Neal Cotts Rumors

NL East Rumors: Mets, Coke, Breslow, Detwiler

The latest batch of rumors out of the National League East..

  • The Mets have had preliminary contact with free agent reliever Phil Coke, but there have been no substantive discussions yet, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • The Mets have cast a wide net on lefty relievers but at this time nothing is close and no one in that group stands out, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter).  He also hears that the Mets are not engaged with Coke.
  • The Mets met with the reps for Neal Cotts and Craig Breslow, but neither appear to be likely options, according to Carig (via Twitter).
  • The Nationals are also open to moving Ross Detwiler to teams that value him as a starter and, therefore, would give them more in return, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Neal Cotts Staying With Rangers

Rangers left-hander Neal Cotts will not be traded, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  Cotts was recently claimed by an unknown club, giving the Rangers and this mystery team a 48.5-hour window to work out a trade.  Since no deal was worked out and Texas isn’t letting the claiming team take Cotts for nothing, it would appear that the veteran reliever will spend the rest of the season in Arlington.

Cotts, 34, has a 3.48 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.90 K/BB rate over 54 1/3 IP out of the Rangers’ bullpen this season.  It marks his second straight quality season with Texas (he had a 1.11 ERA over 57 IP in 2013), and Cotts’ performance is all the more impressive considering that he didn’t pitch at all in the majors from 2010-12 due to injury.  The southpaw will be a free agent this winter.

The Nationals were rumored to have interest in Cotts after the July 31st trade deadline had passed, though there’s no indication they were the team who claimed him.  It’s pretty unlikely that Cotts even reached the Nats given that every other team in baseball would’ve had to pass on the lefty before NL-leading Washington could’ve claimed him.


Neal Cotts Claimed On Revocable Waivers

Rangers left-hander Neal Cotts has been claimed on revocable waivers by an unnamed club, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Cotts’ waiver period expired yesterday, according to the initial report which revealed that he was on waivers. Because teams have 48.5 hours to work out a trade from the point of a claim, it can be inferred that the Rangers will have until tomorrow afternoon to work out a trade to send Cotts to the claiming team.

The 34-year-old Cotts has been excellent once again this season, continuing a surprising resurgence after what was a three-year absence from the Major Leagues (from 2010-12). After posting a 1.11 ERA in 57 innings for Texas last season, Cotts has turned in a strong 3.48 mark with 9.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 this season. Already at 54 1/3 innings pitched, Cotts is on pace to top last season’s 57 innings handily. He’s set to hit free agency at season’s end, so it makes sense for the Rangers to explore a potential trade to receive some future value before he hits the open market.

A number of contending clubs have been on the lookout for bullpen help of late, including the Dodgers, Tigers, Royals and Pirates (it seems unlikely that Cotts would’ve made it to the NL, however). Cotts is earning $2.2MM in 2014, making him a highly affordable option for the final few weeks of the season. He’s owed roughly $493K through season’s end.



Andrus, Three Other Rangers Clear Waivers; Cotts Still On Wire

A group of high-profile Rangers players has cleared revocable waivers, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Ace Yu Darvish, star third baseman Adrian Beltre, young shortstop Elvis Andrus, and recent free agent-signee Shin-Soo Choo have all cleared. (Outfielder Alex Rios has already cleared waivers.) Meanwhile, lefty Neal Cotts is still on waivers, with his period set to expire tomorrow.

Of course, just because that set of big names has cleared names does not necessarily mean that other teams do not want them, let alone that they are likely to be dealt. As Heyman notes, even if a team was interested in adding Darvish or Beltre, placing a claim would start a clock that could well be too short to complete such a significant deal. In the case of Choo, his down year and massive contract made it quite unlikely that another team would want to take his contract.

Andrus, on the other hand, is a more interesting case. His eight-year, $120MM extension (which includes both opt-out and vesting option provisions) does not kick in until next year. The 25-year-old has struggled to take the next step at the plate, and owns a .271/.326/.337 batting line over the 2013-14 time frame. Though he is a productive fielder and baserunner, that batting line has limited his cumulative value over that period to 4.4 fWAR and 4.9 rWAR. While his name has been mentioned as a trade possibility, the contract would certainly be a major complication, and it is perhaps somewhat telling that he was left unclaimed.

Ultimately, Cotts seems the most likely to actually change hands. Executives tell Heyman that the setup man will likely be claimed, in which case Texas will have the option of working out a trade, allowing his contract to be assumed by the claiming team, or pulling him back. The 34-year-old is earning just $2.2MM this year and will be a free agent at season’s end, making some sort of transaction seem rather likely. Though he has taken a step back from a stellar 2013 (1.11 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9), Cotts has still been fairly productive this year. He owns a 3.54 ERA and 9.6 K/9 versus 3.4 BB/9 over 53 1/3 frames, with peripherals that suggest he has pitched slightly better. The veteran has actually been somewhat more effective against righties (.673 OPS) than lefties (.731 OPS) on the season.

As a reminder, you can check here for MLBTR’s updated list of players who have cleared revocable waivers.


Nationals Interested In Rangers’ Neal Cotts

Though the trade deadline has passed, the Nationals are still looking to bolster their left-handed relief corps and are considering Neal Cotts of the Rangers, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The sides have had prior talks, but Texas has held out thus far for a better offer.

Washington expressed interest in players like Andrew Miller (then of the Red Sox, now of the Orioles) at the deadline, Ladson says, but did not pull the trigger. The club was unwilling to part with outfielder Steven Souza, who is now with the big league club and could be an important piece going forward. The Nationals have not received quite the production they hoped for from Jerry Blevins, who has been stellar against lefties but entirely ineffective against righties. And fellow lefty Ross Detwiler has improved, but still has not turned into the force that the club hoped he might be in a relief role.

Cotts is set to become a free agent and is playing on a fairly modest $2.2MM salary this year, which could make it tough for him to squeeze through waivers. (The Nationals, of course, would be behind the entire American League and all NL clubs with worse records in waiver priority.) The 34-year-old has not matched his stellar 2013 season (1.11 ERA), but has been effective enough with a 3.38 ERA, 2.97 FIP, and 9.8 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9. Cotts has actually posted reverse platoon splits, giving up a .261/.333/.412 line to same-handed hitters while holding righties to a .244/.317/.333 slash.


Quick Hits: Hahn, Royals, Luhnow, Cotts

The White Sox didn’t make any noise on deadline day but things could’ve been much different had a proposed three-team trade been finalized, GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including ESPN Chicago’s Sahadev Sharma).  The deal “would’ve wound up netting us such a [future] piece, a guy who’d been a target for a while,” Hahn said, though talks fizzled about two hours before the 3pm CT deadline.  While no trades were made, Hahn felt some progress was made in negotiations and “hopefully laid the groundwork for some future deals,” while also noting that the ChiSox will explore the August waiver wire for any possible moves.

Here are some items from around baseball as we wrap up an extremely busy week here at MLB Trade Rumors…

  • The Royals also didn’t make any moves yesterday as the team was seemingly hamstrung by an unwillingness to either trade its young players or (perhaps more pressingly) add payroll, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes.
  • The Astros were willing to discuss trading their young starters and indeed sent Jarred Cosart to Miami.  Beyond that, the club couldn’t find any satisfactory offers for Collin McHugh or Dallas Keuchel, GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters, including The Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. “Probably Keuchel was the one that we received the most inquiries on…we weren’t willing to move Keuchel,” Luhnow said.  It seemed as if Luhnow cared for the McHugh offers even less, saying other teams apparently “felt like just because we picked him up off of waivers we might get rid of him for cheap.”
  • The Rangers have spoken with left-hander Neal Cotts about a new contract for next season, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Cotts earned $2.2MM in 2014, his final arbitration-eligible year, and he’ll be a free agent this winter.  Grant believes this new contract could “likely be a club-friendly deal.”  Given that Cotts is 34 and has a checkered injury history, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cotts look for security over a higher dollar figure.
  • Also from Grant’s piece, he notes that while the Rangers are suffering through a disastrous season, they could quickly rebound next year.
  • Looking at teams who did and didn’t make key moves, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports lists the 15 winners and eight losers of the trade deadline period.
  • Big TV contracts are seen as huge boosts to team revenues, yet as Fangraphs’ Wendy Thurm observes, broadcaster disputes have left Padres, Astros and Dodgers fans unable to watch their teams play on local TV while the Nationals and Orioles seem poised for a major legal battle over MASN’s broadcasting fees.
  • The Tigers‘ acquisition of David Price drew all the headlines yesterday, but the team’s need for a left-handed reliever went unaddressed at the deadline, MLB.com’s Jason Beck points out.

Stark’s Latest: Price, Lee, Lackey, O’s, Yanks, Payroll Limits

Here’s the latest from ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark:

  • The Rays are still holding onto David Price unless and until an offer forces a move. “I’d say they’re kind of where they were all winter,” said a competing executive. “Yeah, they’d trade him. But you’ve got to make it so they can’t say no.”
  • Though both sides explored the possibility, the Cardinals and Phillies did not match up on a potential Cliff Lee deal. With Philly seeking a “major prospect” in return, the Cards ultimately turned elsewhere and added Justin Masterson. While St. Louis seemed the best fit for a pre-deadline deal with Lee, Philadelphia still is looking to see if the lefty can be moved before August.
  • The Red Sox are encountering some skepticism from trade partners that John Lackey will play for the league minimum rate next year, as provided by his contract. Of course, that provision makes up a huge portion of Lackey’s trade value, as he would not only contribute down the stretch in 2014 but looks like a very solid rotation piece at a replacement-level price for 2015.
  • The Orioles seem to be focusing more on adding a reliever at this point than a starter, says Stark. Baltimore has been liked to Neal Cotts of the Rangers and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks, neither of whom is a pure LOOGY.
  • In search of bullpen help, the Yankees have inquired into Joaquin Benoit of the Padres, James Russell of the Cubs, and Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies. The club has also checked on outfielders Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox.
  • The Blue JaysBraves, and Royals are telling teams they cannot add significant payroll in a trade, though Kansas City could take on a starter who would slot in place of James Shields next year.

Rangers’ Relievers Drawing Interest

9:13pm: Texas wants a “substantial package” to move Soria, report T.R. Sullivan and Grace Raynor of MLB.com. The asking price is believed to be two or three prospects.

1:51pm: The Rangers are receiving trade interest in a number of their bullpen arms, according to multiple reports. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the team is listening on right-hander Jason Frasor and lefty Neal Cotts, and both have generated some interest. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report that the Angels, Blue Jays and Tigers have been in contact with the Rangers about closer Joakim Soria (Twitter link).

As Sullivan points out, both Frasor and Cotts are free agents at season’s end. While Frasor has scuffled of late, yielding five runs over his past 3 1/3 innings, he still boasts a solid 3.38 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate. The 36-year-old is earning a highly affordable $1.75MM this season, meaning that he’s owed about $765K through season’s end.

Cotts, 34, reemerged in the Majors last season after an absence of four years and put his injury woes behind him with an electric 1.11 ERA in 57 innings for Texas. He’s taken a step back in 2014 but has a solid 3.55 ERA with 45 strikeouts against 15 walks in 38 innings. However, after dominating opposing lefties in 2013, he’s surrendered a .281/.328/.456 batting line against same-handed hitters in 2014. It shouldn’t come as a total shock, as Cotts does have a reverse-platoon split for his career, but certainly not one this pronounced. Cotts is earning $2.2MM this season, meaning he has roughly $962K remaining on his deal.

As for Soria, the Tigers and Angels come as no surprise, as both have dealt with significant bullpen issues in 2014. However, the Blue Jays are a bit of a surprise club to see listed here. In another series of tweets, Rosenthal adds that while the club does like Soria, the team is also toying with the idea of promoting top prospect Aaron Sanchez to work out of the bullpen this season. Fellow top prospect Daniel Norris could even join him eventually, Rosenthal adds, making for a situation that would resemble the dynamic pairing of Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez with the Cardinals last year.

Soria is in the midst of one of perhaps his finest season. In his second year back from Tommy John, the 30-year-old has a 2.76 ERA with a whopping 12.3 K/9 and a minuscule 1.2 BB/9 in 29 1/3 innings. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (0.80), xFIP (1.93) and SIERA (1.58) all feel that he’s doing the best work of his career. Though he has a higher salary at $5.5MM, Soria unquestionably will come with the highest asking price in a trade. He has an affordable $7MM club option on his contract for 2015, and the Rangers do have eyes on contending next season, when they hope to have better luck on the injury front.


Quick Hits: Phils, O’Flaherty, Maine, Guerrier, Cotts

Somewhat remarkably, both of the Phillies' last two GMs and last two managers are still employed by the organization, observes Justin Klugh of Philly.com. Meanwhile, the club only recently hired an analytical employee, and it remains unclear how much pull that position holds. While keeping the old guard around is a nice touch, says Klugh, the club should make a stronger commitment to progress. Here are more notes from around the league:

  • There is now only a "slim chance" that southpaw reliever Eric O'Flaherty will return to the Braves, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com. The issue, Bowman indicates, is that Atlanta is not as interested in working O'Flaherty into their plans as other clubs. Specifically, Bowman names the Orioles as a contender for the lefty. 
  • The Braves may have found yet another diamond in the rough with minor league free agent signees Luis Vasquez and Lay Batista, writes Bill Ballew of Baseball America. "We identified Vasquez and Batista as potential high-octane arms who could contribute in Atlanta as soon as 2014," said assistant GM John Coppolella.
  • Lefty Scott Maine is reportedly throwing well in Puerto Rico and beginning to draw interest from clubs, reports MLBTR's Zach Links (via Twitter). He could sign with a club as soon as this week, Links adds. Maine has a 5.59 career ERA in 46 2/3 big league innings. He spent time in the Marlins' system last year.
  • Another right-handed reliever, Matt Guerrier, is expected to audition for MLB clubs in the next ten days or so, Links further tweets. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN recently reported that the Twins could be interested in a reunion.
  • The $2.2MM contract agreed upon yesterday between the Rangers and reliever Neal Cotts is fully guaranteed, Links tweets. As Links observes, Cotts' representatives at Pro Star Management did well to get their client a guarantee given his injury history.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Wednesday

Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR will be covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections. We'll use this post to keep tabs on players avoiding arbitration today:

  • Josh Outman, who avoided arbitration with the Indians last night, will earn a $1.25MM salary in 2014, the Associated Press reports (via ESPN).
  • The Rockies have avoided arbitration with lefty Franklin Morales, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com (via Twitter). Morales was recently picked up from the Red Sox in exchange for Jonathan Herrera, and was projected to earn $1.8MM by Swartz. His salary comes in just below that mark at $1.7125MM, according to a tweet from the Denver Post's Troy Renck. 
  • Burke Badenhop has settled on a one-year deal with the Red Sox, the club announced in a press release. The right-handed reliever, who was acquired from the Brewers back in November, came with a projected $2.2MM price tag and will in fact earn $2.15MM, according to a tweet from WEEI.com's Alex Speier. Badenhop's last two seasons have been uncannily similar. In both 2012 and 2013, Bandenhop threw 62 1/3 innings, registered 42 strikeouts (6.1 K/9) against 12 walks (1.7 BB/9), and surrendered six home runs. He allowed just one less hit (62) last year than in 2012, though his ERA rose from 3.03 to 3.47 due to a drop in his strand rate.
  • The Mets have reached agreement with infielder Ruben Tejada on a 2014 contract, the club announced on Twitter. He will earn a $1.1MM salary in his first year of arbitration eligibility, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, which is in line with his $1MM projection. Tejada struggled to a .202/.259/.260 mark in 227 plate appearances last year, but is still only 24 years old. He will have three more years of arb eligibility since he qualified as a Super Two player.
  • The Rangers have reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with southpaw Neal Cotts, the club announced via press release. The deal will pay Cotts $2.2MM, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Cotts will earn $700K over Swartz's projection.
  • Outfielder Michael Saunders has reached agreement with the Mariners on a deal to avoid arbitration, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). The 27-year-old will earn $2.3MM (plus incentives) in his first arb-eligible season, Divish tweets, which comes in just above the $2MM projection from Swartz.