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Mike Pelfrey Rumors
SUNDAY: Pelfrey told reporters, including Berardino (Twitter link), “My emotions probably got the best of me…I’ll be a professional and go to the pen and…we’ll figure this thing out. It’s going to work.”
SATURDAY: After losing out on the Twins’ fifth starter spot, veteran Mike Pelfrey says he is open to a trade, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. Pelfrey is not demanding a trade, Berardino reports, but he says would not mind one.
“Obviously if some team realizes I’m healthy for the first time in years, and this is probably the best I’ve felt and thinks I can help them, let’s do it,” Pelfrey says. “I think I showed them that I could start. If it happens, great. Let’s go.”
Pelfrey says he believed, heading into Spring Training, that he would be in competition for a rotation job. He also thinks he did enough this month to earn one, allowing only four runs, two earned, while striking out seven and walking two in 13 2/3 innings. Berardino also notes that Pelfrey has regularly hit 94MPH this spring. Last year, his average fastball was below 91MPH as he made only five starts in an injury-shortened season. Tommy Milone, who won the last starting spot, posted somewhat worse numbers than Pelfrey this month.
“I know what I was told in December. I don’t know what happened,” says Pelfrey. “I know one thing that didn’t happen is I didn’t get outpitched.”
The Twins have Pelfrey pitch in long relief, a role Pelfrey sounded more open to when he spoke with reporters, including MLBTR’s Zach Links, earlier this week. Pelfrey has one more year and $5.5MM remaining on the deal he signed with the Twins prior to the 2014 season.
Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News writes Spring Training is broken. Grant suggests reversing the current reporting schedule of players with minor leaguers and non-roster invitees reporting at the beginning of camp and the 40-man roster showing up ten days later. Grant also proposes expanding the roster to 28 for the month of April with 25 designated as active for games. This would allow teams, Grant reasons, to carry more pitching in April, as the hurlers continue to build their durability.
In today’s news and notes from the American League:
- In a separate article, Grant reports the Rangers have informed Jamey Wright he will not make the team, but the right-hander has decided to remain in camp. “If they change their minds, I’m still here,” said Wright, who is an Article XX(B) free agent. “But, if not, I’m showcasing for all the other teams.” As an Article XX(B) free agent, the Rangers must pay Wright a $100K retention bonus, if they decide to keep him in their organization.
- Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday increasing speculation his recent MRI results could lead to Tommy John surgery and the end to his season before it begins, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
- Despite the uncertain status of Vazquez, the Red Sox have not engaged the Blue Jays about Dioner Navarro, tweets CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. With Vazquez’s injury, Heyman notes the Red Sox will give prized catching propsect Blake Swihart an extended look during the final week of Spring Training.
- James Schmehl of MLive.com tweets he wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers take a flyer on James Russell, even though the left-hander has had a terrible spring. The 29-year-old was released by the Braves Sunday morning.
- The Tigers will only go as far as their veteran stars take them, but there is some important young talent on the roster and their performance could prove pivotal as the franchise bids for its fifth straight AL Central title, opines MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan did not address whether Mike Pelfrey has requested a trade in the wake of the right-hander’s comments yesterday after losing the battle for a rotation spot, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Pelfrey threw one inning of perfect relief against the Orioles today needing just eight pitches in lowering his spring ERA to 1.23.
- Ryan Madson, in camp with the Royals on a minor league contract, calls his comeback from elbow injuries “a challenge” and knows he can pitch again at the MLB level, writes MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. “If it doesn’t happen here, I will see if there’s any other interest and will go from there,” said Madson, who has a May 1st opt-out. “I mean, I came in not knowing whether I could pitch on consecutive days or three times a week, and now I’m past that. I know what I can do and I want to pitch again in the Major Leagues.“
Word in the scouting community is that the Twins made a great Rule 5 pick-up in righty J.R. Graham, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets. Graham was once a top-100 prospect with the Braves, who would receive him if he cannot stick with Minnesota or another club for the duration of the year. He scuffled in his second attempt at Double-A last year, throwing 71 innings (including 19 starts) of 5.58 ERA ball, striking out 6.3 and walking 3.3 batters per nine.
Here’s more from Minnesota and the rest of the AL Central:
- The Twins might benefit from shipping Mike Pelfrey to a team that needs starting depth in exchange for a lefty pen piece, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Pelfrey is, however, owed $5.5MM this year, which as Berardino notes would stand to complicate any trade efforts. The 31-year-old righty recently spoke with MLBTR’s Zach Links about his situation, saying that he feels good and is preparing to embrace whatever role he is given.
- The Indians optioned righty Danny Salazar to Triple-A today, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. The 25-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance — in thirty career big league starts, he has struck out more than ten and walked less than three per nine — but has yet to put it all together and struggled badly this spring. With 162 days of service to his name, Salazar will pick up a year of service so long as he spends any real amount of time in the bigs, though a prolonged stint in the minors could jeopardize his ability to qualify as a Super Two down the line. Zach McAllister, T.J. House, and Josh Tomlin are now the three arms in the mix for the club’s final two rotation spots.
- Also headed back to the minors is Royals lefty Brandon Finnegan, as Barry Bloom of MLB.com reports. A draft pick turned late-season star in 2014, Finnegan had a rough go in his first big league camp and will also benefit from the chance to develop as a starter. “We just thought it was better for him to go down,” said manager Ned Yost. “He had a huge workload last year. He hasn’t been real sharp in Spring Training. Just get him back down, get him going again. And have him ready for whenever we need him.” Of course, the club intends to be careful with limiting Finnegan’s workload, so it remains to be seen how much impact he can have at the major league level. Then again, the loss of Tim Collins leaves the club relying on Franklin Morales and Brian Flynn as pen lefties, so it is not hard to imagine a need arising. Finnegan has 28 days of service thus far, so a few months in the minors would likely keep him shy of a full year of credit.
In a spring start against the Phillies on Monday, Mike Pelfrey made his final argument for joining the Twins rotation. Unfortunately for the right-hander, a few bad breaks (including Cody Asche‘s two-run smash early in the afternoon) might have punched his ticket for the bullpen. The veteran has been in a strange spot this spring; while Pelfrey was fighting hard to make the starting five, he also knew there was a good chance that he would be asked to pitch out of the bullpen instead. One might see the uncertainty as a potential stumbling block in Pelfrey’s preseason preparation, but he refused to make excuses in a postgame chat with reporters.
“It hasn’t been that big of an issue. It’s all about routine. I’m not saying I can’t do it, I’ve just never done it. I’m a competitor, so I’ll make an adjustment if I need to. At the end of the day, pitching is still pitching,” Pelfrey explained, while adding that he’s “at peace” with what he’s shown over the past few weeks.
Between his seven years with the Mets and his two seasons with the Twins, Pelfrey has made a grand total of four relief appearances. Of course, during his time in New York, the former No. 9 overall pick had fans dreaming that he would blossom into an ace. For all we know, Pelfrey could have been on his way to that status in 2012 before he tore his UCL after three solid outings in April. Later that year, the Mets elected to non-tender Pelfrey rather than wait and see how things would shake out for him after surgery. I asked Pelfrey if he wishes that he had gotten another chance to put it all together in New York.
“I understood the business side of it, when they non-tendered me the GM [Sandy Alderson] actually called me and said that he appreciates everything I did there. I have no problems with that. I get it,” said the 31-year-old. “Then the Twins called and I have some family in Minnesota and I thought, man, this is a good opportunity, and like I said, I came back early [from Tommy John surgery]. Now is probably the best I’ve felt since I’ve been in Minnesota.”
Pelfrey would rather be gearing up every fifth game, but he says he’ll do just fine pitching out of the pen and he’s prepared to do whatever is asked of him to help the Twins win. However, one has to wonder if he could be helping another team in need of a starter instead. A contending club with a hole in its rotation could do a lot worse than adding Pelfrey, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Twins received calls on him once the season starts.
Let’s have a look at a few American League notes to round out the day’s news:
- Royals second baseman Omar Infante is considering offseason elbow surgery — next offseason, that is — as he tells Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com (Twitter link). Infante recently took a cortisone shot to help reduce inflammation in his right arm, which has kept him out of game action thus far this spring. His ability to play through the difficulties in 2015, and rebound from a tough 2014 campaign, will be important to Kansas City’s ability to return to the postseason.
- The Angels will finally get a look at major offseason international free agent signee Roberto Baldoquin, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. Baldoquin, a twenty-year-old infielder out of Cuba, signed for $8MM but was kept out of camp by visa issues.
- Righty Mike Pelfrey is vying to make good on the two-year, $11MM deal he signed with the Twins last year by battling his way into the fifth starter role, as Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. Last year was a wash for Pelfrey and Minnesota, as he struggled mightily before going down to elbow surgery. Pelfrey says he still believes in his ability to succeed as a starter, but is willing to throw from the pen if that’s what the team needs.
SB Nation's Grant Brisbee examines the ups and downs of Joe Mauer's contract and wonders what Mauer would have signed for had he been a free agent this offseason. Mauer is owed $115MM over the remainder of his contract, and while Brisbee feels he'd fall a bit shy of that, he still predicts a healthy six-year, $101MM contract. Mauer would have been the second-best hitter in this year's free agent class, Brisbee notes, pointing out that among 2013-14 free agents, only Robinson Cano has a higher OPS+ than Mauer over the past two seasons. More Twins-related news and rumors…
- Mike Pelfrey's two-year, $11MM contract with the Twins includes $3.5MM in incentives based on innings thresholds, as broken down by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- There isn't any change in negotiations between the Twins and Matt Garza, according to 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson (Twitter links). As Wolfson reported earlier this week, Minnesota is willing to meet Garza's price but only on a short-term deal, while Garza is looking for a longer commitment.
- The Twins are not one of the six teams that have expressed interest in a minor league deal for Nyjer Morgan, according to Darren Wolfson (Twitter link). Morgan recently switched agents and is weighing a return to the Majors after a strong season in Japan.
- Major League sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that a reunion between the Twins and Johan Santana is a real possibility. Minnesota has continued to discuss its former ace internally, has stayed in contact with Santana's agents and has some interest in a reunion.
- The Twins face an interesting battle for the fifth spot in their rotation, wrote MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger in his most recent Twins Inbox. Samuel Deduno, Vance Worley and Scott Diamond are all out of minor league options, but the rotation figures to have room for just one of the three with Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey all under control. That's to say nothing of top prospect Kyle Gibson, who struggled in 2013 but still projects to be in the rotation at some point. Bollinger feels that Deduno is the front-runner for the fifth spot but doesn't see a Worley or Diamond trade happening until at least midway through Spring Training, as each pitcher's value is at a low point.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
The Twins have been uncharacteristically aggressive on the free agent market this offseason, and they continued the trend by officially announcing the signing of Mike Pelfrey to a two-year, $11MM contract today. Pelfrey can reportedly earn $3.5MM in performance bonuses.
The Twins have been linked frequently with 29-year-old this offseason. Though he posted a 5.19 ERA for Minnesota in 2013, it's perhaps a positive that Pelfrey managed 152 2/3 innings in returning from Tommy John surgery. ERA estimators also suggest he may have been the victim of some bad luck. SIERA projected a 4.63 ERA, while xFIP suggested Pelfrey was in line for a 4.54 mark, and FIP pegged him at 3.99.
The Twins have spent heavily on pitching this offseason, signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, but were rumored to be targeting further rotation help. GM Terry Ryan's push to revamp the rotation was no doubt brought on by the 5.26 ERA Twins starters coughed up in 2013, good for last in the majors. The 871 total innings the Twins got from their rotation in 2013 was also worst among big league teams.
While Pelfrey lacks the impact potential of Nolasco and Hughes, he's a good bet to provide innings. Prior to undergoing Tommy John in 2012, the 6'7", 250-pound right-hander was the picture of durability. He averaged 196 frames with the Mets from 2008 to 2011, posting a 4.27 ERA over that span. In 1,049 career big league innings, Pelfrey owns a 4.48 ERA and a 47.8 pecent ground-ball rate. If Pelfrey can improve on last season's 43.2 percent ground-ball rate and inch closer to his career mark, it should bode well for the right-hander. Minnesota deploys a strong defensive tandem up the middle in the form of Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon.
Between Pelfrey, Nolasco and Hughes, the Twins have now committed $84MM to three pitchers this winter. Those three will join Kevin Correia in the rotation, with Kyle Gibson, Vance Worley, Scott Diamond and Samuel Deduno fighting for the fifth and final spot. However, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com tweets that the team hasn't ruled out acquiring another starter. The Twins "definitely" still have money to spend, according to Wolfson.
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Tigers have discussed trading Austin Jackson to the Yankees in exchange for Brett Gardner, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. Both players have been above-average fielders in center over their careers and have comparable career batting lines, though Gardner is a better base-stealer and Jackson has more doubles pop. Jackson turns 27 in February, is projected to earn $5.3MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility and he'll hit free agency after the 2015 season; the 30-year-old Gardner is projected to earn $4MM and he'll be a free agent next winter. I'm not sure this deal makes sense for the Tigers unless they don't think they can sign Jackson (a Scott Boras client) to an extension, or if they aren't interested in extending Jackson. From the Yankees' side, they like Gardner enough that they probably wouldn't move him for a very similar player, albeit a younger one.
Here are some more items from all five AL Central franchises…
- The Twins have increased the value of their two-year offer to Mike Pelfrey from $10MM to $12MM, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The Rangers and Giants have also shown interest in Pelfrey, Neal reports.
- Also from Neal, the stumbling block between Matt Garza and the Twins seems to be Garza's demands for a four- or five-year contract, as Minnesota isn't willing to make that long a commitment due to injury concerns. That said, Neal isn't counting the Twins out of the Garza race yet as he hears the team is still in the hunt (Twitter links). You can read more about the Twins' hunt for pitching here.
- The Royals could continue to shop Billy Butler since "Before too long, the DH spot has to be a rotating position for us. It really does," a club official tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. For one, the Royals may use Salvador Perez at DH to keep his bat in the lineup when he isn't catching, plus added DH days would help keep Perez healthy. Even if Butler isn't dealt this offseason, Dutton doesn't believe the Royals will sign him to an extension once his current deal is up. It was reported earlier today that Butler's name had come up in trade talks with the Blue Jays.
- The Royals, Indians and Rangers are among the teams interested in Shaun Marcum, ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets. Marcum underwent surgery to correct his thoracic outlet syndrome in July and his agent updated MLBTR's Tim Dierkes on the recovery process last month.
- The White Sox are looking to cut their payroll from just under $119MM in 2013 to between $89MM-$99MM range for 2014, ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla writes, with the $99MM figure being the likelier of the two. Despite the cuts on the Major League side, GM Rick Hahn said the club will reinvest the saved money into extra spending on the draft and international signings.
- In other AL Central news from earlier today, the Tigers reached an agreement with Joba Chamberlain and the Indians were battling with the Padres over Joaquin Benoit.
10:33am: The Twins are "working hard" to add one more starting pitcher to the club after signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Bronson Arroyo and Mike Pelfrey are definitely among the names the Twins are pursuing. Earlier this morning, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweeted that while some teams and agents are packing up and heading home, Twins GM Terry Ryan isn't leaving Orlando yet. Said Ryan, "I'm open for business."
Minnesota has also been linked to Matt Garza recently, though it's unclear how serious their interest is, as the Angels and Diamondbacks are said to be the favorites in that race. The Twins know his asking price, however, and they know Garza himself better than many of his suitors. Minnesota drafted Garza in the first round of the 2005 draft but traded him in 2007.
Most agents and executives will be flying out of Orlando today, but that doesn't mean there's not still time for teams and players to strike a few deals. Here are the latest American League updates from the 2013 Winter Meetings:
- The Twins are making progress in talks with free agent starter Mike Pelfrey, reports La Velle Neal III of the Star Tribune. The Twins and agent Scott Boras have met since the team offered a two-year, $10MM deal, and appear to closing the gap, though GM Terry Ryan is in no rush to finalize an agreement today.
- Dan Duquette and the Orioles have done "a lot of work" to prepare for the Rule 5 draft, and are very likely to select a player later this morning, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports details.
- The Yankees have several needs on their roster that Brian Cashman is ready to address, but he's dealing with a thin pitching market and still determining which of the team's targets are attainable, writes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. "I'd rather go the easier route, and pull something down and everybody's like 'That's a good move!'" Cashman said. "I don't know if that's going to happen. I might have to go the harder, longer route. But we'll see."
- As various reports continue to link the Royals to Omar Infante, the team continues to sing Emilio Bonifacio's praises. GM Dayton Moore indicated Wednesday that the club is "very pleased" with Bonifacio at second base, according to MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.