Mike Pelfrey Rumors
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 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.
For the fourth straight year, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony sat down with Jesse Lund of SB Nation's Twinkie Town to discuss the state of affairs with his team. Antony and Lund discussed the Twins' offseason at length, ranging from the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere to the Twins' pursuit of starting pitching. Here's a look at some of the highlights, but bear in mind that entire piece is well worth your time...
- The Twins never intended to trade both Revere and Span, but the Phillies' offer of Trevor May and Vance Worley was too strong not to pull the trigger. Antony identifies May as someone who could get a September call-up in 2013 if he enjoys a strong season.
- The Twins had conversations with both Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano, but were unable to agree to terms with either one. In particular, the Twins sought a club option for Baker, who wanted strictly a one-year deal. Antony said they didn't want 2013 to "be a donation" to Baker in the event that he wasn't healthy and effective for most of the season. That decision looks wise, with Baker on the 60-day disabled list for the Cubs.
- Mike Pelfrey identified the Twins as a team he wanted to pitch for and was aggressive in working out a deal, according to Antony. The Twins did quite a bit of homework on Pelfrey's recovery from Tommy John surgery in order to ascertain that the right-hander would indeed be ready for Opening Day, as he promised.
- The Twins made several "competitive offers" to free agent starting pitchers, in some cases making better offers than the ones those pitchers ultimately took. The Twins had conversations with nearly every free agent starting pitcher and spoke with around 15 agents for pitchers at the Winter Meetings in December.
- Following the Span trade, most teams didn't believe that the team would also trade Revere. Antony says four teams were in the mix for Revere, but the Phillies were the most aggressive and ultimately landed him with the aforementioned offer.
- The Twins were willing to do a one-for-one swap of Span and Alex Meyer because they believe Meyer is a legitimate front-of-the-rotation candidate who can be a "dominant" strikeout pitcher.
- The decision to bring Aaron Hicks north as the team's Opening Day center fielder was a result of Hicks' strong play in Spring Training and his poise off the field. The Twins' front office was never overly concerned with delaying Hicks' free agency by a season: "If he's that good of a player we're going to do what we can to sign him long term and none of that's going to matter."
- Antony, GM Terry Ryan and the rest of the front office prefer to gradually expose their top prospects to the Major Leagues so as not to field a team of all rookies. Additionally, that line of thinking prevents mass arbitration and free agency issues: "If you can bring a couple guys, a couple rookies in each year, it helps infuse that and it helps to spread it out so that not everybody becomes arbitration eligible at the same time or free agents at the same time, all that stuff."
- The Twins "admire" the Royals' bullpen of power arms and would like to build a similar bullpen. The team prioritized power arms in the 2012 Draft, selecting a number of hard-throwing college relievers.
- Antony offered a definitive "No," when asked if the team had interest in Aaron Harang prior to his trade to the Mariners. The Twins feel they have a number of similar arms in the organization already.
- There's been no contact between the Twins and Jim Thome for "a couple of months," and the two were never on the same page. Minnesota had interest in Thome, but they were far apart in discussions.
- "It would be great if he could be a Twin for life," Antony said of Justin Morneau. "He's a guy who's meant a lot for this organization and we'd love it if he were to play his entire career here, but you just don't know how things are going to work out in the end."
- Antony feels that too much has been made of the decision not to extend Ron Gardenhire prior to this season. Many have speculated that Gardenhire is on the hot seat following a pair of 90-loss seasons, but Antony said it was intended to be an organization-wide message that they're looking to get better from top to bottom. He adds that he hopes Gardenhire is the Twins' manager for years to come, and that in three years people are surprised there was even a debate.
The Twins announced that they have signed right-hander Mike Pelfrey to a one-year, $4MM contract. The former Wichita State star can also earn up to $1.5MM in incentives, according to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, who first reported the agreement (Twitter links).
According to those familiar with Pelfrey's status, the starter has been throwing well and is expected to be ready by Opening Day. Even with this signing, the Twins are expected to continue to pursue starters to bolster their work-in-progress rotation of Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Scott Diamond, Brian Duensing, and Liam Hendriks.
Pelfrey, 29 in January, heads to Minnesota after undergoing Tommy John surgery early May while with the Mets. New York non-tendered the veteran in November after he spent the entirety of his career with the organization. During his tenure with the Mets, Pelfrey posted a 4.36 ERA with 3.2 BB/9 and 5.1 K/9. Heyman reported earlier this month (via Twitter) that the Scott Boras client was receiving interest from a series of teams including the Mariners, Indians and Pirates.
Pelfrey, 29 in January, had Tommy John surgery in early May and was non-tendered by the Mets last week.
A few NL Central free agent targets were identified today, as the Brewers and Cubs are in on Jason Grilli among other relievers, the Pirates have expressed interest in John Lannan, and the Cardinals are in the mix for Scott Hairston. More from the division...
- The Cardinals met with Marco Scutaro's agent tonight, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Scutaro is represented by Barry Praver.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "In our minds, we’ve already made our big move with Russ." The Bucs signed Russell Martin for $17MM last week, but still have some work to do. Biertempfel notes that the Pirates have shown interest in five recently non-tendered pitchers: Manny Parra, Lannan, Tom Gorzelanny, Jair Jurrjens, and Mike Pelfrey.
- There have been no substantive talks between the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright about an extension, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals, of course, still remain interested in doing an extension with the 31-year-old before his contract season officially begins.
- Most of the quality lefty relievers are likely to be signed by week's end, suggested Cardinals GM John Mozeliak (B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest reporting).
- The Cardinals and infielder Skip Schumaker are open to a trade, reports Rains, but of course it'd have to make sense for the team.
- The pressure of last summer's contract extension talks affected the performance of Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, agent Paul Kinzer told Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. The 22-year-old can rest easy now that he's under contract through at least 2019.
- The Cubs remain popular with free agents, president Theo Epstein told reporters including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The team is looking to get creative at third base and will continue to monitor the available starting pitchers (and presumably relievers). Epstein suggested the Cubs have interest in some recently non-tendered players.
Here's the latest from the Winter Meetings on a handful of free agents:
- Roy Oswalt is unsure about whether he'll pitch in 2013, one of his agents tells Morosi.
- The Mariners checked in on Delmon Young, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi reported previously that Young might wait until January to sign given his November ankle surgery.
- Grady Sizemore had been drawing interest from a few clubs, including the Red Sox, but he won't be a real option until midseason, according to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. Agent Joe Urbon confirmed to Castrovince that his client underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in September.
- Besides being interested in Scott Hairston, the Yankees are also eyeing Cody Ross, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
- The Mariners have checked in on Ryan Ludwick, among other hitters, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- Cesar Izturis' reps are expected to meet with the Mets this week and there could be a match there, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
- The Orioles' interest in righty Brett Myers appears minimal, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, and they have no meetings set up with his reps.
- The Twins are one team with early interest in southpaw John Lannan, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The Pirates also have an eye on Lannan, reported Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review earlier today.
- The Cubs are talking to many agents about bullpen help and they like Jason Grilli, tweets Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.
- Solid interest in Jason Bay (from teams other than Boston) may lead to a Major League deal, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.
- The Marlins are interested in utility man Mark DeRosa, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The 37-year-old had indicated at season's end that he was unsure what his future held.
- The Royals are "sending out signals" that they have the money and the motivation to pursue a pitcher who could be considered a No. 1, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. A run at Anibal Sanchez isn't out of the question for Kansas City, according to Knobler.
- Tigers people continue to say the team isn't even considering Rafael Soriano, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. However, Sherman notes that owner Mike Ilitch's great relationship with Scott Boras still makes Detroit a wild card in the Soriano sweepstakes.
- Rival executives view the Nationals as a good fit for Mike Pelfrey, especially considering GM Mike Rizzo and Scott Boras have a history of working out deals, says Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitterlinks).
- Teams are showing "no hesitation whatsoever" in pursuing Jeff Keppinger, who underwent surgery to repair a right fibula fracture, agent Keith Grunewald tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitterlinks).
- Jason Giambi would like to continue his playing career, and is drawing interest from three or four teams, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
While the top options on the free agent market may be out of the Twins' price range the club's search for pitching has Minnesota eyeing Joe Blanton as a "prime target," according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. Kevin Correia and Brett Myers are also on the team's radar, Crasnick reports.
In addition to those three names, recently non-tendered pitchers like Mike Pelfrey, John Lannan, and others could interest the Twins, according to Crasnick. Vicente Padilla has also drawn a little interest from Minnesota.
Although the Twins seem to be looking at plenty of pitching options in free agency, the team has also been more active in trade talks than expected, says Crasnick. Teams with pitchers on the block have approached the Twins about both Ben Revere and Josh Willingham.
The Phillies, who have openings at third base and in the outfield, checked in with the recently released Chone Figgins, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. However, the extent of the club's interest is unclear at this time. More from around baseball..
- No less than seven teams have interest in right-hander Mike Pelfrey, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Mets non-tendered Pelfrey last week but they still have interest in re-signing him for less than the $5.875MM he earned last season.
- The Twins don't want to trade Josh Willingham but there are multiple teams interested in the leftfielder, according to Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). An AL executive recently told Mackey that the club might not get much more than a No. 4 starter for Willingham, despite his team-friendly contract. Willingham is owed $14MM through 2014.
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman figures to be a popular man during the meetings as he may dangle James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson to acquire offense, Morosi writes.
- The Mariners need to increase their risk tolerance if they hope to take a major step forward at this week's meetings, opines Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. For the M's, that could mean spending a lot more money on payroll or trading away young prospects for proven players.
- One exec tells Morosi (via Twitter) that this year's Rule 5 draft class is one of the best that he has seen. The draft will take place on Thursday.
Here are today’s National League non-tenders. All decisions must be in by 11pm CT tonight. Be sure to track all tender decisions using MLBTR's Non-Tender Tracker. Related resources include our list of non-tender candidates, our projected arbitration salaries and our arbitration eligibles series.
- The Diamondbacks have non-tendered Wil Nieves according to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter).
- In addition to John Lannan, the Nationals have also non-tendered Tom Gorzelanny and Jesus Flores according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- The Cubs have non-tendered Ian Stewart, Jaye Chapman, and Zach Putnam according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat (on Twitter).
- The Padres have non-tendered left-hander Juan Oramas, the team announced. He had Tommy John surgery this summer and is expected to miss the start of next season.
- The Mets also non-tendered Andres Torres and Manny Acosta, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Mike Pelfrey has been informed he'll be non-tendered by the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (on Twitter). The Mets were expected to non-tender Pelfrey.
- The Braves will non-tender Jair Jurrjens and Peter Moylan.
- The Phillies plan to non-tender Nate Schierholtz, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter).
- The Pirates will non-tender Jeff Karstens, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (on Twitter). Technically the Pirates are designating Karstens for assignment, Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). The team confirmed the move.
- The Brewers have non-tendered left-hander Manny Parra, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (on Twitter).
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.