Oakland Athletics Rumors
MLB rejected an A's request to move to San Jose six months ago, the Sports Law Blog reports (via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). "MLB denied the Athletics’ relocation request on June 17, 2013, one day before this lawsuit was filed," a case-management statement reads. "On that date, Commissioner [Bud] Selig formally notified the Athletics’ ownership that he was not satisfied with the club’s relocation proposal." As Slusser notes, San Jose's anti-trust lawsuit against MLB was filed the day after the June 17 rejection.
However, a source tells Slusser that MLB only decided the specific proposal for a San Jose stadium was insufficient, saying it merely required more information. The league therefore hasn't denied the A's request to move outright, but hasn't approved anything, either, placing things in a holding pattern of sorts. The situation is much the same as it was nearly five years ago, when Selig first established a committee to investigate the A's stadium situation.
Sam Liccardo, a San Jose city councilman pushing the lawsuit, says he too was unaware of the June 17 letter until recently. “It’s surprising, but I don’t think it changes anything,” Liccardo commented. “I don’t think it matters. The litigation continues.”
The Rockies and Athletics talked yesterday about a potential trade involving A's left-handed starter Brett Anderson, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but were not able to line up on a deal. The clubs are not expected to revisit the possibility of Anderson moving to Colorado, Rosenthal adds.
Anderson has been one of the most interesting trade targets reportedly available. Though the 6'4 southpaw has seen his last several seasons derailed by Tommy John surgery and a fracture in his right foot, he is just 25 years of age and still has plenty of upside. Anderson threw 175 1/3 innings and posted a 4.06 ERA as a rookie in 2009, but has not maintained a full season of starting work since. When healthy, Anderson has generally been effective; he has a lifetime ERA of 3.81 in 450 2/3 innings. Last season was his roughest on the mound, as he posted a 6.04 ERA in 44 2/3 innings, though metrics like FIP (3.85) and xFIP (3.26) were much more favorable.
Meanwhile, for the Rockies, MLBTR's Zach Links wrote before the off-season that the rotation was an area that the club could make an impactful addition. After adding LaTroy Hawkins to the bullpen and Justin Morneau at first via free agency, but shedding the salary of Dexter Fowler via trade, Colorado might be in a position to take on payroll obligations for a starter. Anderson is due to be paid $8MM next season and comes with a $12MM option for 2015 ($1.5MM buyout).
Here's the latest from the American League West:
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says the club is still looking for a durable backup catcher, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Though the recent spate of catcher moves took away some hypothetical options, Daniels said that "nobody has come off the board that we really pursued." Sullivan notes that Kurt Suzuki is one player in whom Texas has interest.
- In looking to add a backstop, the Rangers were close to adding J.P. Arencibia via trade before he was non-tendered by the Blue Jays, Sullivan reports. But the club did not want to add Arencibia unless it could work out terms on a new deal, and ultimately that did not happen. He joins Suzuki as possible free agent options for Texas.
- The Athletics' signing of left-handed starter Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22MM deal kicked off a flurry of big moves for the A's. MLB.com's Jane Lee provides a summation of the considerations that brought him to Oakland, with Kazmir saying he loves the team and fan base and looks forward to throwing in the Coliseum. For GM Billy Beane, the club liked Kazmir's stuff, restored fastball velocity, overall body of work in 2013, and young age (29). Though Kazmir's up-and-down career trajectory might have scared off some clubs, Beane says that he views Kazmir's "character-building experience" of getting back to a high level of performance as a positive.
- Before Phil Hughes decided to take a three-year deal with the Twins, the Angels made him an offer of a "nice one-year deal," reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted in discussing several of MLB's recent moves, baseball sources believe Hughes could have landed up to $9MM or $10MM on a one-year deal, though another source told Rosenthal that no offers of that magnitude had actually been made.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik declined to comment on whether or not the club is pursuing Robinson Cano, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, saying that the club is keeping its talks "in house" but has "a lot of dialogue going on a lot of fronts." Talking generally about offering long-term deals, Zduriencik indicated that the club prefers to minimize risk but must "adapt to the market." While saying he would "like to add three" bats to the club, the Mariners GM noted that the club would still also be interested in adding "another starting pitcher" or even another pen piece.
- Ultimately, Zduriencik confirmed the widespread view that Seattle is looking to add impact to its roster. "It was a clear goal of ours to get us to a point where we would have young and inexpensive players throughout the line-up and I think we've accomplished that goal," said Zduriencik. "I always felt there would be a time where [we] would have to augment this club. I think we are at that time."
3:30pm: The Diamondbacks may also be looking to the trade market for power bats, according to a recent series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports that the D-Backs and A's recently discussed a trade that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pollock and others. Both sides have cooled on the idea and backed off the trade at this time, however, and the A's would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return, according to Rosenthal. Still, as he points out, it serves as an example that the Diamondbacks will be aggressive and creative in their search for a power bat in the outfield.
1:54pm: The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied:
"I don't see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we're hoping he's our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He's gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring ... He's not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy -- he's looking to make it as the ace."
Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks' success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a "No. 1 type starter" was to that year's team. Hall expects activity to pick up: "We're getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We're probably a good fit for a lot of clubs."
In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed. Martin Prado's presence means that Arizona could also be inclined to include Matt Davidson in potential trades, and the presence of both A.J. Pollock could mean that Adam Eaton is attainable as well, notes Crasnick.
Crasnick lists familiar trade targets Price and Jeff Samardzija for the Diamondbacks, though Price has had multiple ace-caliber seasons while Samardzija has more so flashed ace potential. Crasnick adds that Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado, each of whom is still younger than 24, may be more likely to be included in potential trades.
The Diamondbacks are also looking to add an impact bat to the outfield, though that addition may be more likely to come via free agency, reports Crasnick. Big-name items like Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson may not fit into Arizona's payroll, which could lead to pursuits of names like Corey Hart and Michael Morse, though there are many who don't consider either one to be capable of handling the outfield at this point.
Werner, 26, was one of two players received by the A's in their trade of Tyson Ross to the Padres. The University of Indianapolis product spent the entire season in Triple-A this season and struggled to the tune of a 5.78 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. Right-handed batters tagged him for a .901 OPS, but he was able to hold lefties in check reasonably well, limiting them to a more respectable .688 OPS in 2013.
Though they have plenty of in-house rotation candidates, the Athletics clearly consider Scott Kazmir to be superior to many of them. Oakland officially announced today that they have signed the left-hander to a two-year contract that is reportedly worth $22MM. Kazmir is represented by the Legacy Agency.
Kazmir, who turns 30 next month, reemerged as a legitimate Major League starter in 2013 after a two-year hiatus from significant big league action. After pitching to a 5.54 ERA in 299 innings from 2009-11 and seeing his average fastball velocity drop below 87 mph, Kazmir returned with a 92.5 mph heater and posted a 4.04 ERA In 158 innings for the Indians. He averaged 9.2 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings to go along with a 40.9 percent ground-ball rate. Sabermetric stats like FIP (3.51), xFIP (3.36) and SIERA (3.45) all pegged Kazmir as significantly better than his ERA would otherwise indicate. Because he did not receive a qualifying offer from Cleveland, Kazmir's agreement won't require the A's to sacrifice their first-round pick.
Kazmir's $22MM guarantee falls just $1MM shy of Tim Hudson's two-year, $23MM deal with the A's Bay Area rivals -- the San Francisco Giants. Oakland was said to finish as the runner-up in that sweepstakes. Kazmir's guarantee and their unwillingness to top the Giants' offer to Hudson suggests that this could be the highest the A's were capable of going in their pursuit of a pitcher.
The Kazmir signing likely puts an end to Oakland's interest in a reunion with Bartolo Colon. Kazmir figures to join a rotation that includes Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and one of Tommy Milone, Dan Straily and Brett Anderson. Anderson, who makes $8MM in 2014 and has a $12MM option for the 2015 season, appears to become a prime trade candidate as a result of this signing (if he wasn't already).
Kazmir's contract continues the upward trend we've seen for free agent starting pitcher salaries this offseason. Prior to season's end, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes projected a two-year, $16MM contract that may have seemed aggressive at the time but still fell short of his ultimate guarantee. Agent Brian Peters of the Legacy Agency did well to secure such a payday despite his client's spotty history.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the agreement was close (on Twitter), and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that it'd be a two-year contract (Twitter link). Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio broke the news of the two-year, $22MM agreement (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
In today's conference call to announce Tony Clark as the new executive director of the MLBPA, free agent Curtis Granderson didn't give reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), the impression that they are right on the cusp of a deal with the Mets. "We ate a nice meal and it was great to enjoy some salmon … It was kind of what you could expect," said the outfielder. Here's more from around baseball..
- While the Red Sox have been engaged in talks with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, the team is unlikely to pursue a three-year deal for the 36-year-old, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The rival Yankees also won't go to three years, reportedly.
- The Angels are unlikely to trade Mark Trumbo, according to jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (on Twitter). The Halos believe that a fair return would be top notch young starting pitching for the slugger and that deal doesn't exist. The Angels also aren't sure if they can get a good enough starter in exchange for Howie Kendrick, which could leave them to try and net two starters on the open market with limited money (link).
- The Yankees' $153MM deal for Jacoby Ellsbury is supposed to put the squeeze on Robinson Cano, but it could backfire, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Red Sox's offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia topped out at two years for about $18MM, a source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- The Yankees have signed right-hander Brian Gordon to a minor league deal, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (on Twitter).
- Ryan Webb was surprised to learn that he was non-tendered by the Marlins, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors (on Twitter) expected Luke Gregerson to fetch more than Seth Smith. The Padres and A's swapped the two in a one-for-one swap earlier today.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe takes a closer look at the Red Sox's deal for A.J. Pierzynski.
3:54pm: The Yankees are also interested in Anderson, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan (on Twitter). According to Passan, the A's are likely to deal Anderson at next week's Winter Meetings.
3:08pm: The Athletics aren't going to trade Anderson today, tweets John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (on Twitter). However, the A's are seeking bullpen depth.
1:15pm: The Blue Jays are "infatuated" with Anderson, and the Twins are interested in the lefty as well, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). One Major League executive told Slusser that it's likely the A's will make another trade this week, perhaps even today.
Anderson has been around for five years already, but he's still just 25 years old (he'll turn 26 in February) and is under control at $8MM in 2014 with a $12MM club option for 2015. Those final two seasons were both option years on a four-year, $12.5MM extension he signed with the A's in April 2010, coming off a season in which he posted a 4.06 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent ground-ball rate.
Anderson was even better in 2010, posting a 2.80 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 54.6 percent ground-ball rate, but injury problems set in that season. A pair of left elbow issues limited Anderson to 112 1/3 innings that season, and he went on to undergo Tommy John surgery in 2011. He missed most of 2012 recovering from that surgery but was brilliant in his return. In 2013, he missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his foot and pitched to a 6.04 ERA (3.85 FIP, 3.26 xFIP) in the 44 2/3 innings he was healthy.
The A's exercised his $8MM option anyway, believing him to be capable of exceeding that value in 2014, whether in Oakland or with aother team. Though he's totaled just 163 innings over the past three seasons combined, Anderson's talent and youth make him a solid buy-low candidate for teams that don't wish to pay the rising prices for free agent pitchers.
The Indians make sense as a fit after losing Scott Kazmir as a free agent (to the A's themselves, no less) and with the likelihood that they will also lose Ubaldo Jimenez. A starting pitcher is a known desire for Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, and adding Anderson would accomplish that goal while still leaving plenty of money to pursue big bats like Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Nelson Cruz.
Smith, 31, batted .253/.329/.391 with eight home runs in 410 plate appearances for Oakland this season. Always a better hitter against right-handed pitching, he continued that trend in 2013, posting a .748 OPS against right-handers and just a .621 mark against lefties. For his career, Smith has mashed right-handers to the tune of a .279/.357/.487 batting line. Smith's defense in left field has consistently graded out as a positive (+7.7 UZR/150, +2 Defensive Runs Saved), but he's limited to a corner position and hasn't received great marks in right field.
MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Smith to earn $4.3MM this offseason in his final round of arbitration. He's eligible for free agency next winter.
Gregerson, 29, is also a free agent following this season and projected to earn a comparable $4.9MM salary, per Swartz. He enjoyed yet another strong season in the Padres' bullpen last year, pitching to a 2.71 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 45.5 percent ground-ball rate. Gregerson is the second high-profile reliever added by the A's in the past 24 hours, as GM Billy Beane also acquired Jim Johnson from the Orioles last night.
The trade was first reported by Oakland-area blogger Chris Kusiolek (on Twitter).
12:47pm: The Rangers are receiving multiple minor leaguers in the deal, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
12:38pm: The A's have acquired outfielder Craig Gentry from the Rangers in exchange for Michael Choice, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Other players are involved in the deal as well, adds Passan.
Gentry, who turned 30 last week, is regarded as one of the game's best defensive outfielders and is coming off a season in which he batted .280/.373/.386 with a pair of homers and 24 stolen bases in 27 attempts. He boasts an outstanding 29.5 UZR/150 in more than 1400 career innings in center field, and The Fielding Bible likes him for +34 runs saved in his career.
Gentry has thrived against left-handed pitching throughout his career, compiling a solid .288/.376/.399 slash line. He's serviceable against right-handed pitchers as well, though his OBP (.334) and slugging (.335) are significantly lower against same-handed pitching.
Lindblom, 26, has primarily served as a reliever in his big league career, but Passan notes that the A's are planning to use him as a starter (Twitter link). Lindblom has a career 3.82 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 34.3 percent ground-ball rate. His flyball tendencies should be much better suited for Oakland's O.Co Coliseum than Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Choice is a 24-year-old outfielder who played all three positions for the Athletics' Triple-A club this year. The 10th overall pick by the A's in 2010, Choice made his big league debut in September this year. Prior to the season, Baseball America ranked him second among A's prospects, praising his power and bat speed while noting a propensity for strikeouts and fringy arm strength. Choice went on to hit .302/.390/.445 with 14 home runs in 600 Triple-A plate appearances. He's a native of Arlington, Texas.
Bostick, 21 in March, was a 44th round pick out of high school by the A's in 2011. A second baseman, he hit .282/.354/.452 with 14 home runs in 555 A-ball plate appearances this year. Prior to the season, BA ranked him 20th among A's prospects, citing sneaky power and the potential to become more than a utilityman.