Ryan Hanigan Rumors

Rays Acquire Ryan Hanigan, Heath Bell In Three-Team Deal

The Rays, Reds and Diamondbacks successfully completed a three-team trade today, the teams have announced. Tampa Bay acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan (and promptly extended him) from the Reds and Heath Bell (pictured) from the Diamondbacks. The Reds will receive left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks. Arizona, meanwhile, was able to shed Bell's salary and will receive minor league righty Justin Choate as well as a player to be named later or cash from the Rays.

Bell-Heath

It was expected that Cincinnati would move Hanigan since they agreed to a two-year deal with Brayan Pena.  The 33-year-old had the worst season of his career in 2013, batting just .198/.306/.261 and tying a career-low with two home runs. 

Hanigan will give the Rays three catchers with Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina already in the fold if Lobaton is not one of the outgoing players.  Molina is staying in Tampa Bay after agreeing to come back on a two-year, $4.5MM deal last month.

Hanigan has long been known as a patient hitter that is tough to strike out, as evidenced by a career 12 percent walk rate and 10.1 percent strikeout rate.  He also has a reputation as a solid defensive backstop, having led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent).  He is also regarded as one of the best in the game at pitch-framing, a skill that he has in common with new teammate Molina.

Bell, 36, is owed $9MM this year in the final season of an ill-fated three-year pact he inked with the Marlins prior to the 2012 campaign. However, Miami is on the hook for $3.5MM of that figure, so the Rays have him for $5.5MM in 2014 while Arizona has him off the books. Bell rebounded from a dreadful 2012 campaign, to an extent, this past season. The veteran closer posted a 4.11 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Bell saw improvements in his strikeout rate, walk rate and swinging-strike rate, giving the Rays hope that his so-so results were the product of unnatural BABIP and HR/FB marks.

Holmberg, 22, has spent most of the last two seasons at Double-A Mobile, where turned in a 2.75 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 26 starts this past season.  The lefty, who made his lone big league appearance on Aug. 27 vs. the Padres, was ranked as the No. 6 prospect in Arizona's system by Baseball America after the 2012 season.  Baseball America thinks highly of Holmberg's control and likes his chances of reaching his ceiling of becoming a No. 3 or 4 starter.

Choate, 22, posted a 2.88 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 40 2/3 in short-season Class-A this past year. It was the Stephen F. Austin State University product's first year of professional ball, as he signed with the Rays on a minor league deal out of independent baseball.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that Hanigan was going to the Reds in a three-team deal (Twitter link). John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer later tweeted that the Diamondbacks were the third team involved. The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro was the first to report the involvement of Bell and Holmberg (Twitter links). Rosenthal added that Holmberg would go to Cincinnati. Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reported that the Rays were the ones acquiring Bell (Twitter link). MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reported that Choate and a PTBNL or cash were headed to Arizona (on Twitter). Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted the financial details. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that the PTBNL is not on Tampa's 40-man roster. 

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rays To Extend Ryan Hanigan

2:06pm: Hanigan will get $2.75MM in 2014, $3.5MM in 2015, $3.7MM in 2016, and a club option worth $3.75MM in '17 with a $800K buyout, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter).

1:37pm: USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweets that Hanigan's contract is worth $10.75MM and contains a fourth-year club option that could push the deal to $13.7MM in total value.

1:34pm: The Rays have agreed to a three-year extension with newly acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). The Tom O'Connell client will be guaranteed $11MM over the life of the deal, per Olney.

Hanigan, 33, came to the Rays in a three-team deal involving the Reds and White Sox.  The veteran is coming off of the worst offensive year in his career as he slashed just .198/.306/.261 with a career-low tying two homers.  Hanigan offers Tampa Bay quality defensive play behind the plate as well as a disciplined approach at the plate, characteristics that Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and GM Andrew Friedman certainly appreciates.  

Hanigan led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent).  His 40 percent career mark is about 12 percentage points higher than the league average, which tends to be around 28 percent.  For his career, Hanigan owns a .262/.359/.343 over seven seasons, all of which were spent with the Reds.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Reds Likely To Move Ryan Hanigan

NOV. 15: Hanigan "is going to be traded," tweets Olney. Multiple teams are interested in Hanigan, and the Reds feel they can get a good prospect in exchange, Olney adds.

NOV. 8: The Reds have agreed to a two-year deal with free agent Brayan Pena, giving them three catchers on their 40-man roster: Pena, Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Hanigan. It appears that Hanigan is the odd man out, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears from a source that Hanigan is likely to be moved (Twitter link). ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Rays and Yankees, two teams with question marks at catcher this offseason, have liked Hanigan in the past.

Hanigan, 33, struggled through the worst season of his career in 2013, batting just .198/.306/.261 and tying a career-low with two home runs. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Hanigan to earn $2.3MM through arbitration this offseason, which should be a cheap enough sum for interested parties to take on. The main culprit in Hanigan's poor season appears to have been a .216 batting average on balls in play. That number figures to trend back toward his career mark of .283, especially when considering that Hanigan's batted-ball profile didn't radically change in 2013. In fact, Hanigan's 21.5 percent line-drive rate was actually a slight increase over his 2012 mark (21.2 percent) and is right in line with his career mark (21.9 percent).

Hanigan has long been known as a patient hitter that is tough to strike out, as evidenced by a career 12 percent walk rate and 10.1 percent strikeout rate. Detractors may point to the lofty walk rate as a product of him batting eighth in an NL lineup so often (one spot in front of the pitcher), but Hanigan's career walk rate in more than 300 plate appearances out of the seventh slot in the order is higher than his walk rate in 1,110+ PAs in the eighth slot.

Hanigan also carries a reputation as a solid defensive backstop, having led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent). His 40 percent career mark is about 12 percentage points higher than the league average, which tends to be around 28 percent. He's also known as one of the best in the business in terms of pitch-framing — an art he discussed at length with Ben Lindbergh for a Grantland piece back in May.



Red Sox Notes: Napoli, Payroll, Starters, Ruiz, Hanigan

Power bats are increasingly in short supply, both on the Major League free agent market and in the talent pipeline, writes Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. That could mean big dollars for this year's few legitimate power sources, says Gammons, chief among them Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli. So, is this a classic overpay situation? Maybe not, according to ESPN's Keith Law (subscription required), who pegs Napoli as one of the best values among corner infielders on the open market. Here's more from Boston …

  • Assuming that Napoli declines his qualifying offer, tweets Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, the Sox will consider other players on the market rather than focusing solely on bringing him back.
  • The Sox' 2014 payroll may be somewhat more constrained than appears at first glance, WEEI.com's Alex Speier explains. This is the first season in which revenue sharing funds will be clawed back from some large-market teams and returned to paying clubs — depending upon their staying below the luxury tax line. Ticking through the club's obligations, and adding some room to add salary during the course of the season, Speier figures the team can add around $32MM in 2014 salaries before the luxury tax becomes a big concern. Or, he notes, the club could shed salary from a relatively deep area like starting pitching to gain additional flexibility.
  • Indeed, while last year's rash of injuries to the starting-rich Dodgers and Boston's own fateful letting-go of Bronson Arroyo provide cautionary tales, there is a reasonable argument to be made for trying to ship out a veteran arm, writes the Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson. In particular, given the thin starting market and big salary demands being tossed around, the Red Sox might reap a substantial return for some of its hurlers.
  • Who would the Red Sox really target in free agency? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at several recently rumored possibilities, saying that catcher Carlos Ruiz could be a real target for GM Ben Cherington.
  • Assuming Boston isn't willing to top the market for Brian McCann, another backstop option is the Reds' Ryan Hanigan, MacPherson argues. The 33-year-old appears to be expendable after Cinci signed Brayan Pena to a two-year pact, and he could be a reasonably-priced, defensively reliable partner for David Ross

Quick Hits: Jackson, Cubs, Antonetti, Drew, Hanigan

Theo Epstein admitted that the Cubs "got a little ahead of ourselves" in signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52MM contract last winter.  In response to a fan's question at a season ticket-holders event in Chicago, Epstein said the team “didn’t fully understand the scope of our situation, the overall situation with the timing of our business plan, the timing of our facilities and the timing of our baseball plan."  (hat tip to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times).  The Jackson signing was seen a surprise move for the rebuilding Cubs and it hasn't worked out thus far, as Jackson posted a 4.98 ERA over 175 1/3 IP in 2013.

Here are some more items as we head into the weekend…

  • Epstein told reporters (including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat) that he expects Jackson to be a positive for the Cubs next season, though he noted that the team plans to add more "quality" starting pitching this winter.  "Every starting pitcher we acquire is someone we hope is starting Game 1 of the World Series for us," Epstein said.
  • The Indians' biggest needs this winter are bullpen pieces and a complementary bat, Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti tells Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link).
  • Scott Boras scoffed at projections that Stephen Drew would only find a three-year contract this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes.  "A three-year deal, for a 30-year-old free agent, really?  Are these writers aware of what Elvis Andrus signed for?", Boras asked.  The Andrus comparison isn't as entirely outlandish as it first appears, since Andrus' eight-year, $120MM extension with the Rangers is only guaranteed for four years and $62MM since Andrus has opt-out clauses.  Still, even that price tag seems quite high — MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted Drew for a four-year, $48MM deal this winter and that was with reservations about the fourth year and the draft pick compensation attached to Drew's free agency.
  • Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan could be a better catching option for 2014 than Jarrod Saltalamacchia even aside from the financial considerations, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron opines (Twitter links).  Hanigan actually has a higher career WAR than Saltalamacchia (8.3 to 6.9) and could be available in a trade, while "Salty" could cost a team around $36MM in free agency.
  • The Dodgers should at least consider trading Yasiel Puig, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon argues.  He would certainly net more in a deal than any club's higher-priced outfielders and the Dodgers could be selling high on Puig since it's unclear whether his style of play will age well.
  • The Angels don't have much payroll room to make big changes for 2014 but MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby thinks the Halos might only need a few tweaks to contend.
  • The Tigers aren't likely to re-sign Ramon Santiago, MLive.com's Chris Iott reports, as the team has younger and cheaper utility infield options available.  Santiago, 34, has played for Detroit since 2006 and spent 10 seasons overall with the Tigers as a backup or part-time starter in the middle infield.

Red Sox Links: Beltran, Hanigan, Hanrahan, Rotation

Multiple reports indicate that the Red Sox are interested in Carlos Beltran, though the extent of that interest is somewhat up in the air. George A. King III of the New York Post reports that Boston is "aggressively" pursuing Beltran but are receiving early competition from the Yankees and Orioles. Elsewhere, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo tweets that the Red Sox do indeed have interest in the eight-time All-Star, but a team source tells him they haven't been very aggressive to this point. Here are some more BoSox items for your Friday morning…

  • Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen appeared on WEEI's Hot Stove Show on Thursday to discuss David Ross and other internal catching options, how other teams may try to copy Boston's offseason strategy from last year and how the team could be more open to giving up their first round draft pick in order to sign a qualifying offer-rejecting free agent.  WEEI.com's Alex Speier has a partial transcript of the interview.
  • Another catching option could be Reds backstop Ryan Hanigan, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes.  Hanigan is expected to be shopped now that Cincinnati has signed Brayan Pena, and Hanigan's defense and on-base ability would certainly be of interest to the Red Sox.
  • Joel Hanrahanspoke with WEEI.com's Rob Bradford and discussed how difficult it was to watch from home in October this season — the first time one of his teams had ever been to the playoffs: "…I didn’t want to take time away from the trainers who are trying to keep the guys on the field who are playing. I didn’t want to be in the way. It was tough for me, but it was a whole heck of a lot of fun watching at home and seeing the success they had." Hanrahan said he's received calls from multiple eams already to check in on his rehab and spoke highly of Boston's training staff and the organization as a whole. According to Bradford, Hanrahan is throwing from 120 feet and hopes to have a few bullpen sessions under his belt prior to the onset of Spring Training.
  • The Sox may have six competent starters under contract for next season — Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster — but GM Ben Cherington told MLB.com's Ian Browne that he doesn't envision trading one of them this winter.
  • Barring a trade of Dempster or Peavy, WEEI.com's Alex Speier figures that the Red Sox will have just over $32MM to spend and still successfully avoid this year's $189MM luxury tax threshold. That number, theorizes Speier, could be the reason that the Red Sox couldn't afford to gamble on making qualifying offers to all three of Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Saltalmacchia, of course, was the odd man out and didn't receive a qualifying offer.
  • In a separate piece, Speier provides an excellent breakdown of the CBA's calculation of average annual value for luxury tax purposes, explaining how Lester's AAV next season will jump to $9.37MM now that his option has been exercised.

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post


AL East Notes: Smith, Hanigan, Yankees, Orioles

Exactly one year ago, the Rays and Cubs finalized an eight-player deal that sent Matt Garza to Chicago. 365 days later, Garza is on the block again, though so far teams have balked at the Cubs' asking price. Could Garza be back in the AL East before Opening Day? While we wait to find out, here are a few links from the division:

  • Although we heard in recent weeks that Tampa Bay was interested in Rockies' outfielder Seth Smith, the Rays may not have held onto Smith had they acquired him. According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider link), one deal discussed earlier in the winter involved the Rays trading for Smith and flipping him to the Reds in exchange for catcher Ryan Hanigan.
  • Newsday's Ken Davidoff explains why the Yankees haven't made a move for one of the top starting pitchers (including Garza) available via free agency or trade.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com looks into the Orioles' search for a designated hitter.
  • Check out this morning's Red Sox notes here and last night's AL East notes here.

Angels Eyeing Hanigan In Search For Catcher

The Angels have been interested in a number of free agent pitchers this offseason, both starters and relievers, and now they're looking for an entire new battery. ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Halos have intensified their search for a catcher, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says they have their eye on Ryan Hanigan of the Reds (Twitter links). 

Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson, and Hank Conger are on the team's 40-man roster, but Mathis is a non-tender candidate and Wilson is a .206/.268/.344 career hitter in 116 big league games. Conger is one of the team's top prospects, but he might not be ready to catch everyday after hitting just .204/.284/.345 in limited time with the Angels over the last two seasons. Hanigan, 31, has hit .275/.371/.368 in 287 games with Cincinnati over the last five years. Rosenthal says the Reds could re-sign Ramon Hernandez if they move Hanigan.

As our Free Agent Tracker shows, backstops like Kelly ShoppachIvan Rodriguez, former Angel Jose Molina, and Hernandez are available on the open market. Hernandez will be treated as a Type-B free agent thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, so it will not cost a draft pick to sign him.


Rosenthal On Willingham, Upton, Reds, Twins

It's the middle of June and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link) says that teams aren't sure if they'll be buying or selling as the deadline approaches..

  • The Athletics certainly look like sellers but they're not ready to just give players away.  Three of their more attractive hitters, David DeJesus, Coco Crisp, and Josh Willingham all make $6MM or less, salaries that are not prohibitive.  The A's can keep all of them, offer them arbitration, and then collect draft picks if they go elsewhere.  Right now, Willingham is the only one of the trio that projects as a Type A free agent.
  • The Rays could sell even while in contention if they believe that they can build something better for the future.  B.J. Upton remains a difficult call for the club.  Desmond Jennings, their top prospect, wouldn't provide as much of an impact.  At the same time, Upton is likely to make more than $6MM next season in arbitration.  Tampa Bay could wait until the offseason to move him but they might get more value if they act sooner.
  • If the Reds wanted to get creative, they could move one of their catchers for starting pitching and promote prospect Devin Mesoraco.  However, the combination of Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan is one of their strengths and they might not want to disrupt the chemistry between their pitchers and catchers.
  • The Twins are at the bottom of the AL Central but GM Bill Smith says that the team still believes that it's in the race.  It also helps that Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and Joe Mauer are all expected back soon.  Minnesota isn't ready to pack it in just yet, and they're not quite ready to be mid-season sellers.

Only One Extension For Catchers This Offseason

Extension season might not be over yet, but if recent history is any indication, we've seen most or all of this spring's extensions. You have to go back to 2008 to find an extension completed in May or June, so there's a chance that Ryan Braun's deal will be the last one of its kind for a few months.

If that's the case, 37 players will have signed extensions since the beginning of the 2010-11 offseason. Exactly one of those players, Ryan Hanigan of the Reds, is a catcher. It's noteworthy, if not downright surprising, that no starting catchers signed extensions when you consider that dependable catching is hard to come by and that teams spent aggressively last winter.

Unlike the 2009-10 offseason, when the Twins extended Joe Mauer, no backstop was an obvious candidate for an extension. Mike Napoli is getting expensive and he doesn't have a reputation as a good defender. Matt Wieters hit just .249/.319/.377 last year, so it's understandable that the Orioles didn't commit to him on a mutliyear deal. And it would have made little sense for the Indians to extend Carlos Santana, who had an operation to repair a damaged knee ligament (his LCL) last August.

Buster Posey was an extension candidate, but there's no rush for the Giants to extend him, since he's under team control through 2016. Perhaps the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year will be in line for a long-term deal after 2011 if he repeats his breakout rookie performance.

Geovany Soto would have been a more traditional candidate for an extension. He hit .280/.393/.497 with 17 homers last year and was arbitration eligible for the first time in his career after the season. Soto is young enough for the Cubs to want him to keep him around (28) and close enough to free agency that they might be thinking about securing his services for an extra season or two (Soto is eligible for free agency after 2013). They didn't agree to terms on a long-term contract and instead signed a one-year, $3MM deal.

Given the circumstances surrounding each extension candidate, it's easier to see why Hanigan was the only backstop to sign long-term. Next year, however, more catchers, including some of the ones above, could sign extensions. Elite catchers don't hit free agency often, so the teams that develop catching may choose to keep it in place long-term by offering promising catchers extensions.