Nelson Cruz Rumors
Arbitration eligible outfielders Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, and Alex Gordon all remain unsigned. As outfielders with at least four years of big league service and less than five, their cases are tied together. Let's take a closer look.
Cruz and Jones submitted near-identical salaries of $7.5MM and $7.4MM, respectively. The Orioles value Jones less than the Rangers value Cruz, submitting a figure $500K below Cruz's $5.5MM. It's no coincidence MLB scheduled the players' arbitration hearings for the same day, as that way a win by one can't benefit another. Should one of the two reach an agreement soon, the salary figure might be kept under wraps until the other's is determined. Gordon's hearing is scheduled one day earlier, but they're reportedly close to an agreement. The Cruz-Jones argument can be tailored either way -- Cruz has more career power, but Jones is more durable and plays a premium position.
Gordon is valued below Cruz and Jones by all parties, as he submitted $5.45MM and the Royals $4.15MM. All things considered Gordon had the best platform year, topping Cruz and Jones easily in batting average, on-base percentage, runs, and stolen bases while posting similar home run and RBI totals. He's further boosted by a Gold Glove, so one separator here has to be the players' career numbers and related previous year earnings. Though Gordon wins in career OBP, his home run and RBI totals lag well behind the other two players.
Looking at past precedent, how strong are the cases of Cruz, Jones, and Gordon?
- Cruz wants a $3.85MM raise, while the Rangers are trying for the same $1.85MM one Carlos Quentin received after the 2010 season. Using Quentin's numbers through 2010, Cruz has better career numbers and a similar platform year. Ryan Ludwick and Josh Willingham received $1.75MM and $1.65MM raises in similar situations, though Cruz trumps all in career power numbers. However, Cruz does not have an advantage over where Luke Scott was after 2010, and Scott received a $2.35MM bump. Scott seems to push the argument in the Rangers' favor, except that Scott spent much of 2010 at designated hitter. Another point in Cruz's favor, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith mentioned to me, is his fantastic postseason production.
- Jones wants a $4.15MM increase. He's short on career home runs compared to his arbitration peers, so maybe his argument will be based on his ability to play center field regularly and a better platform year than B.J. Upton's 2010.
- Gordon seeks a $4.05MM raise. Given his batting average, run total, and Gold Glove award, he had the best platform year of his peers. He also has the worst career power numbers, plus the Royals filed a million bucks higher than the Rangers and Orioles did for their guys.
- We always hear that arbitration hearings are a crapshoot, and perhaps none of these players will end up going to one. However, the arguments seem to favor the teams in the cases of Cruz, Jones, and Gordon, who are seeking to top Hunter Pence's $3.5MM raise despite inferior numbers. Additionally, Matt Swartz's arbitration projections came in below the midpoint for all three players.
A few odds and ends to pass along as Nolan Ryan (65) and Ernie Banks (81) celebrate birthdays. Jackie Robinson would have turned 93 today ...
- The Magic Johnson-Stan Kasten ownership group could be the leader to purchase the Dodgers, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, as that group will likely procure the financial backing of billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong. Soon-Shiong is a close friend of Johnson's and once purchased Magic's minority stake in the Lakers.
- The Rangers and Nelson Cruz are working on avoiding an arbitration hearing, the outfielder tells Enrique Rojas of ESPN.com. Cruz also said that while the sides are negotiating for a one-year agreement, they are leaving open the door to a multiyear pact.
- Yoenis Cespedes will likely visit the Marlins within the next week, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Miami has long been considered among the leaders to sign the 27-year-old outfielder who recently defected from Cuban, although the the Cubs and other teams "remain deeply involved," per Rosenthal.
Here's the latest on the two-time defending American League champs...
- Josh Hamilton said he hasn't heard any new information from his agent about a possible long-term extension with Texas. Hamilton spoke to media (including ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett) at a Rangers winter caravan event and said he was holding to his deadline of cutting off contract talks at the start of Spring Training. Hamilton is eligible for free agency after this season but said he wanted to remain with the team. "We‘ve already told the Rangers that if it doesn’t happen before the season that they are the first ones we’ll come to after the season is over," Hamilton said.
- The Rangers' arbitration hearings with Elvis Andrus, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz have seen respectively set for February 9, 15 and 17, reports Durrett. The Rangers were known to be discussing a multiyear deal with Napoli, though the two sides had apparently focused on settling Napoli's 2012 contract first.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com describes the Rangers as "in, but not [a] favorite" for Prince Fielder (Twitter link). Fielder and the Rangers "love" each other but Heyman believes Texas doesn't have the payroll left to sign Fielder after the club signed Yu Darvish. For the full roundup of today's Fielder news, click here.
- In case you missed the news from earlier tonight, the Rangers have been discussing Koji Uehara's availability with several other teams, including the Blue Jays.
Many players avoided arbitration today, but dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won't go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays and Braves have stuck to 'file and trial' policies in the past.
MLBTR's arbitration tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights -- players who filed for $4MM or more. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com had most of the info with MLBTR and others also contributing:
- Tim Lincecum filed at $21.5MM, while the Giants filed at $17MM, as noted earlier.
- David Ortiz filed for $16.5MM, while the Red Sox offered $12.65MM, Heyman tweets.
- Hunter Pence filed for $11.8MM, while the Phillies countered at $9MM, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets.
- Mike Napoli filed for $11.5MM while the Rangers countered at $8.3MM, Heyman tweets.
- Jeremy Guthrie filed for $10.25MM, while the Orioles filed at $7.25MM Heyman tweets.
- Matt Garza filed for $12.5MM, while the Cubs countered at $7.95MM, Heyman tweets.
- Clayton Kershaw filed for $10MM, while the Dodgers countered at $6.5MM, Heyman tweets.
- Shaun Marcum filed for $8.7MM and the Brewers countered with $6.75MM, according to the Associated Press via MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
- Russell Martin filed for $8.2MM, while the Yankees offered $7MM, MLBTR has learned.
- Nelson Cruz filed at $7.5MM, while the Rangers countered at $5.5MM, Heyman tweets.
- Adam Jones filed for $7.4MM, while the Orioles offered $5MM, Heyman tweets.
- Miguel Montero filed at $6.8MM, while the Diamondbacks filed $5.4MM according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
- John Lannan filed for $5.7MM, while the Nationals countered at $5MM, Heyman tweets.
- Alex Gordon filed at $5.45MM, while the Royals countered at $4.15MM, Heyman tweets.
- Asdrubal Cabrera filed for $5.2MM, while the Indians countered at $3.75MM, Heyman tweets.
- Michael Morse filed at $5MM, while the Nationals countered with $3.5MM, Heyman tweets.
- Andrew Bailey filed for $4.7MM, while the Red Sox filed for $3.35MM, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com tweets.
- Brandon Morrow filed for $4.2MM, while the Blue Jays countered at $3.9MM, MLBTR has learned.
On this date in 1988, Dodgers outfielder Kirk Gibson slugged his historic walk-off homer off Oakland's Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the World Series. Here are some notes on clubs that reside in MLB's West divisions, including one on another Los Angeles outfielder:
- The Angels have received permission from the Diamondbacks to interview Jerry Dipoto, Arizona's senior vice president of scouting and player development, a major league source tells Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The Angels will also interview Yankees executives Damon Oppenheimer and Billy Eppler, and Dipoto is expected to interview for the Orioles' GM job.
- Dipoto is considered the favorite to become Baltimore's next GM, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz recently rehashed his near move to Japan a few years ago with Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com. Nick Collias of MLBTR and Rumores de Beisbol was kind enough to translate: "My agent told me they were really interested and they'd pay me a relatively large amount of money for the last two months of the season," Cruz said. "I was in the minor leagues, I didn't have a future with the Rangers, and I wanted to begin to explore other options." The interested team was the Yomiuri Giants, and the salary would have been $800K, but Texas GM Jon Daniels declined. Good thing for the Rangers that he did.
- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was named Major League Player of the Year by Baseball America. Kemp tied for the highest adjusted OPS (BA's version) among center fielders in the past 30 seasons, matching Ken Griffey Jr.'s 171 in 1997, writes Joe Haakenson.
After allowing six runs in six innings today against the Tigers, C.J. Wilson now has an 8.04 ERA in three postseason starts this year. Not only did it hurt the Rangers in Game Five of the ALCS, but, as you'll read, Wilson's free agent value will also likely be hurt by his recent struggles. Here's the latest on the Rangers...
- A strong postseason could put Wilson in line for a five or six-year contract worth between $85-$100MM this winter, an agent tells ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link). A weak postseason performance, however, could limit Wilson to a deal of five years and $60-$65MM. In August, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted that Wilson could crack the $100MM club due to the lack of ace pitchers on the free agent market this winter.
- GM Jon Daniels today spoke to reporters, including Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas, about Wilson's impending free agency. While the Rangers haven't yet begun negotiations, Daniels said the front office staff has "spent a lot of time talking about it and preparing for it. We just don't want it to be a distraction any more than it is, naturally."
- Daniels described the market value for Wilson as being "probably bigger than we would like and probably right about what he would like. We're not even really spending too much time on that right now. Obviously, it's going to be a top priority for us."
- The Rangers couldn't acquire Mike Napoli directly from the Angels since Los Angeles wasn't going to deal Napoli within the division, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Once Napoli was dealt to Toronto in the Vernon Wells trade, the Rangers "pounced" to acquire Napoli for Frank Francisco and the rest is history.
- You can't blame former Mets general manager Steve Phillips for trading away Nelson Cruz in 2000, writes MetsBlog.com's Matthew Cerrone. The Mets originally signed Cruz as an amateur free agent in 1998, when Cruz was 17, and then dealt him to Oakland two years later.
- As reported earlier today by ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews, the Rangers are planning to make C.C. Sabathia a contract offer this winter, provided that Sabathia opts out of his contract with the Yankees.
Links for Friday, as we celebrate the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's MLB debut. Robinson's Hall of Fame career began 64 years ago today, when he broke baseball's color barrier...
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos continues to talk to teams about David Purcey and tells Rogers Sportnet's Shi Davidi (Twitter link) that there is "very strong" interest in the left-hander. Purcey was designated for assignment earlier this week, and Anthopoulos said he expects to use all 10 days of Purcey's DFA period exploring trades.
- The Mariners are still searching in vain for a cleanup hitter to anchor their lineup, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
- Jonah Keri of Fangraphs looks at some players who parlayed "a small sample of greatness — a stretch-run tear, monster playoff performance, even a single game or play — to big paydays" and how none of these signings worked out for their respective teams.
- Now that Josh Hamilton is on the disabled list, it's Nelson Cruz's chance to carry the Rangers, Jon Paul Morosi writes at FOX Sports.com.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that the Rays figure to have a tougher climb to the top of the AL East standings than the Red Sox.
- Is Troy Tulowitzki the best player in baseball? Rob Neyer of SB Nation asks a legitimate question and says it'd be hard to argue that there's a better player to be found right now.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
Rangers GM Jon Daniels says that the club still may explore long-term extensions with some players before Spring Training ends, writes MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The club currently has four notable players who could be candidates for new deals.
Even though he won't be a free agent until after the 2015 season, Elvis Andrus could be in line for an extension. As Sullivan points out, the Rangers worked out a multiyear deal with Ian Kinsler at a similar point in his career to skirt future arbitration years. Rightfielder Nelson Cruz has three years left before he can test the open market but a multiyear deal would mean avoiding two years of arbitration.
Club officials have suggested that an extension is unlikely with left-hander C.J. Wilson, who is a free agent after this season. Same goes for slugger Josh Hamilton who recently signed a two-year, $24MM deal to avoid arbitration. Even though Hamilton is the biggest name in the quartet, Sullivan writes that because the deal was just completed, the two parties probably aren't in a rush to hammer out a new one right away.
Meanwhile, the Rangers would also like to get a deal done with Daniels. Club president Nolan Ryan is confident that the two sides will work out an extension, though he won't put a timetable on it.
Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. The sides will then settle on a salary between the team's proposed number and the player's proposed number or go to an arbitration hearing. Arbitration eligible players are under team control, so the clubs don't risk losing them - it's a question of how much the players will earn.
Yesterday, 11 players avoided arbitration. We could see just as many agreements trickle in today and we'll keep you posted on them right here and with our Arb Tracker. The latest updates will be at the top of the post:
- The Angels have agreed to terms with Reggie Willits and Howie Kendrick, tweets Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times. Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register tweets that Kendrick will earn $3.3MM, Willits $775K (on Twitter).
- The Giants agreed to terms with Santiago Casilla on a one-year deal worth $1.3MM with incentives, according to ESPN Deportes' Enrique Rojas (on Twitter). The team also announced that they avoided arb with Jonathan Sanchez and Ramon Ramirez (on Twitter). Sanchez will earn $4.8MM with incentives tweets Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle while Ramirez will earn $1.65MM according to Janie McCauley of The Canadian Press.
- The Braves agreed to terms with Peter Moylan and Eric O'Flaherty, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman (on Twitter). Moylan gets $2MM, O'Flaherty gets $895K according to Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter).
- The Mariners agreed to terms with Brandon League, David Aardsma and Jason Vargas, the team announced. Aardsma will earn $4.5MM with plenty of incentives, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (plus Twitter link).
- The Rangers agreed to terms with C.J. Wilson and Nelson Cruz, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan (Twitter links). Cruz gets $3.65MM, and Wilson gets $7.05MM with a chance to earn another $100K according to his agent Bob Garber, via email.
- The Padres avoided arbitration with Chase Headley (2.535MM) and Tim Stauffer ($1.075MM), according to MLB.com's Corey Brock (on Twitter).
- The Phillies and Kyle Kendrick avoided arbitration with a $2.45MM deal, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The team has confirmed the deal.
- The Pirates announced that they agreed to terms with Joel Hanrahan. It's a $1.4MM deal, according to Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter).
- The Cubs agreed to a one-year deal with Tom Gorzelanny, despite reports that a trade to Washington is imminent. Gorzelanny will earn $2.1MM next year, according to Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com (on Twitter). They also announced a two-year, $4.7MM deal with Sean Marshall.
- The Diamondbacks agreed to a one-year deal with Joe Saunders.
- The Padres agreed to a $2.535MM deal with Mike Adams, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links).
- The Angels agreed to a $3MM deal with Erick Aybar and a $2.975MM deal with Kendry Morales.
- The White Sox agreed to a $5.05MM deal with Carlos Quentin, according to Rosenthal.
- The Braves agreed to a $3.1MM deal with Martin Prado and a $3.25MM deal with Jair Jurrjens according to Rosenthal.
- The Orioles agreed to a $5.85MM deal with J.J. Hardy, according to Rosenthal.
- The Athletics agreed to a $4.75MM deal with Kevin Kouzmanoff, according to Slusser (Twitter link).
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Cody Ross, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Ross will earn $6.3MM in 2011.
- The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Jonathan Papelbon ($12MM) and Jacoby Ellsbury ($2.4MM).
- The Yankees avoided arbitration with Joba Chamberlain ($1.4MM), Phil Hughes ($2.7MM) and Boone Logan ($1.2MM), according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (all Twitter links).
- The Dodgers agreed to a $6.275MM deal with Chad Billingsley, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- The White Sox agreed to a $6MM deal with John Danks, according to Heyman (on Twitter).The Cubs avoided arbitration with Matt Garza and agreed to a $5.95MM deal, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- The Indians avoided arbitration with Shin-Soo Choo, the team announced. The deal is worth $3.975MM, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter).
- The Twins avoided arbitration with Matt Capps ($7.15MM) and Glen Perkins ($700K), according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Rays avoided arbitration with Andy Sonnanstine, agreeing to a deal worth $913K plus incentives, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter).
- The Mets avoided arbitration with Mike Pelfrey, agreeing on a deal worth close to $4MM, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
- The Brewers avoided arbitration with Prince Fielder and Manny Parra, signing the players to one-year deals, the team announced. Parra will earn $1.2MM, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy (on Twitter).
- The Athletics avoided arbitration with Dallas Braden ($3.35MM) and Conor Jackson ($3.32MM), according to MLB.com's Jane Lee (on Twitter).
- The Blue Jays agreed to a one-year, $2.3MM deal with Brandon Morrow, the team announced.
- The Indians announced that they agreed to a one-year deal with Rafael Perez (Twitter link). It's worth $1.33MM, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter).
- The Athletics avoided arbitration with Josh Willingham, agreeing to a $6MM deal, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).
- The Astros signed Michael Bourn to a one-year, $4.4MM deal, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart (on Twitter).
- The Nationals announced (on Twitter) that they avoided arbitration with Michael Morse.
- The Marlins avoided arbitration with Anibal Sanchez, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro (on Twitter). They agreed to a $3.7MM deal, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (Twitter link).
- The Orioles avoided arbitration with Felix Pie, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). The deal is for $985K.
- The Blue Jays avoided arbitration with Rajai Davis, agreeing to a two-year, $5.25MM deal with the outfielder.
- The Marlins avoided arbitration with Clay Hensley and agreed to a $1.4MM deal, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro (on Twitter).
- The Astros agreed to a one-year, $2.3MM deal with Jeff Keppinger, avoiding arbitration, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The Astros confirmed the deal.
- The White Sox agreed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal with Tony Pena, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter link).
- The Padres avoided arbitration with Ryan Ludwick with a $6.775MM deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- The Astros avoided arbitration with Clint Barmes, signing the infielder to a one-year, $3.925MM deal, according to Rosenthal. The Astros confirmed the deal.
- The Rockies avoided arb with Felipe Paulino and agreed to a one-year, $790K deal, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter).
- The Blue Jays announced that they have agreed to terms with Yunel Escobar on a $2.9MM deal for 2011.
- The Indians signed Chris Perez for 2011, avoiding arbitration, the team announced (on Twitter). It's a $2.225MM deal, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter).
- The Royals announced that they agreed to terms with Kyle Davies on a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration. It's a $3.2MM deal, according to MLB.com's Dick Kaegel (on Twitter).
- The Reds avoided arbitration will Bill Bray, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter). The AP says the deal is for $645K.
- The Nationals avoided arbitration with Doug Slaten, and agreed to a one-year, $695K deal according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- The Padres avoided arbitration with Heath Bell and agreed to a one-year, $7.5MM deal.
On this date two years ago, the Mariners named former Brewers vice president Jack Zduriencik as their new general manager. His defense-heavy approach resulted in a 24 win increase in his first season at the helm, though team scoring dropped by 31 runs. The Mariners won just 61 games and scored a mere 513 runs in 2010, the fewest by any team in the DH era. Unsurprisingly, there's already talk that Jack Z. is on the hot seat.
These links don't have to worry about being on the hot seat, they've made this week's edition of BBWI...
- Speaking of the Mariners, Prospect Insider discusses the possibility of trading Ichiro.
- DRays Bay speculates about what the Rays could get in return for Matt Garza.
- Meanwhile, The Process Report looks ahead to Tampa's 2011 bullpen.
- The Tao Of Stieb wonders if the Blue Jays should get involved in trade talks for Zack Greinke.
- Redleg Nation asks the same Greinke question for the Reds.
- The Friarhood debates whether the Padres should trade or extend Heath Bell.
- Disciples of Uecker re-lives the history of Nelson Cruz.
- Monkey With A Halo reviews Angels GM Tony Reagins' 2010 moves.
- Royals Review wonders if Robinson Tejeda turned the corner in 2010.
- Yankeeist breaks down Cliff Lee as he approaches his massive payday.
- River Ave. Blues writes that Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood have gone from spare parts to important pieces for the Yankees.
- Cubs Packs wants to know if Jim Hendry can fix the team's bullpen.
- 1 Blue Jays Way offers up a quick take on Toronto's options.
- The Hardball Times looks at some players whose best position is DH.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.