Ramon Hernandez Rumors
The Rockies offically signed catcher Ramon Hernandez to two-year contract today. The deal is worth $6.5MM, reported Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. In a related move, Colorado traded Chris Iannetta to the Angels for Tyler Chatwood on November 30th, the same day they reached an agreement with Hernandez. Hernandez is represented by Eric Goldschmidt, as our Agency Tracker shows.
Hernandez, 35, started the offseason as a Type A free agent, but he was reclassified as a Type-B as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. The Reds will receive a supplemental first round pick for losing Hernandez, but the Rockies will not lose a pick.
The signing gives Colorado a veteran presence behind the plate to help with a young rotation that figures to include the likes of Chatwood, Jhoulys Chacin, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Esmil Rogers, and Clayton Mortensen. Hernandez hit .282/.341/.446 with a dozen homers in 328 plate appearances for the Reds last season. He also threw out a whopping 23 of 62 attempted basestealers, a well above average 37.1%. Colorado will be his fifth big league team.
- Ryan Morgan, Pablo Sandoval's agent, told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that he has had "very broad discussions" with Giants VP Bobby Evans about Sandoval's 2012 contract and that Sandoval is open to a multiyear contract. Sandoval is going through the arbitration process for the first time this winter and Baggarly thinks the two sides could revisit the idea of an extension if Sandoval shows up in great shape to Spring Training.
- Mark Cuban is interested in bidding to become the new Dodgers' owner, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Cuban will receive a "bid book" that contains the team's financial information, though having a bid book doesn't necessarily mean Cuban will indeed make a bid to buy the team.
- The Dodgers have already much of their free money this winter and are still short two starting pitchers, reports Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times. Both Dilbeck and Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) don't think the Dodgers will have enough to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda.
- Also from Knobler (via Twitter), the Rockies turned down the Braves' offer of Martin Prado in exchange for outfielder Seth Smith and prospect Nolan Arenado. Given that Arenado is one of Colorado's top prospects, this was a total pie-in-the-sky offer from the Braves.
- Newly-signed Rockies catcher Ramon Hernandez appeared on the Venezuelan sports radio show Los Cronistas today (Twitter link, in Spanish) and said he isn't sure if he'll be physically able to keep playing beyond his current contract. Hernandez will be 37 by the time his two-year deal with Colorado expires. Thanks to Nick Collias of our sister site Rumores de Beisbol for the translation.
- Justin Upton holds the top spot on Keith Law's list of the top 50 players who are 25 years old and under (ESPN Insider subscription required).
The Rockies have been busy this evening. They traded Chris Iannetta to the Angels for Tyler Chatwood and agreed to terms with Ramon Hernandez on a two-year deal. Here are the rest of the day’s notes on the Rockies:
- The Rockies remain hopeful of obtaining Martin Prado from the Braves, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes.
- There’s a decent chance Kevin Millwood re-signs with the Rockies this offseason, according to Renck (on Twitter).
- The Rockies have offered Seth Smith to the Braves, but they don’t have interest in packaging him with Tim Wheeler or Charlie Blackmon.
- The Rockies and Padres haven’t made any progress on a possible deal for Orlando Hudson.
- Rival teams say the Rockies would like a Double-A or Triple-A pitcher for Ian Stewart.
The Rockies are close to signing Ramon Hernandez to a two-year deal and trading Chris Iannetta to the Angels, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Tyler Chatwood should be going from the Angels to the Rockies in the deal, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). Teams are now examining medicals.
The Rockies' deal with Hernandez will be worth $6.5MM over two years, Rosenthal tweets. Though Hernandez is a Type A free agent, the Rockies won't surrender a draft pick to sign him, since he's a modified free agent under baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The Reds will obtain a compensatory pick for losing Hernandez, however.
The move should provide the Angels with additional offense behind the plate and round out the team's offense with the kind of high-OBP hitter Dipoto expressed interest in earlier in the offseason. Iannetta posted a .238/.370/.414 line in 2011 and given his career line of .235/.357/.430 the Angels are likely expecting similar production in 2012. Non-tender candidate Jeff Mathis is probably expendable now, whether that means the Angels trade him before Friday's deadline to tender arbitration eligilbe players contracts or cut him loose.
Assuming the deal goes through, it will be Dipoto's first trade as the Angels' GM. It's worth noting that he's making the move with Dan O'Dowd, who was Dipoto's GM at the end of his playing career in Colorado. Dipoto made other significant trades as Arizona's interim GM in the summer of 2010.
The Rockies are exploring signing catcher Ramon Hernandez and the Angels like Chris Iannetta, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, a Rosenthal source describes the discussion between the two teams involving Iannetta as "just conversation (that) never got real far." Iannetta, 28, has more value to the Rockies than any other team, because he can void his 2013 club option if traded.
The Reds' Ryan Hanigan is also on Jerry Dipoto's wish list for the Angels, as Rosenthal told us six days ago. Meanwhile the Rockies are not considered close to signing Hernandez, who had the good fortune of being reclassified as a Type B free agent. The Rockies are the first team to be linked to Hernandez this winter.
10 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make today, and we'll update them in this post in advance of the 11pm central time deadline. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.
Updated team decisions:
- The Giants won't offer arbitration to Pat Burrell (B) or Cody Ross (B) according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Carlos Beltran (A) contractually cannot be offered arbitration.
- The Dodgers declined to offer Hiroki Kuroda (B) arbitration, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (on Twitter). Rod Barajas (B) already signed with the Pirates.
- The Pirates offered arbitration to Derrek Lee (B) while declining to offer Ryan Ludwick (B) and Chris Snyder (B) arbitration. Ryan Doumit (B) already signed with the Twins.
- The Phillies did not offer Roy Oswalt (A) or Brad Lidge (B) arbitration, according to the AP (via ESPN). The team announced that it offered arbitration to Raul Ibanez (B), Ryan Madson (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick), and Jimmy Rollins (A), according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com (via Twitter).
- The Cubs offered arbitration to Carlos Pena (B) and Aramis Ramirez (B) but not to Kerry Wood (B), according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Cardinals offered Edwin Jackson (B) and Albert Pujols (A) arbitration, but declined to make offers to Rafael Furcal (B) and Arthur Rhodes (B), according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). That leaves Octavio Dotel (modified B, no arbitration offer necessary).
- The Mets offered Jose Reyes (A) arbitration, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter).
- The Padres will offer arbitration to Heath Bell (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) and Aaron Harang (B), tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com.
- The Brewers offered Prince Fielder (A) and Francisco Rodriguez (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) arbitration. They declined to offer Yuniesky Betancourt (B) arbitration. Takashi Saito (A), contractually cannot be offered arbitration.
- The Braves did not offer arbitration to Alex Gonzalez (B), according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Teams with automatic decisions only:
- Reds: Francisco Cordero (modified B, no arbitration offer necessary), Ramon Hernandez (modified B, no arbitration offer necessary)
- Astros: Clint Barmes (B, already signed with Pirates)
- Rockies: Mark Ellis (B, already signed with Dodgers)
Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, Ramon Hernandez and Darren Oliver were all Type A free agents under the Elias Rankings system, but they will now be treated as Type B free agents, the MLBPA announced. Teams won't have to surrender draft picks to sign them, but the players' former teams obtain a supplementary first round pick whether or not they offer arbitration tomorrow.
Meanwhile, clubs won't have to surrender a draft pick to sign one of the following six players: Heath Bell, Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madson, Josh Willingham and Francisco Rodriguez. Teams that lose these players after offering arbitration will obtain first round picks in the slot before the signing team plus a supplementary draft pick for a total of two selections.
Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Roy Oswalt, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins were also Type A free agents this offseason. They will cost one draft pick to sign. Their teams will obtain two total picks if they decline offers of arbitration to sign elsewhere, as expected. Takashi Saito and Carlos Beltran, two other Type As, cannot be offered arbitration. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the changes.
During the period of 2003-06, Ramon Hernandez was consistently among the top ten offensive catchers in the game. He hit .278/.335/.466 in 494 games in that time, averaging almost 19 home runs per season. Fortunately for Hernandez, he reached free agency when he was still in his prime, and he scored a four-year, $27.5MM deal with the Orioles in December of 2005.
After three years in Baltimore Hernandez had worn out his welcome, and the Orioles shipped him to the Reds with cash for Ryan Freel, Justin Turner, and Brandon Waring. Hernandez wasn't great in his first year with the Reds, but they re-upped him for $3MM anyway. He managed to improve his batting average and power, but re-signed with the Reds again for the same money. Hernandez has had another solid offensive year in 2011, though he is averaging less than 100 games per season. Hernandez has re-entered the discussion of the ten best offensive catchers in baseball, but he's something less than a regular and will turn 36 in May.
Hernandez re-signed in November both times, before the Reds were forced to decide whether to offer arbitration. If no deal is reached by the free agent arbitration offer deadline this year, the Reds will have a tough decision. Hernandez profiles as a Type A free agent. At the trade deadline, Reds GM Walt Jocketty wasn't even willing to listen to offers for him, under the assumption no team would offer enough. In August, Hernandez was claimed off waivers but Jocketty again chose not to make a deal.
Jocketty's unwillingness to trade Hernandez suggests he's thinking of re-signing Hernandez, or at least is mulling an arbitration offer. Hernandez and his agent Eric Goldschmidt are aware that turning down an arbitration offer from the Reds would hurt his market value, as a team would have to surrender a draft pick to sign him. There's a case to be made for accepting an offer, as Hernandez clearly likes Cincinnati and he'd get a raise too. But with Devin Mesoraco considered the catcher of the near future for the Reds and backup Ryan Hanigan locked up through 2013, how much playing time would Hernandez get? The Reds could trade Hernandez if he accepts, at which point the catcher would probably wish he had simply chosen his destination in free agency.
There's an intricate game of cat-and-mouse when a free agent like Hernandez gets Type A status. The Reds could play it safe and not offer arbitration, but then they'd risk getting nothing for him. I think the club has more leverage here, since Hernandez would be tradeable if he accepts. If he declines Hernandez would probably be the best catcher available on the free agent market, but he'd be a better fit for a team with a protected first-round draft pick.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
Let's take a look at some items out of the NL West..
- After a potential August trade to San Francisco failed to come to fruition, Padres closer Heath Bell believes that he will still be a member of the club next season. "I think I'm coming back next year. We're not talking, but I feel like something is going to happen," the closer said, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter).
- The Rockies will have to make some roster moves after activating closer Huston Street and setupman Matt Lindstrom. The game of musical chairs could end with J.C. Romero being designated for assignment, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
- An unknown team claimed catcher Ramon Hernandez before he was pulled back off of waivers and Reds skipper Dusty Baker guesses that the Giants were the team to claim him, writes Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News.
The 35-year-old earns $3MM this year and projects as a Type A free agent, so it's not hard to see why the Reds are keeping him. He'll only cost $500K or so for the remainder of the season and could bring Cincinnati draft picks next year. Hernandez, a 13-year veteran, has a .288/.345/.458 line with 11 homers in 290 plate appearances so far this season.