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Ryan Braun Rumors
Exactly one week after the trade of Yovani Gallardo was first reported, Milwaukee hosted its annual winter fan festival Brewers On Deck. One year ago, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio opened the event by announcing the signing of Matt Garza to the richest free agent contract in franchise history. Today, Attanasio told the crowd he will be very surprised if the Brewers do not make one more signing before Spring Training starts, tweets MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. GM Doug Melvin has said his focus is strengthening the bullpen and told the assemblage, as tweeted by Andrew Gruman of FOX Sports Wisconsin, he is having negotiations with a few people and there is a chance of adding a reliever. Melvin downplayed the Jonathan Papelbon rumors while Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweeted he feels a reunion is in store with Francisco Rodriguez, who saved 44 games for the Brewers last year.
In other news and notes coming out of Brewers On Deck:
- Ryan Braun‘s right thumb, which has plagued him for the past two seasons, is feeling fine allowing him to perform his normal offseason regimen with no restrictions, reports Haudricourt. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure on the thumb last October and there are no current plans or need for a follow up session, tweets Haudricourt’s Journal Sentinel colleague Todd Rosiak.
- Attanasio addressed the Gallardo trade (transcript provided by Rosiak). “I could go on and on about how terrific Yovani Gallardo was for our team and the city. There’s a huge amount of risk in doing that. But in the nature of the sport, we need to do that. The goal is not to be average in Milwaukee.“
- The Gallardo deal has left the Brewers without any proven MLB rotation depth which concerns manager Ron Roenicke, Rosiak tweets. Roenicke, however, maintains the team has some good prospects who could step up.
- “I don’t think we have room for a notable starting pitcher,” said Melvin, per Gruman (Twitter). “We’d like to add a pitcher that could be a spot starter.“
- Filling Gallardo’s void in the rotation will be Jimmy Nelson who told Haudricourt he knows why he struggled in 2014. “The problem was when I got to the big leagues I got away from my game plan. The things I was doing to be successful, I got away from that when I got up here.“
- Jim Henderson, who missed most of 2014 battling bone spurs in his right shoulder, began throwing off a mound last week and will have his first true bullpen sessions this week, McCalvy tweets.
- Fellow right-hander Tyler Thornburg, who also missed most of 2014, says platelet-rich plasma therapy and lots of rest has helped heal his UCL injury and is throwing two bullpens per week and plans on being ahead of schedule when pitchers and catcher report next month, according to Gruman (Twitter links).
- The Brewers introduced a new addition to their mascot family: Barrelman. No word if he and Bernie Brewer will have joint custody of the slide.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin is scheduled to meet with principal owner Mark Attanasio and manager Ron Roenicke this week, so there should be some clarity on the status of the coaching staff in the next few days. There should also be some clarity on the health of Ryan Braun. Last Thursday, Braun underwent cryotherapy to freeze the nerve in his ailing right thumb and has a follow-up appointment with the doctor who performed the procedure on Monday. If there is no adverse reaction to the treatment, Braun will begin swinging a bat to determine its effect on his swing along with his pain tolerance.
- Haudricourt opines the biggest offensive boost the Brewers could receive this offseason is Braun’s cryotherapy being a success because the free-swinging ways of the rest of the lineup are likely to continue. As Haudricourt writes, “It would be easier to change a leopard’s spots than turn any of those hitters into a modern-day Wade Boggs.”
- Rosiak guesses Roenicke will return, but with a revamped coaching staff and approach.
- Rosiak would not be surprised if the Brewers pull out all the stops to try to fill their offensive void at first base noting the front office will have serious interest in Adam LaRoche, if he is open to a two-year deal. The Nationals hold a $15MM option on LaRoche, which is expected to be declined.
- Rosiak lists the odds as 50-50 for Aramis Ramirez returning to Milwaukee adding it will take some time for the situation to play itself out.
- Speaking of Ramirez, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes penned a free agent profile of the Brewer third baseman yesterday.
The Marlins plan to offer Giancarlo Stanton a deal that would make him the highest-paid player in team history, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported back in August that Miami would try to lock up its 24-year-old star for the long term, though the team was not necessarily optimistic of reaching agreement. For his part, Stanton tells Nightengale that he is willing to hear offers, but still wants to see “some progression moving forward.” “It will be interesting to hear what they have to say when the time comes,” he said, “but right now, I’m not worrying about it. I mean, we’re still in this season. When this season is over, then we can start thinking about 2015.”
Here’s more from the National League:
- Mets third baseman David Wright will be shut down for the rest of the year but is not expected to require surgery on his left shoulder, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reported (via Twitter) on in advance of a team announcement. The club says that Wright has experienced persistent inflammation in his left shoulder, which may go some way to explaining his uncharacteristically average .269/.324/.374 slash this year. The star 31-year-old is owed $107MM over 2015-2020.
- Ryan Braun of the Brewers has seen his ongoing thumb issues expand to become a broader problem with his right hand, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Though surgical options have been explored, it was determined that none seemed sure enough to warrant the risk. Since a hot start, Braun has seen his numbers dwindle and then fall off a cliff of late. He is still owed $12MM on an earlier extension next year before his five-year, $105MM pact kicks in starting in 2016.
- Left-handed starter Jon Lester makes sense as a free agent target for the Cubs, argues Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. He is young and sturdy enough to warrant a significant investment, says Rogers, though Chicago can also choose to forego an overpay given the number of solid arms that could be had on the open market in 2016.
Fresh off wins over Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the Brewers, who have occupied first place for a club-record 135 days, will look to sweep the NL West-leading Dodgers for just the second time in franchise history. Here’s the latest news and notes out of Milwaukee, courtesy of Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
- The front office is very worried about the chronic nerve injury to Ryan Braun‘s right thumb, which has sapped his power and threatens to make the five-year, $105MM extension signed in 2011 an albatross. “I don’t think the financial part of it matters because he’s going to get it whether he has a good thumb or a bad thumb,” Assistant GM Gord Ash told Haudricourt. “It’s guaranteed money. From a comfort and playing point of view, you want to find a solution. The money is the money. You can’t change it now. So, what you’re trying to do is put him in the best physical condition you can to succeed.“
- The Brewers and Aramis Ramirez hold a $14MM mutual option (with a $4MM buyout, if the team declines its half) for 2015. Haudricourt envisions a scenario where Ramirez and his agent, Paul Kinzer, could leverage a weak crop of free agent third basemen and seek a second year or, at the very least, a vesting option in return for exercising the player’s half of the mutual option. If a deal cannot be worked out and Ramirez does decline his option, Haudricourt notes he could receive a qualifying offer dampening the market for the 36-year-old, but also leaving the Brewers on the hook for approximately $15MM.
- The Brewers tabled extension talks with shortstop Jean Segura in March over an inability to gauge the 24-year-old’s worth in light of Andrelton Simmons‘ seven-year, $58MM deal. Segura has struggled offensively this year (.234/.268/.318), which Haudricourt attributes to a combination of pressing to show he is deserving of such a rich contract, bad luck (.261 BABIP compared to .325 in 2013), and the tragic death of his infant son. Haudricourt opines the best course of action for both sides is to let Segura establish his future value in 2015, since he isn’t eligible for salary arbitration until after that season.
- In a recent online chat, Haudricourt sees the Brewers tendering a contract to Gerardo Parra, who is eligible for arbitration for the final time this offseason. The 27-year-old outfielder, acquired by the Brewers at the Trade Deadline, is earning $4.85MM this season.
Orioles slugger Chris Davis is headed to the disabled list with a strained oblique, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Davis had an MRI on Saturday. Davis was off to a relatively slow .250/.372/.382 start in 94 plate appearances this season. Third baseman Manny Machado (knee) has begun a rehab assignment at Class A+ Frederick and should soon make his 2014 season debut, which ought to dull Orioles’ fans pain somewhat. Here are a couple more quick notes on injuries.
- Brewers shortstop Jean Segura required plastic surgery after Ryan Braun inadvertently struck Segura with his bat. But Segura was not concussed and did not have a fracture, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel tweets.
- Braun himself later left the Brewers’ game against the Cubs with an intercostal strain, Andrew Gruman of FOX Sports Wisconsin tweets. Braun is day-to-day, and as ugly a day as it was for him, it sounds like both he and Segura will be fine.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a lengthy new column up that takes a look at the hot start for the Giants' offense as well as an impressive sweep of the Red Sox by the Brewers this weekend. Beyond that, it has quite a bit of info on the top two remaining free agents and come contract extensions. Here are some highlights from his latest work…
- Scott Boras is telling tems that he could soon land a deal for Kendrys Morales, a source tells Rosenthal. However, some of the interested parties are debating between signing him (and fellow Boras free agent Stephen Drew) now or waiting until after the June draft. Rosenthal points out that this could potentially save a club multiple picks, as the signing team wouldn't have to surrender a 2015 draft pick, and if they offer a multi-year deal, they won't have to forfeit a 2016 pick to fill the hole on the free agent market next offseason.
- The Indians have been trying to extend Jason Kipnis for the past two years, but Kipnis and agent Dan Horwits of the Beverly Hills Sports Council rejected offers in the $15MM range (following Kipnis' two-month debut in 2011) and $24MM range (prior to the 2013 season).
- The main hangup in extension talks between the Dodgers and Hanley Ramirez isn't the average annual value but rather the length of the contract, says Rosenthal. Ramirez is likely to receive an AAV in the $22-25MM range, but the length of the contract is a concern for the Dodgers given Ramirez's lengthy injury history.
- Surgery remains an option for Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun as he battles nerve damage in his right thumb, but general manager Doug Melvin said to Rosenthal that going under the knife wouldn't even guarantee that the damage could be repaired. For the time being, Melvin said the team "is not overly concerned" about Braun's injury.
Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun is again dealing with a thumb injury that hampered his swing in 2013, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Braun and the team's doctors thought the extended rest between his suspension and the offseason would heal his thumb. That was the case early in Spring Training, as he was pain-free, but as spring wore on, Braun began to again experience numbness in his right thumb. Because he cannot feel the thumb, he's unable to tell how tightly he is gripping the ball when throwing, leading to bruising and blisters on the digit. The root of the problem appears to be a damaged nerve, which can be corrected via surgery, but Braun says he doesn't want to think about that alternative now, as the recovery would not be quick.
More links pertaining to baseball's Central divisions as we gear up for a weekend of baseball early in the 2014 campaign…
- The Cubs are exploring the idea of selling minority ownership shares as a way to help finance the stadium renovation, multiple sources tell Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com. The team is looking at selling a non-controlling interest, though no official decision has been reached. The potential sale wouldn't impact president of business operations Crane Kenney or president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who are both locked into long-term contracts. While the deal may be perceived negatively by some, Mooney points out that the Giants and Cardinals list 30 principal owners while the Cardinals have 15 investors, and both are considered to be well-run franchises. Any sale would need to be approved by Major League Baseball, Mooney adds.
- Earlier today, the Indians signed second baseman Jason Kipnis to a six-year, $52.5MM extension. At the press conference, GM Chris Antonetti told reporters that there's no "either/or" situation with Kipnis and Justin Masterson (MLB.com's Jorda Bastian reporting on Twitter). The club still has the financial flexibility to make something happen with Masterson, should talks re-ignite. The similarity between Kipnis' guarantee and Masterson's reported three-year, $51MM proposal may have led to some speculation prior to Antonetti's comments.
- Bastian also tweets that the Indians have been trying to extend Kipnis since he had just 69 days of service time; in other words, Cleveland has been pursuing an extension for their second baseman since the completion of the 2011 season. Kipnis batted .272/.333/.507 with seven homers and five steals in 150 plate appearances in his big league debut that year. The deal was wrapped up on Sunday but not announced until today, he adds.
- Fangraphs' Jason Collette looks at how Yan Gomes went from being "the other guy" in the trade that netted the Indians Mike Aviles to becoming the recipient of a six-year, $23MM extension. Gomes was never afforded a chance to catch everyday in the Blue Jays' minor league system because of their depth at the position. Collette calls the contract the "inverse of all free agent deals" as it rewards Gomes for his future production rather than past laurels. He also wonders if the new rules regarding home-plate collisions made the extension more palatable, as there is now less long-term risk with catcher extensions.
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio opened Brewers On Deck, the team's annual winter fan festival, earlier today by announcing the signing of right-hander Matt Garza (#7 on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list). The four-year, $50MM contract also includes deferred money, $1MM per year in incentives, and a $13MM vesting option for 2018. The total take for Garza could total $67MM over five years. In other Brewers news and notes coming out of Milwaukee today:
- "I was expecting an open market, and that’s what I got. I’m really happy I’m a Milwaukee Brewer," Garza told reporters, including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy (Twitter link), in an impromptu news conference. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides a transcript of Garza's comments including this tidbit: Brewers fans heard about the deal before he did because he was attending his son's basketball game.
- GM Doug Melvin said the Brewers' interest in Garza dates back to the Winter Meetings and his addition provides rotation depth, but will wait until Spring Training to see how the starting five shakes out, Rosiak reports (Twitter links).
- Melvin told WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee the lack of draft pick compensation attached to Garza was a very important factor in the signing (h/t Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Twitter).
- Ryan Braun was in attendance at the fan event and continues to be apologetic for his actions which led to his 65-game suspension, writes Rosiak. "I don’t ever know if I could apologize enough for what’s occurred, you know?" said Braun. "I just continue to move forward and obviously I’ll be apologetic. I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can’t. All I can do is move forward and make the best of the opportunities presented to me." Braun refused to divulge further details of why he was suspended saying he addressed everything last November at a team-sponsored food drive and "I think I addressed it pretty specifically in the statement that we gave (in August)."
- Braun also offered praise for his newest teammate, Garza, according to McCalvy. "I’m excited about it," Braun said. "I think he could be a difference-maker. Facing him over the last few years, I think he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. One of the toughest at-bats. Great stuff. Very competitive — a fiery competitor, which is something I think could benefit the whole pitching staff and our whole team."
- Mark Reynolds says he signed with the Brewers because of the starting opportunity at first base, playing in the NL, and the fan support in Milwaukee, Rosiak tweets.
- Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, has yet to begin a throwing program, but he expects to be ready for Opening Day, tweets McCalvy.
- In response to a fan's question about payroll, Melvin said (as tweeted by Rosiak), "Ask Mark." To which the principal owner replied, "Wallet is a lot lighter now."
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets his approval of what Melvin and the Brewers have been able to accomplish this offseason: spent money on a starting pitcher, filled the hole at first base with a solid combinaton of Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, kept right-hander Tyler Thornburg (the Mets' reported price for Ike Davis), and their draft picks.
There's been a lot of talk about the Mets following the "Red Sox model" of signing multiple mid-tier free agents to shorter-term deals without sacrificing draft picks this season, but Matt Meyers of ESPNNewYork.com writes that this model won't work for the Mets. New York doesn't have a positional core like Boston had in Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz, nor can the team match Boston's $150MM payroll. Meyers feels that the Mets should follow the Indians' model this winter and look at the Pirates' philosophy long-term. To fans clamoring for big free agent spending, Meyers points out that such actions are precisely what dug the team into its current hole. More Mets links for your Tuesday afternoon…
- David Wright appeared on ESPN New York radio recently, stating that he's not worried about the team's slow start to the offseason and adding that he thinks GM Sandy Alderson "has some tricks up his sleeve." (ESPN's Adam Rubin has some quotes transcribed) Wright elaborated: "In all reality, I think that the offseason doesn't really necessarily kick off until the winter meetings, and that starts right after Thanksgiving … have some faith because, like I said, I fully expect us to be a much better team moving forward. Hopefully that will begin at the winter meetings or shortly after Thanksgiving."
- Barring a surprise signing of Stephen Drew, it's looking more and more like the Mets will open 2014 with Ruben Tejada as their shortstop, writes MLB.com's Anthony DiComo in his latest Mets Inbox. DiComo points to Cardinals GM John Mozeliak's comments about how steep the prices are for shortstops on the trade market in suggesting that such a move isn't likely to occur. Rafael Furcal may be an upgrade, but as DiComo points out, he's far from a sure thing.
- The large number of holes the Mets have to fill puts Daniel Murphy "at risk of being elsewhere" next season, DiComo adds. The Mets could move Eric Young to his natural position, second base, and address a different hole by trading Murphy.
- Also from DiComo, the Mets would like to find a veteran backup catcher, but that's low on their list of priorities at this point. He tells a reader that while John Buck would likely be a nice it, Buck probably prefers to find a larger role with a team than the Mets can offer.
- The Mets did indeed check in on Ryan Braun, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, though the inquiry consisted of four words, Alderson told Heyman: "What's up with Braun?" Alderson asked Brewers GM Doug Melvin before finding him to be unavailable. The Mets are continuing to pursue corner outfielders Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson, however, Heyman writes.
Though "four or five clubs" approached Brewers general manager Doug Melvin at the GM Meetings last week to inquire on Ryan Braun's availability, Melvin told the other GMs that Braun isn't available, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. Melvin addressed trade rumors that have circulated around his embattled outfielder:
"We have no intentions of trading Ryan. There's absolutely no truth to that. We've never contacted any team about Ryan."
Melvin told Haudricourt that he, manager Ron Roenicke and owner Mark Attanasio had lunch with Braun last week in Los Angeles. There was no talk of trades, and his PED suspension was not a main talking point either. Rather, the Brewers brass met to discuss the upcoming plans for next season and a potential shift to right field for Braun, an idea to which Braun was open.
A shift to right field could open up some more at-bats for Khris Davis following an impressive Major League debut, though it could displace Norichika Aoki as well. Haudricourt writes that Aoki could still be used in left field at times in that scenario, however. He also adds that the very fact that the Brewers are discussing Braun's future with him illustrates the fact that he's not likely to be traded this winter.
Braun is owed $122MM over the next seven seasons, including a $4MM buyout on his $15MM mutual option for the 2021 season and two remaining annual payments of $2.5MM in 2014 and 2015 as part of the $10MM signing bonus on his most recent extension.