Miguel Olivo Rumors
The Dodgers have outfielder Johnny Damon on their radar, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. They're also in contact with "virtually every free agent catcher," including Jason Varitek, Rod Barajas, A.J. Pierzynski, and Miguel Olivo. They're trying to hammer out a deal with Russell Martin prior to Thursday's non-tender deadline; the Dodgers will not risk going to arbitration with him.
Martin is at least a week away from running and maybe six weeks away from baseball activities, says Rosenthal. Martin is recovering from an August hip fracture; his agent Matt Colleran gave MLBTR an update last week. Martin would still be at $4MM if the Dodgers cut his salary by the maximum, something Colleran would presumably reject anyway.
As Rosenthal notes, Damon might be an awkward fit for the Dodgers in left field since he logged fewer than 300 outfield innings in 2010. On the other hand, the Dodgers put up with Manny Ramirez in left field for over 1,100 innings across the 2009-10 seasons.
Assuming you consider Victor Martinez a part-time catcher, part-time first baseman, and part-time designated hitter, John Buck was the best free agent catcher available this offseason. He hit .281/.314/.489 with 20 homers for the Blue Jays last year, but he's since signed a hefty three-year deal with the Marlins. As always, the number of teams looking for a quality backstop far exceed the number that are actually available, but there's still a few out there.
Miguel Olivo is a lock for double-digit homers year in and year out, and the same can be said for Rod Barajas. Both have thrown out a high percentage of would-be base stealers historically. Yorvit Torrealba has a .346 OBP over the last two years, a mark just eight other catchers can top. Jason Varitek hit for a ton of power (.473 SLG) in limited action this year. Then there's A.J. Pierzynski. He's started no fewer than 124 games behind the plate in five of the last six years, and his .284 AVG since 2008 can be topped by only three other catchers.
The Dodgers, Rangers, and Padres are known to be seeking help behind the plate, and it's safe to assume that the Mariners and Red Sox will hunt for upgrades as well. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Yankees, Rockies, Mets, or Orioles tried to improve their backup catcher situation either.
Who is the best catcher still available on the free agent market?
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says the organization can afford to be more patient than last offseason, since his team's needs are less pressing than they were a year ago. Here's the latest on the Blue Jays, from MLB.com beat reporter Gregor Chisholm:
- Anthopoulos doesn’t know whether Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg and Miguel Olivo will accept arbitration, but he hopes to have the players back in Toronto for the 2011 season. Asked to predict the players’ decisions, Anthopoulos guessed they will decline the team’s offers.
- The club thought Adam Lind played respectably good defense at first base, but has yet to determine the 27-year-old’s position for 2011.
- The Blue Jays are open to acquiring a player with “baggage” under the right circumstances. "It depends, how significant is it? Would it affect other players?” Anthopoulos asked. “If it's the right player, and the right fit, the right talent, at the right price, then you have to be open to it."
- That's good news for fans hoping to see Manny Ramirez in Toronto. ESPN.com's Buster Olney can't envision any team guaranteeing Ramirez $5MM and expects the slugger to sign an incentive-laden deal.
10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Scott Downs (A) Jason Frasor (A) Kevin Gregg (B) Miguel Olivo (B), according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisolm (on Twitter).
- The Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano (A), Jesse Crain (B) and Orlando Hudson (B) and declined to offer arbitration to Matt Guerrier (A), Brian Fuentes (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Rays offered arbitration to Grant Balfour (A), Carl Crawford (A), Rafael Soriano (A), Randy Choate (B), Brad Hawpe (B) and Chad Qualls (B), according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. They did not offer Dan Wheeler (A) or Carlos Pena (B) arbitration. It seems possible that Hawpe has agreed in advance to turn down arbitration.
- The Orioles won't offer arbitration to Koji Uehara (B) or Kevin Millwood (B), according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links).
- The Angels declined to offer Hideki Matsui (B) arbitration, the team announced.
- The Rangers offered arbitration to Cliff Lee (A) and Frank Francisco (A), but not to Vladimir Guerrero (A) and Bengie Molina (A), according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- The Yankees will offer arbitration to Javier Vazquez (B), but not to any of their other free agents, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday on Twitter. Andy Pettitte (A), Derek Jeter (A), Mariano Rivera (A), Lance Berkman (B) and Kerry Wood (B) were the team's other ranked free agents. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the Yankees would offer Vazquez arbitration and noted that the right-hander has agreed to reject the offer, a common gentleman's agreement that can take place with Type B free agents. Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger first reported on Twitter that the Yankees would not offer Jeter arbitration.
- The Red Sox offered arbitration to Adrian Beltre (A), Victor Martinez (A) and Felipe Lopez (B), but not to Mike Lowell (B) or Jason Varitek (B), according to the team.
- The White Sox offered arbitration to Paul Konerko (A) and J.J. Putz (B), but not to A.J. Pierzynski (A) or Manny Ramirez (A) according to the team (on Twitter).
- As expected, the Tigers announced that they will not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, including Scott Boras clients Magglio Ordonez (A), Johnny Damon (B), and Gerald Laird (B).
The Blue Jays pulled off a nice little move when they acquired Miguel Olivo from the Rockies 17 days ago, essentially swapping a player to be named later or cash for a supplemental first round draft pick. Toronto declined Olivo's $2.5MM option, so add the $500K buyout to the bounty for the draft pick, but more importantly it made Olivo a free agent. Let's review the backstop's stock...
- Olivo is a proven power threat, hitting no fewer than a dozen homers every year since 2006 and averaging 16 per season during that span. Brian McCann is the only other backstop with double digit homers in each of those years (min. 60% of games behind the plate).
- He's adept at stopping the running game, throwing out 124 of 343 attempted basestealers (36.2%) over the last five seasons.
- Despite the rigors of catching, Olivo has been on the disabled list just once in his career; he missed 15 days when he had kidney stones removed during the summer of 2004. Other than various day-to-day ailments associated with the position, he's been perfectly healthy.
- He's just a Type-B free agent, so it won't cost a draft pick to sign him.
- Olivo will turn 33 next July, an age when catchers can start to turn into pumpkins.
- Power is the only thing to like about his offensive game. He doesn't hit for average (.246 career) or draw walks (just 108 unintentional walks in over 3,000 career plate appearances), resulting in paltry on-base percentages (.283 career).
- As good as he is at throwing out base runners, Olivo has led the league in passed balls in four of the last five seasons.
As usual, the number of teams looking for a catcher this winter far exceeds the number of quality catchers available. The Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Rangers, Mariners, Dodgers, Padres, and others could all be in the market for a new backstop, so Olivo should have his pick of offers. He's not likely to match John Buck's three-year, $18MM contract given his age, but Olivo's one of the best free agent catchers and the open market should yield a two-year contract.
The latest on both teams in the Big Apple...
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that Bob Melvin should be the Mets next manager because he "would be a calming influence in the New York storm."
- The Mets fired scouting director Rudy Terrasas according to SI.com's Jon Heyman (Twitter link). This isn't terribly surprising, new GM Sandy Alderson presumably wants his own guy in that position. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reviews the five drafts that Terrasas oversaw and says he could remain with the team in another capacity (via Twitter).
- Bob Klapisch of The Bergen Record tweets that the rest of the Mets' front office is taking the day off as Alderson deals with his father's passing. Klapisch's source says that everyone will "compare notes" tomorrow in choosing the team's next manager.
- Brian Costello of The New York Post says that it's possible Derek Jeter's camp will not respond to the Yankees' recent three-year, $45MM contract offer, forcing the team to "come up with a new plan."
- Chad Jennings of The Journal News looks at three players connected to the Yankees this offseason (Bill Hall, Justin Upton, and Miguel Olivo) and says he isn't sold on any of them being a legitimate fit.
Miguel Olivo is drawing "varying levels of interest" from several clubs, including the Rangers, White Sox, and Blue Jays, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi adds that the Red Sox could also be interested if Victor Martinez signs elsewhere.
Olivo is seeking a two-year contract, so it appears likely that he would turn down an arbitration offer from the Jays, who acquired him from the Rockies earlier this month. In that case, perhaps Toronto's interest would dwindle, since they'd earn a supplemental pick if Olivo signed with another team.
Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post has the latest Rockies buzz...
- The Rockies are interested in Javier Vazquez. Vazquez joins Jake Westbrook, Jon Garland, and Hiroki Kuroda as pitchers of interest for the team in case they are unable to re-sign Jorge de la Rosa.
- GM Dan O'Dowd described the team's plans at catcher as "a fluid situation," but added, "We are absolutely prepared to give Chris [Iannetta] every opportunity to get over the hump." Re-signing Miguel Olivo hasn't been ruled out, but it sounds like the Rockies will be giving less playing time to Iannetta's catching partner in 2011.
- Notable minor league free agents, from Baseball America's Matt Eddy: Luis Ayala, Brad Eldred, and Kaz Matsui.
Kevin Baxter and Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times bring us the latest from Tinseltown...
- Pitching is the number one item on the Dodgers' shopping list this offseason. "Pitching is a priority — both starters and relievers," said GM Ned Colletti. "We're open-minded to both left-handers and right-handers."
- Colletti declined to give an exact number, but he promised that payroll would rise from the $95MM or so they spent in 2010.
- Ted Lilly might end up being the Dodgers' biggest pickup. They aren't likely to pursue Cliff Lee, and could instead turn to Carl Pavano, Javier Vazquez, and Jake Westbrook. Jon Garland, Hiroki Kuroda, and Vicente Padilla might also become options if their prices drop as the offseason progresses.
- Colletti also wants to add a left fielder, "full time or platoon," plus figure out his bench and catching situation. Russell Martin is a non-tender candidate, but they could look at Miguel Olivo.
- There is nothing to indicate that the Dodgers will make a run at either Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth.
- "We're going to be active. Whether it's via free agency or trades," said Angels GM Tony Reagins. "We're going to look at the opportunities and be aggressive when the opportunity presents itself."
- Owner Arte Moreno is expected to approve a 10% payroll increase, pushing it to about $135MM. The team already has close to $93MM committed to 2011 contracts, not including the arbitration eligible Jered Weaver, Howie Kendrick, and Erick Aybar.
- The Times' scribes call Werth and Adrian Beltre "more economical Plan B options" to Crawford, relatively speaking of course. Both Werth and Beltre are Scott Boras clients however, and the Angels still have a bad taste in their mouths from the Mark Teixeira negotiations two winters ago.
- Rafael Soriano might be an option after Fernando Rodney's terrible finish (6.08 ERA after Sept. 1st).
The Heat and the Dolphins may be dominating the headlines in Miami at this time of year, but there's some news out of the Marlins camp as well.
- If Miguel Olivo's option is declined by Colorado, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro thinks Olivo could be a good fit behind the plate for the Marlins. We know the Fish are looking for a catcher this winter, and Olivo is a known quantity who played for the club in 2006 and 2007.
- Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com thinks that by extending Edwin Rodriguez's contract just through 2011, the team is "only treading water until they move into their new ballpark in 2012."
- The Marlins are focusing on an extension for Dan Uggla before they return to negotiations with Ricky Nolasco on a long-term deal, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
- Larry Beinfest tells Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post that relief pitching will be a priority for Florida in the offseason. “In terms of addressing the bullpen, we’ve kind of opened up ourselves to every avenue, whether it be free agency, keeping one of our own free agents or looking elsewhere. We are cultivating trades,” Beinfest said.
- Beinfest also tells Capozzi that it's "possible" the Marlins will look into bringing back free agents Will Ohman, Jorge Sosa and Chad Tracy.