Rafael Perez Rumors

Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. The sides will then settle on a salary between the team's proposed number and the player's proposed number or go to an arbitration hearing. Arbitration eligible players are under team control, so the clubs don't risk losing them – it's a question of how much the players will earn.

Yesterday, 11 players avoided arbitration. We could see just as many agreements trickle in today and we'll keep you posted on them right here and with our Arb Tracker. The latest updates will be at the top of the post:

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Cafardo On Blanton, Beltre, Indians, LaRoche

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe names ten teams who might reap the benefits of bargain shopping as the winter winds down. The Rays, Mets, Yankees, and Angels top the list of clubs Cafardo thinks could make discounted moves in the coming weeks. Here are the rest of his hot stove notes:

  • While the Mets will be hunting for affordable starting pitching options, don't expect the Phillies to trade Joe Blanton within the division.
  • The Angels are making sure they don't bid against themselves on Adrian Beltre, and could eventually land the third baseman for a lesser price than Scott Boras is seeking.
  • The Indians could make some more moves if they want to continue stockpiling prospects. Other teams would have interest in players like Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, Joe Smith, and Fausto Carmona, while Cleveland would "love to trade" Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner.
  • The Nationals "know it’s tough to get players to buy into the future of the team," writes Cafardo. As such, they may eventually commit to Adam LaRoche for the three years he's looking for.
  • Jim Masteralexis, Manny Delcarmen's agent, says several teams are interested in his client, and Cafardo warns not to bet against the Rays.
  • Carl Pavano may make a decision this week, and it appears that while he'd prefer to return to Minnesota, the Nationals will offer the better contract. Of course, we already saw one top free agent pitcher choose comfort over more guaranteed money, when Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies.

Relievers On Boston’s Radar

4:23pm: The Red Sox are having ongoing discussions with Dan Wheeler about a possible deal, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. One of Speier's sources is optimistic about the negotiations.

1:16pm: The Red Sox liked Matt Guerrier well enough to offer him a two-year deal, but the Dodgers offered a third guaranteed year and the right-hander has agreed to play for Los Angeles. The Red Sox will have to move on to other targets as they look to round out their 'pen. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has the details on what he says is the biggest challenge of the offseason for GM Theo Epstein.

Two former Twins, right-hander Jesse Crain and left-hander Brian Fuentes are the team’s priorities now. The Red Sox are also considering trades and would “love” to reacquire Justin Masterson, according to Cafardo. The Indians have been reluctant to part with Masterson, whom they acquired in the 2009 Victor Martinez trade.

There are a number of alternatives for Epstein to pursue, including Indians relievers Joe Smith and Rafael Perez, who “could be on Boston’s radar.” The A’s are likely willing to listen on their relievers and the Mariners would listen on David Aardsma, Cafardo writes.



Red Sox Have Explored Trades For Many Relievers

FRIDAY, 1:03am: Theo Epstein has discussed multiple possible trades with former Red Sox assistant GM and current Padres GM Jed Hoyer, according to Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Globe duo believes Boston could have interest in a reliever like Joe Thatcher, and, given the team's excess of outfielders when Jacoby Ellsbury returns, they may match up with San Diego.

THURSDAY, 12:59pm: Though they're on his no-trade list, the Red Sox asked the Brewers about Trevor Hoffman, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX SportsRosenthal adds that the Brewers are not inclined to move Hoffman.  Meanwhile they're getting calls on Carlos Villanueva and Todd Coffey.

12:05pm: The Red Sox are leaving no rock unturned in their search for relief help.  They've explored Rafael Perez, Will Ohman, Mike Gonzalez, Matt Capps, Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, David Aardsma, and Kyle Farnsworth, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  Cafardo says Scott Downs looks unlikely unless the Blue Jays back down from their top prospect requests.  On a related note, SI's Jon Heyman tweets that the Jays asked the Mets for outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis and one other player for Downs and were denied. 

Marshall is the interesting name here.  The 27-year-old lefty has had a dominant year in relief, posting a 1.71 ERA, 10.4 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 52.6 innings with one home run allowed.  He's been especially strong against lefties.  Marshall is under team control through 2012 and would presumably be very difficult to pry loose from the Cubs.  Gonzalez is another surprising name, since he's spent most of the season on the shelf with a shoulder injury and is still owed good money.

Cafardo adds that the Red Sox have been shopping reliever Ramon Ramirez, and offers the opinion that a National League team might want to take a look at him.  Ramirez has a 4.57 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 3.3 BB/9 in 41.3 innings with six home runs allowed and is a potential non-tender candidate after the season.


Lefty Reliever Rumors

Scott Downs, Will Ohman, Javier Lopez, Craig Breslow, George Sherrill, Doug Slaten, Brian Tallet, Mark Hendrickson, and Bruce Chen make up most of the trade market for left-handed relievers.  Today's rumors…

  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that he feels the Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, Twins, and Rays could use a left-handed reliever.
  • Morosi tweets that the Pirates are getting calls on Lopez, who is affordable now and under team control for 2011.  Lopez has surrendered too many walks to both lefties and righties, but his groundball rate is 59.6% and he's whiffed southpaws at a strong rate.
  • The Indians are getting hits on Rafael Perez, tweets Morosi's colleague Ken Rosenthal, but they aren't motivated to trade him.  Perez is technically under team control through 2013.  With a 5.6 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9, Perez's best asset is his 57.4% groundball rate – much like Lopez.

Relievers Headed For Non-Tenders

Often due to the save statistic, decent relievers are non-tendered every year because of their expected salaries.  It happened to Matt Capps last year.  Which relievers might get the axe on this year's December non-tender deadline and join the free agent market?

  • Bobby Jenks, White Sox.  Jenks has only blown one save this year, but Ozzie Guillen is already looking at other closer options.  Jenks has racked up strikeouts, but his control is off and he's given up a slew of hits.  I felt he was a longshot non-tender candidate last time around.  Tendering him a contract and giving a raise on his $7.5MM salary this time probably won't be appealing.
  • George Sherrill, Dodgers.  Giving Sherrill a bump from $4.5MM might not make sense for the Dodgers even if he was pitching well.  However, the lefty has completely lost it in the early going with 12 walks and 14 hits in 11.3 innings. 
  • Brian Bruney, Nationals.  Bruney would earn more than $1.5MM in 2011 as a fourth-time arbitration-eligible player.  With the walks spiraling out of control, there's a good chance the Nats cut him loose as they did with Mike MacDougal last year. 
  • Tony Pena, White Sox.  Pena has time to turn things around; he's only tossed 15.6 innings this year.  He's earning $1.2MM on the season and would go to arbitration for a second time.
  • Rafael Perez, Indians.  Perez is only earning $795K this year, but even the idea of a guaranteed contract might not work for the Tribe if he repeats his '09 season. 
  • The 2011 free agent list already contains a full slate of relievers, but keep these names in mind as potential additions.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Mets, Gonzalez, Contreras

On this date back in 1983, Dodgers' hurler Fernando Valenzuela became the first player in baseball history to receive a seven-figure award through the arbitration process. During his first two-plus seasons as a big leaguer, Fernandomania had been named the Rookie of the Year, appeared in two All Star Games, and won a Cy Young Award. The arbitration panel awarded him a $1MM salary in his first year of eligibility, nearly tripling his 1982 salary. 

As the last few present day arbitration cases wrap up, here are some links to check out from around the baseball blogiverse…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.

We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements.  Yesterday's list can be found here.

  • Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals.  Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts.  Willits' contract is worth $625K. 
  • Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter).  Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players.  In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
  • Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter).  The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
  • The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press.  MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
  • Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
  • The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
  • Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
  • Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.

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Odds & Ends: Johnson, Kouzmanoff, Berkman

Here's a stocking stuffed with news items on this Christmas Eve…

  • Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues breaks down the details of Nick Johnson's contract with the Yankees.  If Johnson reaches all of his incentives and his mutual option for 2011 is picked up, he can make a total of $14.5MM over his two-year deal.
  • MLB.com's Corey Brock says the Kevin Kouzmanoff trade talks that were swirling at the winter meetings have "cooled," and he thinks Kouzmanoff will remain a Padre unless San Diego receives an overwhelmingly good offer.  Perhaps the Padres want to keep Kouzmanoff to anchor their lineup in case they happen to deal away Adrian Gonzalez
  • In a discussion of Lance Berkman's future plans, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com says that "the older [Berkman] gets, I think the less likely he is to play elsewhere."  The Astros star is under contract next season and the team has a $15MM option on Berkman for the 2011 season that it will surely pick up if Berkman matches his 2009 line of .274/.399/.509.  McTaggart notes that the Astros have been hesitant to rebuild since they still feel they can contend with quality veterans like Berkman and Roy Oswalt in their relative primes.  As we learned last September, however, Berkman might rather retire after 2011 than be a burden on the organization.
  • From that same piece, McTaggart says Houston's acquistions of Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz last winter have made the team leery of signing another injury-prone starter like Ben Sheets, especially since Sheets would come at a much higher price.
  • Top Reds prospect Todd Frazier seems to be capable of playing anywhere on the field, but doesn't appear to be Cincinnati's answer at shortstop, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • What team made the best trades in the 20th century?  According to one author, it was the Cleveland Indians.
  • Speaking of Cleveland, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com says the Tribe will put Rafael Perez back in the bullpen next season in spite of the left-hander's excellent starting outings in winter ball.

Shapiro: Indians Looking To Improve ‘Pen

Indians GM Mark Shapiro spoke with the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the Tribe. Here are the highlights:
  • Shapiro describes his "sense of urgency" regarding the team's shaky bullpen. He suggests he could look to their minor league teams, to the free agent pool or to other teams' minor leaguers to resotre order in the 'pen. So far they've signed Luis Vizcaino.
  • He says he's not looking for a bat or a starter.
  • Shapiro wants to contend this year and believes he can, given that the AL Central's relatively weak.  
  • The Indians can't wait until July to make moves and stabilize the 'pen.  
  • Shapiro says last offseason he had the chance to deal Rafael Perez for a number of players who now hold starting jobs in the major leagues.