Oliver Perez Rumors

NL East Notes: Braves, Kimbrel, Nationals, Mets

Despite their "file and trial" stance with respect to the arbitration process, the Braves made clear today that the club did not extend its refusal to negotiate after exchanging figures to multi-year talks. After inking a two-year pact with Jason Heyward that did not extend club control, Atlanta promptly locked up Freddie Freeman to a long-term deal. The Heyward deal, in particular, reveals another benefit of the file-and-trial approach, writes Eno Sarris of Fangraphs. By holding out on seemingly inconsequential portion of Heyward's salary, Atlanta obtained sufficient leverage to add another year (and attendant cost-certainty) to Heyward's contract. Here's more on the Braves' interesting arbitration season and the rest of the NL East:

  • Of course, Heyward's deal also provides security for the oft-DL'ed 24-year-old, though with his talent it is somewhat difficult to imagine any scenario where he would not have been tendered a contract next year. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links) that Heyward's representatives at Excel Sports Management approached the front office about a multi-year deal after exchanging figures. Though his spate of injuries (and correspondingly limited statistical production) hindered discussions, says Sherman, the gap was spanned and agreement reached on the value of Heyward's remaining arb-eligible years.
  • In spite of the deals with Heyward and Freeman, Atlanta remains all but certain to face a hearing with closer Craig Kimbrel, reports Jeff Passon of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). With a substantial gap between Kimbrel's $9MM figure and the club's $6.55MM counter in Kimbrel's first year of arbitration eligibility, the outcome of that hearing (scheduled for February 17th) could go a long way toward determining the outstanding closer's future salary — and, potentially, even what uniform he will wear for the long haul.
  • After losing out on bench bat Jeff Baker, the Nationals are still on the hunt for late-off-season value, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. In particular, says Wagner, the Nats remain very interested in southpaw reliever Oliver Perez, who is reportedly close to choosing a team.
  • The Mets are still saying that a Stephen Drew signing remains a "long shot" for the club, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. We heard earlier today that New York had not made an offer to the free agent shortstop.

Perez, Baker, Rodriguez, Yoon Close To Deals

A series of significant, albeit not top-shelf, free agents could soon be coming off the board, according to a report from Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Agent Scott Boras tells Morosi that he is "very close" to inking contracts for four of his clients: Oliver Perez, Jeff Baker, Francisco Rodriguez, and Suk-min Yoon.

Each of these names could represent an interesting opportunity to obtain a significant impact for a relatively limited investment. Rumors have been picking up steam of late on both Baker and Yoon. Baker, a 32-year-old lefty masher, has been said to be nearing a deal and could prove an important bench piece. The South Korean Yoon, meanwhile, has reportedly drawn a good bit of interest; Boras says that six or seven clubs are still involved. While he may not offer massive upside in the sense of becoming a dominating MLB pitcher, Yoon could end up delivering good value if he can stick at the back of a rotation, especially given his young age (27).

Then, there are the two enigmatic relivers: Perez and Rodriguez. Their long MLB tenures (each tasted the bigs at age 20) leave one surprised to learn of their relative youth (both are just 32). Despite flashes of brilliance as a starter, Perez utimately had to reinvent himself as a reliever. And after a stretch as one of the most dominating late-inning men in the game, Rodriguez was forced to settle for a minor league deal last season. Yet the numbers show that both offer very real upside. In the last two seasons, the southpaw Perez has thrown 82 2/3 innings of 3.16 ERA ball (with 10.7 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9). And Rodriguez registered a 2.70 ERA last year in 46 2/3 innings while striking out 10.4 per nine and walking a career-low 2.7 per nine. 


NL Notes: Mets, Nats, Reds, Samardzija, Rockies, D-Backs

Here are the latest updates from the National League side of the ledger:

  • The Mets are increasingly expressing optimism about their efforts to bring Curtis Granderson into the fold, reports Marc Carig of Newsday, though nothing appears to be immiment. Joining the Mets in pursuit of Granderson are the White Sox and Mariners, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. If that does not work out for New York, says Puma, the club will "likely" turn its attention to Nelson Cruz.
  • After parting ways with two left-handed relief options in Fernando Abad and Ian Krol, the Nationals remain interested in adding Oliver Perez, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore says that the Mariners and Padres also have interest in the 32-year-old southpaw, who pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings last year for Seattle.
  • Echoing previous reportsReds GM Walt Jocketty says that the club has told second baseman Brandon Phillips that it is "not in any talks to trade him," reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Though Jocketty also noted that he could not rule out that possibility, he definitely left the impression that he is not actively shopping Phillips.
  • Jocketty also indicated that the club is likely going to keep Aroldis Chapman in the closer role rather than converting him to a starter, reports Sheldon. Though Cincinnati will keep the starting option on the table in the spring, Jocketty said that the club likes its depth at the present. As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth wrote at the start of the off-season, the Reds could tinker with their rotation, but lack a pressing need to do so.
  • Though the latest scuttlebutt has Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija marked for trade talks, club president Theo Epstein says that the club still hopes to extend him, tweets Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Of course, Chicago could certainly be keeping both options on the table for the time being.
  • After trading away center fielder Dexter Fowler, the Rockies plan to shift Carlos Gonzalez over to fill the vacancy, reports the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Meanwhile, the club is still shopping for relief pitchers, reports the Denver Post's Troy Renck (via Sulia), and may be most likely to add a bullpen arm via trade. 
  • The Diamondbacks are still looking to add a major piece, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, and GM Kevin Towers has indicated that the club would be willing to give up its first-round draft choice to sign a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer. Towers indicated that the club is most likely to add a starter via trade, leaving Piecoro to posit that the most likely open-market targets would be Granderson, Nelson Cruz, or Carlos Beltran.
  • Meanwhile, the D-Backs could be much more willing to deal pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs than they had been in the past, Piecoro writes. In fact, the club apparently recently explored just that possibility. Coming off of a down year that saw his velocity drop, however, the 22-year-old probably also has diminished trade value at the moment, Piecoro further notes.


East Notes: Murphy, Cano, Perez, Rays

The Mets are looking for players to buy into their offensive philosophy, and that means finding guys with discipline at the plate, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  That might help to explain why the free-swinging Daniel Murphy has found himself on the pages of MLBTR over the last week or so.  Marlon Byrd, who signed a lucrative two-year deal with the Philies, didn't show up on the Mets radar because he also doesn't fit the bill for what the Mets are looking for.  Possible target Curtis Granderson, however, boasts a solid walk rate.  Here's more out of the AL and NL East..

  • It was hard to find an executive at the GM Meetings who didn't expect to see Robinson Cano back with the Yankees, but almost everyone expects a leverage battle between the two sides, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman suggests that the Bombers could invoke a similar strategy to what they did with Andy Pettitte after the 2008 season.  The Yanks offered the hurler a pay cut from $16MM to $10MM and when he declined, they cautioned that the offer would go down if they signed someone else.  After they spent megabucks on Mark Teixeira, Pettitte (reluctantly) accepted a $5.5MM deal.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson told Mike Francesa of WFAN Radio that he wouldn’t trade Noah Syndergaard under virtually any circumstances, according to Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.
  • The Nationals have interest in free agent Oliver Perez, a person familiar with the situation tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  Left-handed batters hit .238/.358/.288 against the 32-year-old reliever last season.
  • After numerous conversations with player agents and other teams, Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman headed home from the GM Meetings with a better sense of potential moves, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  The Rays are looking for a first baseman, catcher, and one or two late-inning relievers. Friedman isn't sure if their next move is a trade or signing, but he "would be surprised" if nothing happened between now and the winter meetings on December 8th.

Orioles Looking For Starters, Bats

1:55pm: The Orioles are lukewarm on Morneau as well as Mike Morse, tweets Scott Miller of CBS Sports.

12:11pm: Saunders is not a target for the Orioles right now, hears Connolly.

12:02pm: The Orioles are interested in a reunion with Joe Saunders, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. They also have some degree of interest in Oliver Perez, he adds.

10:57am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Orioles feel the asking prices remain too high in their pursuits of upgrades to their offense and rotation.

10:47am: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets that the O's kicked around the idea of acquiring Morneau but don't see a fit due to his contract and lack of production. Nothing has heated up in recent days, he adds.

10:23am: The Orioles are still engaged in trade talks for Astros righty Bud Norris and Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (on Twitter).

Baltimore's interest in both players has been well-documented to this point, though they appear to have shown more interest in Norris than Morneau. Norris is controllable for two additional seasons and earning just $3MM in 2013, while the slumping Morneau is a free agent at season's end and is owed an additional $4.6MM through season's end.


Mariners In Active Discussions About Wilhelmsen, Perez, Morse

The Mariners are in active trade discussions involving closer Tom Wilhelmsen and reliever Oliver Perez, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  The Orioles are actively pursuing Perez and Mike Morse, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, and would like to acquire both.  The Rays are interested in Morse, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.


Orioles Trade Targets: Byrd, Oliver Perez

The Orioles currently stand to take the second wild card spot in the American League, and they've already bolstered their pitching staff with the additions of Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez.  Here's the latest on their trade targets, courtesy of Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun:

  • Connolly feels the Phillies' Michael Young is the best fit for the Orioles at DH, but the team hasn't made an aggressive push for him at this point.  Connolly expects Young to go elsewhere if traded.
  • The Orioles are interested in the Mets' Marlon Byrd.  However, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes today that Byrd is "highly unlikely" to be traded.  Connolly also believes Mariners lefty reliever Oliver Perez is the most likely player to be acquired by the Orioles.
  • Connolly says to forget about Cliff Lee and Jake Peavy.  Instead, the O's have coveted the Astros' Bud Norris and Chris Sale of the White Sox.
  • Connolly expects the Orioles to pass on the Twins' Justin Morneau.
  • Orioles minor leaguers Mike Wright, Tim Berry, and Christian Walker have piqued teams' interests.
  • Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette feels he has the money and prospects to make a deal, if the right one comes along.

Mariners Not Selling At This Time

While the Mariners recently looked to be clear sellers in this year's trade market, the team's recent eight-game winning streak and offensive explosion looks to have changed their position. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that teams who have checked in on the Mariners have been told they're not sellers at this time (Twitter link).

No team has scored more runs than the Mariners this month, which is an encouraging sign for a team whose rotation is fronted by Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. The Mariners have a number of veterans on one year deals, including Kendrys Morales, Mike Morse, Joe Saunders, Oliver Perez, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay, many of whom were frequently mentioned as trade candidates.

Heyman tweets that in particular, there's little belief that Seattle would move Morales, as they plan on extending a qualifying offer to him at season's end. He's been terrific for the M's since coming over from the division rival Angels this offseason, hitting .282/.341/.466 with 15 homers.

Recently, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times noted that general manager Jack Zduriencik wasn't planning on being aggressive at the trade deadline because the franchise needed to show some progress to fans and couldn't afford another 90-loss season. Obviously, that's doubly true for Zduriencik himself, as his job has been rumored to be in jeopardy. At the time that piece was written, Stone thought Perez would certainly be moved, and added that the Mariners could make small trades of Brendan Ryan and Endy Chavez. It appears now that the Mariners, who are 8.5 games back from a Wild Card spot, will hold steady.


Stark’s Latest: Brewers, Ruggiano, Young, Storen

ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a number of executives who feel the trade deadline has lost its luster since many teams have locked up their top young players, teams are reluctant to acquire rental players who carry no draft pick compensation as free agents, and the second wild card has narrowed the market of outright sellers to just a few teams.  That said, Stark still has lots of hot stove items for us in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column

  • Ryan Braun's suspension could drastically change the Brewers' perspective on trading some veteran stars.  While Francisco Rodriguez was indeed traded just a day after Braun's suspension was announced, Stark hears that the Brewers are asking for a lot in deals.  "One of the problems with dealing with Milwaukee is that [their] trade for [Jean] Segura last year was so one-sided that they want another tilted deal. Not going to happen," an AL executive said.
  • The price for Kyle Lohse, for instance, involves the price of a first-round pick.  The Crew gave up as first-rounder as compensation for signing Lohse as a free agent in the spring.
  • Three scouts who have recently seen Yovani Gallardo say he's been pitching like a fourth or fifth starter.  Gallardo in his prime was "close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back," one scout said.  Gallardo has a 4.58 ERA and a career-worst 7.2 K/9 in 21 starts this season, plus he's lost two miles of velocity off his fastball.
  • We'd heard that the Yankees and Rangers had checked in on Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and Stark adds the Phillies and Giants to the list of a half-dozen interested teams.  The Marlins weren't too keen on dealing Ruggiano but he could be expendable now that Christian Yellich and Jake Marisnick have been called up.
  • The Phillies' next five games "will determine Michael Young's fate more than anyone else on their roster," said one executive who has talked to the club.  Young is seen as "pretty much a lock" to be dealt if the Phils struggle during their road trip through St. Louis and Detroit this week.  The Phillies dropped a 4-1 result to the Cardinals last night.
  • Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been made available by the Phillies but even if he was, one AL executive thinks Papelbon's contract makes him "practically untradable."
  • Stark thinks the Phillies and Marlins are good trade partners on paper since the Phils could use Ruggiano or any of Miami's good relievers.  The Marlins aren't willing to move anyone unless they get a great offer, however, and the Phillies aren't willing to move any of their top prospects to facilitate a deal.
  • The Nationals could listen on a good offer for Drew Storen, the former first-round pick who is struggling through a tough year.  The Nats are in a tough spot trade-wise, however, since the team is largely set at every position yet are still in need of hitting.
  • Alex Rios' long slump has lowered his trade value and the White Sox will be hard-pressed to find a team to meet their asking price for the right fielder.  The Rangers still have some interest in Rios, as they're looking for an outfielder that can be controlled beyond this season.
  • The Red Sox are seen as very likely to add pitching before the deadline.  Boston has been linked to Jake Peavy and were interested in Francisco Rodriguez before the Orioles got him. 
  • The Braves have targeted Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Scott Downs of the Angels, Mike Dunn of the Marlins and James Russell of the Cubs in their search for left-handed relief pitching.  While Atlanta has been looking at these names and others, however, Stark says the team isn't close to a deal.
  • In regards to the Biogenesis scandal, Stark hears from an attorney who believes "virtually every case will be settled by a plea deal.  You're going to see a lot of pleas. You're going to see a lot of deals."

Relief Market Rumors: K-Rod, Wilson, Duensing, Coke

With just over a week to the trade deadline, there's still been only one significant move for a reliever — Boston's acquisition of Matt Thornton. Plenty of teams are on the lookout for bullpen help, however, including the Tigers, Red Sox, Braves, Diamondbacks and more. With a potential Jason Grilli injury last night, more bullpen rumors could begin to circulate. Here are the latest relief rumblings from around the baseball world…

  • The Red Sox, Dodgers and Tigers are all keeping close tabs on Francisco Rodriguez, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The Sox and Dodgers, in particular, were said by Crasnick to have scouts "all over" Rodriguez this week. Detroit, meanwhile, isn't as interested as it once was due to the strong recent performance of Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly (Twitter links).
  • Former closer Brian Wilson threw for Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen catcher Billy Hayes yesterday, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. The session was a personal favor to Wilson and not an indicator that a deal is coming, Baggarly writes. However, Wilson looked nearly Major League ready, and Baggarly feels that the willingness to afford Wilson this favor suggests that any ill will between the two sides following Wilson's offseason non-tender has subsided.
  • The Braves continue to search for left-handed relief help, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio, who lists Oliver Perez, Mike Dunn, Glen Perkins, Scott Downs and James Russell as potential targets. Bowden notes that Perkins is unlikely, likely because of the numerous reports that the Twins won't move their closer.
  • While the Twins aren't interested in moving Perkins, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves may have interest in another Minnesota lefty who may be available — Brian Duensing (Twitter link). Duensing has two years of team control remaining and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this offseason.
  • One more note from Crasnick, who tweets that the Braves also checked in on Phil Coke in their quest for lefty relief help, but nothing came of the talks with the Tigers. Coke has had a brutal season because of overexposure against right-handed hitters, but he's held lefties to a .231/.271/.346 batting line.
  • For more on the relief trade market, check out my examinations of the market for left-handed relievers and the market for right-handed relievers. Also, for all fantasy players out there, be sure to follow @closernews on Twitter to keep up to speed with closer injuries, performance, usage and more.