Nick Punto Rumors

2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. Here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options…

  • Nick Punto: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. He did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, though for the time being, he’s on pace to see his option vest simply due to the fact that he’s avoided the DL entirely. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would need to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He’s being platooned heavily with Scooter Gennett and has just 112 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Should he reach 400 PAs (which only seems likely in the event of Gennett injury), Weeks would be entitled to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins: Rollins’ option vests if he reaches 600 PA in 2014 or if he totals 1,100 options from 2013-14 and finishes the season on the active roster. He’s 141 PA shy of that combined 1,100 number, meaning he’s highly likely to end up with an $11MM guarantee for 2015.
  • Dan Haren: If Haren pitches 180 innings or more in 2014, he triggers a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. He’s averaging just over six innings per start, so he’s on pace to clear that mark given 30-31 starts. However, if he finishes the season anywhere near his current 3.54 ERA, he may prefer to test the open market in search of a multi-year deal.
  • Mike Adams: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 vests with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s once again on the disabled list for the Phillies and has thrown just 17 innings. Adams has thrown 42 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that they would pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles.
  • Rafael Soriano: Soriano’s $14MM club option will vest if he finishes 120 games combined in 2013-14. He’s currently at 81 games finished on the season, meaning he’d need to finish a rather unlikely 39 of his team’s final 92 games (42 percent) this season. Should the option vest, half of his salary will be deferred and paid in annual installments from 2018-25.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that threshold.
  • Sean Burnett: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs: Downs has a $4MM vesting option, and while the specifics haven’t been reported, Ken Rosenthal noted at the time of the deal that it would vest were Downs to pitch “a normal workload.” He’s headed in that direction, as he’s on pace for his highest innings total since 2011. Downs has pitched to a 5.48 ERA in his 23 innings, so the White Sox may not wish to see that option vest. Then again, he has a 3.95 ERA dating back to May 3, so he’s shown some signs of improvement.

Athletics To Sign Nick Punto

The A's announced that they have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with a vesting option on 2015 with infielder Nick Punto.  Punto's deal is for $2.75MM in 2014 and he'll have the opportunity to earn the same amount the following year, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).  The option is based on days spent on the disabled list and comes with a $250K buyout if it's not exercised.

Athletics assistant GM David Forst tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) that the signing has nothing to do with Jed Lowrie and insisted that he is still the club's starting shortstop.  Forst added (Twitter links) that if Punto's option does not vest, it turns into a club option.  Forst also disclosed that the option vests if Punto spends less than 30 days on the disabled list, but there are other ways that he can get the option to trigger if he exceeds that number.

The 36-year-old Punto offers experience at second base, shortstop, and third base.  In 116 games last season, the veteran hit .255/.328/.327 in 116 games for the Dodgers last season.  Across 13 big league seasons, Punto owns a .248..325/.325 batting line while offering quality defense in the infield.

Punto is represented by Jeff Caulfield, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.


NL West Notes: Dodgers, Belisle, Crain, Giants

The MLBTR staff extends our condolences to the friends and family of NBA Hall-of-Fame player and coach Bill Sharman, who passed away today at age 87.  Sharman is best known for his legendary basketball career but he also played in the Dodgers' minor system from 1950-55, doing well enough to earn a late-season callup in 1951.  Sharman was a so-called "phantom ballplayer" (a player who spends time on a Major League roster but didn't actually appear in a game) yet his status afforded him a unique spot in baseball history.  The entire Dodgers bench was ejected for arguing a call on September 27, 1951, thus making Sharman the only player to ever be ejected from a Major League game without appearing in one.

Here are some items from around the NL West, starting with Sharman's old team…

  • J.P. Howell and Nick Punto are the only two of the Dodgers' free agents who Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles predicts will be back with the team next season.  Saxon also predicts the Dodgers will decline Mark Ellis' $5.75MM club option and their side of Chris Capuano's $8MM mutual option.
  • Letting that mostly veteran free agent group go is one of Saxon's five ways the Dodgers can reach their stated goal of getting younger in 2014.  Other methods include trading Andre Ethier and acquiring David Price and Elvis Andrus.
  • The Rockies will explore signing Jesse Crain if he's healthy and will look to re-sign Matt Belisle to a longer-term deal, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes.  Colorado has a $4.25MM option on Belisle for 2014 but Renck says the team will look to lower Belisle's base salary for next season in as part of a new contract.
  • Renck also outlines several other Rockies offseason needs and notes that while they couldn't manage to sign Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu, the attempt at least showed that the club is trying and is willing to spend this winter.
  • Also from Renck (via Twitter), he is "fascinated" by the Nationals' reported hiring of Matt Williams and notes that the Rockies came close to hiring Williams as manager last year before going with Walt Weiss.
  • Even before their offseason moves have really begun, the Rockies and Giants are two of three teams projected by ESPN's Jared Cross (Insider subscription required) to have the best chance of improving by at least 20 wins in 2014.  Cross also suggests a pair of free agents who could help the two clubs.
  • A number of Padres topics are explored by Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune during a live chat with readers, including whether the Angels' Mark Trumbo would be a realistic trade option for the Friars as they look to add power to their lineup.
  • USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweets that Dave Duncan is a "perfect fit" as the Diamondbacks' pitching coach and that we should "keep an eye on" him as a candidate for the job.  Duncan took a leave of absence from the Cardinals in 2012 and recently said that he isn't interested in serving as a pitching coach again.
  • In other NL West news from earlier today, the Giants officially announced Tim Lincecum's new contract….Lincecum's feelings about re-signing are included as part of a collection of Giants notes….the Padres designated southpaws Colt Hynes and Tommy Layne for assignment….MLBTR's Steve Adams wrote a Free Agent Profile of Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson.


Dodgers Could Move Punto, Uribe

The Dodgers have an abundance of backup infielders on their 40-man roster, and some of them may be moved, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Nick Punto could be a trade candidate, and Juan Uribe and his $7MM salary could be released, according to Rosenthal.

Punto, 35, appeared in 87 total games for the Red Sox and Dodgers in 2012. He posted a .219/.321/.281 batting line in 191 plate appearances while earning a $1.5MM salary. He'll earn the same amount in 2013 before hitting free agency. Like Punto, Uribe has one year remaining on his contract. He'll earn a $7MM salary in 2013 after missing much of the 2012 season with a wrist injury.

After acquiring Skip Schumaker from St. Louis, the Dodgers have seven backup infielders, including Punto, Uribe, Jerry Hairston, Elian Herrera, Dee Gordon and Justin Sellers. Gordon has drawn interest from many teams and could also be traded. The Dodgers designated Scott Van Slyke for assignment yesterday.


Red Sox, Dodgers Complete Nine-Player Blockbuster

If there was any doubt remaining that the Dodgers' new ownership group would drastically alter the franchise, it has now been completely eliminated. The Dodgers and Red Sox have officially completed a massive nine-player blockbuster trade that sends Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to Los Angeles for James Loney and four prospects.

The four prospects are right-hander Allen Webster, infielder Ivan De Jesus, outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands, and right-hander Rubby De La Rosa. The Red Sox will pay just $12MM of the over $270MM owed to Beckett, Crawford, Gonzalez, and Punto, so their savings are considerable. Adding the four new players represents a substantial financial commitment by the Dodgers:

  • Gonzalez will earn $21MM per season through 2016 and obtain a raise to $21.5MM for 2017-18. The total exceeds $130MM when accounting for the remainder his 2012 salary.
  • Crawford will earn $20MM in 2013, $20.25MM in 2014, $20.5MM in 2015, $20.75MM in 2016 and $21MM in 2017.
  • Beckett will earn $15.75MM per season through 2014.
  • Punto earns $1.5MM per season through 2013.

With this trade as well as the previous acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Brandon League, Shane Victorino, and Joe Blanton, the Dodgers have absorbed more than $300MM in future payroll obligations in the last month or so. As Jeff Euston of Cot's Baseball Contracts notes (on Twitter), the club now has a $193.75MM in contract obligations for next season, $133.6MM for 2014, $90MM for 2015, $88.65MM for 2015, and another $90MM for 2016. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are now on the hook for just $45.6MM in 2013, $34.4MM in 2014, $12.75MM in 2015, and $2.45MM in 2016 (Twitter link).

Both Beckett (10-and-5 rights) and Crawford (limited no-trade clause) had to approve the deal, and Buster Olney of ESPN reports (on Twitter) that neither player asked for any kind of compensation to do so. The Dodgers were not included in Gonzalez's limited no-trade clause. Los Angeles claimed both Gonzalez and Beckett off trade waivers yesterday, plus Punto and Crawford both cleared earlier this month. Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times reports (on Twitter) that the Blue Jays are believed to have claimed De La Rosa off waivers, but he was pulled back and will technically be included in the deal as a player to be named later.

Uspw_6257872The Dodgers, who currently sit three games back of the Giants in the NL West race, are adding an impact left-handed bat to pair with the right-handed Matt Kemp in Gonzalez. The Southern California native spent the first five full seasons of his career a little further south with the Padres, so he's certainly familiar with the division. Gonzalez, 30, is hitting .300/.343/.469 with 15 homers in what is generally considered to be a down year compared to his career average of .294/.372/.509 and 30 or so homers annually. Dodgers' first basemen have hit just .244/.289/.357 this season, so even down year Gonzalez represents an enormous upgrade.

Beckett, 32, has pitched to a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts and 127 1/3 innings this season while battling thumb and back issues. His strikeout rate (6.6 K/9) is a career-low and PitchFX shows that his velocity has tapered off into the low-90s. Moving into the easier league and a more pitcher-friendly ballpark should help his numbers, and Beckett gives Los Angeles a pitcher with a proven playoff track record. Current Dodgers' starters have combined for just 11 career playoff starts, six by Blanton. Beckett alone has 13 playoff starts and a World Series MVP to his credit.

Crawford, 31, had Tommy John surgery two days ago and will miss the rest of the season. He hit just .260/.292/.419 with 14 homers and 23 steals in 161 disappointing games with the Red Sox after averaging .299/.340/.448 with 13 homers and 50 steals in eight full seasons with the Rays. Crawford is expected to be able to return to action early next season, meaning Victorino is likely to be allowed to leave as a free agent.

The Dodgers recently lost Jerry Hairston Jr. to a hip injury for the remainder of the season, so the 34-year-old Punto gives them some protection and added depth on the infield. He's hit just .200/.301/.272 with five steals in 148 plate appearances for Boston this year while playing all four infield positions. He's a year removed from a .278/.388/.421 line as a part-time player with the Cardinals.

Loney, 28, has hit just .254/.302/.344 with four homers in 359 plate appearances this season and will become a free agent this winter. He figures to serve as a stopgap first baseman for the Red Sox for the next six weeks or so.

Webster, 22, has pitched to a 3.55 ERA in 121 2/3 innings for the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate this season. The 25-year-old De Jesus has been up and down between Triple-A and the big leagues in recent years, hitting .301/.354/.416 in over 1,200 minor league plate appearances since 2010. Sands, 24, has been also been up and down these last two years. He owns a career .291/.363/.557 line nearly 900 Triple-A plate appearances. De La Rosa, 23, just returned from Tommy John surgery and pitched to a 3.71 ERA in ten starts and three relief appearances for Los Angeles last season. Click here for a more in-depth look at the prospects headed to Boston later today.

A trade of this magnitude had many helping hands along the way, though Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston first reported that the two sides were discussing this massive deal. Check out this post for all of the pre-completion rumors and reports. Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald and an Roche of WBZ (on Twitter) first reported completion of the trade while Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times added details (Twitter links). Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


Red Sox, Dodgers Nearing Blockbuster

SATURDAY, 7:52am: The deal is "pretty much done," reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that both Beckett and Crawford have agreed to waive their no-trade clauses while Rosenthal adds that both clubs have signed off on the medicals.

FRIDAY, 10:00pm: Crawford has the Dodgers on his partial no-trade list and the outfielder has yet to be asked to accept a trade, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).  It has been previously reported that Crawford can block trades to two clubs but Heyman writes that Crawford has the ability to block trades to three teams.

9:34pm: Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine says that he still expects Beckett to make his start on Saturday, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

9:01pm: The Dodgers are expected to pick up more than $260MM of the $271.5MM in combined salary that the Red Sox are sending to them, a source tells Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.

6:45pm: The Dodgers have agreed to send Webster, De La Rosa, Loney, Sands, and De Jesus to the Red Sox, a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Meanwhile, a source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI (Twitter link) not to expect a deal to be completed tonight.

6:42pm: The Red Sox have yet to secure permission from Beckett, who has 10-and-5 rights, or Crawford, who has a partial no-trade clause, a source tells Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.  However, neither player is expected to block the deal.

6:38pm: Pitcher Allen Webster will go to the Red Sox in the trade, a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

6:15pm: The Red Sox and Dodgers are currently reviewing medical records, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (via Twitter).  The deal would include Rubby De La Rosa, James Loney, Jerry Sands, Ivan De Jesus, and a top prospect, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link).

6:04pm: Adrian Gonzalez was scratched from the lineup and summoned from the dugout into the clubhouse along with Nick Punto, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (via Twitter).

5:52pm: There are two deals on the table, one mega deal involving Carl Crawford and another with just Beckett and Gonzalez, tweets Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe.

5:48pm: Though the deal may not happen in its current nine-player form, something is expected to happen, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

5:10pm: Dodgers minor leaguers in the trade talks have included Allen Webster, Zach Lee, Rubby De La Rosa, and Jerry Sands, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

5:06pm: The Red Sox would receive prospects and not just salary relief if the deal happens, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

4:52pm: Boston would send some cash to Los Angeles if the sides complete a deal Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. Morosi confirms that the sides are close to a trade (Twitter links).

4:34pm: The Red Sox and Dodgers are closing in on a trade that would send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports (on Twitter). Hurdles remain, but the sides continue working toward a deal.

The Dodgers recently won the claiming rights to Gonzalez and Beckett. Gonzalez can't block a trade to Los Angeles, but Beckett must approve any assignment as a player with ten and five rights. Crawford and Punto cleared waivers earlier this month and can be traded without waiver-related restrictions. 

The Dodgers have been willing to take on considerable salaries since their new ownership group gained control of the club at the beginning of the 2012 season. Adding the four Red Sox players would represent a substantial financial commitment:

  • Gonzalez will earn $21MM per season through 2016 and obtain a raise to $21.5MM for 2017-18. The total exceeds $130MM when accounting for the remainder his 2012 salary. 
  • Beckett will earn $15.75MM per season through 2014. As noted above, he must approve any trade.
  • Crawford will earn $20MM in 2013, $20.25MM in 2014, $20.5MM in 2015, $20.75MM in 2016 and $21MM in 2017. His contract allows him to block trades to two teams.
  • Punto earns $1.5MM per season through 2013.

The Dodgers claimed Cliff Lee on waivers earlier this month after trading for Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez, Joe Blanton and Brandon League. The Dodgers would have to place MLB players on waivers before trading them to Boston, which could complicate trade talks. 

Zach Links contributed to this post, which was originally published on August 24th.


Players Who Cleared Waivers

This is a running list of players who have cleared waivers, based on published reports. Once a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team (barring a no-trade clause). This list can always be found in the sidebar under MLBTR Features. Player names are linked to the source articles.

Updated 8-31-12

Infielders

Nick Punto, Red Sox - Punto earns $1.5MM this year and will earn the same amount in 2013.

Outfielders

Carl Crawford, Red Sox - Crawford has $102.5MM remaining on his contract after 2012, so he was expected to clear waivers. Crawford can block trades to two clubs, but no team can flip him to the Yankees after acquiring him from Boston.

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs – Soriano can block any trade. He earns $18MM per season through 2014.

Juan Pierre, Phillies – Pierre earns $800K in 2012 and he'll hit free agency after the season.

Catchers

Joe Mauer, Twins – Mauer earns $23MM per season through 2018.

Starting Pitchers

Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks – Saunders earns $6MM in 2012 and will hit free agency after the season.

Roy Oswalt, Rangers – Oswalt earns $5MM in 2012 and will hit free agency after the season.

Kevin Millwood, Mariners – Millwood earns $1MM in 2012 and will hit free agency after the season.

Relief Pitchers

Carlos Marmol, Cubs - Marmol will earn $9.8MM in 2013 before hitting free agency.


Quick Hits: Indians, Blum, Dodgers, Blue Jays

The non-waiver trade deadline has passed, but August figures to be a busy month nonetheless. MLBTR has an explanation of how teams can make trades this month, plus reaction to yesterday’s deadline moves and a poll on which teams didn’t do enough. Here are today’s links…

  • It's time for the Indians to release Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon since the veterans are not producing enough to justify their roster spots, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.
  • Geoff Blum told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that he’s in limbo now, but would love to play again "if the situation is right” (Twitter link). The Diamondbacks released the veteran infielder last month.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said his starting rotation remains "a concern," Alex Angert of MLB.com reports. Stephen Fife still has a rotation spot despite rumors that the Dodgers might acquire a starter such as Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza.
  • The Blue Jays voided the contract of Venezuelan shortstop Luis Castro after the prospect didn't pass his physical, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. Castro, 16, had signed for $800K last month.
  • The Red Sox placed Nick Punto and Carl Crawford on waivers today, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Hundreds of players will be placed on waivers this month and only a small percentage of them will be traded.

NL Central Notes: Chapman, Francis, Punto, Heredia

Let's continue our tour of the divisions with news from the NL Central…

  • "The Reds’ handling of Aroldis Chapman is beginning to resemble Joba Chamberlain 2.0," writes Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Cincinnati is leaning towards using Chapman as a reliever this season but Passan argues that a pitcher with Chapman's potential should be given the chance to start and not worry about being shuttled between the rotation and the bullpen.  Another note from the piece is that Chapman's velocity is down to the 92-95 mph range this spring, but Chapman has been pleased with his improved command and his new pitch, a splitter.
  • Like Chapman, Jeff Francis has pitched well this spring but may not find a spot in the Reds rotation, prompting ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) to consider Francis an "affordable alternative for teams in the John Lannan hunt."  Francis signed a minor league deal with the Reds that contains an opt-out clause for March 28 that he could exercise if he doesn't think he'll find a job in Cincinnati.  (In regards to Lannan, he could be off the trade market altogether given Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury today.)
  • Nick Punto told reporters (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that his top two offseason options were the Cardinals and Red Sox, but the Cards never made him a contract offer.
  • Astros minor leaguer Angel Heredia has been suspended for 50 games following a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, reports The Associated Press.  Heredia, a right-handed pitcher, played for Houston's Dominican Summer League team.

Red Sox Sign Nick Punto

It sure didn't take long for Ben Cherington to replace Jed Lowrie. Hours after sending Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to Houston for Mark Melancon, the Red Sox GM announced the signing of Nick Punto to a two-year deal. The contract guarantees Punto $3MM and offers him the chance to earn an additional $500K in incentives, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links).

Punto spent the 2011 season with the Cardinals and played second, short and third. He had just 166 plate appearances, but posted a .278/.388/.421 line for a career-best .809 OPS. The switch-hitter's career batting line sits at .249/.325/.327, so he may not be able to replicate this year's offensive performance in 2012-13.

But in all likelihood, Cherington didn't add Punto for his bat. UZR suggests Punto is a strong defender at short, second and third. Overall, he has been an above-average defender in each season that he's logged significant MLB playing time. However, he's 34 and maintaining his historically strong defense may be unrealistic.