Mike Gonzalez Rumors
The Nationals have re-signed Mike Gonzalez, who was released on Tuesday, the team announced. Gonzalez was an Article XX(B) free agent, meaning he would have been owed a $100K retention bonus had he been kept under his old deal, which also included an opt-out clause that could have been triggered today.
Gonzalez joins Xavier Cedeno as left-handed bullpen depth at Triple-A Syracuse. Those two lost their best chance at a 25-man roster spot when it was decided that Ross Detwiler would start the year as a second lefty in the big league pen. The other southpaw in the Nats' MLB relief corps is Jerry Blevins, who was acquired by trade from the Athletics earlier in the offseason.
1:33pm: Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets that Gonzalez will earn $1.5MM if he makes the roster and has $750K worth of incentives in his deal as well.
7:31am: The Nationals announced that they have signed lefty Mike Gonzalez to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training (Twitter link). Gonzalez is represented by the MVP Sports Group.
Usually one to hold lefties in check, the 35-year-old Gonzalez struggled in that regard last season, surrendering a .274/.336/.443 batting line to opposing lefties en route to a 4.68 ERA in 50 innings with the Brewers. However, his career mark of .219/.287/.346 is a significant improvement from last year's split, and he's just one season removed from posting a 3.03 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 2012 -- a season he spent with the Nationals.
Each August, teams will place a large number of players on revocable waivers to gauge interest in their trade value. Because the waivers are revocable, if a claiming team doesn't make a suitable offer, the player's original team can simply pull him back for nothing. Should that player be placed on waivers a second time, they are then irrevocable, so most players only hit waivers once. Should that player clear waivers, however, he's eligible to be traded to any team.
For more info on how waiver trades work, refer to the August trade primer that I posted yesterday. In the meantime, here is Friday's list of players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers...
- Mike Gonzalez: The 35-year-old Gonzalez was the most likely trade candidate of this group in July and is therefore the most likely to be claimed. He's earning a $2.25MM base salary this season, of which roughly $713K remains (his contract also contains incentives). He's appeared in a league-leading 54 games this season, en route to a 3.76 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 through 38 1/3 innings.
- Placido Polanco: Polanco, 37, is on a one-year deal worth $2.75MM with the Marlins. He's owed about $872K over the rest of the season but is hitting just .259/.313/.301. UZR hasn't been a fan of his glove work at third this season, but The Fielding Bible still considers him a plus defender.
- Aaron Harang: The 35-year-old Harang is owed roughly $2.22MM through the end of the season plus a $2MM buyout of his mutual option. He's posted a 4.89 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings since being acquired by Seattle, and advanced metrics like FIP (4.32) and xFIP (4.27) feel his ERA should be lower. A claim seems unlikely given his salary.
3:12pm: Gallardo left today's start early due to an injury, limping off the mound. The Brewers described the injury as left hamstring tightness.
11:09am: "We're not going to move him," Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in regard to affordable right fielder Norichika Aoki. Melvin noted that most of the players being traded are in their contract years; Aoki has a $1.5MM club option for 2014.
Melvin also told Haudricout he's not motivated to move Kyle Lohse, nor is he engaged in trade talks about today's starter, Yovani Gallardo. Melvin isn't in active talks for any of his relievers, either, including Mike Gonzalez. "Teams have to make offers," said Melvin who did acknowledge having one offer on the table for a pitcher, which he does not expect to lead to a deal.
"We are certainly not giving up on this season," Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Having won three in a row, the Nats are seven games back in the wild card. Rizzo would like to improve his current team, but plans to avoid rentals. "I'm not concerned that we need to go out and get a starting pitcher," he added in talking to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rizzo also downplayed suggestions of a rift with manager Davey Johnson, after the GM's decision to fire hitting coach Rick Eckstein. More from the NL East...
- The Dodgers and Phillies have not discussed a Cliff Lee trade recently, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Though the Phillies are discussing lefty Lee with other teams, Rosenthal sees plenty of obstacles to a trade. One is his current stiff neck; it would definitely help if he jumps in to start Tuesday evening against the Giants.
- The Phillies are "marketing some players aggressively, including Michael Young," writes ESPN's Buster Olney, but not Lee or Chase Utley. Reportedly, the Phillies are currently trying to extend Utley.
- Retired closer Brad Lidge will sign a one-day contract Thursday with the Phillies and retire in their uniform, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- The Nationals do not want to part with high-end young pitchers such as A.J. Cole, Robbie Ray, and Sammy Solis, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon is dissatisfied with the Phillies' current direction, MLB.com's Todd Zalecki reports. In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, Philadelphia has fallen to seven games below .500, and that's not what Papelbon anticipated when he signed with the Phils. "I definitely didn't come here for this," he says. He also doesn't sound optimistic when asked about the Phillies' future. "Oh man," he says. "We could be here all day."
Papelbon is of the opinion that the Phillies need to undergo an overhaul, similar to that of his former team, the Red Sox (whose overhaul, ironically, included losing Papelbon to free agency). He says he does not want to be traded, but adds that he does not want to stay in Philadelphia if his team continues on the same path.
- The Tigers and Rangers have discussed the possibility of a deal that would send Joe Nathan to Detroit, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. Right now, though, the Rangers are asking a lot, and Morosi says there is "no momentum toward a deal." As MLBTR's Aaron Steen noted yesterday, Joakim Soria could close for the Rangers if Nathan were to depart. The Rangers could target the Tigers' current setup man, Drew Smyly, if they were to deal Nathan, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.
- The Tigers are not trying to trade for Papelbon, Morosi tweets, but Luke Gregerson of the Padres is a possibility (Twitter links).
- The Padres and Brewers are the top sellers for bullpen arms, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports. The Padres can offer Gregerson and Joe Thatcher, while the Brewers have John Axford and Mike Gonzalez. The Astros, meanwhile, could deal Jose Veras or Wesley Wright, while the Angels could move Scott Downs.
It's time for MLB to push the trade deadline from July 31st to a later date, opines Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Cameron argues that with an expanded postseason, many teams are still holding out hope around this time of year that they are still in it and therefore they aren't selling. A new deadline would certainly take some getting used to, but the date has shifted over time. As you ponder Cameron's suggestion, here are some links from around the league...
- Braves pitcher Tim Hudson fractured his ankle against the Mets tonight as he was covering first base and the club announced that he will need to undergo season-ending ankle surgery. Before Hudson's injury, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com noted that Atlanta had some interest in acquiring another starter.
- The Brewers have shipped off Francisco Rodriguez, but Danny Knobler of CBS Sports tweets that plenty of teams are still interested in their remaining bullpen arms such as John Axford and Mike Gonzalez. The Dodgers are among the interested parties, according to Knobler.
- Cubs outfielder David DeJesus is returning just in time to be showcased for the deadline, but club president Theo Epstein doesn't think he's going anywhere, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. However, he won't make any guarantees. "Does that make him untouchable?" Epstein said. "No, no one is untouchable, but we'll sit and weigh out the options as to what's best for the Cubs. Just because you may listen on somebody doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate everything he brings to the organization."
- Peter Gammons of the MLB Network reports that the Angels are receiving calls on lefty Scott Downs, who is a free agent at season's end (Twitter link). A deal is unlikely to happen, however, Gammons adds.
- One league executive told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter) that he has "no doubt" that the Phillies are buyers after talking to them.
The Braves' priority is to add a left-handed reliever, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, with James Russell of the Cubs, Mike Gonzalez of the Brewers, and Wesley Wright of the Astros on their wish list. The Braves are more interested in Russell and Gonzalez, he adds.
The Braves' need for a southpaw reliever has increased with the plan to put Alex Wood in the starting rotation, possibly swapping roles with right-hander Kris Medlen. That would leave Luis Avilan as the only lefty in the Braves' pen, with Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters both out for the season due to Tommy John surgery.
Russell, 27, has a large platoon split. He'd held lefties to a .187/.218/.284 line, but righties have hit him hard (small sample size warning). Russell is earning $1.075MM this year, and he's under team control through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player. Gonzalez, 35, joined the Braves from the Pirates in the January 2007 Adam LaRoche trade. He racked up 125 innings and 26 saves for the Braves over three seasons, mostly after recovering from June '07 Tommy John surgery. The Braves allowed him to leave as a free agent for Baltimore, drafting Matt Lipka as a supplemental pick in 2010 as compensation. After spending time with the Rangers and Nationals, Gonzalez signed with the Brewers as a free agent in January this year. He's always been prone to the free pass, especially against righties this year, but he's been strong against lefties.
Wright, 28, came to the Astros in the '07 Rule 5 draft, from the Dodgers. They were able to retain him by keeping him in the Majors for all of '08, and he's improved since then. Similar to Russell, Wright is under team control through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player. His problem this year, against righties and lefties, has been an abnormally high batting average on balls in play and rate of flyballs leaving the yard.
Which other left-handed relievers might be available? We'll have a full post on the topic later today, but Mike Dunn, Charlie Furbush, Oliver Perez, Jose Mijares, Darren Oliver, Scott Downs, Joe Thatcher, Javier Lopez, and Jeremy Affeldt are names to consider.
The Braves also seek a backup infielder to fill the void after the loss of Ramiro Pena to season-ending surgery; they'd prefer a left-handed hitter with more offense than Paul Janish, writes Bowman. The Cubs' Luis Valbuena could be a logical candidate there, in my opinion.
Brewers relievers John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, and Mike Gonzalez are a popular bunch. A Dodgers scout was sent to Milwaukee this week to watch the available trio, writes Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, while the Red Sox, Orioles and Tigers have scouts in Milwaukee this week and the other NL West teams are interested in the Brewers' relievers as well as Yovani Gallardo. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has a new report too, saying the Tigers, Orioles, and Diamondbacks have scouted the Brewers' relievers in recent days and weeks.
Morosi says the D'Backs and Brewers have discussed Axford, Rodriguez, and Jim Henderson, while Knobler says the Brewers have told teams Henderson won't be dealt. Interest from the Tigers and Orioles appears more preliminary, writes Morosi, and the Tigers and Brewers have not had formal talks recently.
Rodriguez and Gonzalez will be eligible for free agency after the season, while Axford is under team control through 2016 as an arbitration eligible player. As a Super Two with 106 career saves to his credit, Axford's salary jumped to $5MM this year. As Morosi notes, Axford's salary might scare some teams off, though his lack of saves this year will slow down his arbitration raises. Even though a team can technically own Axford's rights through 2016, the focus for a team acquiring him has to be on 2013, with tendering him a contract even for 2014 a decision that will require more information and some thought. It's one of the reasons the Brewers are reportedly willing to move him.
The Brewers are receiving "a lot of calls" regarding the availability of John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez and Mike Gonzalez, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). He adds that Yovani Gallardo is also drawing "some" interest.
Axford started the season as Milwaukee's closer but lost the job after he allowed nine runs in his first 3 1/3 innings. Over the past five weeks, however, he's fired 18 1/3 scoreless innings in a row, striking out 18 hitters and walking just seven in that time.
A look at the custom Fangraphs leaderboard of relief trade candidates compiled by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes shows that each of the three relievers ranks in the top 20 in xFIP. All three are striking out more than a batter per inning, though all three are pretty significant flyball pitchers as well.
As for Gallardo, Brewers GM Doug Melvin spoke about the right-hander earlier this week. While he feels that Gallardo is important to their chances of winning games in the future, he also acknowledged that contenders will likely make him offers that he has to consider. Tim also analyzed Gallardo's case as a trade candidate earlier this year.
Yesterday, ESPN's Jayson Stark noted that the Brewers will listen on any position player other than Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun and Jean Segura. I'd imagine that Kyle Lohse will also draw some interest from other clubs.