Ryan Howard Rumors

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Jays, Bell, Davis, Dunn

On this date in 2002, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network launched. Although the regional network barely broke even that year, YES has gone on to generate millions in revenue, much of which goes right into the Yankees' pockets. As recently as 2008, there was talk that the network was worth more than the team itself.

After you wrap your head around that, here are some links to check out from around the baseball blogosphere…

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The 2012 Free Agent Class

Jeff Euston of Cot's Baseball Contracts recently posted an unofficial list of players who will become free agents after the 2011 season. That free agent class will be highlighted by a trio of first basemen: Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, and Ryan Howard, though there's a chance Albert Pujols will join them if he and the Cardinals can't work out an extension. 

Some other notable players scheduled to become free agents after 2011 include Jason Bartlett, Carlos Beltran, Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, Heath Bell, and Jonathan Papelbon. Robinson Cano, Yadier Molina, Grady Sizemore, and Matt Cain may also become free agents if their club options for 2012 are declined. 

Obviously a lot will change between now and then, but it's never too early to look ahead!

Olney On Howard, Pujols, Adrian, Chris Young

The latest from ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider required)…

  • Olney explains why the Phillies' internal discussions about offering Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols were accurate and newsworthy: "When you have confirmed information that the Phillies have discussed internally an avenue through which how they might pursue the best player in baseball — and you know exactly who said what to whom, and how sturdy the intent was — that is news."  Olney's information should be trusted despite the Phillies' denials, but keep in mind that this was simply one club's internal discussion.
  • Certain talent evaluators believe Adrian Gonzalez is so valuable given his contract that the Padres may not find a comparable return.  Some of Olney's sources believe the Padres should keep Gonzalez into 2011.
  • Olney's hearing Chris Young's velocity is back in its customary 87-88 mph range.  As the best-paid Padre and an impending free agent, Young has to be considered a midseason trade candidate.  He is earning $6.25MM this year with an $8.5MM club option for '11.

Discussion: Is A Howard-Pujols Swap Realistic?

The Phillies organization has internally discussed proposing a swap of Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols, sources tell Buster Olney of ESPN.  Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro shot the notion down, saying, "That's a lie.  I don't know who you're talking to, but that's a lie."  Olney stresses that it is not fully clear whether the Phillies have actually approached the Cardinals with the idea.

Both sluggers are 30 years-of-age and both are eligible for free agency following the 2011 season.  Pujols is owed $16MM in each of the next two seasons.  Howard, meanwhile, is set to make $19MM in 2010 and $20MM the following year.  While Pujols comes at a slightly cheaper rate in the next couple of years he (in all likelihood) would cost more to retain than Howard.

Olney points out that Howard is a St. Louis native, meaning that the Cards may be able to sell their fans on such a deal.  However, the Cardinals faithful have more or less adopted their three-time NL MVP, who is entering his 10th big league season with the club.

While owner Bill DeWitt wants to keep Pujols in red and white for life, an A-Rodesque $275MM deal might not be financially prudent for the organization.  One has to wonder if the Cardinals will have to consider trading their megastar.  If so, could a deal centered around Ryan Howard make sense?

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Adrian, Howard, Jeter

A year ago today, the Giants renewed reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum's contract for $650K. One year and a second Cy Young later, San Francisco bought out Lincecum's first two years of arbitration eligibility for $23MM. I'm sure they enjoyed paying him just six figures while it lasted. 

Let's take a look at what's being written around the baseball blogosphere…

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Amaro Jr. On Payroll, Lee, Howard

The Phillies have already committed $132MM to next year’s payroll, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that there are limits to how much the NL Champs can spend.

“The payroll can’t continue to go north,” Amaro said. “When you get to a point where you’re basically at 100 percent capacity in your ballpark and 100 percent capacity almost in your revenues, somewhere it’s got to stop.”

Payroll was a consideration in the Cliff Lee deal, but Amaro said potential compensation picks figured into the club’s decision to trade the left-hander. The Phillies expect Lee to sign with a high-payroll club and worried that the compensation picks would be late first rounders at best.

“You get after the 10th or 15th pick in baseball, you’re kind of rolling the dice,” Amaro said. 

Amaro knows he’s going to have to filter young players onto his team’s roster at some point, but he wants to keep Ryan Howard around “forever.” The first baseman is under team control through 2011, so the Phillies have more time to determine their course of action with Howard than they have for Jayson Werth, who hits free agency after this coming season.

Lincecum’s Arbitration Number: $23 Million Plus?

Yahoo's Tim Brown penned a column today about Tim Lincecum's likely record-setting arbitration case that included this tidbit from an unnamed baseball executive.  Lincecum's agents and the MLB Players' Union had discussed the possibility of submitting an arbitration figure of $23MM plus one dollar for the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner.  Why the extra dollar?  So Lincecum would be making 100 cents more than the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, C.C. Sabathia.  The symbolic number would reflect Lincecum's unprecedented success this early in his career.

As Brown notes, Lincecum and his team would almost certainly lose their case by posting such a high number.  Since the Giants' bid, however, is almost obligated to be in the eight-figure range, it seems guaranteed that Lincecum's final 2010 salary will exceed the record $10MM arbitration award given to Ryan Howard following his MVP season in 2007.

This could be all moot, of course, if the Giants don't let Lincecum get to arbitration in the first place.  It was previously reported that Lincecum was open to a contract extension in San Francisco, for an amount that would likely top Zach Greinke's four-year/$38MM deal with the Royals.  Brown speculates that a Lincecum extension could be closer to the three-year/$54 million contract that Howard signed with Philadelphia last February.

One almost hopes that Lincecum and the Giants don't come to terms so we can see, in the words of MLBTR's Mike Axisa, "the most awesome first year arbitration case in history."

Odds & Ends: Reds, White Sox, Shimizu

More Thursday linkage…

  • MLB.com's Mark Sheldon guesses the Reds will buy out Ramon Hernandez's option for $1MM, but then try to re-sign him.  Sheldon also runs through the upcoming important hot stove dates.
  • White Sox GM Ken Williams wouldn't reveal much about his offseason plans, talking to MLB.com's Scott Merkin.  "I'm always looking at all the possibilities," said Williams.
  • WEEI's Rob Bradford talked to Tim Wakefield, who is aiming for 200 victories.  He's 11 shy, so he could pull it off in 2010.  The Sox figure to exercise his $4MM option once again.
  • Ryo Shinkawa of NPB Tracker says 33-year-old righty Naoyuki Shimizu has MLB aspirations.  Shimizu posted a 4.42 ERA this year in 144.6 innings for the Chiba Lotte Marines, striking out only 88.
  • Cot's Baseball Contracts informs us that Ryan Howard will earn $50K for his NLCS MVP award.  Tack that on to his $15MM salary.

Odds & Ends: Ng, Thome, Blue Jays

Despite the threat of rain pretty much all day, the Yanks and Angels are playing in the Bronx. Here's a few links to check out between pitches…

  • SI.com's Jon Heyman tweets that Dodgers' assistant GM Kim Ng interviewed for the Padres GM job today. She's vying to become the first female GM in history.
  • The NLCS is bringing Jim Thome back to Philadelphia for just the second time since the trade that sent him to the White Sox prior to the 2006 season, and as MLB.com's Ken Gurnick explains, the Phillies were "somewhat divided internally" about whether to deal Thome, or the up-and-coming Ryan Howard back when the deal was made.
  • We still don't know if Cito Gaston will be back to manage the Blue Jays next year, but The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin provides some circumstantial evidence that Buck Showalter could end up replacing Gaston if he and the team part ways.
  • MLBTR is on Facebook and Twitter, so make sure you hit us up that way if you haven't already.

Giants Rumors: Lincecum, Sanchez, Penny

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News has the goods on the Giants, after speaking with GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy.

  • Technically, Sabean and Bochy's contracts are up at the end of the month.  They don't have commitments for 2010 in hand, yet the expectation is that both will be back.
  • In discussing Tim Lincecum's upcoming arbitration case, Sabean referenced Ryan Howard's record first-time award ($10MM) from February of '08.  Of course, with Howard, the Phillies screwed up by submitting only $7MM.  Sabean wants to file his salary request for Lincecum before discussing a long-term deal, so as to not show his hand early.
  • Closer Brian Wilson is another first-time arbitration-eligible player, and you have to think he'll jump up to $5MM+.
  • The Giants would like to restructure Freddy Sanchez's $8.1MM option into a two-year deal, but seem confident in his return.  Baggarly says they even consider the option as a fallback if the restructuring fails.  I can't see Sanchez getting $8.1MM on the open market.
  • A Brad Penny return appears unlikely.  If he sticks to the NL and the West Coast he'll be down to the Padres pretty much.  It'd also be surprising to see the Giants re-sign catcher Bengie Molina, who wants a two-year deal worth more than $6MM annually.
  • Sabean wouldn't rule out trading a pitcher for a bat, but said he'd agonize over such a decision.
  • Brandon Medders, Justin Miller, and Ryan Garko are non-tender candidates.  The Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner call-ups locked up two 40-man roster spots.
  • Quoting Baggarly: Sabean justified the $18.5 million contract he gave [Edgar Renteria] last winter by saying they needed a veteran shortstop."