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FEB. 24: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with the media today and said he’d only consider trading Navarro into an everyday role, via Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (Twitter link). Anthopoulos said he would consider deals that help the team now or down the line, as long as there’s good value in the return.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark adds that Anthopoulos would also consider in-season trades if nothing materializes in Spring Training (Twitter link).
FEB. 23: Earlier this offseason, Dioner Navarro reportedly expressed interest in a trade after watching his team sign Russell Martin to a five-year deal. Several months later as Spring Training gets underway, Navarro tells reporters, including Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (Twitter link) that he still would like be moved, but he’s ready to help the Blue Jays in 2015 if that doesn’t happen. Via MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm (All Twitter links), here’s what Navarro had to say on the matter:
“I asked for a trade right away, and up to today that’s still my goal. I would like to go a place where I can play everyday. I signed a two-year deal here to catch every day, and unfortunately they felt like they needed to make a move. I was kind of frustrated throughout the whole offseason, a little disappointed that nothing has happened yet.”
Navarro’s frustration is understandable, but his market has likely been dampened by the fact that teams with a seeming need behind the plate have done little to address that weakness. The D-Backs appear content to use Gerald Laird and Tuffy Gosewisch at catcher until prospect Peter O’Brien is ready. The White Sox have added Geovany Soto on a minor league deal, and the Rangers traded for backup Carlos Corporan rather than pursuing an upgrade with more upside at the plate. The Pirates appear set with a defensive-minded tandem of Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Perhaps the Rays could be considered a team with a need behind the plate, but they’re also prioritizing defense, deploying Rene Rivera as their primary receiver. The Tigers, who are concerned about Alex Avila’s ongoing concussion issues, have had internal discussions about Navarro.
MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently examined Navarro as a trade candidate, noting that while the 31-year-old is coming off a solid season with the bat (.274/.314/.395) and has a salary that isn’t exactly prohibitive ($5MM), Navarro ranked near the bottom of the league in both throwing out base-runners and pitch framing.
While there may not be an obvious fit for Navarro at the moment — at least not one that appears to be interested in upgrading at catcher — he could become a target for a team that incurs an injury to a starting catcher in Spring Training. Even then, however, there are multiple options on the market, as both Welington Castillo and Wilin Rosario could likely be had in trades as well (though the latter’s defense is particularly poorly regarded).
7:54am: Chamberlain can earn up to $500K with the same incentive scale that he had on his previous one-year deal with the Tigers, tweets MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Per Cot’s Contracts, that included an additional $100K for reaching 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 appearances.
7:33am: Chamberlain will receive a $1MM base salary plus incentives, tweets Rosenthal.
6:50am: The Tigers have reached an agreement on a one-year, Major League deal with reliever Joba Chamberlain, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Chamberlain, a client of Excel Sports Management’s Jim Murray, was spotted in Tigers Spring Training camp this morning, notes Rosenthal.
Chamberlain, 29, posted a 3.57 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9, and 53.2% groundball rate in 63 innings for the Tigers last year. The Dodgers also had late interest in him this offseason. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted earlier this month, Chamberlain makes for a solid buy on a one-year deal, perhaps more so than remaining free agent relievers Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano. Chamberlain did experience a second-half dropoff, at a time he was also helping his ailing mother.
Chamberlain rejoins a Tigers bullpen that hasn’t seen much turnover since the end of last season. The Tigers did add lefty Tom Gorzelanny in January, and they’ve got Bruce Rondon on the mend from March 2014 Tommy John surgery. They’ll have a full season of Joakim Soria, and closer Joe Nathan remains under contract as well. However, for the most part, the Tigers will deploy a very similar mix to the grouping that cost them in the 2014 American League Championship Series. Receiving better production from that group will be vital for the Tigers in an improved AL Central that saw the White Sox, in particular, make an aggressive push toward contention this winter.
On the whole, Detroit relievers posted an unsightly 4.29 ERA and a 4.09 FIP, both of which ranked 27th among 30 big league clubs. They’ll hope that the return of Rondon and a full season of Soria can help to right the ship in the bullpen.
Earlier this morning, the Red Sox reportedly struck an agreement with Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada, landing the 19-year-old switch-hitter with a $31.5MM signing bonus that will cost the team $63MM due to the 100 percent luxury tax it faces for exceeding its international bonus pool. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted shortly after the agreement was struck that the Yankees offered $25MM with a willingness to go to $27MM. Here are some more details on the tail end of a free agency that resulted in the largest signing bonus an international amateur has ever received…
- The Dodgers never actually made a formal offer for Moncada, GM Farhan Zaidi tells Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register (Twitter links). Though general terms were discussed, the GM explained that Los Angeles weighed other considerations that tempered its interest: “There’s a lot of talent coming July 2. The calculus of that was a big part of our equation.”
- Steinbrenner was “not the reason” that the Yankees didn’t go higher for Moncada, Matthews tweets, reversing his earlier report (see below).
- The Yankees, Red Sox and Brewers were the three finalists for Moncada, tweets Sherman. However, the Dodgers may have offered the most money, but it came with a price; L.A. was willing to go to $35MM on the condition that Moncada wait until July 2 in order to sign. Doing so would have given the Dodgers unrestricted spending next period, giving them a shot at all the top prospects on the market without the Yankees and Red Sox to compete against. It’s also been reported that Yadier Alvares can’t sign before July 2, so the Dodgers likely could have made a run at both.
- Indeed, Sherman tweets that the Dodgers are waiting until the new signing period begins on July 2 to spend significantly, and they plan to be very aggressive when that time comes.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman badly wanted to sign Moncada, tweets Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, but he couldn’t convince owner Hal Steinbrenner to spend any more than the reported $27MM figure. The GM told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link), that New York was asked to make its best offer yesterday. He was subsequently informed that it was not sufficient.
- There was “a feeling from some” that Moncada wanted to end up with the Yankees, but the team simply viewed it as too risky to spend $60-70MM on a prospect, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York (All Twitter links). The Yankees feel that they can buy a proven Major Leaguer with that type of money in the future, and the Red Sox ultimately valued him more, Marchand adds.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that the Padres were also considered finalists along with the four teams mentioned by Sherman. One team involved in the bidding, Passan adds, was so confident in Moncada’s abilities that they believed him to be capable of jumping directly into the Majors. Instead, he’ll head to the lower levels of Boston’s minor league system.
- Via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter links), the Brewers‘ interest in Moncada was sincere. GM Doug Melvin believes that he was the first of any GM to submit a formal offer, but the team learned quickly that they wouldn’t be able to sign Moncada
- Ben Badler of Baseball America notes (Twitter links) that some of the biggest winners in this scenario are Hector Olivera and next signing period’s crop of international amateurs. As Badlery points out, Olivera is being pursued by a number of teams who were also interested in Moncada, but the Red Sox aren’t involved in his market. Moncada signing with Boston means that Olivera didn’t lose a suitor. As for the rest of the international amateurs, they and their trainers are rejoicing, Badler says. The Red Sox were already over their bonus pool, so Moncada signing with them prevents another team (e.g. the Dodgers or Brewers) from going over their pool, giving the next wave of players another suitor.
2:11pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that in exchange for guaranteeing the option in advance, Beltre has agreed to juggle his salaries a bit (Twitter link). Beltre will now earn $16MM in 2015 instead of $18MM, while his 2016 salary will jump from $16MM to $18MM.
1:07pm: The Rangers announced today that they have exercised their 2016 option on Adrian Beltre in advance, meaning that he will be guaranteed $16MM. The Rangers had the ability to void the option if Beltre didn’t reach 600 plate appearances in 2015, but GM Jon Daniels said over the weekend that he was considering removing the clause and locking in Beltre’s salary, as he didn’t want the clause to become a storyline.
Beltre, 36 in April, is coming off another typically excellent season, having batted .324/.388/.492 with 19 home runs and excellent defense at third base. He had been slated to enter the final guaranteed year of a five-year, $80MM contract signed in the 2010-11 offseason, but he’s now guaranteed to earn the full $96MM maximum that was available to him on the contract.
While one could argue that there’s risk involved with locking in that salary ahead of time, it’s unlikely that Beltre would suddenly deteriorate to the point at which a $16MM salary in 2016 would look like a substantial overpay. His defense alone gives him a considerably higher floor than most players, and he’s been very durable over the past three seasons, averaging 155 games per year.
FEB. 23: The total value of the contract is now believed to exceed $1.5 billion, and it also contains an equity stake in the network, Piecoro writes in a followup piece. Piecoro spoke to D-Backs CEO Derrick Hall, who said that while the team stands to benefit financially, there won’t be a sudden increase in spending late in the offseason. The Diamondbacks have been spending this offseason under the assumption that this deal would be completed, Hall explained. While there’s a signing bonus with the contract, increased rights fees won’t kick in until next year.
Hall called the contract “game-changing” for his team, adding: “It puts us on par with a lot of our colleagues. Any increase in revenues, as we’ve said in the past, will go directly toward our (organization). It will help the franchise. It will help the product on the field.”
FEB. 18: The Diamondbacks and FOX Sports Arizona have agreed to a new television contract that is believed to be worth more than one billion dollars in total, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
Arizona’s current television contract, which expires at season’s end, has an average annual vaue of about $31MM per year, Piecoro notes. He adds that the new contract is believed to at least triple that amount. It’s unclear how much the total value of the contract is, because the length of the deal isn’t currently known, but club officials have recently said they were discussing lengths in the 15- to 20-year range. Piecoro reports that there are indications that the new deal is indeed in line with those previously discussed parameters, which would suggest the total value is at least $1.4 billion.
Piecoro writes that the impact on the team’s payroll isn’t immediately known, though as he points out, the increased revenue won’t vault the D-Backs into the division-rival Dodgers’ financial stratosphere. The Dodgers’ TV deal averages out to roughly $334MM annually, according to a Forbes report from March 2014, trailing only the Yankees, whose annual revenue from the YES Network averages out to about $385MM.
Recent examples of this type of mega-contract include the Rangers, Mariners and Phillies, each of whom have AAVs in excess of $140MM, per Forbes. Piecoro notes that since the Rangers signed their 20-year, $1.7 billion deal in 2010, nearly a third of the teams in the league have inked similar contracts. Per Forbes, the previous top 10 television revenues belonged to the Yankees, Dodgers, Phillies, Rangers, Angels, Mariners, Mets, Red Sox, Giants and Padres.
It should be noted that the increased revenue won’t necessarily be distributed evenly over the duration of the contract. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd pointed out last year in assessing the Phillies’ new television contract, Philadelphia’s TV revenue did not immediately jump to the $100MM average of their 25-year, $2.5 billion agreement. Rather, the increase was built in incrementally, with a three- to four-percent annual bump slowly building over the course of the deal. Jeff estimated that the Phillies’ first year under the new contract produced roughly $65MM in revenue (before factoring in equity stake and ad revenue), and it’s very possible that the D-Backs’ new contract is structured in a similarly incremental fashion. So, while the roughly $60MM discrepancy between the AAVs of contracts old and new may cause D-Backs fans to envision an enormous spending spree next winter, the team’s $92MM payroll may increase in a more gradual sense than those mean figures would initially suggest.
11:05am: McGowan’s base salary with the Dodgers will be just the league minimum, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). However, he’ll have the opportunity to earn $1MM via roster bonuses and $1.5MM via performance bonuses, which peak at 60 appearances and 60 innings pitched. In total, he can earn $3MM.
8:59am: The Dodgers announced today that they have signed right-hander Dustin McGowan to a one-year, Major League contract. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, fellow righty Brandon Beachy, whom the team signed last week, was placed on the 60-day disabled list. (Beachy is recovering from Tommy John surgery.) The move was expected following news yesterday that McGowan showed up at the Dodgers’ Spring Training camp.
McGowan, who turns 33 in March, has spent his entire career to this point in the Blue Jays organization. The ACES client was selected 33rd overall by Toronto back in 2000 but has seen much of a promising career slowed by injuries. McGowan had Tommy John surgery back in 2004, but it’s been his right shoulder that has truly plagued him, as he’s undergone three separate surgeries on his throwing shoulder.
The end result of all the injuries is that McGowan has totaled just 482 1/3 innings of Major League action, but he’s shown flashes of potential throughout his career. He has a lifetime 4.57 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 45.9 percent ground-ball rate. He’s been used both as a starter and reliever, though more of his work has come out of the bullpen in recent years.
It’s not clear whether or not this signing is tied to the injury of Kenley Jansen, although reports indicated that the Dodgers may look to add another relief arm — but likely a middle reliever as opposed to a closer — in the wake of Jansen’s foot surgery. (He’ll be sidelined eight to 12 weeks.) McGowan, along with Beachy and Brett Anderson, is the third talented but injury-prone pitcher that the Dodgers have signed to a big league deal this winter.
9:10am: Moncada will receive a $31.5MM signing bonus from the Red Sox, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Sherman adds that the Yankees offered $25MM with a willingness to spend up to $27MM if needed.
Because Boston had already exceeded its international bonus pool — the Sox signed right-handers Chris Acosta and Anderson Espinoza for a combined $3.3MM on July 2 despite having a $188MM signing pool — the team will pay a full 100 percent tax on Moncada’s bonus, bringing the total cost for his services to $63MM.
8:10am: The Red Sox and Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada have reached agreement on a signing bonus in the range of $30MM, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Of course, by signing Moncada to a bonus in the $30MM range, the Red Sox will also be paying a luxury tax worth roughly that same amount, making this in total an approximately $60MM expenditure for Boston. On top of that, the Red Sox will now be restricted from signing any international amateur for more than $300K in the 2015-16 and the 2016-17 international signing periods.
Moncada, a 19-year-old switch-hitting infielder, is the most sought-after international prospect in recent history. Said to be a true five-tool talent, scouts have likened his upside to that of Robinson Cano and Chase Utley (in his prime). Prospect specialists at Baseball America, MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs have all suggested that Moncada would rank in the top five to 15 prospects in Major League Baseball upon signing, which will make him Boston’s new No. 1 prospect. Unlike recent Cuban signings such as Jose Abreu and Rusney Castillo, however, Moncada will likely require at least one season in the minors — possibly two.
Over the past several months, the Red Sox have been one of the primary teams connected to Moncada, although many believed the Yankees and Dodgers to be in a better position to land him, as the Red Sox don’t have a clear long-term need in the infield with Dustin Pedroia at second base and Pablo Sandoval entering the first of a five-year, $95MM contract. (Sandoval, of course, could move over to first base in a few years.) Xander Bogaerts figures to be the long-term answer at shortstop, though the expectation among scouts is that Moncada will end up at second, third or possibly in center field (where Castillo is currently slotted).
As Sanchez wrote last week, the overage tax must be paid to the league in full by July 15, whereas the bonus can be paid out in installments over the course of the next three years. It’s not known at this time whether or not the Red Sox made the best offer, but agent David Hastings did say recently that size of the bonus would not be the sole determining factor in choosing a team. Moncada also had private workouts for the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres, Brewers, Rays, D-Backs, Tigers, Giants, Rangers and Cubs (though the last two would have been ineligible to sign him until July 2, as they had incurred maximum penalties in the 2013-14 international signing period, thereby restricting them in the 2014-15 period).
With this agreement, Moncada has absolutely shattered the previous record signing bonus for an international amateur. That distinction was held briefly by infielder Roberto Baldoquin, following his $8MM bonus from the Angels earlier this winter, and then held even more briefly by right-hander Yoan Lopez, who received an $8.27MM bonus from the D-Backs. The size of Moncada’s bonus will likely come up in discussing the next collective bargaining agreement, as it figures to be a major talking point among proponents of an international draft.
Here’s the latest on Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada:
- Bids on Moncada are believed to have passed the $20MM mark, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. The Yankees, Red Sox and Padres appear to be the front-runners for Moncada, with the Dodgers a less likely possibility. Heyman suggests earlier reports of a $50MM price tag might be a bit lofty, given that Moncada is only 19 and given the tax that the team signing him would have to pay.
- Cuban Red Sox pitcher Dalier Hinojosa sees plenty of upside in Moncada, who he saw in Serie Nacional in 2012, WEEI.com’s John Tomase and Rob Bradford report. “He’s what we call a five-tool player here, and he was that back then. He can run, throw, he’s physical, hit from both sides, hit for power, hit for average,” Hinojosa says. Hinojosa’s main suggestion for Moncada in adjusting to U.S. baseball is to allow his coaches to help him.
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is speaking with agent Scott Boras about signing free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. Attanasio’s involvement could be an indication that the Brewers’ pursuit of Rodriguez has intensified, although Brewers GM Doug Melvin recently told the Journal Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak that “Scott keeps calling Mark.”
The Brewers have frequently been connected to Rodriguez this offseason, although lately most K-Rod rumors have focused on the possibility that he could be headed for the Marlins. The Brewers, meanwhile, have been connected to the Phillies’ Jonathan Papelbon in their quest for a reliever with closing experience. They also recently signed former Indians closer Chris Perez to a minor-league deal. Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano (who is also represented by Boras) are, of course, the main closer types left available in what’s left of the free agent market. One recent report indicated Rodriguez was seeking a contract of $10MM.
Milwaukee would be a familiar setting for Rodriguez, who has pitched all of the last four seasons for the Brewers, with the exception of a half-season in Baltimore in late 2013. The veteran made $3.25MM on a one-year deal with the Brewers in 2014 and posted a solid 3.04 ERA, 9.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 68 innings. He did somehow allow 14 home runs, although he seems unlikely to repeat that unfortunate feat.
The Dodgers have announced that they’ve signed righty Brandon Beachy to a one-year deal. Beachy will receive $2.75MM, and the Dodgers will get a club option for 2016 that can be worth between $3MM and $6MM depending on how much Beachy pitches in 2015. To clear space for Beachy on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers moved pitcher Chris Withrow to the 60-day DL. Beachy is represented by Icon Sports Management.
Beachy missed the entire 2014 season after having his second Tommy John surgery and will likely spend the first part of the 2015 season on the disabled list. As Rosenthal notes, though, Beachy gives the Dodgers an extra starting pitching option for 2016 after a 2015-16 offseason in which Brett Anderson and perhaps Zack Greinke (who has an opt-out) could depart via free agency. Once Beachy is healthy, he’ll join Anderson and Brandon McCarthy as newcomers to the Dodgers’ group of rotation candidates.
Should Beachy return to form, he could end up being very helpful — the 28-year-old has a career 3.23 ERA with an excellent 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in parts of four seasons with the Braves, giving him upside that’s rare in a pitcher signed to a one-year deal. Finding a pitcher with Beachy’s talent is especially tricky at this point in the offseason — the free agent starting pitching market is now largely bare, with Kevin Correia, Randy Wolf and Chris Young as the only significant free agents remaining. It’s not yet clear, however, how well Beachy will pitch after having surgery for the second time in three years.
Atlanta non-tendered Beachy earlier this offseason. He still only has four years and 14 days of service time, so as MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted earlier this month, he would have had two years of team control remaining regardless of the terms of his new deal. The Dodgers’ club option for 2016 means they won’t have to take him through the arbitration process for his last year before he becomes eligible for free agency.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the deal (via Twitter). CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted that Beachy would receive $2.75MM guaranteed. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweeted the terms of the Dodgers’ 2016 option.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.