Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
The Phillies announced that left-hander Joe Savery has been claimed off waivers by the Athletics. Philadelphia designated Savery for assignment over the weekend to clear a 40-man roster spot for A.J. Burnett. The A's announced (on Twitter) that Eric O'Flaherty has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list in order to clear room on their own 40-man roster.
The 28-year-old Savery appeared in 18 games for the Phils in 2013, posting a solid 3.15 ERA in 20 total innings. Though his 55 percent ground-ball rate was solid, his 14-to-11 K:BB ratio left something to be desired. Savery also posted a bizarre reverse-platoon split, holding right-handed hitters to a .118/.250/.176 slash line but yielding an eye-popping .409/.440/.591 line to left-handed hitters. Of course, he faced just 86 total batters in 2013, making it too small a sample from which to glean anything too meaningful.
The former first-round pick converted the bullpen full-time in 2011 and has since maintained a K/9 rate north of 10.0 to go along with a 2.86 ERA in 85 innings at the Triple-A level.
The Braves have signed Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran and Craig Kimbrel to long-term deals in recent weeks, but don't expect them to do the same with Jason Heyward, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Heyward recently signed a two-year deal with Atlanta that did not delay his free-agency eligilibility, and now it will be difficult for the Braves to get Heyward to commit to a deal that's worth less per year than the $20MM-$22MM Freeman will get at a comparable point in his service-time clock. Here's more from the East divisions.
- Homer Bailey's negotiations with the Reds could have an impact on Justin Masterson and the Indians, the Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes writes. Hoynes broke the news that Bailey and the Reds are in discussions about a six-year deal that could be worth $100MM, and a Bailey deal could set a precedent for an extension for Masterson, who was similarly valuable in 2013 and also is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
- The Yankees spent heavily this offseason, but they now have a injury-prone, top-heavy roster and little depth, Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues. That's especially true in their infield, although Sherman notes the situation might have been better if the Yankees had acquired Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante or Logan Forsythe, all of whom they pursued this offseason (Peralta and Infante on the free-agent market, and Forsythe via trade).
- The Red Sox are making plans now that Ryan Dempster and his salary are out of the equation for 2014, writes CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam. McAdam writes that the Red Sox have known about Dempster's decision for the past two weeks and have been looking for a veteran free agent pitcher, but probably one who would start the season at Triple-A and provide depth. The Red Sox could also save Dempster's salary for a trade-deadline acquisition.
- Stephen Drew and the Mets still aren't close on a contract, Newsday's Marc Carig reports. Carig also notes that the Mets have interest in former Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, who is making his way back from Tommy John surgery. The Mets' level of interest may depend on how well the team does at the beginning of the season. Hanrahan is not expected to be ready to pitch until May.
- The Phillies still aren't interested in rebuilding, writes USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "We're committed to this core. We want to surround them with the best possible players. In time, hopefully we'll be able to transition to some of younger players," says Phillies president David Montgomery. "But now, we want to give this group every chance to win.'' GM Ruben Amaro Jr., meanwhile, repeats that he expects the Phillies to do better this season because of improved health. "Listen, if Ryan [Howard] is on the field, we are winning games," Amaro says.
It has been a newsworthy Sunday in the NL East with the Braves extending closer Craig Kimbrel and the Phillies announcing the signing of A.J. Burnett. Here's the latest on those two deals and the rest of the division:
- Kimbrel's agent David Meter called Braves GM Frank Wren one week ago and the extension was finalized Friday night, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets the Kimbrel extension is a win-win for both sides.
- The Kimbrel extension sets a good precedent for baseball because it will tamp down arbitration salaries for closers and it signals no closer will ever receive more than a four-year contract, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (Insider subscription required).
- Burnett told reporters, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel, he chose Philadelphia because of its proximity (a 90-minute drive) to his home in Monkton, MD. "This is the first time in my career that I made a decision that wasn't about A.J. Burnett. It was about my wife. It was about my kids. It was about playing somewhere where I'm at home and I can still do what I love. And that feels good. It was a no-brainer to me."
- Burnett says he didn't receive much interest from the Nationals and Orioles, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- Phillies Assistant GM Scott Proefrock, who lives a mile away from Burnett, told FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal the behind-the-scenes story of how the signing came about.
- Shortstop Andrelton Simmons could be next in line to receive an extension from the Braves, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets the two sides have a difference of opinion on the 24-year-old's future offensive value.
- O'Brien tweets it's safe to say the Braves will extend Simmons either this year or next.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka has a May 30 opt-out in his minor league deal with the Mets, tweets Sherman.
SUNDAY, 9:27am: Burnett's player option for 2015, which starts at $7.5MM, could potentially reach $12.75MM, reports Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
8:56am: Burnett can also earn $1.75MM in performance bonuses each year, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
8:34am: Burnett's 2014 salary is actually $15MM, though it will come out to $16MM if the Phillies exercise his $1MM buyout, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). If the option is exercised, he'll earn $15MM in '15. If the team declines, he can trigger a $7.5MM option for '15. His limited no-trade protection will allow the veteran to name nine teams that he can be traded to (link).
8:03am: The Phillies announced the deal. Within the press release, the Phillies disclosed that the deal includes a mutual/player option for 2015, performance and award bonuses, and a limited no-trade clause.
WEDNESDAY, 6:53pm: The contract may actually include a player option for 2015, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who explains that the final details are still being negotiated.
4:51pm: The deal includes a mutual option for 2015 as well as a limited no-trade clause, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. The option value has not yet been reported.
Burnett's future was shrouded in mystery for much of the offseason, as he took considerably longer than originally expected to determine whether he would pitch in 2014 or retire. He said near season's end that he was "50-50" on the decision and added that if he pitched again, he would do so in a Pirates' uniform. Clearly that line of thinking changed, perhaps when Pittsburgh declined to make him a $14.1MM qualifying offer. Given his $16MM guarantee from the Phillies, it's also possible that the Pirates simply knew they wouldn't be able to afford Burnett (that would explain their early signing of Edinson Volquez). Burnett earned $16.5MM in 2013, but Pittsburgh was only on the hook for $8MM of that total, as the Yankees paid a large portion of his salary when trading him to the Pirates prior to the 2012 campaign.
In Pittsburgh, Burnett revitalized a career that looked to be on its downswing following the second and third seasons of a five-year, $82.5MM contract he signed with the Yankees in the 2008-09 offseason. Burnett posted a 5.20 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 3777 innings from 2010-11 with New York, prompting GM Brian Cashman to trade him to Pittsburgh in exchange for salary relief and a pair of marginal prospects (Exicardo Cayones and Diego Moreno).
The Pirates paid Burnett just $13MM from 2012-13 and were rewarded for their leap of faith, as Burnett turned in an outstanding 3.41 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 393 1/3 innings. His ground-ball rate soared to 56.7 percent in that two-year span, tying him with Justin Masterson for the second-best mark in all of baseball among qualified starters (Trevor Cahill was first).
While it's a surprise to see the Phillies sign Burnett, it's not a surprise to see general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. swing a deal that few would have anticipated early in the offseason. Amaro himself said early on that he would try to be creative in seeking significant upgrades that few would expect. This isn't the first time he's inked an unexpected free agent either. When Cliff Lee signed his five-year, $125MM contract in Philadelphia, most of the baseball world was anticipating that he would end up with either the Yankees or the Rangers.
Burnett will add to a Phillies rotation that is fronted by Lee and Cole Hamels, slotting in as a strong No. 3 option behind that pair of ace-caliber southpaws. Kyle Kendrick should hold down the fourth slot, while fellow offseason signee Roberto Hernandez and Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonazlez figure to battle for the final spot in manager Ryne Sandberg's rotation.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Phillies announced that they have designated Joe Savery for assignment in order to create room on the 40-man roster for the newly-inked A.J. Burnett. Savery, 28, has spent parts of the last three seasons on the Phillies' major league roster.
The left-hander owns a 4.15 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 across 41 career major league relief appearances. He spent the bulk of last season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he posted a 3.80 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 20 outings.
To keep up with every player in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR's DFA tracker.
The Rays haven't yet traded David Price, and Price thinks the holdup on the pitching market due to Masahiro Tanaka's arrival might be the reason why, ESPN's Jayson Stark writes. "With Tanaka not being able to sign until the 24th [of January] and stuff like that, it seemed like teams waited for that market to fall," Price says. "You know, if he had signed during the winter meetings or something, it might have been a little bit different. That would have given teams a lot more time to figure out what they wanted to do." Still, Stark quotes an executive who notes the Rays will still probably eventually trade Price, because deals for players like Wil Myers and Chris Archer are currently the Rays' most reliable way to accumulate talent, since recent drafts haven't yielded much top talent and since they don't have the budget to acquire key players on the free-agent market. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Brett Wallace isn't concerned that the Astros removed him from their 40-man roster, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. His goal before was to win a job coming out of camp, and that's still his goal. "I was coming in here to win a job anyway. Being on the roster doesn't guarantee you anything," he says.
- John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Frandsen, who were both eligible for arbitration this winter, both now have contracts that are guaranteed, writes Matt Gelb of the Inquirer. Mayberry is under contract for $1.59MM, while Frandsen will make $900K. That could affect the Phillies as they try to set their roster, because they can't cut either of them in spring training without running the risk of paying them their entire salaries anyway. Often, contracts for players in their arbitration-eligible seasons are non-guaranteed, as was the case with, for example, Emilio Bonifacio and the Royals. When the Royals designated Bonifacio for assignment, they paid only a percentage of his $3.5MM salary.
- Manager John Farrell says the Red Sox still don't know whether Stephen Drew will return to them, and they don't want a "lingering what-if" in the clubhouse as the season approaches, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts would move to third base and third baseman Will Middlebrooks would move to the bench if Drew were to re-sign.
The Braves have announced (via Twitter) that Hall of Famer Hank Aaron suffered a fall on the ice and underwent partial hip replacement surgery. The surgery was successful, and he should recover and return to his usual activities within two months. Here are a few notes from around the National League.
- The Mets added Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young this offseason, but those moves mostly simply replaced money that had come off their payroll, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes. Notably, Johan Santana (who made $25.5MM last year and had a $5.5MM buyout for 2014) is gone, as are John Buck ($6.5MM), Frank Francisco ($6.5MM) and Shaun Marcum ($4MM).
- The Mets were the only team to offer Colon a two-year deal this offseason, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets. Colon, 40, signed for two years and $20MM.
- The Phillies still aren't sure what they have in Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Associated Press reports. The Cuban pitcher signed for $12MM in August, an amount that was drastically reduced from $48MM after the Phillies became concerned about Gonzalez's elbow. The Phillies watched Gonzalez pitch as spring training opened on Thursday. "He shows deception with his delivery, so that's something," says manager Ryne Sandberg. "I'll be anxious to see how he continues to look as he continues to build arm strength."
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin is excited about his team's pitching depth, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel. One benefit of the Matt Garza deal is that it allows other pitchers more time to develop, Melvin notes.
Ryan Howard was "the single most productive player in the game" before he signed his extension in 2010, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal in an extended interview. "Did we expect some dropoff later on? Sure. But can we gauge that the man was going to blow out his Achilles? No. That was a big blow to us. And it was a big blow to us because of the nature of the injury. It was a fluke injury," Amaro says. Amaro also argues that, although his roster might be on the older side, plenty of older players are effective. He hopes the 2014 team to be healthier than last year's team, but also notes that this year's edition is better equipped to deal with injuries. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Julio Teheran's new extension with the Braves is similar to the one Madison Bumgarner signed two years ago, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs writes. While Teheran's deal isn't as surprising as the Freddie Freeman deal was, Cameron argues that it still demonstrates that pre-free-agency extensions are getting more expensive. Bumgarner, for example, had accomplished more at the time of his extension than Teheran has. Teheran also received much more than Martin Perez did in his extension, which he received in November.
- Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller has an arbitration hearing on Tuesday, and in preparation, Miller and the Sox are working on a one-year deal, not a multiyear contract, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets. Miller has asked for $2.15MM, while the Red Sox have countered with $1.55MM.
As camps open around the game, let's take a look at a few notable free agents who remain unsigned:
- Though long-time shortstop Derek Jeter is now set to retire after the year, and the club faces questions around the infield, the Yankees are still not interested in adding Stephen Drew, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. Marchand notes that the club could have its eye on a bigger fish as an eventual replacement for Jeter, suggesting the possibility of looking at next year's free agent market or trying to trade for a big-contract star like Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes. But the availability of those options remains unclear, especially given that the Yanks possess a farm that most regard as below average. And while 2015 currently promises a nice crop of free agent shortstops -- headlined, at present, by Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, and Asdrubal Cabrera -- it is far from certain that all of those players will reach the open market.
- Echoing Marchand on the Yankees' interest, ESPN.com's Buster Olney told WEEI's Mut & Merloni (via WEEI.com's Jerry Spar) that Drew's market looks poor. The Pirates make sense in theory, says Olney, but the club seems very unlikely to give up its first-round pick to land him. Olney opines that the shortstop's best bet, at this point, could be to wait and see if a contender loses an infielder to injury. Though he agrees that Drew faces difficult market, Jonathan Bernhardt of Sports on Earth argues that Drew and agent Scott Boras should instead act quickly to speed up negotiations and get the best deal possible.
- Of course, one obvious landing spot all along has been the Red Sox, who could use Drew to bolster the left side of the infield without giving up a pick (other than the one they stand to gain should he sign elsewhere). As WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports, however, Boston has settled into the position that it would be interested in a one-year arrangement. That could take the form of a straightforward one-year deal, or could be structured with a low-value player option for a second season (like Adrian Beltre's 2010 deal) that would spread the contract's luxury tax impact.
- The Twins, who have been mentioned as a dark horse suitor for both Drew and outfielder Nelson Cruz, likely have sufficient payroll space to make an addition, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the team is not willing to meet the demands currently being floated on those players, and has not been in recent contact on either.
- Bean Stringfellow, the agent for starter Ervin Santana, rejected an apparent rumor that the Blue Jays had offered his client a three-year, $27MM deal, reports John Lott of the National Post. Stringfellow also dismissed the rumor that he had earlier demanded five years and $112MM for Santana. Though some clubs may hope to wait out the market for prices to fall, Stringfellow says he is not concerned by that possibility. "The calendar doesn't really affect us in that regard," he said. "The teams need the pitching by Opening Day. That's when the bell rings. I think a lot of clubs might think that as [Opening Day] gets closer, the price comes down. I would simply say to that, 'You're not filling your need for pitching, so I don't know why our value is any less when your need is still as great as what it was.'"
- Though Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to comment on any offers to Santana, he said that the club would remain true to its internal valuations of free agents. "We just haven't been able to line up on value, on years and dollars," Anthopoulos added with regard to the team's possible targets.
- Another team that is reportedly dabbling in the starting pitching market is the Mariners. The club is not just looking at top options like Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter), but is casting a "wide net" in its search for an arm.
- Free agent reliever Ryan Madson is looking for a major league deal, sources tell MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he received good reports from Madson's recent throwing session, but did not leave the impression that Philadelphia was the likely landing spot. "Our reports were good when we saw him," said Amaro, "so he's going to sign somewhere." As Zolecki notes, Philly may be unwilling to give out a major league deal, especially given Madson's injury history and the recent signing of A.J. Burnett.
Major League Baseball is dealing with several employment issues not relating to big league players. As Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reported yesterday, MLB owners voted in January to permit teams the authority to take away pension plans from any employees that do not wear a uniform. (The effect would be prospective only.) MLB COO Rob Manfred noted that the vote does not require such a course of action and said no team has cut pension benefits, while asserting defined contribution plans are a reasonable alternative retirement structure. Though Rubin reports that some clubs appear primed to make reductions, Manfred disputed that it was inevitable. Meanwhile, as Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs details, MLB is now defending multiple lawsuits filed by interns, volunteers, and, most recently, minor league ballplayers.
Here are some notes from the National League ...
- After today's trade for catcher Jose Lobaton and a pair of prospects, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo explained his reasoning, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post was among those to report. RIzzo said that Lobaton "fit the criteria we were looking for" due to his switch-hitting abilities and solid pitch-framing ratings, the latter of which Rizzo labeled "key" to the deal. "Switch hitting is certainly a bonus," said Rizzo. "Our statistical analysis people rank all the catchers in baseball, and he ranks very well in the framing." Rizzo said that he was particularly high on Felipe Rivero, indicating that he felt like he took the place of fellow 22-year-old southpaw Robbie Ray, who was shipped out in the Doug Fister deal. The Washington GM labeled Rivero a "huge-upside left-handed starter."
- The Pirates' inability to reel back A.J. Burnett is based, at root, in a decision not to allocate all of the club's free payroll space to one arm, writes Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Though Pittsburgh ultimately made a $12MM offer to Burnett, the club went into the off-season hoping to spread approximately $17MM to $19MM among multiple acquisitions, and came close to landing both Josh Johnson and James Loney. That explains much of the team's decision not to make Burnett a qualifying offer, says Sawchik, though he opines that the offer likely would have been declined. "It's always easy to look in hindsight," said GM Neal Huntington. "If [Burnett had] accepted the offer it would have had a significant impact on what we could have done. ... It would have affected our approach on the first base market, the right field market, and bullpen market. If we had [a] crystal ball and seen this is the way it would play out maybe things are different."
- Even after inking Burnett to a $16MM deal that reportedly pushes the Phillies player contract tab right up to (if not over) the $189MM luxury tax line, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said today that the club's payroll remains flexible, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- Philadelphia reliever Antonio Bastardo will look to return from a 50-game PED suspension last year arising out of the Biogenesis scandal. In addition to expressing contrition today, he said that he faced a 100-game ban had he appealed, tweets Nightengale.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty explained how his club came to claim Cubs righty Brett Marshall off of waivers, as MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports. "I talked to him and he sounded like a good kid," said Jocketty. "We had good reports on him. He had one of the best changeups in the Yankees organization. He's a sinkerballer with a good slider. He's got a couple of options left."