Mike Minor Rumors

NL Notes: Toussaint, Castillo, Wood, Minor, Kendrick

Diamondbacks right-hander Touki Toussaint, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has hired Rick Thurman and Nate Heisler of the Beverly Hills Sports Council as his new agents, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). The 18-year-old struggled greatly in his pro debut last year but still ranked as the D-Backs’ No. 5 prospect, per Baseball America and Fangraphs, and No. 98 overall in the game, per MLB.com. Toussaint’s change has been reflected in the MLBTR Agency Database, which contains agent information for more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players. Agents, if you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.

Here are some more notes from around the Senior Circuit…

  • David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com expects the Cubs to move Welington Castillo and possibly Travis Wood before the team heads to Arizona for Spring Training (Twitter link). The Phillies are one of multiple teams that have shown interest, according to Kaplan. Castillo has been displaced as a starter with the addition of Miguel Montero, and the team has also added David Ross as a backup option as well. Wood figures to battle for the team’s fifth starter spot, as Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks are the likely front four in the rotation. The Cubs also have Tsuyoshi Wada and Felix Doubront as options for the fifth spot.
  • Mike Minor and the Braves have an arbitration hearing set for Feb. 19, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That’s just one day before pitchers and catchers are slated to report to Spring Training. Minor filed for a $5.6MM salary, while the team countered at $5.1MM, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.
  • Kyle Kendrick tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he had interest from multiple teams before signing with the Rockies. Though it’s clearly not a favorable environment for a pitcher, Kendrick praised the Rockies’ offense and defense as reasons to sign with the team.

Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.

Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won’t go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox (per the most recent updates) are known for their “file and trial” policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $5MM or more. Projections can be found here. Now for the details …

  • The Reds countered the $5.7MM filing of Todd Frazier with a $3.9MM figure, according to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman David Freese filed at $7.6MM and the Angels countered at $5.25MM, WAPT’s Mike Perchick tweets. Halos outfielder Matt Joyce has filed for $5.2MM against a $4.2MM counter, according to Perchick (on Twitter).
  • Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler filed for $10.8MM while the club countered at $8.5MM, Perchick tweeets.
  • Pirates second baseman Neil Walker filed at $9MM while the club landed at $8MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Just-acquired reliever Tyler Clippard has filed for $8.85MM against the Athletics, who countered at $7.775MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay filed at $5MM while the team countered at $4.1MM, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets.
  • Pedro Alvarez has requested a $5.75MM salary for the coming season while the Pirates are at $5.25MM, per a tweet from Perchick.
  • Righty Mat Latos filed at $10.4MM and the Marlins countered with a $9.4MM figure, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman Casey McGehee filed at $5.4MM, with the Giants countering at $4MM, Heyman tweets.
  • The Braves countered Mike Minor‘s $5.6MM filing number with a $5.1MM team figure, Heyman reports on Twitter.
  • Mark Trumbo has filed for $6.9MM against a $5.3MM counter from the Diamondbacks, Heyman tweets. Closer Addison Reed, meanwhile, filed at $5.6MM with the team countering at $4.7MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles went with a $7.5MM price point for righty Bud Norris, who filed at $10.25MM, per Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). In both relative and absolute terms, there is an even bigger gap between the O’s ($2MM) and breakout slugger Steve Pearce ($5.4MM), who is looking to cash in on a big season in his final year of eligibility. That news also comes via Connolly, on Twitter.
  • Entering his final year of arbitration, infielder Daniel Murphy has filed for $8.6MM while the Mets have submitted a $7.4MM figure, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
  • Reds 9th inning man Aroldis Chapman filed for $8.7MM while the team countered at $6.65MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles and outfielder Alejandro De Aza will negotiate between filing figures of $5MM and $5.65MM, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.
  • Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer filed at $6.7MM and the team countered at $4.6MM, Heyman tweets. The club will also have some ground to make up with closer Greg Holland, who filed at $9MM versus a team filing of $6.65MM, per another Heyman tweet.
  • Newly-acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson has filed at $5.75MM, while the Blue Jays countered at $4.3MM, Heyman tweets.


Arbitration Notes: Ogando, Moreland, Russell, Parra, Descalso

Tomorrow night (11pm CT) is the deadline for teams to tender or non-tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR has previously identified a list of non-tender candidates as well as provided projected salaries for each arbitration eligible player of the offseason (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). In addition to those resources, you can follow along and keep track of players using our 2015 Non-Tender Tracker. We’ll cover some more of the specifics on non-tendering and arbitration tomorrow (though those who are new to the concept can check out last year’s post on explaining non-tenders), and already took a look at some notes earlier today.

Here’s the latest on the upcoming decisions:

  • Righty Alexi Ogando and first baseman Mitch Moreland are expected to be tendered contracts tomorrow, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Both players have some upside that Texas is surely loath to give up on, though each brings some uncertainty with their projected $2.6MM and $2.8MM arb costs (respectively).
  • As things stand, the Braves‘ only certain tenders are slated for Mike Minor and David Carpenter, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The team is still unsure exactly how it will proceed with respect to rehabbing starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy as well as pen lefty James Russell. The southpaw, who was added at the trade deadline, projects to earn a fairly meager $2.4MM and seems a decent value at that price tag.
  • Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash indicated that the team intends to tender Gerardo Parra a contract rather than cutting him loose, according to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Parra’s hefty $6.4MM projection is quite a sum for a fourth outfielder, though Ash noted that he has received plenty of playing time as a part-time starter and frequent reserve. And, of course, a trade could still be made.
  • It seems likely that the Cardinals will non-tender utilityman Daniel Descalso, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes. Descalso carries a $1.4MM projected salary but saw a reduced role last year and the organization has added several apparent pieces that would seem to be viable replacements.

Braves To Revisit B.J. Upton Trade Talks, Could Move Gattis In Offseason

Talks of a rumored deal that would have sent B.J. Upton to the Cubs (perhaps along with a pitcher or cash) in exchange for Edwin Jackson have been circulating over the past couple weeks, and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that it could be because the Braves would like to rekindle those talks in the offseason.

It won’t be easy to trade Upton and the remaining $47MM on his contract, of course, but the Braves could be willing to sweeten the deal by including three years of Mike Minor or by including a significant amount of cash to help offset Upton’s salary. The Braves are not, however, interested in including both Minor and cash in order to facilitate a trade. Regardless of how the ties are severed, O’Brien feels that it is a fait accompli that the elder Upton is dealt by next Spring Training. (Of course, many people felt the same about Dan Uggla, who lingered on Atlanta’s roster well into the summer.)

Minor has struggled for much of the season after opening the year on the disabled list, pitching to a 4.90 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 39.3 percent ground-ball rate. Minor’s main problem has been an increased home run rate which, paired with an uptick in his walks, has led to a HR/9 rate of 1.51 — fifth-worst among pitchers with at least 110 innings thrown in 2014. Nonetheless, three years of a pitcher who posted a 3.72 ERA in 466 2/3 innings from 2011-13 (including a stellar 3.21 mark in 204 2/3 innings last year) would have value to pitching-hungry teams.

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that O’Brien also feels there’s “at least a pretty good chance” that Gattis could be traded in the coming offseason. While Atlanta loves Gattis’ bat, it is less enamored with his defensive prowess and isn’t certain how long his 250-pound frame can hold up at the position. Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is top prospect Christian Bethancourt, who is known for his strong arm and receiving skills.

As O’Brien points out, Gattis would make for a nice trade target for an American League club, given the fact that he could split time between DH and catcher (and perhaps the outfield on occasion). The 28-year-old is hitting a hefty .276/.331/.520 with 20 homers in 353 plate appearances this season, quieting some skeptics (myself included) who felt that his hot start in 2013 may not have been sustainable.

Gattis will finish the season with exactly two years of Major League service, meaning that a club could potentially gain four years of team control over a 20-30 homer bat, and that would certainly have value on the trade market, especially given the dearth of starting-caliber catchers on the free agent market. Beyond Russell Martin, teams looking for catching help will be left looking at A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto in the second tier of free agent backstops.


Mike Minor Joins Jet Sports Management

One of the game's top southpaws has changed representation.  Braves lefty Mike Minor has joined Jet Sports Management, MLBTR has learned.  Minor was previously with Bo McKinnis.  Jet Sports has strong Braves ties, representing Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and Jonny Venters.

Minor, 26, posted a 3.21 ERA in 32 starts in a breakout 2013 campaign.  He signed for $3.85MM this year, as he was arbitration eligible for the first time as a Super Two player.  Minor is under the Braves' control through 2017, and he'll have three more cracks at arbitration unless he signs a long-term extension.  The Braves went on an extension spree in February, locking up Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Craig Kimbrel, Julio Teheran, and Jason Heyward to multiyear deals totaling $280.7MM.

Jet Sports Management, which is headed by B.B. Abbott, had a big addition last summer when agent Andrew Lowenthal joined the company.  With him, Lowenthal brought clients such as Charlie Morton, Steve Cishek, Kyle Seager, Daniel Hudson, Joe Panik, David Goforth, and Justin Marks.  In addition to the aforementioned players, the agency counts Chris Sale, Rex Brothers, Jonathan Broxton, Wade Davis, Corey Kluber, Devin Mesoraco, Byron Buxton, Zack Wheeler, and Mike Zunino among its clients.  For all the latest on MLB player representation, check out our agency database


NL East Notes: Mets, Braves, Brown

Links from the NL East…

  • There's little question within the Mets organization that Travis d'Arnaud will become the team's starting catcher at some point this year, Mike Puma of the New York Post writes. However, d'Arnaud will start the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, barring an injury. By keeping d'Arnaud in big league camp, the Mets are running the risk that he'll get injured and start picking up MLB service time while on the disabled list, Michael Baron of MetsBlog.com notes.
  • The Braves front office doesn't seem concerned about the possibility that their lineup will strike out often in 2013, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Martino also discusses the re-branding of the Braves in the post-Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox era. “We like talent,” one Braves person said.
  • Don't be surprised if Mike Minor of the Braves and Domonic Brown of the Phillies are among the players who break out in 2013. ESPN.com's Keith Law includes these players on his list of former top prospects poised for big performances in the coming season.

Rockies Notes: Cuddyer, Francis, Fowler

Some early-morning Rockies news, courtesy of the Denver Post's Troy Renck (Twitter links)…

  • A trade is still the more likely means for Colorado to acquire starting pitching help, according to Renck. Teams are calling about Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer. Renck notes that the two years and $21MM remaining on Cuddyer's contract may be appealing to teams, given the inflated prices we've seen in this year's free agent market.
  • The one-year deal signed by Jeff Francis last night will pay the southpaw somewhere north of $750K salary that he earned in 2012.
  • Renck also writes that the team included Alex White in this week's Wilton Lopez trade because they no longer viewed White as a starter.
  • Within that same piece, Renck reports that in trade talks prior to the Winter Meetings, the Rockies asked for Mike Minor and one of Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado in exchange for Fowler. Needless to say, the price on Colorado's center fielder remains high.

NL West Rumors: Scutaro, Rockies, Otani, Minor

While the Dodgers have been linked to just about everyone this offseason, they won't be the only NL West club active in Nashville this week. Here are a few updates from around the division:

  • Chris Haft of MLB.com (Twitter link) heard from an agent earlier today that the Giants were "bending over backwards" to re-sign Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro. Haft wonders if Scutaro is next, now that the team has reached an agreement with Pagan.
  • The Rockies are targeting late-inning and closer-type pitchers this week, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter).

Earlier updates:

  • The Dodgers would be "shocked" if Shohei Otani declares for MLB and doesn't sign with them, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). However, the Dodgers are skeptical that Otani will come stateside. We heard this morning that the 18-year-old was leaning toward remaining in Japan.
  • In discussing Dexter Fowler with the Braves, the Rockies asked for Mike Minor, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter link).
  • Troy Renck of the Denver Post notes (via Twitter) that the Yankees had some interest in Chris Nelson last season, and wonders if their interest in the Rockies' infielder could be renewed now that Alex Rodriguez is undergoing hip surgery.
  • The Giants are one of five teams with "real interest" in Scott Hairston, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The Cardinals, Tigers, Indians, and Yankees round out the list, and Hairston himself hasn't ruled out a return to the Mets.

Zack Greinke Rumors: Thursday

The Brewers are looking to sell and, based on his most recent start, Zack Greinke is healthy. The right-hander figures to continue drawing heavy interest in the days leading up to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. He’s clearly the top arm available with Cole Hamels locked up to an extension in Philadelphia. The Rangers, Angels, Braves and White Sox are interested in Greinke and the Red Sox and Nationals might be considered suitors too. Here are the latest rumors surrounding the Greinke with the most recent rumors up top…

  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin's comments this evening were measured compared to ones made earlier today where he sounded certain of a Greinke trade, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.  "I just said there was that possibility," Melvin said. "I don't think there's any secret, with the Trade Deadline, that this is a possibility. Zack knows that. We know that. Other teams know that."  McCalvy writes that the Rangers, Angels, and Braves appear to be the most serious suitors for Greinke.
  • The Dodgers aren't pursuing Greinke at this point, sources tell Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • The White Sox seem completely focused on trying to get Greinke, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • Greinke will be traded before the July 31st deadline, GM Doug Melvin told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Melvin said Greinke could handle pitching in a large market. "There are so many good things about him, it's going to be difficult when we trade him,'' Melvin said. GMs and executives agree Greinke is the prize pitcher available in trades, Nightengale reports.
  • One source believes Greinke will be traded before Ryan Dempster, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin confirmed on WTMJ radio that he's taking phone calls and acknowledged that Greinke could be traded before his next start (transcript via Tom Haudricourt). "At this point we have to listen to opportunities to improve the ball club for the future and still try to win ball games now," Melvin said.
  • Melvin added that the Brewers haven't had recent extension talks with Greinke.
  • The Brewers are taking calls from teams interested in acquiring Greinke, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. "It sounds like he's as good as gone," one person told Haudricourt. 
  • Haudricourt offers a detailed look at which prospects interest the Brewers’ decision makers. Milwaukee would love to have Rangers shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar, but the Rangers consider him untouchable. The Brewers would be very interested in Rangers left-hander Martin Perez and have scouted right-hander Justin Grimm.
  • The Brewers are thought to rank Braves right-hander Julio Teheran ahead of Randall Delgado and Mike Minor, according to Haudricourt. The Brewers want pitchers who can contribute at the MLB level soon.
  • Milwaukee prefers Angels shortstop prospect Jean Segura to Garrett Richards, Haudricourt writes.
  • The White Sox also appear to have considerable interest in Greinke.