Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors
The Cubs are among the clubs with interest in free agent pitcher Mitchell Boggs, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. The Phillies, Indians, Mariners, and Mets are also in on him. The Rockies non-tendered the right-hander after a subpar 2013. Here's more from the NL Central...
- According to a club source, the Pirates' deal for Edinson Volquez won't preclude them from re-signing A.J. Burnett, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- A rival exec says that the one-year, $5MM pact for Volquez makes sense, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The exec says that Volquez boasts a Francisco Liriano-type profile with his strikeout rate and ability to induce groundballs.
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (on Twitter) wonders if the Volquez deal could hamstring Pittsburgh somewhat financially in their effort to re-sign Burnett if he calls for a $10-12MM commitment.
- The Cardinals signed right-hander Angel Castro for bullpen depth, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Terms of the deal aren't known, but it's presumably a minor league pact. Castro spent last season with the Dodgers' Triple- A affiliate, posting an ERA of 3.48 with 7.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 19 starts and six relief appearances.
The Pirates have agreed to terms with right-hander Edinson Volquez on a one-year, $5MM contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Volquez is represented by the Wasserman Media Group.
Buying low on Volquez continues a trend for the Pirates, who have picked up A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Mark Melancon via trade or free agency in recent years when each was coming off a poor season. The 30-year-old Volquez was released by the Padres last season after posting a 6.01 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 142 1/3 innings. He looked better in a brief, 28 1/3 inning cameo with the Dodgers, pitching to a 4.18 ERA with a 26-to-8 K/BB ratio.
Volquez's 4.07 xFIP was significantly lower than his 5.71 ERA on the season -- a commonality that exists between he, Burnett, Liriano and Melancon at the time of their acquisition by the Pirates.
Volquez will join Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez and the recently extended Charlie Morton in the Pirates' rotation. That seems to fill Burnett's spot in the rotation, suggesting that perhaps he's leaning toward retirement and the Pirates have moved on in favor of a cheaper option with similarly high upside. Back in 2008, Volquez finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting when he posted a 3.21 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 196 innings. Control has always been an issue for Volquez, but his fastball velocity has typically remained strong. After averaging 93.6 mph on his fastball from 2008-12, he averaged 92.5 mph in 2013.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Attention on the first base market could now shift to James Loney after the Mariners took a pair of options off the board in Logan Morrison and Corey Hart. Yesterday, we heard that the Pirates were checking back in on him, while the Brewers were hesitant to meet his three-year asking price. Here's the latest:
- The Brewers have "sincere interest" in Loney but don't expect to get anything done before leaving the Winter Meetings, according to McCalvy (on Twitter).
- The Pirates and Brewers are still in on Loney, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com, with the Rays also remaining in the discussion.
- Indeed, after watching Hart leave for Seattle, the Brewers have turned their attention to Loney, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The club is probably only interested if the deal stays under three years, tweets Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.
- If Milwaukee instead shifts its attention at the trade market, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), options include Ike Davis, Mitch Moreland, and Justin Smoak. Haudricourt wonders (via Twitter) if the thin market could lead to an increased willingness to pay Loney.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweeted earlier today that while the Astros prefer a stopgap, they haven't ruled out Loney.
Morton, who is represented by Jet Sports Management, will earn $4MM in 2014, $8MM in 2015-16 and has a $1MM buyout on a $9.5MM club option (plus $500K of incentives) for the 2017 season. The option would become a mutual option were Morton to be traded at any point throughout the life of the deal.
Had he not signed the extension, Morton would have been eligible for free agency following the 2014 campaign. The extension is similar to the three-year, $20MM figure suggested as a fair price by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes when examining Pittsburgh's arbitration eligible players back in early November.
The 30-year-old Morton returned from 2012 Tommy John surgery this season and turned in a strong campaign. Morton pitched to a 3.26 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a whopping 62.9 percent ground-ball rate that led all Major League pitchers that threw at least 100 innings.
Originally acquired (along with lefty Jeff Locke and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez) in the 2009 trade that sent Nate McLouth to the Braves, Morton broke out with the Pirates in 2011 when he posted a solid 3.83 ERA in 171 2/3 innings. Over his past three seasons, Morton has pitched to a 3.75 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 -- numbers that have been deflated, to an extent, by his elbow issues in 2012.
MLBTR's Matt Swartz projected Morton to earn $3.9MM in 2014, so the contract essentially guarantees Morton $17MM for a pair of free agent seasons. Had he not signed the extension and had a solid season, Morton would have had a chance to earn more on the free agent market. However, players with Morton's type of injury history haven't typically done this well in contract extensions, and Morton opted for the security of guaranteed money. Morton's agent, Andrew Lowenthal, told Passan that his client never had any desire to leave Pittsburgh:
"The most important part of this deal and the reason why this deal got done is Charlie wanted to remain a Pirate and considers himself a Pirate. He loves the city. He loves the fans. The team stuck by him. This is Charlie’s way of being loyal to the organization. The contract is a win-win."
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Eight teams have expressed interest in left-hander Johan Santana, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. The Yankees, Mets, Twins, Rays, Orioles, Royals, Brewers and Pirates have all expressed varying levels of interest. Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets that the Pirates have requested his medical records today and plan to meet with agent Peter Greenberg this afternoon.
According to Marchand, Santana and Greenberg are willing to accept an offer in the near future if a team is able to separate itself from the pack, but if not, Santana will throw in January in a showcase for interested teams. Shoulder problems have forced Santana to sit out two of the past three seasons.
Haynes, 22, spent last season in Class-A where he posted a 2.38 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 83 1/3 innings of work. He began the season as a reliever but switched to the rotation for his final eight appearances and posted an impressive 1.93 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 18 walks in 42 innings. Though his numbers are solid, Haynes didn't crack Baseball America's list of Top 30 Pirates prospects or MLB.com's Top 20 Pirates prospects list.
The Marlins told teams on Monday that they were close to trading Logan Morrison, but no deal has come to fruition. Miami could be waiting on Corey Hart to make a decision, as the Brewers' level of interest is reportedly contingent on whether or not they can retain him. As many as seven teams were in on Morrison as of yesterday. Here are your LoMo rumors for Wednesday...
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel heard yesterday that the Brewers were out on Morrison, but now has been told that they will indeed try for him if Hart signs elsewhere (Twitter link).
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Pirates, Rays and Cubs are all in on Morrison (Twitter link). The Cubs would use Morrison in the outfield due to the presence of Anthony Rizzo at first base. The Marlins are still prioritizing a third baseman in return for Morrison, Sherman adds.
WEDNESDAY: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that there's a sense that Arroyo could be signed by the end of the Winter Meetings, and the expectation is that he will land a deal in the three-year, $36MM range. The Twins, Reds and a few others remain in the mix for Arroyo, he adds.
3:28pm: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review hears that the Pirates are probably out on Arroyo (Twitter link).
2:46pm: GM Walt Jocketty told reporters, including C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, that he met with Arroyo's agent, Terry Bross, around 2:00pm today (Twitter link).
TUESDAY, 1:40pm: Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN hears the Mets and Reds are also making pushes for Arroyo (Twitter link). The Twins have yet to make a formal offer, he adds.
Despite already having added Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to their 2014 rotation, the Twins don't appear to be content with their starting five. They've been connected to Arroyo on and off throughout the offseason to date, with a guaranteed third year seen as a potential sticking point. Arroyo is also said to be of interest to the Pirates and the Phillies, as the right-hander himself recently told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon (Twitter link).
Arroyo, who will be 37 in February, posted a 3.79 ERA with 5.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and a 44.4 percent ground-ball rate in 202 innings this past season. With the exception of a 199-inning campaign in 2011, he has pitched at least 200 innings each season dating back to 2005. It's worth noting that former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky is currently a special assistant to Twins GM Terry Ryan.
Former first-round pick Brian Anderson has come full circle, deciding to try his hand as an outfielder again. Anderson tallied 355 big league games from 2005-09, mostly for the White Sox, before switching to the mound in 2010. He battled injuries as a pitcher, and tells MLBTR now, "I'd love to get back on the field again." Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The White Sox are "determined" to acquire a catcher before the Winter Meetings are through, Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com tweets.
- The Cardinals today met with Mark Ellis' agent, Jamie Murphy of TWC, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). The Cardinals currently have youngster Kolten Wong penciled in at second base, but Ellis might allow Wong to start the season in the minors, or might provide an insurance policy in case Wong struggles. Maybe it's too early to read too much into it, however -- Slusser notes that Murphy has met with many teams.
- Jhonny Peralta takes care of the Cardinals' offensive void at shortstop but he comes with plenty of question marks, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- The Pirates are looking for a first baseman, but they say they could just stick with Gaby Sanchez there, reports MLB.com's John Schlegel. "I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with Gaby as our answer. We're not," says GM Neal Huntington. Huntington does note, however, that Sanchez pounds left-handed pitching and struggles against right-handers. It seems unlikely that the Pirates would go into the 2014 season with Sanchez as their primary first baseman against righties.
Tim Dierkes and Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Nationals are in the market for lefty relief, and they have interest in trade candidates Justin Wilson (Pirates) and Jerry Blevins (Athletics), Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com reports. Earlier today, it was reported that the Pirates would listen to offers for Wilson. The Nats have also had discussions about Blevins, who posted a 3.15 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 60 innings in 2013.
The Nats are also searching for bullpen lefties in free agency, where the possibilities include J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Scott Downs and Oliver Perez. "We’re talking to free agents, and we’ve got some irons in the fire on the trade market," says GM Mike Rizzo. "It’s a position, I think, of depth this year, on the free agent market and the trade market. I think that benefits us."