Nate McLouth Rumors
The Yankees are interested in Nate McLouth writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but more as a backup plan to primary targets such as Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson. The Orioles remain in the mix for McLouth, and Rosenthal adds that the chances of McLouth going to the Yankees appear "slim." Still, he points out, the very fact that they're keeping tabs on McLouth speaks to the wide net they've cast this winter and the "tangled web of the Yankees' offseason." Here's more out of the AL East ...
- We just hit on some Red Sox notes, but also within the report of WEEI.com's Alex Speier are some quotes from Sox backstop David Ross, who spoke with former teammate Brian McCann about coming to Boston. McCann expressed to Ross that years were the primary factor in his decision to join the Yankees. It didn't hurt, Ross added, that McCann relishes the idea of swinging into Yankee Stadium's welcoming right field fence.
- "We've been focused on adding some pitching depth, and that's been accomplished so far," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com following today's acquisition of Brad Brach. Duquette also acknowledged that most of the work to be done still lies ahead: "It's only Nov. 25. We're working to set up the team to be competitive next season."
- We also learned earlier today that Duquette expects to tender contracts to all of the club's players that are eligible for arbitration.
- Recent reports have linked the Blue Jays to Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija, but the club has not made any trade offers to acquire a starter, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told MLB Network Radio (via MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm). Though Anthopoulos did not deny interest, or that the club has talked things over with Chicago, he did dampen expectations of any major news before the Winter Meetings. "Before the Thanksgiving holiday sometimes there's that last little push [when] teams want to get some things off their plate," said Anthopoulos. "So maybe things happen here in the next two or three days. If not, we'll take it to the [Winter Meetings], I guess, at that point."
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Orioles have been one of the most mentioned teams on MLBTR with the club trying to decide whether to extend or trade Matt Wieters and approaching the Cardinals about a J.J. Hardy-Shelby Miller trade. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com weighs in on those and other topics in a "Because You Asked" column:
- The Hardy-Miller talks were just preliminary, but not unexpected because of the Orioles' quest for starting pitching and the Cardinals' need for a shortstop. Kubatko sees the O's acquiring a starter and keeping Hardy.
- Wieters is not untouchable and the Orioles are willing to trade him, but are not feverishly shopping the catcher. Financial constraints are compounding the Wieters situation, as the front office is trying to figure out how to accomodate within their budget the pursuit of free agents like Carlos Beltran and arbitration raises for Wieters and others (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $41.2MM for eight arbitration eligible players).
- There is no progress in negotiations with outfielder Nate McLouth. The Orioles are concerned with other clubs offering him a two-year deal. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted two years and $10MM for McLouth to which a person in the Orioles organization, when asked by Kubatko late in the season, responded: "Well, he won't be getting that from us."
- Kubatko suggests the Orioles swallow hard and give McLouth a two-year contract since they did so for Wilson Betemit. If re-signed, Kubatko doesn't necessarily see McLouth as the full-time starter in left, but a valuable fourth outfielder, occasional DH, pinch-runner, and defensive replacement.
- The Orioles like Carlos Beltran and see him as a great fit; but, will have to outbid some big spending teams, which they haven't done historically.
- One option worth debating to free up payroll space for Beltran, according to Kubatko, is trading Jim Johnson and his expected $10.8MM arbitration salary. The Orioles have said they intend to keep their closer.
- Kubatko spoke with someone in the organization recently who steered him away from Scott Kazmir, as if the Orioles have no interest. The O's, however, do have interest in Tim Hudson.
- There is a definite possibility Brian Roberts will return to Baltimore. If not, Mark Ellis is on the club's radar as an alternative because he won't command a three-year deal like Omar Infante.
Here's the latest out of Baltimore ...
- The Orioles remain interested in bringing back outfielder Nate McLouth and have engaged in discussions with his agency (The Sparta Group), reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The O's have yet to make a formal offer, says Connolly, and when they do it might need to include a figure for the 2015 season, as McLouth is looking likely to command multiple years. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that the 32-year-old would land a two-year, $10MM deal.
- Baltimore may not spend a lot on the free agent market, but the team has been aggressive early in making multiple offers to targets, writes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. She sees the club targeting the mid-tier starting pitching market.
- Meanwhile, says Ghiroli, it would remain surprising to see catcher Matt Wieters trade hands before 2014. But "an extension is becoming more and more remote," in her opinion.
- Trade speculation has also recently hit shortstop J.J. Hardy, but Ghiroli throws cold water on that idea as well. As she explains, dealing Hardy opens up a hole in the lineup even if Manny Machado is shifted to short, since then the team would have no obvious choice to man the hot corner. Of course, an overwhelming return could nevertheless be enticing, and that could well be precisely what the O's sought in approaching the Cardinals with interest in Shelby Miller.
Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com feels that while there is a growing sentiment among some Orioles fans that Matt Wieters should be traded due to his declining offensive numbers, the backstop is part of the team's core and should instead be offered an extension. Melewski points out that Adam Jones was extended with two years of team control remaining -- the same amount of team control the Orioles currently hold over Wieters. He adds that Wieters is a durable clubhouse leader that is entering his prime years, all of which should factor into the team's desire to retain him. The x-factor that isn't discussed by Melewski is Wieters' agent, Scott Boras. Few Boras clients sign extensions prior to free agency, though notable recent exceptions include Elvis Andrus, Carlos Gomez and Carlos Gonzalez. More on the O's...
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Manny Machado's surgery to repair the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee will take place today. The projected four-to-six-week timeframe for his recovery will have him ready sometime between the beginning of Spring Training and the early portion of April.
- From within that same piece, Connolly writes that Jason Hammel is behind Scott Feldman, Nate McLouth and Brian Roberts on the Orioles' "priority to re-sign" list. Connolly's assumption is that Hammel will hook on with another team. I could envision him signing a similar contract to that of Feldman last offseason -- one year at $5-6MM with additional incentives based on innings pitched and/or games started.
- Lastly from Connolly, the out-of-options Danny Valencia figures to make the team in 2014 and could see more time in the field early on, depending on Machado's recovery. Connolly adds that despite Valencia's large numbers against left-handed pitching, a consistent DH who can get on base regularly will be an offseason priority for the Orioles.
The Rays and Rangers will square off in a one-game playoff to determine the second American League Wild Card team tonight and finalize the postseason picture. Should the Rays come up short, it will mark the first time since 2006 in which the AL East has not been represented by two teams in the postseason (the Yankees, Twins, Tigers and A's were playoff teams that year). Here's more on the AL East...
- There has been increasing speculation about whether or not Yankees manager Joe Girardi will return to the team in 2014 given his expiring contract, and ESPN's Buster Olney hears that the Yanks will have to significantly increase Girardi's $3MM salary in order to retain him (Twitter link).
- There's mutual interest between Scott Feldman and the Orioles, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko thinks the O's will re-sign their midseason acquisition unless another team vastly overpays for him on the free agent market.
- Within that piece, Kubatko also notes that free agent Jason Hammel's tenure with the Orioles is likely finished. He adds that if our own Tim Dierkes' two-year, $10MM projection for Nate McLouth is accurate, then McLouth is as good as gone, too.
- The Blue Jays' payroll won't be moving back in 2014, GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters yesterday, including MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. Anthopoulos stated that the team was more likely to address its holes via trade than free agency, noting that this year's free agent crop is once again looking weak. Chisholm lists second base and starting catcher as areas of focus, and he also notes that Toronto is searching for at least one middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Outfielder Nate McLouth signed a one-year, $1.75MM deal to return to the Pirates in December 2011, with a fourth outfielder role in mind after several years of struggles in Atlanta. He hit a low point at the end of May last year, as the Bucs released him. McLouth quickly signed a minor league deal with the Orioles, and played 47 games for their Triple-A affiliate before earning a call back to the bigs. At just 236 plate appearances, the sample was limited, but McLouth helped the Orioles reach the postseason and was their best hitter in the division series.
McLouth focused on a one-year deal on the free agent market, avoiding an option year but re-signing with the Orioles for just $2MM plus incentives. He's served as the team's primary left fielder and leadoff hitter in 2013, and has put together a solid campaign over a larger sample.
McLouth is respectable at drawing walks, with a 9% rate this year that is a tick above average for a left fielder. This year it has led to a .332 on-base percentage, also better than average for the position. A left-handed hitter, McLouth hit righties pretty well this year at a .275/.346/.416 clip.
McLouth also adds value on the basepaths. He has an 84.9% career success rate in stolen bases, and is tied for ninth in the AL with 30 swipes this year. Among those with at least 800 plate appearances and 30 stolen base attempts since 2012, McLouth's 84% success rate ranks ninth in baseball. More importantly, FanGraphs' baserunning statistics, which cover more than just steals, suggest McLouth has added 6.2 runs on the bases this year. That's tied for the 11th-best baserunning contribution in the game this year.
McLouth has spent most of his time in left field the last two years, but he can handle center in a pinch and even won a somewhat controversial Gold Glove for his play there in 2008.
Overall this year, FanGraphs pegs McLouth at 2.4 wins above replacement. That's fifth among free agent outfielders, assuming Coco Crisp's option will be exercised. McLouth is earning about 15% of Carlos Beltran's salary, but if you agree with the penalty given to Beltran by defensive stats, the two players have been roughly equally valuable in 2013. The free agent market still veers toward baseball card numbers, so Beltran's 24 home runs and 84 RBI will serve him well and could result in a qualifying offer. McLouth's value is less obvious, creating a potential free agent bargain even with a raise. And a qualifying offer will not be a factor.
McLouth does not hit left-handed pitching well, with a .196/.287/.304 line since 2011. The Orioles have benched him accordingly against some southpaws, so he's faced lefties in only 21.7% of his plate appearances this year rather than the typical 26-30%. A team signing McLouth will need to have a right-handed hitting left fielder on hand as a platoon partner.
McLouth should be used sparingly in center field, as his defensive numbers suggest he's well below average at the position. The average left fielder has a weighted on-base average of .317 this year, not far from McLouth's .325. He has a little bit of pop, but doesn't fit the power profile of a left fielder. A team might have to find power at an atypical position to compensate.
McLouth has been worth more than two wins above replacement this year, the first time he's been worth even one full win in a season since 2009. His sample as a productive outfielder has grown, but he has to shake off an even larger sample of being replacement level. And this may be cherry-picking, but since a huge April, McLouth has hit just .245/.309/.382.
Born in Michigan, Nate resides with his wife Lindsay in Knoxville, Tennessee. McLouth is a deeply religious person who has overcome adversity in his career, as explained in this article a year ago by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
The Orioles aren't brimming with alternatives to replace McLouth, and will have to turn to the free agent and trade markets if they don't re-sign him. Nolan Reimold has been hampered by injuries for two years, and may be non-tendered. Prospects L.J. Hoes and Xavier Avery were traded this summer, leaving Henry Urrutia as the main internal option. Since McLouth could assume more of an above-average, oft-used fourth outfielder role, he could boost the depth of many clubs.
As a short-side platoon bat with little defensive ability, Jonny Gomes set the bar last winter with a two-year, $10MM deal. Part-timers such as Scott Hairston, Ty Wigginton, and Jack Hannahan also received two years. Another good example is David DeJesus, who was signed to a two-year, $10MM deal with a club option by the Cubs as an outfielder who would be benched against many southpaws. Ultimately I think McLouth will land that same two-year, $10MM deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Major league baseball has made strides in increasing racial diversity but has yet to increase its hiring of females in the sport's upper echelons, reports Ronald Blum of the Associated Press. Changes in the number of African-American and Latino players since last year reportedly fell within the range of regular fluctuation. Elsewhere around baseball:
- If you were wondering how bad your team's injury woes are compared against the rest of the league, be sure to check out the New York Times' Money on the Bench feature. With a daily wasted dollar total that is updated as you read, the site also includes a helpful graphic that shows which players have accounted for the largest hit. Currently leading the way are the Yankees, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Mets, and Cardinals. Alex Rodriguez and Johan Santana have been the biggest drags on their teams' payrolls.
- Every year, several players that look to be on the decline will manage to turn things around. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca details this year's turnaround specialists. Chase Utley, Scott Kazmir, and Nate McLouth are among the rebounding players who will be looking to take their early success into next year's free agent market.
- Earlier today, Tim Dierkes asked MLBTR readers to weigh in on which players would receive qualifying offers after this season. The current results have produced some clear favorites, with more than 50% of respondents identifying Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, and Curtis Granderson as likely to receive an offer. The only other player to receive a greater-than 35% response rate is Hunter Pence, at 46.0%. Hanging around the 30% mark are players like Chase Utley, Matt Garza, Brian McCann, Tim Lincecum, Hiroki Kuroda, Mike Napoli, and Nelson Cruz.
Mike Morse remains a prime piece of trade bait and earlier this afternoon we learned Adam LaRoche sought a no-trade clause as part of his new two-year deal with the Nationals. He did not receive one, however. Here's the latest on the Nats and Orioles...
- Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) doesn't see the Nationals getting much for Morse. The 30-year-old is eligible for free agency next fall and GMs aren't eager to give up good prospects for a player in that situation. Some GMs have told Olney privately that while they like Morse, they can't see surrendering much for him due to his defensive shortcomings and lengthy injury history.
- Meanwhile, MLB.com's Matthew Leach says Morse is a very intriguing trade chip for the Nationals. He lists the Orioles, Yankees, Giants, Mariners, Rays, and Rangers as clubs who could have interest in the slugger.
- Nate McLouth says he re-signed with the Orioles in large part because of the team chemistry in Baltimore, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The outfielder inked a one-year, $2MM deal with the O's in December.
- Jonathan Bernhardt of Sports on Earth argues that the Orioles' lack of activity this offseason was the best of several bad options.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
3:41pm: Morosi tweets that the Orioles aren't likely to make a real push for Swisher with McLouth back in the fold. Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and SiriusXM identifies Swisher's strongest suitors as the Phillies, Indians, and Mariners (Twitter link).
2:44pm: Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports still list the Red Sox and Giants among the potential suitors for Swisher. However, the Sox would have to move Jacoby Ellsbury, while the Giants figure to employ a low-cost platoon in left field instead.
The Orioles, Mariners, and Indians are also still involved, according to the FOX duo.
1:02pm: Indians manager Terry Francona called Swisher to pitch the Tribe to him, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
11:38am: After missing out on Shane Victorino to the Red Sox, the Indians have shifted their focus to other outfielders. One of their targets, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter), is Nick Swisher.
The Red Sox and Giants both had interest in Swisher, but with Victorino in Boston and San Francisco likely not having the money for a big free agent outfielder, those teams both appear to be out of the running.
The Orioles and Mariners are among the other clubs that could be in on Swisher, though MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli writes that Baltimore may just be doing due diligence on the former Yankee. The O's still hope to sign Nate McLouth, and Swisher may be out of their price range, says Ghiroli.
The Orioles have found their left fielder, retaining Nate McLouth on a one-year, $2MM deal with $500K in incentives. McLouth is represented by The Sparta Group.
McLouth, 31, joined the Orioles in June after being released by the Pirates. He had a nice run for the O's, hitting .268/.342/.435 in 236 plate appearances. McLouth made the All-Star team in 2008 and signed a $15.75MM extension with the Pirates the following February. The Bucs traded him to the Braves a few months later, where he had a disappointing three-year stint. With the new Orioles contract, it was said McLouth sought only a straight one-year deal, as he looks to further re-establish his value.
Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com first reported the agreement, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun first reported it was close, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports added the amount. Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.