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Here are today's minor moves from around baseball:
- Left-hander Erick Hurtado has signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports. The 19-year-old has limited professional experience, logging just 12 1/3 innings in two seasons for Astros and Yankees affiliates, but stands an imposing 6' 4".
- The Pirates have brought in catcher Erick Fernandez on a minor-league deal, according to Eddy. The 25-year-old was released by the Nationals on July 22. He has a career .224/.294/.264 line in three seasons for Nationals affiliates.
- The A's inked catcher Dusty Brown to a minor-league contract, Eddy reports. Brown saw sporadic Major League playing time from 2009-2011, but hasn't reached the big leagues since and did not play at all in 2013.
- The Angels have signed catcher Anderson de la Rosa to a minor-league deal, per Eddy. The 29-year-old catcher has never reached the majors, spending his entire career in the Brewers system.
- The Brewers have signed outfielder Jeremy Hermida and infielder Joe Thurston to minor-league contracts, according to a team release. Hermida, formerly an everyday player with the Marlins, played the entire 2013 for Triple-A Columbus in the Indians organization, batting .247/.365/.416. Thurston collected 307 plate appearances for the Cardinals in 2009 and last appeared in the big leagues in 2010. He played in Mexico in 2013.
- Pitcher Barry Enright tweets that he has signed with the Phillies. Enright, who will be 28 in March, struggled in 2013, posting a 7.12 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 116 1/3 innings with Triple-A Salt Lake. He also appeared in four games with the Angels. The righty pitched in the Diamondbacks rotation for parts of the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly spoke at length to 970 ESPN's David Todd earlier this week, and here are a few highlights.
- During last month's PirateFest, Coonelly told fans that the Pirates' TV contract was in the top half of all Major League teams. To explain that claim, Coonelly didn't tell Todd how much the Pirates' TV deal was worth, but instead spoke generally about TV contracts throughout baseball. "Some of the TV numbers [for other teams' TV deals] that I've seen reported publicly are way overstated," Coonelly said, noting that confidentiality agreements typically prevent either teams or regional sports networks from divulging how much a contract is really worth. Coonelly also said the value of the Pirates' own TV deal with ROOT Sports, which has been reported to be about $18MM per year, has been "grossly understated."
- Teams will receive "significantly less" than $25-27MM from MLB's national TV contract, at least in 2014, Coonelly says. He mentions that teams may get to that level later in the contract. He also notes that player pensions are a large expense that will come "off the top" of what teams receive.
- Coonelly also disputes Rockies owner Dick Monfort's look at how his club will spend its national TV money, which came via an article by Troy Renck of the Denver Post. "There were a lot of numbers that I couldn't follow because they made no sense to me, based on national TV money that I know that all the clubs receive."
- Todd also asked Coonelly about the Pirates' relative lack of spending this offseason. "The game is about putting together a championship-caliber team on the field. It's not about making splashes and headlines in December and January," Coonelly said, citing the examples of the Angels and Marlins making big offseason splashes in recent years and struggling the following seasons. Coonelly cited the Pirates' relatively-unheralded acquisitions of Francisco Liriano and Russell Martin last offseason as evidence that money isn't everything. He also noted the Pirates did not want to sign a high-profile free agent to play right field, because a long-term commitment there would have blocked top prospect Gregory Polanco.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick offers an outstanding look at the ramifications of Masahiro Tanaka's seven-year, $155MM contract with the Yankees. According to Crasnick, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers did not hide his disappointment at the result in a conference call, but also said he didn't feel the process was flawed: "We don't feel cheated whatsoever. We don't feel as if we weren't provided the same opportunities as the Yankees. They just had a better offer, and that's where he chose to go. You move on." Here are some additonal highlights…
- Pirates president Frank Coonelly told Crasnick that he was surprised the media made him out as someone fighting for the rights of all small-market teams for suggesting the posting fee for Japanese players be subject to the luxury tax. "The posting fee, by definition, is part of the cost of signing a player," said Coonelly. "I've always believed it should be considered part of a club's payroll for competitive balance tax purposes. I wasn't speaking on behalf of small market clubs. I was simply speaking on behalf of one of 30 major-league clubs."
- One anonymous Major League executive told Crasnick that the new posting system completely goes against everything the league has done to keep the cost of player acquisition under control (e.g. draft slotting, capping international spending, the luxury tax). Said the executive: "This is antithetical to everything the teams have tried to do over the last 20 years. So why did they do it? They did it to target the Yankees and Dodgers, because everybody knew they would be interested in Tanaka. The idea of having a $20 million posting fee to allow other teams to compete was ridiculous."
- That same executive contended that the new posting system will help drive up the prices for Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and future free agent starters. Coonelly completely disagreed: "Mr. Tanaka's contract may be a good comparable for the next outstanding young 25-year-old professional pitcher who comes over for Japan after a 24-0 season. I can't see him being much of a comparable for anybody else."
- Crasnick also looks at the challenges that lie ahead in the international market, with one baseball official noting that should the next version of the posting system restructure the posting fee, it could lead to Japanese teams essentially selling players to MLB rather than trying to build competitive teams. Beyond that, Crasnick tackles the difference in how Latin American and Japanese free agents are treated by MLB. The entire article is well worth the read.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly says that the club does not expect to have A.J. Burnett for the coming season, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. This confirms the recent statements of pitching coach Ray Searage indicating that Burnett seemed likely to retire.
"We'd love to have A.J. back," said Coonelly, "but right now we've turned the page and we're heading to Bradenton thinking he's not going to be with us. But if he surprises us and calls up tomorrow and says he wants to pitch again, we'd love to have him." Coonelly confirmed that, if Burnett does indeed decide to pitch (and, presumably, agrees to do so at the Bucs' price), the team would still "have the flexibility to bring him back."
The Orioles have behaved with a "lack of urgency" this offseason, writes Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan. The team has a number of key players set for free agency after the 2015 season, including slugger Chris Davis and catcher Matt Wieters. After that, the shape of the organization figures to change dramatically. That means they ought to go for it now, Passan argues, but they haven't so far. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Cubs are a "wealthy team pinching baseball pennies," Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. The team appears to have the means to spend, Wittenmyer writes, but "there exists a sizable gap between available resources and baseball spending that could help assure the success of the rebuild."
- The Cubs are evaluating their options with the fourth pick in this year's draft, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. "We feel we know who the top five are today," says senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod. "We’ll spend a lot of time with them. As things change, we’ll just scout the guy we think has the most impact for us." Gonzalez notes that the Cubs already have a connection to Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, who is one of the top-ranked prospects in the draft — Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson was Vanderbilt's pitching coach in 2012, when Beede was a freshman.
- The Pirates are still waiting on A.J. Burnett, whose decision about whether or not to retire will have a dramatic impact on their offseason, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Bucs pitching coach Ray Searage says he has heard that Burnett is continuing to work out in preparation to pitch. If Burnett does not return, the Pirates will likely go with a rotation of Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez, although Rodriguez is returning from injury. Brink notes in an aside that the Pirates could make a trade from their stockpile of relievers.
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
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Walker, a client of Excel Sports Management, receives a raise from the $3.3MM salary he received last season as a first-time arb-eligible Super Two player. He had been projected to earn $4.8MM by MLBTR's Matt Swartz, so his agents did well to approach the $6MM mark. Walker will be eligible for arbitration two more times before hitting free agency following the 2016 season.
Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections. We'll use this post to keep tabs on players avoiding arbitration today:
- The Nationals announced on Twitter that they have avoided arbitration with lefty Ross Detwiler. The New York Post's Joel Sherman reports (also on Twitter) that Detwiler received a $3MM salary and can earn an additional $50K for reaching 180 innings.
- Sherman reports that the Mets and Eric Young Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.85MM (Twitter link). Young batted .251/.318/.329 in 418 plate appearances for the Mets in 2013 after he was acquired from the Rockies. He also swiped 38 bases in 45 tries, showing off his blazing speed.
- Sherman tweets that the Pirates have avoided arbitration with Travis Snider by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM contract. The former Top 10 overall prospect batted just .215/.281/.333 in 285 plate appearances in 2013, though he's a solid defender and is still entering just his age-26 season.
- Sherman also reports that Tim Collins agreed to a one-year, $1.3625MM contract with the Royals, thereby avoiding arbitration (Twitter link). Collins has a strong 3.51 ERA in 190 career innings with 9.7 K/9 in his first three seasons, but he's struggled with command, as evidenced by his 5.2 BB/9 in that time. His control has improved a bit over the past two seasons.
- The Yankees and Francisco Cervelli have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $700K, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Cervelli, who turns 28 in March, is a career .271/.343/.367 hitter in 623 plate appearances.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Chris Heisey | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Eric Young, Jr. | Francisco Cervelli | Ike Davis | John Jaso | Kansas City Royals | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ross Detwiler | Tim Collins | Transactions | Travis Snider | Washington Nationals | Wilton Lopez
The Pirates need to address their vacancy at first base, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes. The Bucs find themselves without a first baseman (or, at least, without a lefty to platoon with Gaby Sanchez) in part because there wasn't much on the market — Castrovince suggests that, given that they weren't likely to sign Mike Napoli, their next-best option was likely Corey Hart, who has had serious knee issues. The Pirates have also explored the trade market, but to no avail so far. Andrew Lambo might be an in-house option, but he comes with question marks. The Athletics' recent success shows one way to win as a small-payroll team is to avoid big holes, and right now, the Pirates may have one. Here are more notes on the Bucs.
- Days like today, when Clayton Kershaw signs for $215MM, put the plight of a small-market team in perspective, as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted (via Twitter). In 1996, Kevin McClatchy bought the Pirates — the entire franchise — for $95MM, or about $150MM in 2014 dollars.
- Biertempfel also relays bits from Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage's interview earlier today on MLB Network Radio with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden. Searage reiterates that he thinks A.J. Burnett is likely to retire. Searage also says the Pirates are "excited" to have gotten Edinson Volquez, and says he plans to "go back to basics" with Volquez's delivery (Twitter links).
In two pieces today for GammonsDaily.com, Peter Gammons discusses a variety of hot stove topics. In particular, even before Clayton Kershaw's market-busting extension earlier today, Gammons noted that the price of starting pitching has been a hot topic among baseball GMs.
- The two key situations driving market pricing, he writes, are the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes and how the Rays handle David Price. Tanaka could command $120MM or more from the Yankees or Dodgers, says Gammons. As for Price, Tampa is increasingly inclined to hold onto their ace at least until the trade deadline, when they can try to extract a higher price or hold onto him for a postseason run.
- These situations could have a substantial impact on several other high-end starters that are set to become free agents next year. James Shields has let the Royals know that he is looking to score a contract on the magnitude of Zach Greinke's six-year, $147MM deal.
- Meanwhile, the Red Sox and Reds do not plan on approaching key extension candidates Jon Lester and Homer Bailey, respectively, until Spring Training.
- After disappointing returns on some of their major pitching acquisitions last year, the Blue Jays are not going to engage in any bidding wars for starting pitching, Gammons says. The club will instead "build on youth and rehabs," and will only jump into the mix for arms like Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez if they "fall down to [Toronto]."
- Agent Scott Boras has increasingly given indication that free agent Stephen Drew is willing to play positions other than shortstop, says Gammons, which may increase his appeal to both the Yankees and Red Sox. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes in a separate piece, Boras says that Drew has suitors other than the Sox and Mets, though he declined to name them.
- Already considered one of the game's top prospects, Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco has raised his stock even further with big numbers (including a .428 OBP) in he Dominican winter league. Polanco, 22, could have an impact by the mid-season of 2014. More importantly for the Bucs' long-term plans, one National League GM tells Gammons that the prospective Pittsburgh outfield of Polanco, Andrew McCutchen, and Starling Marte "will be the best outfield in the game."