Salomon Torres Rumors

GM Initiation: Neal Huntington

Neal Huntington took over as GM of the Pirates on September 25th, 2007.  He was active on the waiver wire out of the gate, but his first trade didn't come until December 7th.  Huntington struck a deal with the Brewers, sending reliever Salomon Torres to Milwaukee for pitching prospects Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts.

Huntington kindly answered a few questions for MLBTR about his first trade.

MLB Trade Rumors: Torres dropped his grievance before you took over as Pirates GM.  Did his request to be traded still stand?  If so, did it limit your leverage?

Neal Huntington: The reality was that we had very little to no leverage because we had a disgruntled 36-year-old relief pitcher coming off an injury-plagued and disappointing performance season that was due to make over $3MM. Despite acknowledging the lack of leverage and lack of quality market, we made the decision it was time to move beyond the player, work to re-allocate the dollars and get the best return we could for him. Obviously we dealt from weakness and it did not turn out the way we would have preferred.

MLBTR: What kind of relationship did you have with Brewers GM Doug Melvin prior to the deal?

Huntington: I knew Doug through baseball circles but did not have much of a relationship with him beyond a cursory level.

MLBTR: Torres considered retirement after learning he was traded to the Brewers.  Had he retired, would you have considered reversing the trade or compensating the Brewers somehow?

Huntington: Fortunately we did not have to work through an alternative scenario, but ethically we would have been compelled to consider alternatives.

MLBTR: What did you see in Salas and Roberts, the two relief prospects acquired for Torres?  In hindsight, were better players available?

Huntington: The scouting reports indicated both pitchers had good arms with potential major league caliber breaking balls but both were on the small side of ideal and had some command issues. A quick review of the list of players available at the time confirms that despite our efforts to ask for more, it was a limited selection pool due to the issues surrounding the player and our lack of leverage.

MLBTR: In your two full seasons as Pirates' GM, the team's relief ERAs have been at or near the bottom of the NL.  Revamping the pen by bringing in veteran free agents Octavio Dotel, Brendan Donnelly, D.J. Carrasco, Javier Lopez, and others this winter – did that represent a change in bullpen-building philosophy for you?

Huntington: The philosophy remained the basically the same but we had fewer internal options with which to build the 2010 bullpen. We believe building a bullpen is the most unpredictable and the most difficult part of a ball club to put in place. The inconsistency in the year to year performance of the large percentage of major league relievers makes it difficult to for a club with our resources to invest significant dollars or years into relievers. As a result, we look for subjective and objective indicators of potential bounce-back candidates and/or look to provide ourselves with different complimentary attributes (power arm (K’s) / ground ball guys / arm slots / etc.) to provide numerous options for our manager to utilize in the various leverage situations.

In 2008 we had a solid back end with Capps, Grabow, Marte and Yates but our middle relievers really struggled. In 2009 we had a few solid pieces but we had our struggles throughout all portions of the game. As we prepared for 2010 we wanted to add depth and complimentary options. We felt that Dotel could give us similar performance level for similar dollars and contractual control as Capps (despite the age difference). We liked what each of the free agents brought to the table as we constructed our bullpen and we felt that the addition of some veterans in the bullpen would help our young relievers mature into reliable high leverage relievers as well as provide us with much needed depth.

Thanks to Neal Huntington for his time.  Be sure to check out the other entries on the GM Initiation series: Jon Daniels and Josh Byrnes.

Odds and Ends: Thorman, Sabathia, Pettitte

Links for Tuesday…

Closer Roundup: K-Rod, Fuentes, Wood, Hoffman

Joel Sherman of the New York Post takes a look at the sudden surplus of potentially available closers in major league baseball, a situation that certainly benefits the Mets considering their need to upgrade the bullpen this offseason.

Two free agent closers that seemed destined to retire with their 2008 teams, Trevor Hoffman and Kerry Wood, now appear to be more available than was expected in October. That pair, along with Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes, give the Mets and other teams several options in free agency.

Other relief pitchers with experience in the 9th inning have been recently mentioned in trade rumors. The list includes Huston Street, who may move again before the 2009 season begins, along with JJ Putz, Jose Valverde, and Bobby Jenks, mentions Sherman.

Sherman also provides a short list of teams, beyond the Mets, that may need a reliever with closing experience for 2009. The Texas Rangers, seemingly always short on pitching these days, may be a good fit for Kerry Wood; the Detroit Tigers, the St. Louis Cardinals, and most recently the Milwaukee Brewers, faced with the sudden retirement of Salomon Torres, are also in need of 9th inning help.

Sherman suggests Fuentes may be the favorite for the Mets’ closing job at this point.

Odds and Ends: Perez, Torres, Beimel

Links for Friday, with an unplanned emphasis on relievers…

Salomon Torres Retires

According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Brewers reliever Salomon Torres has decided to retire to spend more time with his family.  He leaves a probable $3.75MM salary on the table.

Torres may not have been the Brewers’ choice for next year’s closer, but it’s still a big loss.  Eric Gagne, Guillermo Mota, and Brian Shouse are also free agents, so Doug Melvin has his work cut out for him.  Fortunately, the closer market is looking deep right now.

Brewers Acquire Torres

UPDATE, 12-10-07 at 10:08pm: No more Torres drama…he’ll join the Brewers for the 2008 season.

UPDATE, 12-8-07 at 12:06pm: Seems this story isn’t over.  Torres is contemplating retirement, in which case the Brewers would probably lose the two prospects for nothing.  Torres will talk it over with his family and take a few days to decide.

FROM 12-7-07 at 2:16pm:

According to Tom Haudricourt, the Brewers have acquired reliever Salomon Torres for minor league relievers Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts.

Torres turns 36 in March.  He threw a monstrous 280 innings in relief over 2004-2006, so it’s no surprise his elbow started barking in 2007.  His strikeout rate in ’07 was actually a career high, but his groundball rate decreased and he allowed a lot more home runs and hits than usual.  Torres makes $3.2MM in ’08 and has a $3.75MM club option for ’09.

Haudricourt actually wrote the Brewers’ top ten prospect list for Baseball America, so believe him when he says Salas and Roberts are good arms.

Will the Pirates keep dealing?  It’s known that relievers Damaso Marte and John Grabow are on the block.

Pirates Rumors: Bay, Morris, McLouth, Nady

Dejan Kovacevic and John Perrotto have the latest on the plans of Neal Huntington’s Pirates.

  • Both beat writers are saying not to expect Jason Bay to be traded at the Meetings.  It would be a sell-low move with bad PR.
  • Both also agree that Matt Morris staying put.  Kovacevic spins it as if the Pirates should actually want to keep Morris, while Perrotto’s sources suggest the Bucs would have to eat more than 70% of Morris’ contract to ditch him.
  • Kovacevic also suggests that the Pirates need Jack Wilson, and that’s why he won’t be going anywhere.
  • Relievers Salomon Torres, Damaso Marte, and John Grabow are available and drawing some interest.  Marte in particular interests the Yankees.
  • Chris Duffy can be had; the Braves and Marlins have previously expressed interest.  Maybe they’ll renew that with center field vacancies and a new Pirates GM.  Duffy will start in Triple A if he’s not dealt.
  • The Pirates are still talking to Shawn Chacon about returning.
  • Perrotto notes that interest in center fielder Nate McLouth is picking up, with the Padres and Marlins interested.
  • Xavier Nady won’t be non-tendered, contrary to previous reports.

Odds and Ends: Rolen, Silva, Capps

Here are some hot stove links to digest this evening.

Pirates Trade Rumors

Time for a Pirates roundup.  They deserve some love here at MLBTradeRumors.

  • Dejan Kovacevic reports that Salomon Torres‘s grievance against the Pirates may prevent the team from trading him.  On the off chance he wins the grievance, he would become a free agent and the acquiring team would be screwed.  While that scenario is unlikely, it does look like this thing needs to be resolved before any deal is made.  I imagine that if some team wanted him badly all the involved parties could figure something out.
  • The Bucs owe Shawn Chacon a phone call on whether they’re open to negotiating a contract extension with him.  Their lack of action speaks volumes; even Dave Littlefield isn’t going to sign Chacon for multiple years at $4MM+ per.  Chacon has managed to subdue righties this year and increase his strikeout rate significantly.  He’s still got lousy control though.  He’s a trade candidate but shouldn’t bring much.
  • On the other hand, Damaso Marte is known to be available.  He’d be helpful as a lefty-killer.  For Marte, Chacon, or Torres, the Pirates want a Major Leaguer of some sort (according to’s Mark Bowman).  Bowman says the Braves would get in on Marte if Littlefield would drop the price. 

Rockies Interested In Torres

Pirates’ reliever Salomon Torres has backed off his trade request, saying he wants to remain with the team for the rest of his career.  The positive feelings may have been sparked by an earlier-than-expected end to his rehab stint.  If healthy and reasonably effective Torres could be the Pirates’ most popular trading chip despite his newfound desire to stay.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Rockies have been interested in Torres for a while.  Torres has been worked hard in recent years, but he’s signed through ’08 at a reasonable rate.