Ryan Vogelsong Rumors

Quick Hits: Vogelsong, Royals, Lee, Erasmo

Ryan Vogelsong seemed to be on the verge of signing with the Astros before he eventually rejoined the Giants, and the righty hinted that there was something unusual about how negotiations broke down with Houston.  According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the issue was that after agreeing to sign Vogelsong to a one-year, $4MM deal, the Astros wanted to pay Vogelsong less after viewing the results of his physical.  Both Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and Vogelsong’s agent Dave Meier declined to comment to Heyman about the situation.

Here’s some more from around the baseball world…

  • The Royals are focused on winning now, which could change their handling of prospects Brandon Finnegan and Christian Colon, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan writes.  There is “a pretty healthy discussion going on within the Royals’ organization” about Finnegan, who could be a key left-handed bullpen weapon for K.C. this season, though such usage could also hurt his development as a future starter.  A similar argument could be made about Colon and whether he’d be better served playing every day at Triple-A or coming off the Royals’ bench as a utilityman.
  • Though he has a 2016 option that vests if he pitches 200 innings, Cliff Lee is entering his last guaranteed year under contract.  The Phillies southpaw told reporters (including David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News) that he’s hasn’t thought about what lies beyond the coming season.  “We’ll see what it brings,” Lee said.  “I definitely do not want to go out the way things happened last year, I don’t want that to be the way I finish my career, but at the same time I’m not going to sit there and try to fight that to get it done. I want to go out there and have fun and feel good and make it be a positive thing instead of it be a battle physically.”
  • Erasmo Ramirez is facing a roster crunch, as the out-of-options righty doesn’t appear to have a clear path to either a rotation or bullpen role with the Mariners, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes.  The M’s don’t want to lose Ramirez but Dutton hears from multiple rival officials that Seattle stands little chance of sneaking Ramirez through waivers and down to the minors.  The Mariners also don’t stand to get much of a return in a possible trade, as one rival exec rhetorically asks, “How much are you going to give up for a guy who is likely to be on waivers in a few weeks?
  • The Giants will certainly monitor the market for right-handed hitting outfield bats in the wake of Hunter Pence‘s injury, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes, though the club won’t jump to make a move.
  • Using 2014 attendance figures and Forbes’ evaluations of franchise values, Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards calculates each team’s “expected payroll” to see how clubs spend in relation to their markets.  The Tigers outspend their market by the most while the Yankees rank last, though Edwards explains that ranking is slightly misleading since luxury tax payments aren’t factored into the equation.
  • Besides division rivals or intra-market rivals, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (writing for FOX Sports) looks at other pairs of teams that rarely seem to make trades with each other.
  • Injuries to several relievers could result in one or two young arms getting a shot in the Diamondbacks‘ Opening Day bullpen, Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes.

West Notes: Vogelsong, Gutierrez, Doolittle

The Astros nearly signed Ryan Vogelsong, but after Vogelsong took his physical with the Astros, he went another direction and re-signed with the Giants. Vogelsong later said he “really wasn’t comfortable with what was going on” with the Astros, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes. Vogelsong’s agent, Dave Meier, later said Vogelsong simply meant he wasn’t comfortable with the fact that negotiations were falling apart. Vogelsong also later added that his wife wanted to stay in San Francisco. As Drellich notes, though, Vogelsong’s phrasing was odd, and it’s unclear exactly why the two parties weren’t able to agree on a deal. “[E]verything that’s happened to me this offseason — and one of these days I’ll tell you guys all about it, when we’re all sitting around having a couple beers 10 years from now when I’m done playing — and you’ll go, ‘There’s no way that happened,’ and I’ll say ‘Yup,’ and you’ll understand what I’m talking about,” Vogelsong says. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • The Mariners could still re-sign outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to a minor-league deal, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “He wants to give it a shot,” says assistant general manager Jeff Kingston. “Full disclosure, there are some veteran non-roster players we’re still talking to, and we probably will add a few more here before the start of camp.” The 31-year-old Gutierrez hit .248/.273/.503 in 2013, hitting a remarkable ten home runs in 151 plate appearances, but he missed the 2014 season with gastrointestinal issues.
  • Athletics closer Sean Doolittle has a slight rotator cuff tear in his throwing shoulder, MLB.com’s Jane Lee notes. He is not expected to be ready to pitch to start the season (Twitter links). Doolittle dominated for the A’s in 2014, posting a 2.73 ERA with a ridiculous 12.8 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings. The newly acquired Tyler Clippard, who had 32 saves with the Nationals in 2012, could perhaps get save opportunities for however long Doolittle is out.

Giants Re-Sign Ryan Vogelsong

While it looked for awhile that he’d be pitching elsewhere, right-hander Ryan Vogelsong will officially be returning to San Francisco in 2015. The Giants announced on Friday that they have re-signed Vogelsong to a one-year deal, which reportedly guarantees him $4MM and provides him the opportunity to earn more via performance bonuses.

Ryan Vogelsong

The 37-year-old Vogelsong, a client of agent Dave Meier, was originally drafted by the Giants in the fifth round of the 1998 draft and ultimately traded to the Pirates in the 2001 Jason Schmidt trade. Vogelsong struggled through parts of five seasons with Pittsburgh before eventually landing in Japan for three seasons. He came back to the States in 2010 but failed to latch on with either the Phillies or Angels on a pair of minor league deals. San Francisco brought him back that offseason, and Vogelsong’s emergence and All-Star nod in 2011 was one of the better stories of that season.

Including his 2011 breakout, Vogelsong has tallied 657 2/3 innings of 3.74 ERA ball with 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 over the past four seasons. He missed much of the 2013 campaign after being hit by a pitch on the hand and fracturing his finger, which required surgery. Vogelsong struggled to a 5.73 ERA that season but has otherwise been a reliable source of innings for manager Bruce Bochy’s rotation since establishing himself in 2011.

Where he fits onto the 2015 roster is a bit more complicated, however. The Giants expect Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum to comprise their rotation, and though Hudson and Cain are both recovering from surgery, the team has said that each is expected to be ready come Opening Day. Vogelsong could theoretically fill a swingman role, but Yusmeiro Petit excelled in that role in 2014, even setting a Major League record for most consecutive batters retired (46). It’s possible that one of the Giants’ mending starters may not be ready for Opening Day, but Vogelsong doesn’t appear to have a long-term rotation spot in place, barring an injury to a current starter or a shift of the struggling Lincecum to the bullpen.

Vogelsong looked at one point to be heading to the Astros, with reports even placing him in Houston earlier this week, but that deal did not come to fruition. He also drew interest from the Phillies and Rockies before returning to a more familiar setting.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported (on Twitter) that an agreement had been reached. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, who originally reported that a reunion between the two sides was likely, reported the $4MM guarantee (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Phillies Have Strong Interest In Chad Billingsley

The Phillies are expressing significant interest in right-hander Chad Billingsley, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. According to Salisbury, Billingsley has thrown for the Phillies recently, suggesting that there’s mutual interest in striking a deal. As Salisbury notes, Billingsley lives in the Reading, Pa. area, making Philadelphia a geographically appealing destination.

The 30-year-old Billingsley’s career has stalled over the past two seasons due to Tommy John surgery in 2013 and surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in 2014, but he was a key part of the Dodgers’ rotation from 2007-12. In his four best (and healthiest) seasons from 2008-11, Billingsley averaged 194 innings per year, posting a 3.73 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. Though he’s not a ground-ball specialist by any means, he’s registered a 46.3 percent ground-ball rate in his career, which one would think is appealing to the Phillies, given the homer-friendly nature of their home park.

Salisbury also adds that the Phillies have maintained contact with another local arm, Ryan Vogelsong, for much of the winter. However, Vogelsong has more recently been connected to the Astros and Giants, and the Giants appear likely to re-sign him according to the latest reports.

GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wouldn’t comment on his interest in Billingsley or Vogelsong when asked by Salisbury, but he did note that the club is looking for pitching depth — specifically “low-cost, low-risk, potentially high-reward type of guys.” Billingsley would seem to fit that description, as his asking price following a two-year stretch in which he has totaled just 12 Major League innings surely cannot be high. A one-year deal with a modest base salary and incentives based on innings pitched/games started would be the most logical expectation.


Ryan Vogelsong Likely To Return To Giants

3:22pm: The Giants and Vogelsong are working toward a one-year deal, and it seems likely to happen, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

THURSDAY, 11:07am: The Giants are in “active discussions” with Vogelsong, tweets Crasnick, though nothing is completed.

9:54am: The Astros have not been told that Vogelsong has decided to sign elsewhere, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). Houston appears to be waiting and watching at the moment, per the report.

WEDNESDAY: While yesterday it looked like Ryan Vogelsong was on the verge of signing a one-year deal with the Astros, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports now reports that the right-hander has “shifted course” and is in serious discussions with the Giants about a reunion (Twitter link). Earlier today, MLB.com’s Chris Haft wrote that San Francisco remained in contact with the 37-year-old Vogelsong.

Vogelsong spent the 2011-14 seasons in San Francisco, pitching to a 3.74 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 657 2/3 innings and winning a pair of World Series rings along the way. Those numbers were skewed somewhat by an injury-shortened 2013 campaign that saw Vogelsong post a 5.73 ERA in 103 1/3 innings, but he rebounded to a 4.00 ERA over the life of 184 2/3 innings in 2014.

The Giants appear to have a full rotation with Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum all in the fold, plus excellent swingman Yusmeiro Petit waiting in the wings as a safety net. However, both Cain and Hudson are on the mend from surgery, while Lincecum has deteriorated over the past three seasons and Petit has never thrown more than 117 innings in the Majors.


Astros Nearing Deal With Ryan Vogelsong

11:15pm: Drellich tweets that a deal with Vogelsong would be for one year, if it is ultimately finalized.

6:57pm: Nothing is likely to get finalized tonight, tweets Drellich. Meanwhile, Berman adds that Vogelsong is no longer in Houston, though he doesn’t specify how the physical went.

TUESDAY, 8:42am: Vogelsong and the Astros are nearing a deal but are still addressing the final details of the arrangement, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.

MONDAY, 10:44pm: Vogelsong is in Houston presently, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26. He declined comment on his situation with the club, per Berman.

6:07pm: Vogelsong is a “realistic option,” but nothing is expected to be wrapped up tonight, Drellich tweets.

5:40pm: The Astros are in “serious discussions” with free agent righty Ryan Vogelsong, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reported earlier today that Houston was not done with its roster, noting that a pitching addition was possible and that Vogelsong was a player the club had confirmed interest in.

Houston added some rotation depth today by dealing for a package that included former MLB starter Dan Straily. But the team is obviously still looking for innings.

Vogelsong, 37, has been a steady presence at the back of the Giants’ bullpen since re-emerging with a stunning season back in 2011. Though his results have been up and down, he has averaged 164 frames per year of 3.74 ERA ball, to go with a 3.92 FIP on the back of 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. And it is worth noting both that Vogelsong has posted fairly consistent regular season velocity figures (and was able to amp up his fastball into the mid-90s during the postseason.


Latest On The Market For James Shields

With Max Scherzer off the market following a historic seven-year agreement with the Nationals, all eyes will be on top remaining free agent James Shields and agent Page Odle leading up to Spring Training. ESPN’s Jayson Stark has spoken to a number of industry sources for his most recent look at Shields’ market, and he lists various reasons that the industry doesn’t expect Shields to end up with the Marlins, D-Backs, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Royals, Tigers, Rangers, Astros, Cardinals and Brewers (the Padres, at least, are listed as “possible, but not likely”).

Of particular note from Stark is that the D-Backs are actively trying to trim their payroll, rather than add salary; the Cubs are likely to look for another big-name starter, but not until next offseason; and the chances of the Marlins signing Shields are precisely “zero,” the latter of which meshes with a recent report from Grantland’s Jonah Keri.

Nonetheless, one executive to whom Stark spoke said he sees jumping back into the mix for Shields. However, one of the reasons, per that exec, is that teams believe Shields will have to settle for less than the $110MM that he reportedly was offered earlier this month and are revisiting the situation with the assumption that the price has dropped. Said Stark’s source, “But the problem is, now everyone is bottom-feeding. And when you’re someone like him, that’s the last thing you want, is a lot of teams bottom-feeding on you in late January.”

Regardless of the imperfect fits that litter the market for Shields, most executives tell Stark they can’t see Shields signing for anything less than $80MM over a four-year term, and nearly everyone to whom he spoke thinks that Shields could sign at virtually any time.

One club that won’t be signing Shields is the Giants, it seems, based on comments made by GM Brian Sabean earlier today on KNBR radio. As KNBR scribe Dieter Kurtenbach writes, Sabean plainly stated that while his club has wiggle room to add another piece, “it’s not going to be a high ticket item.” Sabean explained that while the team made a run at a pair of “high ticket” items in the form of Pablo Sandoval and Jon Lester, the team made the decision to spread the money throughout the roster. As such, the club acquired Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki to fill respective holes at third base and in left field, and Jake Peavy was re-signed to add some stability to the rotation. (Of interest to Astros fans may be Sabean’s statement of the fact that he believes Ryan Vogelsong is “going elsewhere as we speak,” as Vogelsong is said to be nearing a deal with Houston.)


NL Notes: Giants, Dodgers, Mets

The Giants are still looking for another starting pitcher, but probably not one in the Jordan Zimmermann / James Shields class. Instead, they could bring back Ryan Vogelsong, who remains on the free agent market, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes (Twitter links). The defending champs have had a quiet offseason overall, and in a long article, as Schulman explains. They tried to sign Jon Lester, but haven’t made similar pushes to sign Shields or Max Scherzer, since they felt Lester was the best gamble of the three (although Schulman leaves open the possibility that they could bid for Shields). They’ve pursued trades for Justin Upton and other players to help make up for the loss of Pablo Sandoval, but do not want to give up one or more of their better young players for a rental. That means the Giants might not make any big moves, perhaps waiting to add talent via trade during Spring Training or the regular season. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • The Dodgers are trying to acquire a late-inning relief option, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. Casey Janssen, Rafael Soriano and Francisco Rodriguez are among the top names remaining on the free agent market. The Dodgers have been active in trades this offseason, however, and one might think they could easily pursue an upgrade there rather than paying for an established late-inning type in free agency.
  • The Mets‘ shortstop situation might not be as bad as it appears, Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes. Assuming Wilmer Flores gets most of the playing time, the Mets only project to be a bit below the middle of the pack at that position, and many of the shortstops available one way or another this offseason (Stephen Drew, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, Yunel Escobar, and so on) came with significant offensive or defensive question marks. There are bigger-ticket options like Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond, but they would only be available to the Mets at steep prices. At least at the shortstop position, the Mets aren’t victims of complacency so much as they’re victims of a lack of options.

Quick Hits: Moncada, Zimmermann

The Giants have already held a private workout for Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. The Giants’ ownership is pushing for the team to get more involved in acquiring Cuban talent, Badler writes, and signing the 19-year-old Moncada, a very highly rated young talent, would be a splashy way to do just that. Of course, such a signing will have to wait for now, as Moncada still needs to be cleared by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control before he can sign. The Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Marlins have already been connected to Moncada. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • With Max Scherzer‘s signing and the impending trade of Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers, the Brewers could try to trade for Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes. The Brewers’ past trades for aces C.C. Sabathia and Zack Greinke helped key playoff runs, and Morosi thinks Milwaukee might be able to sign Zimmermann long-term, given that Aramis Ramirez, Kyle Lohse, Jonathan Broxton, Adam Lind and Gerardo Parra can all come off the books after 2015.
  • Teams are increasingly avoiding boom-and-bust cycles and are instead trying to build consistent winners, Alden Gonzalez writes for Sports On Earth. Teams are trying to avoid becoming the Phillies, now on the downswing after clinging to their veteran core. Instead, they’re trying to win both now and in the future, avoiding dramatic going-for-it moves as well as full rebuilds. The current postseason structure (with ten teams, including four Wild Card teams) encourages teams to try to get in but discourages making “all-in” moves, because making one’s way through the playoffs involves a high degree of variance. Gonzalez counts only two teams (the Tigers and perhaps the Blue Jays) pushing in all their chips in 2015, with only one (the Phillies) that isn’t really trying to compete. More emblematic, perhaps, of the current environment are the Athletics, whose offseason has blended future-oriented and win-now moves, and the Nationals, who have largely maintained a very strong team but geared their offseason toward sustaining their success beyond 2015.

West Notes: Gattis, Rangers, Astros, Padres, Dodgers

It’s been a hectic day in the AL West to say the least, with the Astros acquiring Evan Gattis from the Braves and the Athletics flipping the recently acquired Yunel Escobar to the Nats for Tyler Clippard. However, multiple reports indicated today that the Rangers were heavily interested in Gattis as well, and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram sheds a bit of light on those talks (Twitter link). Per Wilson, the Rangers were in on Gattis but balked at Atlanta’s asking price of right-hander and former first-round pick Alex Gonzalez and/or top outfield prospect Nomar Mazara (who received a hefty $5MM bonus to sign with Texas in 2011 and reached Double-A last year). In the end, the Astros landed Gattis for righty Michael Foltynewicz, right-hander Andrew Thurman and third baseman Rio Ruiz.

Here are a few more notes on Houston and the game’s Western divisions…

  • The Astros still have some money to spend, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and the team is currently looking at both the starting pitching market and at corner infielders. Astros fans with visions of elite starters in their minds should temper those thoughts, however, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the club is thinking more along the lines of back-end starters such as Ryan Vogelsong and Kyle Kendrick.
  • MLB.com’s Corey Brock spoke with Padres GM A.J. Preller and chairman Ron Fowler about the team’s flurry of moves this offseason. Specifically, Brock and Preller touched on how differently the offseason could have played out had the Friars secured their top target: Pablo Sandoval“You’ve got to be prepared to move on to Plan B, C, D or F or Z. We don’t have a [front-office] group that dwells on things too long,” Preller told Brock in reference to losing out on Sandoval, who signed with Boston. “…Each decision takes you down a slightly different path. … If we had signed Pablo, it would have changed our course a little bit. That’s just the nature of the offseason.” Fowler told Brock that Preller has often worked on four or five deals at once, and his approach was so tireless that right after acquiring Matt Kemp, Preller said to Fowler, “Let’s go after [Justin] Upton.” The Upton acquisition, Fowler said, was possible due to the fact that the Dodgers front-loaded the money they sent to San Diego in the Kemp deal, sending $18MM of the $32MM right off the bat.
  • Earlier tonight we noted Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi’s candid acknowledgment of the club’s pursuit of Yoan Moncada when speaking with Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio. The audio clip of that discussion is now available, and within it, Zaidi sidesteps a fairly loaded question about Max Scherzer and James Shields, to an extent, but acknowledges that the L.A. front office won’t close any doors. Said Zaidi: “I’m going to give you the same boring and annoying answer that I give to our local media — and they already love me for it — that we don’t comment on free agents that are out there. I will just say we’re not closing any doors at this point. I get asked a lot, ‘Are you guys done?’ And you’re never done. You’re constantly evaluating new options to improve the team, and we’re still in that phase. And if there’s a guy out there that we think makes us better and is available at the right price, we’ll absolutely consider it.”