows deception with his delivery, so that's something," says manager Ryne Sandberg. "I'll be anxious to see how he continues to look as he continues to build arm strength."
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin is excited about his team's pitching depth, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel. One benefit of the Matt Garza deal is that it allows other pitchers more time to develop, Melvin notes.
There isn't much optimism about the Phillies, but their roster has the talent to contend if it can stay healthy, Bob Ford of the Inquirer writes. Their season will turn on Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, all core players in their thirties. "I don't believe all of a sudden that these guys are so old that they've lost all of their bat speed, their quickness, and their abilities," says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. Here's more on the NL East.
- Amaro will be the Phillies employee who faces the heaviest scrutiny this spring, but after that is Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, writes Matt Gelb of the Inquirer. "If I knew more what Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was, I would feel better about it," says Amaro, referring to the Phillies' starting pitching. "We think he has the potential to be that guy. It's not a slam dunk. We haven't seen him pitch. In some ways, we have to get lucky on that one." Gonzalez and the Phillies initially agreed on a deal worth a minimum of $48MM, but the team ended up signing him for $12MM instead after concerns about Gonzalez's elbow scuttled the original deal.
- The Braves' signings of Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward to extensions likely mean less money on hand to sign Craig Kimbrel. That might be justified given the decline in Kimbrel's deceptiveness last season, Alec Dopp of BaseballAnalytics.org writes. While Kimbrel was still dominant in 2013, his K:BB ratio took a big step backward, and batters made significantly more contact against him. His release point varied more in 2013, Dopp argues, which made it easier for batters to identify his pitches.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman may be forced to play the bad guy role again as the club considers how they'll address Derek Jeter given the captain's age and durability issues, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. Three scouts and three executives polled by Harper each said they believe Cashman will acquire an everyday shortstop this offseason, as they don't believe Jeter will be able to handle the position and the Yankees don't have acceptable alternatives. "He’ll be a 40-year old shortstop who already had limited range," one executive said, noting Jeter's injured ankle. "If you’re the GM, it’s your responsibility to make the tough decision for the good of the ballclub.” Here's more notes from around the majors' eastern divisions...
- The majority of the six baseball people who Harper spoke with suggested shortstop Stephen Drew as a potential free agent acquisition for the Yankees. While Drew has posted a solid .249/.331/.436 line this season and would be a good fit for Yankee Stadium, signing with the Yanks would place him in a delicate situation. "Would Drew — or anyone else — want to sign on as the guy pushing an unwilling Jeter into a role where he would DH mostly and play short only occasionally?" Harper asks.
- The Mets covet the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez, and one executive familiar with the Rockies' thinking tells Harper they're likely to listen to offers for the star outfielder. However, a trade appears unlikely, as the Rockies want young position players and aren't interested in what the Mets can offer in that regard. Colorado may also consider offers for Troy Tulowitzki, Harper says.
- CC Sabathia's 4.90 ERA would be the second-worst mark in Yankees history by a pitcher to surpass the 200 inning threshold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. “I have always been bend-but-don’t-break, and I have broken a lot this year,” Sabathia commented. Sherman says Sabathia has adjusted his delivery in order to better stay on top of the ball so that his fastball does not cut toward the middle of the plate.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson is on track to become the first GM in club history to post increasing loss totals in each of his first three seasons from the team he inherited, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. The team clinched its fifth consecutive losing season in dropping today's game with the Marlins.
- The Phillies have no plans for recent Cuban acquisition Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to pitch competitively this season, Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer says. The team sees Gonzalez sliding into the third slot of their 2014 rotation behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. "We just want to see where he's at," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "We want to get him assimilated into our organization and be ready to go for spring training."
- The Red Sox have yet to broach the subject of Jon Lester's next contract, GM Ben Cherington revealed in an interview with WEEI.com. "We just feel like those issues are better left for after we’re done playing, which hopefully is several weeks from now," Cherington said. We recently heard that the Sox are "all but certain" to pick up their $13MM option on Lester for next year.
More than a month after the Phillies reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the team has officially announced that they have signed him to a drastically reduced three-year, $12MM contract with a vesting option for a fourth season.
Gonzalez's contract covers the 2014-16 seasons and also contains an undisclosed signing bonus and performance incentives. He has been placed directly on the 40-man roster, with John Lannan being transferred to the 60-day disabled list to clear a space. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. offered the following statement regarding the signing:
“We are very pleased to have come to an agreement with Miguel. He is someone our scouts have followed for several years and in our most recent observations of him he showed tremendous stuff. We are hopeful he will pitch out of our starting rotation for 2014 and beyond.”
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that the initial contract broke down due to concerns regarding Gonzalez's right elbow. The Phillies have now secured Gonzalez at a bargain rate compared to where the initial bidding began. A few weeks after that initial report, rumors began to circulate that the agreement was in jeopardy. Passan's tweet confirms what was speculated in those reports -- elbow problems did indeed impact negotiations. Elbow troubles aren't exactly new for Gonzalez, as he'd previously had surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.
Gonzalez drew heavy interest from a number of big league teams, but the Red Sox and Dodgers were said to have been two of the other teams very interested in signing him. Ben Badler of Baseball America offered a scouting report on Gonzalez prior to his initial agreement (subscription required), noting that he features a fastball, splitter, changeup and curveball in his four-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s, and his splitter and changeup are slightly above-average pitches, according to Badler. Badler also notes that Gonzalez's curve is his weakest offering. Badler adds that while some scouts see him as a No. 3 starter, others see him as a middle reliever because they don't believe his stuff will hold up when facing MLB hitters multiple times in an outing.
With Gonzalez in the fold, the Phillies will now presumably be looking at a top three of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Gonzalez for the foreseeable future, with other candidates such as Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin and Tyler Cloyd as candidates for the remaining spots. Kyle Kendrick projects as their fourth starter in 2014 but is a free agent after that year.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports released his latest Full Count video today. Let's take a look:
- Discussing the Phillies' ongoing negotiations with Cuban righty Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Rosenthal notes that that delays of this kind typically develop after a team finds a problem with a player's physical. If there is cause for concern, the Phillies could incorporate protective language into the contract or sign Gonzalez to a smaller deal than the six-year, $48MM pact that was reported last month.
- Recent Red Sox acquisition Jake Peavy told Rosenthal that he was prepared to move money around in his contract to facilitate a trade from the White Sox to the Cardinals, or any other team that asked him to do so. However, the Cardinals never made an offer for Peavy.
- Rival executives suggest to Rosenthal that the Nationals' waiver claim of David DeJesus may have been a mistake. The quality of prospect that the Nats obtain from the Rays for DeJesus could hint at the impetus behind the deal, Rosenthal says.
- The Braves were the team that claimed Kyle Lohse after the Brewers placed him on waivers earlier this month, and hoped to use him as a replacement for the injured Tim Hudson. However, the Brewers opted not to try to work out a deal. They may attempt to move him in the offseason, however, as the two years and $22MM remaining on his deal could be attractive in the weak free agent market.
The Pirates' failure to sign Mark Appel with the eighth overall selection in the 2012 draft created a ripple effect where the Mets passed on free agent Michael Bourn and eventually gave playing time to rookie Juan Lagares, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. As compensation for not coming to terms with Appel, the Pirates were awarded the ninth overall pick in this past June's draft, knocking the Mets' choice (11th) out of the protected Top Ten. This was an important considersation for the Mets in deciding to not bid on Bourn, explains Sherman, who cites this as a pefect example of "sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make." Here's news from other NL teams who aren't neccessarily going to follow that old adage:
- Ex-Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio (via Bowden on Twitter) he wants to continue managing and is open to all opportunities, including the Nationals.
- In that same interview (also from a Bowden tweet), Manuel says the Phillies' plan is to "reload," not "rebuild," needing regular players to fill holes, including adding a starter, and redoing the bullpen.
- Speaking of the Phillies, little has changed with the radio silence regarding their agreement with Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, who reported earlier this month the two sides have hit a snag in finalizing their six-year, $48MM deal.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, they will have a better idea at the end of today when Brian Wilson will be activated. GM Ned Colletti was a guest of Bowden and Duquette on MLB Network Radio and said the call should be made in "another day or two" (as quoted by Gurnick's colleague, Andrew Simon). Colletti also explained he signed Wilson because he only cost money, not prospects, and there's a familiarity with him from his days as the Giants' closer. "We think it's a very low-risk, high-reward situation," said Colletti. "He wanted to be here. He has a home in L.A. Rivalry and all that aside -- we all know what that's all about -- he wanted to restart his career and we're going to give him that opportunity here in the near future."
- Four years and $60MM is the guess as to the asking price of Reds centerfielder Shin-Soo Choo in free agency this winter, tweets the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. Choo placed fifth in MLBTR's most recent 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
- The Pirates have scouted Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu in three recent international tournaments and will be on hand for his expected September showcase, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We like him," GM Neal Huntington said. "It will be interesting to see where the bidding goes." That bidding could exceed $60MM.
Last month, the Phillies and Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez reportedly reached an agreement on a six-year, $48MM contract that contained an $11MM option for a seventh season. However, Philadelphia has yet to announce that a deal has been finalized, and MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes that the deal may not end up going through at all.
The two sides have "hit a snag" in recent weeks, writes Zolecki, which would explain the silence from the Phillies (a previous report had indicated they were simply waiting for Gonzalez to get visa approval before making an announcement). GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would not comment on the situation when asked by Zolecki prior to last night's game against the Cubs.
After the agreement was announced, reports surfaced that some clubs had been wary of problems in Gonzalez's elbow. Zolecki reports that Gonzalez has had bone spurs removed within the past two years but is said to have recovered from that procedure. If the agreement were to fall through, it would drastically change the Phillies' outlook for 2014 and perhaps even 2013, as he was expected to be in the Majors next season and possibly even this year.
The Phillies have appeared to be more active on the international market than in recent years between the Gonzalez agreement and their signing of German outfield prospect Julsan Kamara. They are also said to be the favorites to sign Dominican third baseman Luis Encarnacion this Friday when he turns 16. Baseball America ranked Encarnacion as the No. 4 international free agent in this year's class, while MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez ranked him 12th.