- Phillies Extend Jerome Williams For 2015
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- Josh Beckett To Retire
- Yasmany Tomas Declared Free Agent
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- Twins Remove Ron Gardenhire From Manager Role
- Reds Extend GM Walt Jocketty
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Here’s the latest out of the National League:
- A repeat of last year’s late-season extensions seems unlikely for the Giants, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The club is not talking about new deals with any of its pending free agents, says Schulman. That would include, of course, third baseman Pablo Sandoval. In a recent poll, MLBTR readers indicated a collective expectation that Sandoval will find a new home next year.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson explained that his recent comments on the club’s younger players have been somewhat misinterpreted as forecasts of the team’s spending plans, as Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Saying that his statements were intended to focus on the team’s younger players, particularly given his audience (related to one of the team’s affiliates), Alderson emphasized that it would be unfair to “assume that we’ve made decisions about what we’re going to or not going to do at those positions.” Though Martino notes that the organization still needs to prove it actually has the ability and willingness to bump up its spending, Alderson maintains that he has no complaints and believes in the club’s process. “It’s important to keep in mind a couple things,” he said. “One is, I actually believe we will have some payroll flexibility that goes beyond what some people are thinking. But at the same time, I don’t think we expect to go out and spend money just to get to a threshold. We have to see what’s there, both in terms of the free agent market and over time the trade market. We have to evaluate what we have.”
- Veteran Phillies righty A.J. Burnett has bumped the value of his 2015 player option to $12.75MM with tonight’s start, his 32nd, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki notes on Twitter. While it remains to be seen whether he decides to return, Burnett’s injury-free but less productive 2014 campaign makes it unlikely that he would deliver much in return via trade. (Of course, his 20-team no-trade clause also presents a significant barrier.)
Today is the bicentennial of The Star-Spangled Banner. MLB.com’s Doug Miller chronicles the link between our country’s national anthem and its national pastime from the first time it was sung before a baseball game (May 15, 1862) to the great and not-so-great renditions. From the national anthem to the National League East, here are today’s notes from the division:
- Rafael Soriano is making progress after working on his mechanics, but there is no timetable to reinstall him as the Nationals‘ closer, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted recently Soriano’s $14MM club option for 2015 will not vest and the Nationals are all but certain to decline the option making him an interesting free agent to watch.
- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg won’t speak ill of Ryan Howard or suggest a trade would make sense, but he admits a move to first base could be beneficial for Chase Utley, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. “I think playing first base would eliminate a little wear and tear at that position,” Sandberg said. “Whether that’s a consideration or not has yet to be seen.” Gelb suggests a plan for 2015 where Utley is slated to play about 130 games with 100 of them at first base.
- Kyle Kendrick isn’t sure if he made his final home start in a Phillies‘ uniform last night, but it sounds like he’d like to stay put in Philadelphia, if possible. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s out of my control. But if I’m somewhere else, I’ll miss it,” Kendrick told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
- The Mets have shut down left-hander Dana Eveland for the remainder of the season because of elbow inflammation, reports MLB.com’s Tim Healey. The 30-year-old, who will become a free agent at the end of the season, has had a career year with the Mets posting a 2.63 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 30 relief outings (27 1/3 innings).
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at Jake Peavy‘s effect on the Giants this season. “He brings a lot of intensity, he brings a lot of energy, he brings a lot of veteran leadership, he brings a lot of guts,” Hunter Pence said last week. “He’s been a big charge to this run we’ve made. That energy is exciting to be around. It’s a different dugout when he’s in it.” More from today’s column..
- John Boggs, the agent for Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, told Cafardo he will sit down with his client and put together a new 20-team no-trade list by November 1. Boggs says the Red Sox were on Hamels’s 2014 no-trade list and the Phillies would have to have asked permission to deal him to Boston. “It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have accepted it,” Boggs said. “We are still deliberating on what teams will be on that list for 2015.”
- After a one-year pillow offer, Nelson Cruz appears to have riches awaiting for him this winter. The Orioles will make him the $15MM+ qualifying offer, but he’ll be in demand as one of the few right-handed power hitters out there. The Yankees can be expected to have interest and the Rangers could look to bring him back.
- Manager Buck Showalter has talked with J.J. Hardy about how much the Orioles want him to re-sign, but they may not offer the most money. Showalter said the team would make him a fair offer, but he tried to appeal to how much Hardy has enjoyed playing in Baltimore.
- Showalter is a realist when it comes to the Orioles‘ financial limitations, but he feels he can still come up with good players going the minor league free agent route. The Orioles did it with journeyman first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce, who has had an excellent season. Showalter feels that he can do it again with 28-32 year old hitters that are just starting to figure it out.
- One team’s international scout tells Cafardo that Yasmani Tomas could command as much as $100MM. The scout said Tomas has gotten himself in shape and if he performs well at his showcase later in the month, the money will get “really high.”
- One American League evaluator thinks it’s possible for the Phillies to move Ryan Howard to the American League, where he could be a full-time DH. “He’s not a lost cause,” said the evaluator. “He’s knocked in 92 runs for a bad team, so there’s obviously something still there. He could help an American League team as a DH.” However, that would require the Phillies to eat a good portion of the $60MM left on his contract.
Highly-regarded Blue Jays prospect Aaron Sanchez is proving that his stuff plays at the MLB level, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. His upper-90s fastball is generating swings and misses along with plenty of groundballs, and he’s also found success with his curve. As Nicholson-Smith notes, Sanchez has shown that the two-pitch combo can make him a force out of the pen, but the next step will be for him to incorporate his change as he looks to establish himself as a big league starter in the future. Sanchez is currently rated the game’s 37th-best overall prospect by MLB.com.
Here’s more from the east:
- The Rays expect their payroll to drop below this season’s franchise record of over $80MM, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. Overall spending is “clearly going to be lower,” said owner Stuart Sternberg. That is hardly surprising, especially given that the team will not be paying David Price a big arbitration raise and has Heath Bell coming off the books. On the other hand, it would seem to indicate that Tampa does not expect to add significant salary via free agency or trade, as the team will be paying raises to players like James Loney and Grant Balfour (whose free agent deals were backloaded) as well as arbitration-eligibles such as Matt Joyce, Jeremy Hellickson, Jake McGee, Desmond Jennings, and the recently-acquired Drew Smyly.
- Since going to the Rays in the Price trade, Smyly has increased his strikeout rate and improved his effectiveness against righties by elevating his fastball, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports originally explored and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs further explains with the aid of many interesting statistics and GIFs. As Sullivan writes — and as Fangraphs has been discussing more generally of late — there is an increasing movement among some teams (including Tampa) and some pitchers to pursue the use of high heat as batters have adjusted to lower pitching.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that he expects Cliff Lee to deliver significant on-field value next year, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Lee is on track in his rehab plan, which currently means continued rest. As Gelb notes, Lee’s situation will likely not begin to clarify until he begins throwing this fall and begins to ramp up for the spring.
- The Mets have issued a statement denying the allegations of former executive Leigh Castergine, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports. “We have received and reviewed the complaint,” the statement reads. “The claims are without merit. Our organization maintains strong policies against any and all forms of discrimination.” In a rather scathing assessment, meanwhile, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports argues that MLB should investigate immediately and act firmly in the wake of Castergine’s troubling allegations. As Passan notes, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon — whose alleged statements and actions form the basis for much of the lawsuit — not only occupies a key position with the team, but also sits on the boards of MLB Enterprises and MLB Network.
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. As we near the end of the season, here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options …
- Nick Punto, Athletics: 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. Though Forst did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, the health route is no longer available. Punto was only activated yesterday — ten days into the September active roster expansion — after going on the DL on August 3rd. 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, Brewers: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would have needed to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He has just 255 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Weeks will also fall shy of reaching 400 PAs, which would have entitled him to a $1MM buyout of his option.
- Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins’ option vested earlier this year when he reached 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14. (He has also made 600 trips to bat in 2014, an independent basis for triggering the provision.) That clause, however, also required that he not finish the year on the disabled list, and Rollins left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Word is that Rollins should be able to return, but with just three weeks left even a minor setback could well end his season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would need to go out of its way to place him on the DL at this point, with active rosters expanded. And, in any event, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed-upon doctor deemed Rollins ready to start the 2015 season.
- Dan Haren, Dodgers: Haren needs 180 innings to trigger a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. Heading into his scheduled outing this evening, he has already notched 162 frames. Haren should be in line for at least three more starts (including tonight’s) before the end of the month, and maybe another depending upon how the club approaches the last few games of the year. Having averaged 5.79 innings per start on the year, it will be incumbent on Haren to pitch his way to the option — especially in the midst of a playoff race and backed by a well-stocked bullpen.
- Mike Adams, Phillies: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s obviously not going to get there with just 17 2/3 innings in the tank. Adams has thrown just 42 2/3 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that the team will pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles. He should, however, be an attractive buy-low candidate given his general success when on the field.
- Rafael Soriano, Nationals: Soriano’s $14MM club option vests with 120 games finished over 2013-14. While that always seemed a longshot, any realistic hope was snuffed out when Soriano lost his closing gig to Drew Storen, the man he replaced when he signed on with Washington. Whether or not Soriano makes it back into the 9th inning role over the next few weeks, he now sits at 104 games finished over the last two seasons, making it all but impossible for him to trigger the vesting provision. With the Nationals all but certain to decline their club option on Soriano, he should make for an interesting free agent to watch.
- Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs: 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 has made it back for only 10 1/3 innings in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that (unreported) threshold.
- Sean Burnett, Angels: 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 year. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
- Scott Downs, White Sox: Downs had a $4MM vesting option that would have vested with 55 appearances, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in June (via Twitter). Though he appeared to be headed in that direction earlier in the year, the White Sox cut bait with Downs and his then-6.08 ERA. He owns a 3.55 mark over 12 2/3 innings with the Royals — who signed him to a separate, minor-league deal — and has now thrown in 53 games, but the vesting clause is now a moot point.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Dan Haren | Jimmy Rollins | Kyuji Fujikawa | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mike Adams | Milwaukee Brewers | Newsstand | Nick Punto | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Rafael Soriano | Rickie Weeks | Scott Downs | Sean Burnett | Washington Nationals
The fate of Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson will likely be decided by the next GM, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. Five candidates have already been confirmed and Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa expects to personally interview about ten before narrowing the list. La Russa “tried to put together a list that has a nice cross-section of talents.” It will be interesting to see which skill set Arizona chooses to complement La Russa.
- Also from Piecoro’s piece, the Diamondbacks hope to retain former GM Kevin Towers to oversee their scouting department. La Russa wishes to bolster both facets of the organization. He mentioned the possibility of hiring either an entry level or established analyst.
- Much has been made of the Phillies aging roster, although Chase Utley has done his part to contribute. Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders how long Utley can withstand the daily grind of the season. The 35-year-old has contributed a fine season including a .277/.346/.419 line. With Utley possibly under contract through 2018 (he has three vesting options), his presence could be an important stabilizing component of the club’s rebuilding effort.
- Many speculated that the White Sox would call up first round draft pick Carlos Rodon this September, but the club decided to forego promoting the youngster. Chicago pitching coordinator Curt Hasler says Rodon has all the stuff necessary to succeed, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Hasler cites a plus fastball, slider, and change. Rodon does need to work on his command, as evidenced by his 4.7 BB/9 in 24 and 2/3 minor league innings.
Royals pitcher Danny Duffy left his outing after just one pitch this afternoon against the Yankees, with catcher Salvador Perez signaling to the dugout and pointing at his shoulder (as YES Network’s Jack Curry tweets). Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that Duffy was officially removed due to shoulder soreness. An injury to Duffy would be tough news for the Royals, who lead the AL Central heading down the stretch. The lefty has been a key to a tough Royals rotation, posting a 2.42 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 141 1/3 innings so far this season. Here are more notes from around the game.
- Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett is making his 30th start of the season this afternoon, and it’ll be an expensive one, as CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury tweets. Burnett’s 30th start increases the value of his 2015 player option from $10MM to $11.75MM. In addition, he gets a $750K bonus this season for making his 30th start. The Phillies’ obligation to Burnett thus continues to accumulate even though he isn’t having the best season, posting a 4.40 ERA so far with 8.1 K/9 and a league-leading 78 walks in 184 innings.
- Colby Rasmus is one of the best available free-agent position players this winter, and he’s currently on the Blue Jays‘ bench, which tells you much of what you need to know about this offseason’s crop of free agent hitters, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. That juxtaposition explains why the Red Sox spent the summer acquiring hitting talent, signing Rusney Castillo and getting Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig in trades.
Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball, with the newest transactions at the top of the page…
- The Yankees have outrighted outfielder Zoilo Almonte, according to the International League transactions page. Almonte, 25, has collected just 36 plate appearances in the big leagues this season, spending most of the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he’s hit .261/.311/.437 in 454 plate appearances. The Yankees designated him for assignment earlier this week.
- The Padres outrighted left-hander Troy Patton to Triple-A El Paso, the team reports. Patton was designated for assignment on Tuesday. He posted a 5.14 ERA in 14 combined innings with the Orioles and Padres this season, but since coming to San Diego in May in exchange for Todd Hundley, Patton has a 2.45 ERA, eight strikeouts and just one walk over 7 1/3 relief innings.
- The Astros outrighted right-handers Paul Clemens and David Martinez off their 40-man roster, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports (Twitter link). The two were designated for assignment on Tuesday. Clemens has a 5.84 ERA in 24 2/3 relief innings for Houston this season, while Martinez allowed four in seven innings of work for the Astros.
- The Phillies have purchased the contract of right-hander Sean O’Sullivan, the team announced. Lefty Mario Hollands was moved to the 60-day DL in a corresponding roster move. O’Sullivan signed a minor league deal with Philadelphia last winter and has twice been outrighted off the club’s roster this season, while posting a 6.94 ERA over 11 2/3 IP in two starts with the Phillies.
Here’s the latest out of the National League East:
- The Phillies could well attempt to trade outfielder Domonic Brown in an offseason change-of-scenery swap, according to a report from Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Looking at Philadelphia’s options in the outfield next year, Gelb indicates that a return for Grady Sizemore could be attractive given the dearth of options on the free agent market. Meanwhile, the club could remake the rest of its mix if it were to deal Brown and/or veteran Marlon Byrd.
- “There seems to be genuine internal debate and uncertainty over what the [Mets] will do” regarding manager Terry Collins, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino spoke with another club official that thinks it’s difficult to get a feel for Collins’ job security, while another added, “I think we have a ways to go before that’s decided.”
- General manager Sandy Alderson is a different story, Martino writes. Not only is Alderson’s job safe, Martino reports, but there are signs that he’s likely to receive a contract extension from the Mets. Alderson, currently under contract through the 2015 season, has been the Mets’ general manager since taking over for Omar Minaya following the 2010 season.
- Alderson discussed some of the team’s current and future roster maneuvers regarding younger players in an interview with Lynn Worthy of the Press & Sun Bulletin (h/t to MetsBlog). The club will look to give both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki a look behind the plate next spring, though Alderson noted that the latter does not yet need to be given a 40-man spot. Looking ahead at filling needs at shortstop and in the outfield, Alderson said he is still evaluating internal options — he mentioned Wilmer Flores, Matt Reynolds, and Matt den Dekker as younger players who had played well recently — before deciding on a strategy for the open market. “[W]e’ve got to assess what we have before we start going out and canvassing the free-agent market,” he said.
Mets reliever Bobby Parnell, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, says he is making good progress and expects to be ready for the spring, as Mike Vorkunov of the Star-Ledger reports. Having suffered his injury early in 2014, it seems that Parnell has a good chance of returning early in the year, if not by Opening Day itself. That would create difficult but welcome decisions for New York, which has received encouraging production from some younger late-inning arms like Jenrry Mejia, Vic Black, and Jeurys Familia.
Here’s more from the NL East:
- The Mets are using the rest of this year to take a long look at outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. The 27-year-old will be out of options next year. Though he has spent much of the year at Triple-A, Nieuwenhuis has posted a strong .259/.361/.506 slash with three home runs and four stolen bases over his 97 big league plate appearances to date.
- An underappreciated element of the Nationals‘ success is the team’s well-balanced lineup, writes Drew Fairservice of Fangraphs. The club’s current starting lineup is made up entirely of players who have produced better than league average offensively this year, and that is with Ryan Zimmerman still on the disabled list.
- Of course, that same well-balanced group of position players will also make for some tough decisions — both now and in the future — when Zimmerman returns to the mix. His torn hamstring is improving, making a mid to late-September return seem likely, according to a report from Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. When he is activated, manager Matt Williams says, Zimmerman will play multiple defensive positions as he dials in his bat. “I would imagine he’ll play all three of those, on any given day,” said Williams. That creates some interesting possibilities for the Nats down the stretch, as they will be able to match up for the platoon advantage, give rest to regulars, and find a workable strategy for the postseason. It also could provide a look ahead at some of the possible arrangements for 2015 and beyond.
- Whereas the Nats have plenty of options, the Phillies have few, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs. The club will shed only minimal veteran obligations after this year (Kyle Kendrick and Mike Adams), and arbitration raises will absorb much of that cash. Philadelphia’s problems remain largely the same as those I predicted and Petriello documented earlier this year: despite solid enough production from older players, the team’s overall roster (and, especially, its younger side) has not been good enough to rise out of the cellar. As Petriello goes on to argue, GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s stated intention to turn over the club’s roster will play out against the stark backdrop that there are limited apparent routes — shopping Cole Hamels, getting something for Marlon Byrd, perhaps convincing Chase Utley to accept a trade — to swapping present value for future talent.