Mike Pelfrey Rumors

Central Rumors: Hart, Pelfrey, Suzuki, Cubs, Indians

Today's news out of the AL and NL Central..

Mets Notes: Murphy, Davis, Duda, Hart, Granderson

The Mets are listening to offers on Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, but are not aggressively shopping them at this point, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter).  Here's more on the Mets…

  • Five or six teams have inquired about Davis and/or Lucas Duda, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports.  Duda is considered by some AL teams to be a fit as a designated hitter, Carig tweets.
  • Peralta appears to be the Mets' top free agent target, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes.  The club "really likes" Peralta but they don't know if he intends to sign soon or later in the offseason.
  • The Mets have talked to free agent Corey Hart, but Martino gets the sense that they either don't identify him as a top target or aren't that eager to get a deal done with him.  Carig (link) also hears from a source that the Mets aren't close to a deal with the Brewers first baseman.  "We haven't discussed him in depth enough to say where we'd put him if we got him," the source said.
  • The Mets have plans to meet with Curtis Granderson's agent this week, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter).  The outfielder is turning down the Yankees' $14.1MM qualifying offer.
  • The Mets have touched base with Marlon Byrd's representatives in the last few days, according to Carig (link).  Recently, Steve Adams examined the market for Byrd and concluded that he could fetch a deal in the neighborhood of $16MM over two years.
  • A source suggested to Carig (link) that it would make sense for the Mets to take their time in trading Davis and take advantage of a market that is starved for power.  Carig (link) hears that the Mets might do just that and hang on to him until later in the offseason when teams will be seeking out less costly alternatives to add power.
  • The Mets aren't actively talking to Mike Pelfrey about a possible reunion, but they are open to it, a team official tells Adam Rubin.  "I know he is on a long list of guys just like him," the team insider said.  The Mets non-tendered the hurler after he earned $5.7MM in 2012.
  • The Mets' top priority is shortstop, but they're hardly alone in that, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Possible options for the Mets include Peralta, Erick Aybar, Didi Gregorius, Rafael Furcal, and Jed Lowrie.

Ryan On Free Agents, Tenders, Pelfrey, Pitching

Twins GM Terry Ryan discussed a number of topics with 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson on Wednesday, including the following hot stove-related items…

  • The Twins have a protected first round draft pick but Ryan said he'd be comfortable in surrendering the club's second round selection to sign a free agent who had declined a qualifying offer, provided that he felt the free agent was a good fit.
  • Likewise, if the Twins identify a player on the trade market that would upgrade their club and could be had at the right price, Ryan would be open to dealing prospects to make a big splash like the Royals did last offseason to acquire James Shields.  "If you find some of that pitching, it makes you look a lot better in a hurry. So, you'd have to give it some consideration. But it'd have to make a lot of sense. No doubt," Ryan said.
  • Ryan has "flexibility with payroll" and isn't afraid to spend on a player his front office thinks is the right guy.  "We have people who put their neck out and are committed to whoever the player is or the pitcher is, you move forward. If it costs you some money, we go to where we're comfortable," Ryan said.
  • Trevor Plouffe will be tendered a contract, Ryan confirmed.  He declined to comment on Anthony Swarzak or Brian Duensing (both of whom are also eligible for arbitration), but Wolfson reports that "league sources are convinced" that both pitchers will be tendered contracts.
  • There is "probably not" any chance of the Twins re-signing Mike Pelfrey before he hits the free agent market, as Ryan suggested Pelfrey and agent Scott Boras will want to test the market.  Pelfrey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2012 to throw 152 2/3 innings for the Twins last season and he posted a 5.19 ERA that peripherals stats indicated should've been lower.  Pelfrey has said he would be interested in returning to Minnesota and MLBTR's Steve Adams suggests Pelfrey could be had on another one-year contract.

Pelfrey Interested In Returning To Twins In 2014

Right-hander Mike Pelfrey earned a $100K bonus last night by crossing the 150-inning threshold, as pointed out by Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Pelfrey told MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger that Monday was his final start of 2013 and expressed interest in returning to Minnesota for a second season (Twitter link).

Pelfrey sits 7 1/3 innings shy of earning another $150K of incentives, but as Miller points out, he's yet to last that long in a start all season, so he would have been unlikely to reach that plateau anyway. As it stands, it seems that Pelfrey will earn just $100K of the $1.5MM worth of incentives that were built into the one-year, $4MM contract he signed with the Twins this offseason.

Pelfrey spent his entire career with the Mets prior to 2013, but his New York tenure came to an end when he was non-tendered last offseason. He made a remarkably quick recovery from Tommy John surgery in May 2012 in order to be ready for Opening Day for the Twins. He'll turn 30 years old in January and could likely be had on another one-year deal after posting a 5.19 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a career-low 43.2 percent ground-ball rate in 152 2/3 innings this season. Pelfrey's FIP (3.99) and xFIP (4.54) both suggest that his ERA could have been lower were it not for a .337 BABIP and 67.2 percent strand rate.

The Twins will undoubtedly be on the lookout for pitching this offseason, as owner Jim Pohlad recently lamented the team's "embarrassing" play and said that he would provide GM Terry Ryan with the financial resources to be active on the free agent market. Pohlad said he wouldn't shy away from three- and four-year free agent deals, which the Twins have typically avoided in the past. Josh Willingham's three-year, $21MM contract is the largest free agent signing in Twins' franchise history.

Central Links: Peralta, Holland, Cubs, Pelfrey

Yesterday it was reported that Jhonny Peralta has left ACES for SFX as he prepares to hit free agency this offseason. Regarding his departure, Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES offered the following statement (via MLB.com's Jason Beck):

"ACES takes great pride in standing by our players during difficult times in their lives. Thankfully, the darkest chapter in Jhonny’s professional career has concluded. We wish him the best in all that he does moving forward, and fully understand that Jhonny is more comfortable with a Latin agent.  ACES is proud to represent great players who are quality people for over three decades and we will continue to defend and assert our players’ rights under the rules of the game."

Here's more out of baseball's Central divisions…

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Stanton, Collins, A-Rod

For the Red Sox, 2013 has increasingly taken on the feel of a triumphant return to glory. Now enjoying a seemingly insurmountable division lead, the Sox have engineered one of the greatest season-to-season turnarounds ever. Jonah Keri of Grantland looks back on each of the key free agent signings made by GM Ben Cherington, arguing that the team's "passel of midlevel free agents" were hardly the overpays that they were labeled.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • The Phillies are still interested in Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that he's tried to trade for him "at least ten times," writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.  Unfortunately for the Phils, Marlins president Larry Beinfest has rebuffed them each time and made it clear that they're not moving him.
  • A Mets source told Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter) that manager Terry Collins isn't being evaluated by wins and losses in September.  "There's different criteria at different times of the year," the offical said.
  • Alex Rodriguez's attorneys fear that the MLBPA won't fight hard for their client as he fights a 211-game ban, writes Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News.  Sources say that the relationship between team A-Rod and the union is rather uneasy at this point.
  • Twins pitcher Mike Pelfrey needs 10.2 innings to reach a $100K bonus and manager Ron Gardenhire won't get in his way as he says that he never lets bonuses affect his decisions, tweets Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.
  • Regardless of his light-hitting, Brendan Ryan left his mark on Mariners baseball, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  The shortstop was traded to the Yankees earlier this week for a player to be named later.
  • Three years after signing Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126MM deal, Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner says that he's still pleased about the deal, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.

Quick Hits: Petit, Pelfrey, Astros, Call-Ups

As you've no doubt heard by now, Giants pitcher Yusmeiro Petit — yes, that Yusmeiro Petit — came within inches of recording 27-straight outs last night. As a youngster, Petit was twice a top-100 prospect as he moved quickly through the Mets system. When he became the headline piece of the deal shipping star first baseman Carlos Delgado to the Mets late in 2005, Marlins GM Larry Beinfest said that Petit would join the Marlins' "stable of outstanding young pitchers." Instead, the Fish quickly lost interest and shipped him to the Diamondbacks in a misguided bid to acquire a proven closer, Jorge Julio. After flaming out in Arizona, Petit's transactional history on MLBTR has provided a crash course on minor roster moves. While we can all celebrate this journeyman hurler's brush with history, does it mean anything for the 28-year-old's future as a ballplayer?

  • According to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, Petit "sent a tremendous message that this is where he belongs and this is where he should be pitching," tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Petit has indeed performed in limited action this year for San Francisco, with a 2.05 ERA over 26 1/3 innings in which he has notched thirty strikeouts against just four walks. Though he hasn't suppressed runs quite as well in Triple-A, he does sport a nifty 7.62 K:BB rate in 92 2/3 innings there. 
  • It will be interesting to see how the Giants proceed with Petit. As Baggarly notes in another tweet, Petit will reach arbitration eligibility for the first time this offseason. While the Giants can therefore control him for three seasons, it remains to be seen whether the team will be interested in tendering him a contract to do so.
  • There is some interesting precedent here. Another highly regarded young pitcher-turned-disappointment, Philip Humber, tossed a perfect game in 2012 but went on to post a 6.44 ERA in 102 innings on the year. When the White Sox released the first-time arb-eligible Humber, the Astros snapped him up and guaranteed him $1.3MM (including the buyout of a 2014 option) just before the tender deadline. Of course, unlike Petit, Humber had put up one full season of solid performance at the big league level, as he notched 163 innings of 3.75 ERA ball in 2011. 
  • Twins pitcher Mike Pelfrey, set to become a free agent, hopes to stay in Minnesota, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com, but agent Scott Boras will ask for more than $4.5MM per year to make that a reality. (Coming off of Tommy John surgery, Pelfrey signed with the Twins for one-year and $4MM.) This season, Pelfrey's first in a uniform other than the Mets', has seen him struggle to a 4.97 ERA in 26 starts. Pelfrey's ground-ball rate has dropped to a career-low 43.8%, and he continues to strike out less than six batters per nine while posting a below-average K:BB ratio (1.83 this season; 1.62 for his career). Nevertheless, Wolfson opines in another tweet that some club will give the 29-year-old that kind of money, though he believes the Twins would be best served to pass on another year of Pelfrey.
  • The Astros are still working on finalizing the rest of the club's September call-ups, tweets Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. As he notes in another tweet, fans pining for top prospects to taste the big leagues should bear in mind that players must be on the 40-man roster to be on the active MLB roster, and adding a player necessarily carries repercussions for managing the 40-man going forward.
  • General managers around baseball seem to be coalescing around the idea that a rule change should be made that limits the September roster expansion, writes USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Among the GMs and managers that Nightengale cites, only Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers prefers to reward teams that have deep farms with a larger active roster, though he says an even better solution is to "expand in April" so teams "won't wear out [their] bullpen early, and guys won't get injured so easily coming out of spring training." Most importantly, several members of the league's committee for on-field matters — including Tony LaRussa and Mike Scioscia — seem to believe that a change is warranted to avoid the sudden and massive shift in the game's rules during its most strategically challenging month.

Martino On Phillies, Papelbon, Nolasco, Dodgers

The first big move of trade season went down yesterday when the Orioles acquired starter Scott Feldman from the Cubs, along with catcher Steve Clevenger, for starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, reliever Pedro Strop and international bonus pool money.  The move will obviously have an impact on the O's, but more broadly, it means that we've entered the period when trade talk becomes more than just talk, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  Here's more from today's column..

  • Scouts that have spoken with Martino expect the Phillies to be active sellers, but hold onto Cliff Lee since they want to contend next year.  However, rival scouts and execs anticipate that, in addition to Michael Young and Chase UtleyJonathan Papelbon will be dealt or at least heavily shopped.  We've heard previously that the Phillies are expected to ask for an astronomical haul to part with Papelbon.
  • Papelbon also fits the bill as someone who could be kept for next year, but rivals that have spoken with Martino see too much of a need for bullpen help amongst contenders like the Red Sox and Tigers and they expect GM Ruben Amaro to get a strong offer for the closer.
  • One executive involved in the talks for the MarlinsRicky Nolasco predicts that he will land with the Dodgers, with the Giants a possibility and the Padres still somewhat interested.  Last night it was reported that the RangersRockies, and Dodgers are in "heavy pursuit" of the Miami hurler.  
  • A major league source told Martino that the Twins will likely shop Mike Pelfrey later this month, if he makes a strong few starts.  While the 29-year-old hasn't exactly been a world-beater this year – he has a 6.11 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 – he could perhaps get better as he moves further from last year's Tommy John surgery and appeal to a contender willing to throw starters against the wall like the Orioles.

Orioles Seeking Rotation Upgrades

At 42-31, the Orioles have the second-best record in the American League. That impressive win total comes despite the fact that their starting pitchers, as a whole, have the fourth-worst ERA in the Majors at 4.76. Given that number, it's no surprise to see MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli write that the Orioles will be in the market for starting pitching help in her latest Orioles Inbox. According to Ghiroli, names like Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, Jason Vargas and Joe Saunders are on the team's radar. She adds that Mike Pelfrey's name has also surfaced.

No one from that group stands out as an ace-caliber pitcher, which meshes with Ghiroli's statement that the Orioles "would like to add at least one more pitcher to help eat innings and keep the bullpen fresh." That trade could come prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, or, if asking prices are high, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette could make a waiver trade in August as he did in 2012 when he acquired Saunders from the Diamondbacks for Matt Lindstrom.

Asked about the Orioles seeking a potential upgrade at second base via the trade market, Ghiroli said that the team isn't looking for second base upgrades. Baltimore is satisfied with the defense of Ryan Flaherty, and Brian Roberts is nearing a rehab assignment. According to Ghiroli, the Orioles would prefer to "[funnel] any and all resources and trade chips into helping out the rotation."

Not surprisingly, the Orioles aren't willing to discuss Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in trades, which is likely the reason for focusing on second- and third-tier trade targets. Of the five names mentioned, Norris figures to have the highest asking price. Only he is controlled beyond 2013; each of the other four can be free agents at season's end.

Earlier this season the O's were said to be looking for a top-of-the-rotation starter, but they seem to have shifted that focus. Given their unwillingness to part with Gausman or Bundy, it stands to reason that acquiring an ace-caliber arm would've been an unrealistic goal.

Twins Notes: Liriano, Scouting, Pelfrey, Wood

Twins general manager Terry Ryan spoke with Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN recently and told Mackey that he's not yet ready to pat himself on the back for last season's Francisco Liriano trade. Mackey opines that the Twins look like clear winners already, noting that the White Sox paid $2MM for lackluster results from Liriano, who didn't even re-sign with the team. In exchange, Minnesota has a serviceable utility infielder in Eduardo Escobar and a 23-year-old lefty in Pedro Hernandez who already has four solid MLB outings under his belt for the Twins. Mackey notes what a breath of fresh air a good trade is after recent missteps including the Johan Santana trade, the Wilson Ramos trade and the J.J. Hardy-for-Jim Hoey swap. Here are more highlights from Mackey's excellent piece…

  • Ryan told Mackey that he's embracing statistical analysis far more in his second run as the team's GM than his first. Ryan consults with Twins' stat guru Jack Goin on every personnel decision, but Mackey notes that "…Ryan's background is still firmly entrenched in traditional scouting."
  • When asked by Mackey if he could form opinions on 18 college players he'd never seen after attending just one college game, Ryan replied: "That's what you're supposed to do, and if you go into that college game and you can't do that then you need to get out of the business, because you're paid to evaluate and make a decision."
  • Ryan feels that lack of command, not lack of stuff, has been the reason for Mike Pelfrey's early struggles in his first season with the Twins. Pelfrey is still less than one year removed from Tommy John surgery. Ryan isn't surprised by the early problems and feels that Pelfrey "will be fine" in the long run, which implies to yours truly that Pelfrey will have a fairly long leash.
  • The Twins have two weeks to make a decision on right-hander Tim Wood, whom they signed to a Major League contract this offseason following his dominant season for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in 2012. Mackey reports that Wood's stuff has looked good but notes that the Twins will have to expose him to waivers if he's not on the 25-man roster at the end of his 30-day rehab window because he is out of options.
  • Minnesota "flirted pretty heavily" with Joe Blanton this winter, but it looks like they dodged a bullet when Blanton picked the Angels instead. Mackey notes that Blanton has allowed as many homers (nine) as the entire Twins rotation combined.
  • The Twins will be cautious with how quickly they promote top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, as the organization wants to see how they fare when facing pitchers in their respective leagues for a second time. Mackey adds that Sano — Baseball America's No. 9 overall prospect — doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2014 season.