Ryan Franklin Rumors

Cardinals Links: Pujols, La Russa, Franklin

While we wait to see if the Cardinals can retake the series lead over the Rangers in the Fall Classic, let's round up some notes from St. Louis (all links go to Twitter)…

  • "Clearly we still think we have a lot of core players," said GM John Mozeliak to a group of reporters (including Scott Miller of CBSSports.com) when asked about the possibility of losing Albert Pujols to free agency. He added that the team's pipeline of young players is strong.
  • Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and others that he's hoping to get an answer from manager Tony La Russa about his future with the team at some point soon. La Russa's contract is up after the season.
  • Former closer Ryan Franklin was hanging around the team today, and Joe Strauss of St. Louis Post-Dispatch says it sounds like he's done playing. Franklin expressed a desire to play beyond 2011, but that was before he posted an 8.46 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 27 2/3 innings.

Cardinals Release Ryan Franklin

The Cardinals have released right-handed reliever Ryan Franklin, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals considered "creative" alternatives such as putting Franklin on the disabled list and designating him for assignment.

The 12-year veteran posted an 8.46 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 27 2/3 innings this year. The results were much better in 2010, when Franklin posted a 3.46 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 to go along with 27 saves. Franklin's average fastball velocity (91 mph) stayed strong this year, though his ground ball rate (37.9%) dropped. He earns $3.25MM in 2011 and the Cardinals will be responsible for all of that less a pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary if their former closer signs with a different club.

Decision Expected Soon On Ryan Franklin

The Cardinals "may be closer to a decision regarding relief pitcher Ryan Franklin," writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Strauss quotes manager Tony La Russa as considering "creative" alternatives for the beleaguered former closer.  Strauss believes options include a DL stint or designating Franklin for assignment to take him off the 40-man roster and have him pitch in the minors while drawing his big league salary.  Strauss says a resolution is expected before the Cardinals leave Thursday for Tampa Bay.

Franklin, 38, has a 8.46 ERA, 5.5 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9, with nine home runs and 44 hits allowed in 27 2/3 innings.  His groundball rate is down significantly, but his struggles are largely due to a whopping 23.7% of his flyballs leaving the yard and 35% of balls in play dropping for hits.  Franklin is earning $3.25MM this year.

Quick Hits: Braun, Lohse, Franklin, Wood

Some news items as Matt Kemp is once again a walkoff hero for the Dodgers

Ryan Franklin Wants To Play Beyond 2011

Just a few months ago, Ryan Franklin announced that he intended to retire after the 2011 season, when his current contract is up. Seven months and some rethinking later, Franklin told Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he would like to continue pitching beyond the 2011 campaign.

"I've done a lot of [thinking] this offseason," said Franklin. "I've come to the conclusion that if this year goes well, I'm going to keep playing. If I stay healthy, and I don't see why I shouldn't. The family has told me to keep playing, so I'm going to keep playing."

We heard that Franklin was reconsidering his retirement plans back in September, but he emphasized that the decision would be based around his family and what they want. As the reliever stated, his family is on board with him continuing his career.

Franklin will turn 38 early in Spring Training, and specifically mentioned Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, and Kyle McClellan to Goold as potential understudies for the closer's role. He pitched to a 3.46 ERA with 27 saves in 65 innings in 2010, one year after he posted a 1.92 ERA with 38 saves in 2009. Franklin's current contract guarantees him $6.5MM.

Ryan Franklin Reconsidering Retirement Plans

Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin announced his plans to retire from baseball following the 2011 season earlier this year, but he is now reconsidering that decision according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach. Franklin emphasized that it will still be a decision based around his family and not necessarily performance.

The 37-year-old righthander has a 3.55 ERA and 24 saves in 58.1 innings this year, and his 1.2 BB/9 is an all-time low for him. The Cards signed Franklin to a two-year deal worth $6.5MM last season, and he has maintained throughout this process that he will indeed follow through on that commitment and pitch next season regardless of his future plans.

Mozeliak: Cardinals’ Payroll Might Increase

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told fans at tonight's social media event that the team's payroll might increase over the next couple of seasons (Twitter link). St. Louis started the season with a payroll just north of $94MM according to Cot's, right in line with where the club has been since 2005.

Obviously the elephant in the room is Albert Pujols' upcoming contract extension. He'll earn the same $16MM next year that he's earned since 2008 once the team picks up his option, but 2011 is the last season the team will enjoy that discount. His salary is then expected to soar over $20MM, perhaps as much as $10MM more annually than he's pulling down right now.

The only significant contract coming off the Cardinals' books this offseason is Brad Penny's one-year, $7.5MM deal, but they'll also save marginal amounts thanks to the expiring contracts of Jason LaRue and Felipe Lopez. Ryan Franklin's $3.5MM salary will disappear after next season, but that money will just be redistributed to Adam Wainwright when his 2012 option ($9MM) is inevitably picked up. It's worth noting that St. Louis did save itself a nice chunk of change both this year and next when it traded Ryan Ludwick to the Padres. 

Clearly, if the Cardinals plan to retain Pujols and field a competitive team long-term they're going to have to expand the payroll. Jumping into nine-figure payroll territory seems inevitable for the foreseeable future.

Ryan Franklin Plans To Retire After 2011

Ryan Franklin's $6.5MM contract keeps him under St. Louis's control through 2011, and when it expires, the right-hander isn't sure he'll sign another one, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss writes that, for now, the Cardinals closer is planning to retire after the 2011 season.

"I think I owe it to my family," Franklin said. "I've missed a lot of things that have been going on. I don't want to miss a lot more…. I'm financially sound. I don't see having to keep playing for that reason."

The 37-year-old currently sports a 2.40 ERA, along with 13 saves and a career-best 1.2 BB/9. He's enjoyed his best years in St. Louis, posting a 2.85 ERA and 69 saves in 232 appearances with the team since 2007. If he does indeed retire following the 2011 campaign, he'll have earned approximately $20MM in his major league career, according to Baseball-Reference.

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: Nationals, Yankees, Red Sox

If you read these very slowly, maybe they'll last until Opening Day!