Newsstand Rumors

Twins, Brian Dozier Making Progress On Extension

The Twins and second baseman Brian Dozier are making progress on an extension, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The deal is believed to be close, per Berardino’s source. Dozier, a client of All Bases Covered Sports Management’s Damon Lapa, naturally declined comment on any talks, though he did express a willingness and openness to signing a long-term pact. “I don’t want to be anywhere else,” he told Berardino. “If the opportunity presents itself, then I’m all for it. We’ll see.”

Dozier, 28 in May, has gone from a relatively unheralded prospect to what looks to be a potential long-term answer at second base for the Twins in short order. Over the past two seasons, he’s shown 20-homer, 20-steal capabilities and batted .243/.330/.415 with 41 homers and anywhere from slightly below-average defense to slightly above, depending on your metric of choice. (For what it’s worth, I consider Dozier to be underrated by defensive metrics.) Fangraphs has pegged him at 7.3 wins above replacement over the past two seasons, while Baseball-Reference, which likes his defense more, has him at about nine wins.

In terms of plate discipline, Dozier made a significant step forward in 2014, boosting his walk rate to 12.6 percent and cutting his strikeout rate to 18.2 percent. The uptick in walks bodes well for further positive OBP marks in the future, and if he can work to reduce his pop-ups (15 percent of his fly-balls are of the infield variety), he could harness that keen eye into better batting average marks down the line as well.

Dozier isn’t yet arbitration-eligible, and a look at MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows a pair of potentially relevant comparables in extension talks; both Jason Kipnis and Matt Carpenter agreed to extensions in the $52MM range over six-year terms last spring when they were in Dozier’s same service class.


2016-17 MLB Free Agents

With this year’s group of free agents mostly picked clean, and with MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings for next year’s crop already taken care of, we’ll do what we typically do at MLBTR and take an extremely preliminary look at the following free agent class, even if it’s a full 18 months away. At first glance, the group is definitely weaker than the class we stand to see next winter, though comparing any free agent class to that of next winter may be foolhardy, as the 2015-16 group is among the best in recent history.

A pair of notable names are likely to join this group once their 2016 options are officially exercised — Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Others with 2016 options that could join the list depending on the outcome of their 2016 options include Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, Alexei Ramirez, Nori Aoki, R.A. Dickey and Joaquin Benoit. Of course, that group features a wide range of elder statesmen that don’t dramatically increase the appeal of the unit as a whole, but the addition of some veterans that are candidates for short-term deals would nonetheless strengthen the group to some extent.

Bear in mind that this group will also feature any player that is non-tendered after the 2016 season and any player that signs a one-year deal next winter. Additionally, we don’t yet know what, if any, major international names will be on the list. We also don’t know which of these players will sign extensions.

For the time being, however, the following is the list of players you can expect to see on the open market following the 2016 season.

If you see any errors or omissions, please contact us. To see who represents these players, check out MLBTR’s Agency Database.

Catchers

Drew Butera (34)
Jason Castro (30)
Francisco Cervelli (31)
A.J. Ellis (36)
Ryan Hanigan (36) — $3.75MM club option with an $800K buyout
Nick Hundley (33)
Jonathan Lucroy (31) — $5.25MM club option with a $25K buyout
Salvador Perez (27) — $3.75MM club option (no buyout)
Wilson Ramos (29)
David Ross (40)
Carlos Ruiz (38) — $4.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (32)
Chris Stewart (35)
Kurt Suzuki (33) — $6MM vesting option
Josh Thole (30)

First Basemen

Pedro Alvarez (30)
Michael Cuddyer (38)
Ike Davis (30)
Ryan Howard (37) — $23MM club option with a $10MM buyout
Travis Ishikawa (33)
Adam LaRoche (37)
James Loney (33)
Mitch Moreland (31)
Logan Morrison (29)
Mike Morse (35)
Brandon Moss (33)
Carlos Santana (31) — $12MM club option with a $1.2MM buyout
Justin Smoak (30)
Mark Teixeira (37)
Mark Trumbo (31)

Second Basemen

Darwin Barney (31)
Everth Cabrera (30)
Daniel Descalso (30)
Yunel Escobar (34) — $7MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Aaron Hill (35)
Martin Prado (33)
Justin Turner (32)
Luis Valbuena (31)
Neil Walker (31)

Third Basemen

Adrian Beltre (38)
Daniel Descalso (30)
Martin Prado (33)
Justin Turner (32)
Luis Valbuena (31)

Shortstops

Erick Aybar (33)
Everth Cabrera (30)
Daniel Descalso (30)
Yunel Escobar (34) — $7MM club  option with a $1MM buyout

Left Fielders

Gregor Blanco (33)
Chris Coghlan (32)
Sam Fuld (35)
Chris Heisey (32)
Matt Holliday (37) — $17MM club/vesting option with $1MM buyout
Travis Ishikawa (33)
John Mayberry, Jr. (33)
Michael Saunders (30)
Jordan Schafer (30)

Center Fielders

Gregor Blanco (33)
Peter Bourjos (30)
Michael Bourn (34) — $12MM vesting option
Coco Crisp (37) — $13MM vesting/club option with a $750K buyout
Sam Fuld (35)
Craig Gentry (33)
Carlos Gomez (31)
Chris Heisey (32)
Jon Jay (32)
John Mayberry, Jr. (33)
Cameron Maybin (30) — $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Angel Pagan (35)
Justin Ruggiano (35)

Right Fielders

Carlos Beltran (39)
Jay Bruce (30) — $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Michael Cuddyer (38)
Chris Heisey (32)
John Mayberry, Jr. (33)
Brandon Moss (33)
Josh Reddick (30)
Justin Ruggiano (35)
Michael Saunders (30)
Seth Smith (34) — $7MM club option with a $250K buyout
Travis Snider (29)
Nick Swisher (36) — $14MM vesting option

Designated Hitters

Carlos Beltran (39)
Michael Cuddyer (38)
Ryan Howard (37) — $23MM club option with a $10MM buyout
Adam LaRoche (37)
Kendrys Morales (34) — $11MM mutual option with a $1.5MM buyout
Mike Morse (35)
Brandon Moss (33)
Carlos Santana (31) — $12MM club option with a $1.2MM buyout
Nick Swisher (36) — $14MM vesting option
Mark Teixeira (37)

Starting Pitchers

Brandon Beachy (30)
Andrew Cashner (30)
Jesse Chavez (33)
Josh Collmenter (31) — $2.25MM club option with a $150K buyout
John Danks (32)
Jorge De La Rosa (36)
Scott Feldman (34)
Dillon Gee (30)
Gio Gonzalez (31) — $12MM club option with a $500K buyout
Jason Hammel (34) — $10MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Jeremy Hellickson (30)
Derek Holland (30) — $11MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Edwin Jackson (33)
Kris Medlen (31) — $10MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
Matt Moore (28) — $7MM club option with a $2.5MM buyout
Charlie Morton (33) — $9.5MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Jon Niese (30) — $10MM club option with a $500K buyout
Ivan Nova (30)
Jake Peavy (36)
Yusmeiro Petit (32)
CC Sabathia (36) — $25MM vesting option with a $5MM buyout
Stephen Strasburg (28)
Josh Tomlin (32)
Edinson Volquez (33) — $10MM mutual option with a $3MM buyout
Jered Weaver (34)
C.J. Wilson (36)
Travis Wood (30)

Closers

Aroldis Chapman (29)
Neftali Feliz (29)
Greg Holland (31)
Kenley Jansen (29)
Mark Melancon (32)
Sergio Romo (34)
Drew Storen (29)
Koji Uehara (42)

Right-Handed Relievers

Aaron Crow (30)
Ernesto Frieri (31)
Jason Grilli (40) — $3MM club option with a $250K buyout
Luke Hochevar (33) — $7MM mutual option with a $500K buyout
Daniel Hudson (30)
Kevin Jepsen (32)
Sam LeCure (33)
Pat Neshek (36) — $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Alexi Ogando (33)
Esmil Rogers (31)
Fernando Salas (32)
Joe Smith (33)
Craig Stammen (33)
Junichi Tazawa (31)
Jordan Walden (29) — $5.25MM club option with a $250K buyout

Left-Handed Relievers

Brett Cecil (30)
Mike Dunn (32)
Boone Logan (32)
Javier Lopez (39)
Brian Matusz (30)
Josh Outman (32)
Cesar Ramos (33)
Matt Reynolds (32)
Marc Rzepczynski (31)

Cot’s Baseball Contracts was used extensively in the creation of this post.


Blue Jays Sign Dayan Viciedo

SUNDAY, 3:45: If Viciedo fails to make the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster and winds up at Triple-A Buffalo, he will receive $20K per month, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

9:29am: There are no incentives in Viciedo’s deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).

9:18am: Viciedo will make $2.5MM if he reaches the big league roster, according to John Lott of the National Post (on Twitter).

8:02am: The Blue Jays confirmed the signing via press release.

SATURDAY, 7:16pm: The Blue Jays have signed outfielder Dayan Viciedo, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). It is a minor league deal per Rosenthal (also Twitter). Viciedo, a career .254/.298/.424 hitter, was released by the White Sox earlier this winter. Chicago is still on the hook for 30 days termination pay on the $4.4MM owed him via arbitration. Rosenthal confirms that payment is separate from the Blue Jays’ agreement.

With trade acquisition Michael Saunders expected to miss five to six weeks, Viciedo could help to provide outfield depth. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets that the Jays will look to use Viciedo at left field, third base, and first base. He has limited major league experience at either infield position.

Viciedo is known for his power. He’s twice hit at least 20 home runs, and he’s reached that figure twice in the minors too. He’s best against southpaw pitchers with a career .291/.331/.507 line. Advanced metrics and scouting reports dislike his defensive skills, making him a better fit as a platoon designated hitter. If he makes the roster, Toronto can control Viciedo through the 2017 season.



White Sox Great Minnie Minoso Passes Away

Minnie Minoso, the first black MLB player in Chicago and considered one of the greats in White Sox history, has died. The Chicago Tribune reports an autopsy showed Minoso suffered a tear in his pulmonary artery caused by “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” Per police and family, Minoso was on his way home early Sunday morning from a friend’s birthday party when he took ill. He was found unresponsive in the driver’s seat of his car with no signs of trauma.

We have lost our dear friend and a great man. Many tears are falling,” White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement (Twitter links). “When you talk about the top players in the AL in the 1950s, you talk about Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Minnie Minoso.

President Barack Obama, a noted White Sox fan, offered his condolences (Twitter link). “For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always will be “Mr. White Sox.” Minnie may have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie’s quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could.

Minoso had failed to receive enough votes from the Golden Era Committee to be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame despite posting four top-5 American League MVP finishes, being a seven time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, the 1950 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up, and ending his 17-year career, which began in 1949 with the Indians and culminated in two at-bats with the White Sox in 1980 at the age of 54, with a line of .298/.389/.459. Minoso was a trailblazer, as he is considered the first Latin American superstar. Hall of Famer Orland Cepeda called Minoso “the Jackie Robinson for all Latinos; the first star who opened doors for all Latin American players. He was everybody’s hero. I wanted to be Minoso. (Roberto) Clemente wanted to be Minoso.

Minoso, whose number 9 has been retired by the White Sox, teamed with Cubs legend Ernie Banks, who passed away himself in January, as one of the game’s top goodwill ambassadors, not just for the City of Chicago, but for all of baseball. “I’m proud of everything,” Minoso said of his career (as quoted in the Chicago Tribune article). “I’m proud to be a baseball player.

Minoso is survived by his wife, Sharon, two sons, Orestes Jr. and Charlie, and two daughters, Marilyn and Cecilia. Funeral arrangements are pending.


Dodgers Sign Mike Adams

The Dodgers announced that they have signed Mike Adams to a minor league deal, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).  The veteran has struggled to stay healthy in recent years and has made just 50 appearances combined over the last two seasons.

Adams’ $6MM club option with the Phillies would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he fell way short of that number thanks to an injury-plagued 2014.  Back in August, he told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, that he felt guilty about his inability to perform after signing a two-year, $12MM deal with the Phillies prior to the 2013 season.

When I signed here two years ago, I expected a lot more than what I’ve done,” Adams said. “There probably isn’t anyone more disappointed by the situation than myself. I proclaimed it would be a good three-year deal, and obviously it hasn’t worked out that way. I said I didn’t want to steal money, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Of course, the signing represents a low-risk move by the Dodgers and if Adams can put his shoulder troubles behind him, the deal could pay major dividends.  When Adams was healthy, he was one of the league’s most effective set-up men.

Even in a very limited sample size of 18 and 2/3rds innings last season, Adams turned in a 2.89 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9.  Across parts of ten big league seasons with the Padres, Brewers, Rangers, and Phillies, Adams has pitched to a 2.41 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.

As J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group notes, Adams’ list of surgeries in recent years is extensive.  Adams had labrum and rotator cuff surgery in October 2008, inguinal hernia surgery in January 2012, thoracic outlet surgery in October 2012, labrum and rotator cuff surgery in July 2013, and sports hernia surgery in December 2013.


Michael Saunders To Miss 5-6 Weeks After Knee Surgery

TODAY: Toronto announced that Saunders is only expected to be out five to six weeks after undergoing his procedure. The timetable moved up because the cartilage could only be removed, not replaced, Anthopoulos told reporters, including John Lott of the National Post (Twitter links). While that could lead to some longer-term knee troubles for Saunders, it will allow him to return to action much sooner.

YESTERDAY: Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders will miss approximately the first half of the season after tearing his meniscus, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Saunders was acquired for pitcher J.A. Happ over the offseason.

The news represents a disappointing start to camp for a club that had built plenty of positive momentum over the offseason. Saunders had seemed a solid replacement for outgoing free agent Melky Cabrera. He may yet be, but the club will have to wait for the summer to find out.

GM Alex Anthopoulos says that the club will give its internal options a chance initially to fill the void.  At present, Davidi notes, the group in camp includes just three members of the 40-man (Jose Bautista, Dalton Pompey, and Kevin Pillar) along with non-roster invitees Ezequiel Carrera, Chris Dickerson, and Caleb Gindl. (Twitter links.)

Of course, Toronto will undoubtedly look hard at what is available via trade over the course of the spring. The group that it had compiled was already lacking somewhat in depth, making some kind of addition seem reasonably likely. But Anthopoulos will surely be in no rush, and could also look to work the waiver wire for a solution.


Blue Jays, Athletics Talking With Dayan Viciedo

6:11pm: With Saunders now expected to return much sooner than had been anticipated, the Jays’ impetus to add Viciedo seems to have diminished significantly. Indeed, GM Alex Anthopoulos indicated that the team will likely stick with its internal options, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes.

5:16pm: The Blue Jays and Athletics are among the clubs who are in active talks with free agent outfielder Dayan Viciedo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Previous reports have suggested varying levels of interest from the Indians and Reds.

Viciedo has never reached the performance levels that had once been hoped for, but remains an interesting talent at just 26 years of age. With power to spare and outstanding numbers against lefties, Viciedo has struggled to play serviceable defense and reach base against right-handed pitching. He also can be controlled through 2017 via arbitration.

Toronto is potentially in the market for at least a temporary fix in the corner outfield after losing Michael Saunders for the first half of the season. Though a left-handed bat would probably be the better fit for a right-leaning lineup, pickings are obviously rather slim at this juncture.

As for Oakland, Viciedo would not only make potential sense as a right-handed bench bat/reserve first baseman, but could challenge for a larger role in the corner outfield. The team’s candidates to provide right-handed pop (Nate Freiman and Rule 5 pick Mark Canha) are hardly certainties. And, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, left field is not locked down for Oakland, with slick defenders Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry each coming off of rough campaigns at the plate.


Doug Melvin On Papelbon Trade Talks, K-Rod Signing

Brewers GM Doug Melvin discussed his team’s recent efforts to upgrade the back end of its bullpen in an interview today with Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Milwaukee ultimate reached agreement on a two-year, $13MM contract to bring back 2014 closer Francisco Rodriguez.

The deal with K-Rod came together after ongoing talks with the Phillies regarding Jonathan Papelbon finally “hit a dead end,” per the report. Multiple reports have suggested that Rodriguez hoped for a return to Milwaukee, where he has pitched for most of the last four campaigns, and that factor (not to mention the presence of fellow late-inning man Rafael Soriano on the market) surely transferred leverage to the Brewers on all fronts.

As for Papelbon, Melvin tells Haudricourt that details in the veteran closer’s contract posed significant hurdles in talks. “We did engage them and didn’t come to a comparable deal for both sides,” said Melvin. “We had a lot of conversations. It’s complicated because of next year with the $13MM [vesting option]. Even if you agree to a deal, you have to go to the agent about the no-trade [clause].”

The vesting option was doubly complicated to handle in trade negotiations, per the report, because of the possibility of varying usage by the teams involved. Papelbon will be owed $13MM for 2016 if he finishes 48 games this season. While the Brewers would have expected that to occur had Papelbon been installed in the 9th in Milwaukee, the potential for a mid-season closer switch by the Phillies could at least theoretically allow the team to avoid the obligation. As a result, Haudricourt writes, “how to account for that money was nearly impossible.”

Beyond that, Papelbon’s limited no-trade clause included protection from being dealt to Milwaukee without his blessing. Per the report, it was at least considered a strong possibility that Papelbon would demand his vesting option be guaranteed. And Philadelphia was apparently after “at least one top prospect,” Haudricourt writes.

 


Brewers To Re-Sign Francisco Rodriguez

TODAY, 4:30pm: The deal includes a $2MM buyout on the club option and $2MM deferral, Haudricourt reports. The cost of the option remains unclear, with Haudricourt saying that he has heard both $6MM and $8MM mentioned.

It will take a few days for the deal to be finalized since Rodriguez must first get a work visa and take his physical.

YESTERDAY, 7:44pm: Rodriguez will be paid $3.5MM in 2015 and $5.5MM in 2016, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (via Twitter).  The additional $4MM in guaranteed salary will be deferred.  The Brewers’ 2017 club option for Rodriguez is worth $6MM.

11:59am: The Brewers have reached agreement on a two-year, $13MM deal with reliever Francisco Rodriguez. Milwaukee also holds a club option for the 2017 season over the Boras Corporation client.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals

While the annual breakdown is not yet fully reported, Rodriguez will earn just $3MM in 2015 and $6MM in 2016. The remainder will be deferred in some manner, though it is not clear how much is deferred salary and how much will go toward the option buyout. That will have important ramifications for the deal’s incentives, but the bottom line is that Milwaukee will save on up-front costs.

At $13MM, Rodriguez will land just shy of the $14MM that MLBTR predicted before the start of the offseason, though the option structure had to be agreed upon to achieve that. The deal appears to slot in fairly sensibly among recent contracts for similar-quality relievers. Only the younger Luke Gregerson landed a three year deal (at a $6MM AAV), while Koji Uehara ($18MM — just before hitting the market), Sergio Romo ($15MM), and Pat Neshek ($12.5MM) all got significant guarantees on two-year pacts.

Rodriguez, 33, has spent most of the past four seasons in Milwaukee. All said, he owns a 3.11 ERA over his 193 2/3 frames with the Brewers. He has maintained double-digit strikeout-per-nine rates over the last two years in addition to an excellent K%-BB%. Though FIP has been down on Rodriguez’s work in recent campaigns, other ERA estimators like xFIP and SIERA view him as a 3.00 or better performer.

One potential knock on Rodriguez — the many miles on his otherwise relatively young arm — has a positive side as well. Rodriguez has been exceptionally durable, putting up an average of 69 innings running all the way back to 2003. And he still delivers his fastball in the same general, low-90s range that he has found success with in the past.

In nailing down the closer role in Milwaukee and taking Rodriguez off of the market, the signing goes a long way to clarifying the remaining relief market. For one thing, it leaves Rafael Soriano as the undisputed best free agent still available. For another, it takes away the most obvious trade match for the Phillies and closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported the signing, length, and presence of an option (Twitter links). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the total guarantee on Twitter. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted the annual breakdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Juan Pierre Officially Retires

Veteran outfielder Juan Pierre has officially retired, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets. Pierre did not play in 2014, so it comes as little surprise that he’s retiring.

The speedy Pierre racked up 614 stolen bases in parts of 14 seasons in the Majors and rarely struck out, finding ways to annoy opposing pitchers despite his lack of home-run power. He led his league in stolen bases three times and is currently 18th in career steals. (He’s also sixth in caught stealings for his career, with 203.)

For much of his career, Pierre was also a serious on-base threat, with six seasons with on-base percentages above .350. Pierre was a key member of the World Champion 2003 Marlins, swiping 65 bases that season before hitting .333/.481/.429 in the World Series against the Yankees.

Pierre finishes his career with a .295/.343/.361 line with the Rockies, Marlins, Cubs, Dodgers, White Sox, and Phillies, earning at least $57MM in the process, via Baseball Reference. Much of that came from a $44MM deal with the Dodgers signed prior to the 2007 season.