Mike Hampton Rumors

Mike Hampton Retires

Veteran left-hander Mike Hampton has informed the Diamondbacks that he has decided to retire, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com. He originally told GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson that he was leaning that way on Thursday.

"It just wasn't there," said Hampton. "In fairness to [The Diamondbacks] and fairness to myself I'm just done. It's not a decision that's easy to make. It's not one you make overnight. It had been two weeks that different thoughts have been creeping in my head. Then all of the sudden I felt, I think this is going to be it." 

Hampton, 38, made a brief comeback with Arizona late last season, throwing 4 1/3 innings across ten appearances. He was in camp with them this year after signing a minor league deal in December. 

Although the latter half of his career was filled with injury and ineffectiveness, Hampton was one of the game's best starters in the late-1990's, pitching to a 3.35 ERA in 184 starts with the Astros and Mets from 1995 through 2000. He pitched poorly for two years with the Rockies after signing an eight-year, $123.8MM contract that was then the largest deal in baseball history. Hampton finished his career out with the Braves, Astros, and D'Backs, and owns a 4.09 ERA in 2268 1/3 career innings.

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Diamondbacks Re-Sign Mike Hampton

Lefty Mike Hampton is returning to the Diamondbacks on a minor league deal, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  He'll compete for a bullpen job. 

Hampton, a 38-year-old former Cy Young runner-up, signed with Arizona in August after coming back from rotator cuff surgery.  He made four appearances at Triple-A and another ten for the D'Backs.

Diamondbacks Notes: Hampton, Lee, Crain

6:04pm: GM Kevin Towers says he has made Mike Hampton an offer, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).

2:59pm: The D'Backs are "pushing hard" to sign Putz to a two-year deal with a club option for 2013, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.

2:36pm: GM Kevin Towers thinks he'll acquire a closer this week, tweets Yahoo's Steve HensonESPN's Buster Olney tweets that "good progress" is being made with Putz on that front.

11:28am: The Diamondbacks have a vacancy at first base, and they're still looking to add a closer despite acquiring David Hernandez.  The latest:

Odds & Ends: Hampton, Prince, Berkman, Miner

Links on an intensely busy Monday for the Rockies

Odds & Ends: Lee, Blue Jays, Mets, Hampton

Here are the rest of the day's links on the 11th anniversary of the Shawn GreenRaul Mondesi trade…

  • Darek Braunecker, the agent for Cliff Lee, told the AP (on CBS Sports) that his client is “clearly the best player on the free-agent market.” Hard to argue with that one.
  • If the A's reach a deal with Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma, they'll have a surplus of arms and a number of suitors for them, so Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea wouldn't be surprised if Oakland flips a starter for some offense this offseason. 
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson will interview DeMarlo Hale, Clint Hurdle and Don Wakamatsu for the team's managerial opening according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter).
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears that the Mets will also consider internal candidates Tim Teufel and Ken Oberkfell.
  • The Blue Jays announced that Wakamatsu will serve as the team's bench coach assuming the Mets don't hire him to be their next manager. Joining Wakamatsu on John Farrell's staff: former AL Cy Young Award winner Pat Hentgen.
  • Derrek Lee, who had surgery on a ligament in his right thumb, told Yahoo's Tim Brown that he'd like to sign with a team that has a good chance of reaching the playoffs.
  • The Pirates agreed to a minor league deal with left-handed reliever Justin Thomas, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.
  • Mike Hampton, who pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings with Arizona last year, wants to pitch again and is drawing interest, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Diamondbacks Sign Mike Hampton

The Diamondbacks have signed Mike Hampton to a minor-league contract, according to a team press release.  Hampton will be assigned to Arizona's Triple-A franchise in Reno.

When last we heard from Hampton, he was set to miss the entire 2010 season after undergoing surgery on his left rotator cuff.  It was just the latest in a series of health setbacks for Hampton, who made just 25 total starts between 2005 and 2008 due to a variety of injuries, including Tommy John surgery.  Hampton is a two-time All-Star, but the southpaw is best known for the eight-year, $121MM deal he signed with Colorado before the 2001 season that is often included in "worst contract ever" discussions.

According to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (Twitter link), Hampton will start for Reno on Monday but pitch just the first inning, as Hampton is being converted to relief pitching.  Hampton threw a 60-pitch bullpen session for the Snakes on Wednesday and D'Backs GM Jerry Dipoto told Magruder that Hampton will be a "positive influence" on his younger teammates (both Twitter links).

Largest Contracts By Position

We've already looked at the largest contracts by service time, so now let's break it down by position…

Joe Mauer: Eight years, $184MM

First Base
Mark Teixeira: Eight years, $180MM

Second Base
Chase Utley: Seven years, $85MM

Alex Rodriguez: Ten years, $252MM

Third Base
Alex Rodriguez: Ten years, $275MM

Alfonso Soriano: Eight years, $136MM
Vernon Wells: Seven years, $126MM
Matt Holliday: Seven years, $120MM

Starting Pitcher
CC Sabathia: Seven years, $161MM
Johan Santana: Six years, $137.5MM
Barry Zito: Seven years, $126MM
Mike Hampton: Eight years, $121MM
Kevin Brown: Seven years, $105MM

Relief Pitcher
Joe Nathan: Four years, $47MM
Mariano Rivera: Three years, $45MM

Some thoughts…

  • If you want to count DH as a position, which I guess it technically is, then Travis Hafner's four year, $57MM deal would top the list.
  • Joe Mauer's contract is more than three and a half times larger than Jorge Posada's four year, $52.4MM deal, the second largest among active catchers. Mike Piazza's seven year, $91MM deal is the second largest for a catcher all-time.
  • A-Rod only spent three years of his $252MM at the shortstop position before sliding over to third. The next largest contract ever given to a shortstop belongs to his teammate, Derek Jeter, who signed a ten year, $189MM deal in 2001.
  • The Twins are the only team besides the Yankees to employ two of the largest contracts at their respective positions.
  • The Soriano, Wells, Zito, and Hampton deals are all ones ownership wish they could take back. Brown spent a lot of time on the disabled list, but he did post a 3.23 ERA in close to 1,100 innings during the life of his deal.
  • The Utley and Rivera deals are ones the teams would happily do again, but the jury is still out on the rest.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

The Latest On The Remaining Free Agent Starters

There aren't many options for teams looking to sign a dependable starter, but the free agent market isn't completely barren yet. Of all the free agents remaining, only three pitchers logged more than 100 innings last year. Here's the latest on all eight starters to pitch as many as 40 innings last year (or what Roy Halladay logs in an average month):

Odds & Ends: Johnson, Kouzmanoff, Berkman

Here's a stocking stuffed with news items on this Christmas Eve…

  • Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues breaks down the details of Nick Johnson's contract with the Yankees.  If Johnson reaches all of his incentives and his mutual option for 2011 is picked up, he can make a total of $14.5MM over his two-year deal.
  • MLB.com's Corey Brock says the Kevin Kouzmanoff trade talks that were swirling at the winter meetings have "cooled," and he thinks Kouzmanoff will remain a Padre unless San Diego receives an overwhelmingly good offer.  Perhaps the Padres want to keep Kouzmanoff to anchor their lineup in case they happen to deal away Adrian Gonzalez
  • In a discussion of Lance Berkman's future plans, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com says that "the older [Berkman] gets, I think the less likely he is to play elsewhere."  The Astros star is under contract next season and the team has a $15MM option on Berkman for the 2011 season that it will surely pick up if Berkman matches his 2009 line of .274/.399/.509.  McTaggart notes that the Astros have been hesitant to rebuild since they still feel they can contend with quality veterans like Berkman and Roy Oswalt in their relative primes.  As we learned last September, however, Berkman might rather retire after 2011 than be a burden on the organization.
  • From that same piece, McTaggart says Houston's acquistions of Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz last winter have made the team leery of signing another injury-prone starter like Ben Sheets, especially since Sheets would come at a much higher price.
  • Top Reds prospect Todd Frazier seems to be capable of playing anywhere on the field, but doesn't appear to be Cincinnati's answer at shortstop, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • What team made the best trades in the 20th century?  According to one author, it was the Cleveland Indians.
  • Speaking of Cleveland, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com says the Tribe will put Rafael Perez back in the bullpen next season in spite of the left-hander's excellent starting outings in winter ball.

Odds & Ends: Granderson, Magglio, Hampton

Another round of links…

  • Lynn Henning of the Detroit News wonders if the Tigers will consider offers for Curtis Granderson after the season. Though he has 27 homers and 20 steals, Granderson has struggled at the plate this year, particularly against lefties. He has a batting average on balls in play below .300 for the first time in his career, and it has factored in to a .248/.331/.457 line that's solid, but below Granderson's standard. (He's hitting more fly balls than usual, which could explain the BABIP dip and rise in homers.)
  • After months of anticipation, it looks like Magglio Ordonez will see his 2010 option kick in tonight. With three more trips to the plate, he can guarantee himself an $18MM salary next year. 
  • Mike Hampton had surgery on his left rotator cuff and will miss the 2010 season, according to MLB.com's Alyson Footer.
  • If Josh Johnson makes all of his scheduled starts, he'll earn $50K in incentives before the season ends, as MLB.com's Joe Frisaro points out.
  • Troy Renck of the Denver Post says there's a reasonable chance Jason Giambi returns to the Rockies next season.