Ryan Church Rumors

Youngest Remaining Free Agents

We're weeks into Spring Training now, so few notable free agents remain. But some players (min. 50 PAs) and pitchers (min. 20 IP) remain unsigned. Here's a look at the remaining free agents who will play the 2011 season while no older than 32:

  • Willy Aybar (28) – The Rays declined Aybar's option and non-tendered him, but he can play first, second and third and has a career .341 OBP. He wouldn't be in line for more than a minor league deal if he signs. 
  • Jeremy Bonderman (28) – Bonderman may sit the season out, but you have to think he can help someone (the Cardinals?) despite the 5.53 ERA he posted in 171 innings last year. He's only 28 and he has recovered from shoulder surgery.
  • Manny Corpas (28) - Corpas will miss the 2011 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. He posted a 4.62 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings last year, and defense independent pitching stats suggest his ERA should have been lower, so he would have drawn interest if healthy.
  • Hank Blalock (30) - Blalock averaged 29 homers per season from 2003-05, when he made two All-Star teams. That power was nowhere to be seen last year, when he posted a .254/.319/.349 line in 69 plate appearances for the Rays. Blalock just turned 30 last fall, but he probably needs to rebuild value in the minor leagues to make a complete comeback.
  • Bobby Crosby (31) – Three teams were interested in the former AL Rookie of the Year earlier in the winter, but he remains on the open market. In 189 plate appearances for Pittsburgh and Arizona last year, Crosby hit .220/.294/.298 and played all four infield positions. 
  • Ryan Church (32) - Church, who was traded with Crosby from Pittsburgh to Arizona last summer, also struggled in 2010. He posted a .201/.265/.352 line, though he had 59 extra base hits as recently as 2007.
  • Ben Sheets (32) – If he wasn't going to miss the season with flexor tendon surgery, Sheets would likely have found a team by now. He won't sign this year.

National League Non-Tenders

This post will list all the National League players non-tendered today, but the best place to track all 200+ arbitration eligible players is our new non-tender tracker.

Odds & Ends: Church, Ortiz, Thome, Beltre

On this date in 1998, the Angels signed Francisco Rodriguez as an international free agent. K-Rod, as he would later be nicknamed, saved 208 games in his dominant seven-year stint with the Angels, striking out 587 batters in 451.2 innings. Now a member of the Mets, Rodriguez is on the disqualified list after a Citi Field altercation led to a season-ending injury and lots of time in court. Here are today's links…

Non-Tender Candidate: Ryan Church

For the second consecutive season, Ryan Church has played well enough to appear in 100 games, but poorly enough to become a non-tender candidate. Last year, the Braves non-tendered Church instead of offering him anything close to his 2009 salary of $2.8MM and he faces similar uncertainty heading into the 2010-11 offseason.

The Pirates signed Church for $1.5MM and saw him hit just .182/.240/.312 before they traded him to Arizona in July. The 31-year-old has hit well for the D'Backs, as his .279/.354/.535 line shows, but his 48 plate appearances in the desert haven't earned him any guarantees for 2011. 

Church has played all three outfield positions this year, and though he hasn't logged a significant number of innings in 2010, we can say that he is versatile and has posted slightly above average UZRs for seven consecutive seasons. His batting average on balls in play is 60 points below his career mark, but he is hitting fewer liners and more fly balls than usual, so this isn't purely a case of bad luck.

Despite his good at bats in Arizona and his versatility in the outfield, Church won't necessarily see a contract offer from the D'Backs. It won't be hard to find fourth outfielders for $1-2MM through free agency, so it seems unlikely that the D'Backs will offer Church a contract for a comparable amount of money after a mostly disappointing season. Let's see what you think. Click here to take the survey and here to view the results.

Pirates Acquire Chris Snyder In Five-Player Deal

Diamondbacks interim GM Jerry Dipoto further dismantled his team today, sending catcher Chris Snyder, Triple A shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, and $3MM to the Pirates for reliever D.J. Carrasco, infielder Bobby Crosby, and outfielder Ryan Church.  Snyder has about $8.18MM remaining through 2011, assuming his '12 option is declined, while Carrasco, Crosby and Church have roughly $1.2MM remaining.

Snyder signed his extension under previous GM Josh Byrnes in December of '08, coming off a fine .237/.348/.452 performance.  However, he hit the disabled list in June of last year with a back injury and had surgery in September.  Miguel Montero took over as the starter and hit .319/.364/.523 the rest of that season.  The D'Backs shopped Snyder in the offseason and nearly dealt him to the Blue Jays until concerns over his back scuttled the deal.  Snyder was able to prove his health this year when Montero missed two months due to knee surgery.  Current Pirate Ryan Doumit, whose contract might have been the model for Snyder's, is on the disabled list due to a concussion.

Carrasco, Crosby, and Church were signed cheaply as free agents by the Pirates last winter, but only Carrasco has panned out.  On the season he has a 3.88 ERA, 7.3 K/9, and 3.6 BB/9 in 55.6 innings with only four home runs allowed.  Carrasco probably will be tendered a contract by the D'Backs, and he's under team control through 2012.  Church is technically arbitration-eligible after the season, but he's highly likely to be non-tendered.  

Ciriaco, 24, ranked 27th among D'Backs prospects heading into the season according to Baseball America.  They praised him for his defense and speed, suggesting a possible utilityman future.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first broke news of the trade talks, with Nick Piecoro, Jack Magruder, Steve Gilbert, Dejan Kovacevic, and Jenifer Langosch also contributing to the story.

Pirates, D’Backs Agree On Chris Snyder Trade

10:43am: The minor leaguer going to the Pirates will be shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, tweets Kovacevic.  Baseball America ranked Ciriaco 27th among D'Backs prospects heading into the season, praising his defense and speed.

9:55am: The Pirates will also receive a minor leaguer in the deal, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.  So it's Snyder, a minor leaguer, and cash to the Pirates for Carrasco, Church, and Crosby.  The Pirates will not flip Snyder, tweets Kovacevic.

9:42am: The D'Backs will also get reliever D.J. Carrasco, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.  Carrasco has $336K plus incentives left on his contract this year, and he's under team control through 2012.  He should be a useful piece in what figures to be a revamped bullpen for Arizona next year.

9:31am: The D'Backs will receive Bobby Crosby and Ryan Church in the deal, tweets Jack Magruder of FOX Sports ArizonaThis explains the call-ups today of Argenis Diaz and Jeff Clement, to some extent.  The inclusion of Crosby and Church offsets about $883K of the $8.18MM still owed to Snyder.

8:56am: Despite an agreement in principle, the two sides are still talking about names going to Arizona, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX SportsDejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke to an uninvolved industry source who wonders if the Pirates might flip Snyder.

SATURDAY, 12:37am: The only thing standing in the way of a Snyder-to-Pittsburgh deal is the commissioner's approval for cash changing hands, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  It is still not clear as to what Arizona will receive in return, he adds (via Twitter).

FRIDAY, 8:57pm: The Pirates have spoken to the D’Backs about a trade that would send catcher Chris Snyder to Pittsburgh, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The FOX Sports writers suggest Arizona would likely send money to Pittsburgh in any deal. Snyder has $1.7MM remaining on his contract in 2010, plus $5.75MM next year and either $6.75MM or a $750K buyout in 2012.

The Pirates currently have Jason Jaramillo and Erik Kratz on the active roster, but Ryan Doumit is on the DL with a concussion. Like Snyder, Doumit has a lot of money coming his way. He'll earn $5.1MM in 2011 and the club holds options for 2012-13.

Earlier in the week, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reported that the D'Backs were trying to trade Snyder, but this is the first we've heard of the Pirates' interest.

Players Who Were Once Designated For Assignment

We see it all the time. Most weeks a handful of players are designated for assignment and more often than not casual fans barely notice. A DFA indicates that a team is willing to part with a player – sometimes for nothing. But sometimes those players come back from DFAs to become stars in the major leagues. Here's a list of some current players who have been designated for assignment:

  • David Aardsma – The Red Sox acquired Aardsma after the White Sox designated him for assignment in 2008. A year later, the Mariners traded for Aardsma, who became the team's closer and posted impressive rates of 10.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
  • Mike Adams – Adams was designated for assignment in 2006, before he posted absurdly low ERAs and regularly struck out more than a batter per inning.
  • Milton Bradley – The Padres acquired Bradley from the A's after Bradley was designated for assignment in 2007. Bradley hit .313/.414/.590 for the Padres and led them to a one game playoff with the Rockies for the Wild Card spot. Of course Bradley didn't play in game 163, since he tore his ACL while manager Bud Black restrained him during an on-field argument earlier in the month.
  • Russell Branyan – No one claimed Branyan after his 2006 DFA, but the Cardinals traded for him when the Phillies designated him for assignment the next year. He didn't do much for the Cards in his 39 plate appearances in 2007, but Branyan rebounded to hit 31 homers for the Mariners in 2009.
  • Marlon Byrd – The Nationals designated Byrd for assignment in 2006 without losing him and the Rangers did the same in 2007. Byrd recovered from his '07 demotion to post three consecutive productive seasons in Texas.
  • Nelson Cruz – The Rangers designated Cruz for assignment at the beginning of the 2008 season –  usually a good time to sneak players through waivers. The Rangers must be thrilled no one claimed Cruz, who hit 37 homers in the minors that year and added 33 in the majors the following season.
  • Rajai Davis – The A's claimed the outfielder off of waivers from their Bay Area rivals in 2008. Davis was hitting .056/.105/.056 at the time, though he had batted just 19 times. He has gone on to become a useful player, hitting .305/.360/.423 last year with 41 steals and above average defense, according to UZR.
  • Jorge de la Rosa – The Royals designated de la Rosa for assignment in March of 2008, but it wasn't until a month later that the Rockies traded for him. The 29-year-old free agent-to-be has been a productive starter in Colorado since.
  • Ryan Franklin – The Reds acquired Franklin from the Phillies in 2006 after a poor start to the season. Franklin didn't do much better with the Reds, but he has been productive for three-plus seasons in St. Louis since.
  • Jeremy Guthrie – The Orioles claimed the former first round pick from the Indians early in 2007, when Guthrie had just 37 big league innings and a 6.08 ERA to his name. Since, the righty has posted a 4.19 ERA in 610.1 innings.
  • LaTroy Hawkins – The Yankees designated the reliever for assignment in 2008 and traded him to Houston, where Hawkins dominated for 24 appearances. He posted a 0.43 ERA along with 10.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9.
  • Bobby Jenks – He has fallen out of favor with the White Sox now, but they deserve credit for picking him up after the 2004 season. Jenks has struck out three times as many batters as he has walked in 301 innings with the White Sox.
  • Ryan Ludwick – The slugger started the 2005 season hitting just .154/.267/.385 so the Indians designated him for assignment. No one claimed Ludwick then, but the Cardinals made a shrewd pickup when they later signed him.
  • Brandon Phillips – The Reds claimed Phillips after the Indians designated him for assignment in 2006. He had just a .206/.246/.310 big league line at the time, but he has averaged 22 homers and 26 steals in his four full seasons with the Reds. UZR rates the 28-year-old as an above average defender at second base, too.
  • Joel Pineiro – The Red Sox designated Pineiro for assignment in 2007 when he had a 5.03 ERA and just 20 strikeouts to go along with 14 walks. Later that summer, the Cardinals acquired Pineiro and he went on to post 426.1 solid innings for the Cards. Under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Duncan, Pineiro posted a walk rate of 1.6 BB/9 in a Cardinals uniform.
  • Grant BalfourRyan ChurchJack CustMatt DiazJerry Hairston Jr.Joel HanrahanLivan HernandezMike JacobsColby LewisJulio LugoMike MacDougalEvan MeekVicente PadillaScott PodsednikJ.C. RomeroDavid Ross, Brian Tallet, Todd Wellemeyer and Randy Wells are among the many big leaguers who have been designated for assignment.

It's worth noting that this group does not include a superstar (Cruz might be the closest thing to one). Teams designate many talented players for assignment because of roster constraints, but few enjoy as much success as the group above.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the information.

Odds & Ends: Alvarez, Strasburg, Church, Rays

Links for Saturday…

Odds & Ends: Baldelli, Wang, Jackson

A few more newsbits as we near the end of a busy Tuesday…

  • Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times singles out the Cubs and Yankees as "among those interested" in Rocco BaldelliBryan Hoch of MLB.com thinks Baldelli would be a good fit in the Bronx, though he notes that New York GM Brian Cashman "refused an internet rumor" claiming that the Yanks had already signed Baldelli.
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are looking over Chien-Ming Wang's medical history.
  • Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports (via Twitter) that pitcher Steven Jackson was designated for assignment by the Pirates to make room for Ryan Church on the 40-man roster. Jackson posted an impressive 3.14 ERA in his 2009 rookie season, making 40 appearances out of the bullpen for Pittsburgh.
  • MLB.com's Mark Bowman thought the Braves might try to trade Jordan Schafer earlier this winter, but no more.
  • The Cubs have settled with five arbitration-eligible players, but still don't have deals worked out with Carlos Marmol and Ryan Theriot, reports Dave van Dyck of The Chicago Tribune.
  • Grant of the McCovey Chronicles blog is, shall we say, less than enthused about the Bengie Molina signing.

Odds & Ends: Dodgers, Beltran, Guzman

Some links on this Wednesday evening…

  • Yorvit Torrealba could end up with the Giants, according to Chris Haft of MLB.com.  However, Torrealba may prefer to wait until after the weekend to sign with any club as his Venezuelan Winter League team is still active in the postseason.
  • Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets that in addition to Matt Kemp, the Dodgers are talking about multiyear deals with Jonathan Broxton and Andre Ethier
  • Carlos Beltran will have to refrain from baseball activities for twelve weeks after having his knee scoped, according to a Mets press release passed along by MetsBlog.  The story was first reported by the New York Post's Joel Sherman (via Twitter).  If all goes well with his rehabilitation, the center fielder should only miss a small amount of games to start the year.
  • Free agent lefty Doug Davis is attracting interest from four teams, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  The Twins, Brewers, Mets, and Nationals are all interested in the 34-year-old, who posted a 4.22 ERA with 6.7 K/9 over the last three years in Arizona.
  • Fernando Tatis' agent told Thomas Harding of MLB.com that the Rockies had preliminary discussions with his client earlier this week.  About a week ago, we heard that the Rockies were eyeing the 35-year-old for a bench role.  Also, two major league sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the Mariners are interested as well.
  • Former Brewers closer Derrick Turnbow will audition for at least 16 teams on Friday in Phoenix, according to a report from ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.  The 31-year-old demanded his release from the Rangers back in May.
  • If the Nats are able to sign Orlando Hudson or Adam Kennedy to play second base, Cristian Guzman and his $8MM salary are unlikely to be moved elsewhere, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.  Guzman would remain at shortstop, where his agent insists that he is still valuable despite shoulder surgery.
  • Pittsburgh's signing of Ryan Church could pay huge dividends for the club, says ESPN's Rob Neyer.  If Church is healthy and generates interest from other clubs, the Pirates will be able to move him for a more valuable commodity.