San Francisco Giants Rumors

Giants Acquire David Huff From Yankees

The Giants have acquired lefty David Huff for cash considerations, the Yankees announced. Huff was designated for assignment on Wednesday to make roster space for Masahiro Tanaka.

Huff, 29, pitched to a 4.67 ERA in 34 2/3 innings for the Yankees last season. He was claimed off of waivers early in the year from the Indians, the only organization he had played for to that point. Of Huff's 69 career MLB appearances, 54 have been starts. But while he received two spot starts for Yankees in 2013, and also made 14 Triple-A starts, Huff spent most of his time in New York working out of the pen. 

Huff came to Cleveland as the 39th overall pick of the 2006 draft. Oddly, the southpaw has a significant reverse platoon split over his career: he has allowed a .797 OPS to righties, while lefties have knocked him around for an even .900 mark.


Giants Agree To Two-Year Deal With Joaquin Arias

FRIDAY: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (on Twitter) that Arias will earn $1.15MM in 2014 and $1.45MM in 2015. Arias will earn an additional $25K for reaching 325 and 350 plate appearances in 2014, though he's reached 325 PA just once in his career (2012 with the Giants) and has never hit the 350 mark in a single season.

THURSDAY: The Giants have avoided arbitration with utilityman Joaquin Arias by agreeing to a two-year deal worth $2.6MM, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area (on Twitter).

Arias, 29, exchanged arbitration numbers Friday of last week, with Arias submitting a $1.5MM figure and the Giants countering at $1.1MM. The MVP Sports Group client agreed to an average annual value at the midpoint of those two numbers, indicating that he was willing to sacrifice some potential earnings in 2015 for a guaranteed two-year payday.

In two seasons with the Giants, Arias has produced a .270/.296/.369 batting line with six homers and six stolen bases in 580 plate appearances. He's capable of playing shortstop, third base and second base, although he is only a plus defender at third base, according to Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. He'll remain the primary backup for third baseman Pablo Sandoval, shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Marco Scutaro as the Giants look to turn their fortunes and return to the postseason in search of a third World Series title in five years this coming season.

With this extension, the Giants have bought out each of Arias' remaining years of arbitration eligibility, meaning he will be a free agent upon its completion. Brandon Belt is the Giants' lone remaining arbitration case, as can be seen in MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker. He filed for $3.6MM, and the Giants countered with $2.05MM.


Minor Moves: Valdez, Graham, Iribarren, Morales, Jackson, Hensley

We'll keep track of today's minor moves here (information courtesy of MLB.com transactions page):

  • Righty Jose Valdez has inked a minor league contract with the Red Sox. The 30-year-old has seen 24 big league games with the Astros, but worked last year at Triple-A, putting up a 5.72 ERA in 39 1/3 innings. Valdez has shown the ability to miss bats (career 8.7 K/9), but also tends to miss spots (5.2 BB/9).
  • Tyler Graham, a 29-year-old outfielder, has signed a minor league deal with the Giants. Graham spent all of 2006-11 with the San Francisco organization, then split 2012 between the Giants and Diamondbacks. He got a cup of coffee with the D-Backs (two plate appearances), but ended up out of the MLB structure thereafter. Last year, he bounced between four Independent and Mexican League clubs. In his last full Triple-A season, 2011, Graham posted a .273/.337/.338 line with 60 stolen bases.
  • The Reds have signed a minor league deal with second baseman Hernan Iribarren. The 29-year-old Venezuelan received 29 plate appearances over 2008-09 but has yet to return. Last year, with the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate, Iribarren slashed .312/.367/.407 in 286 plate appearances.
  • Outfielder Angel Morales has reached agreement on a minor league contract with the Marlins. The 2007 third-round pick had spent his entire career with the Twins organization, reaching the Double-A level last year at age 23. Morales earned the promotion with a .297/.364/.525 start to the year in 234 High-A plate appearances, but failed to follow up in the penultimate level of the minors (.169/.230/.307 in 184 plate appearances).
  • The Nationals have signed southpaw Zach Jackson to a minor league deal. Now 30, Jackson saw 105 1/3 innings over the 2006-09 period after being drafted in the first round of the 2004 amateur draft. Jackson has bounced around the league, failing to stick as a starter. Last year, after converting full-time to relief for the Royals, he pitched to a 1.32 ERA in 41 innings at Double-A and Triple-A. Jackson managed a sturdy 2.57 K:BB ratio in 2013, but did so on the back of just 4.0 K/9 (against a career-low 1.5 BB/9).
  • Washington also signed righty Clay Hensley to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports on Twitter. The 34-year-old last saw MLB time in 2012 with the Giants, when he had a 4.62 ERA over 50 2/3 innings of relief. Over his career, Hensley has started 49 big league games and appeared in over 200 others out of the pen. He threw to a 2.57 ERA in 35 Triple-A innings last year with Reds and Brewers affiliates, registering 9.8 K/9 against 4.9 BB/9 in the process.
  • One player appears in MLBTR's DFA Tracker with an unresolved case: Carlos Peguero of the Mariners.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).

(more…)


Minor Moves: Guillermo Mota, Rafael Dolis

We'll keep tabs on minor moves around the league today right here:

  • After confirming the signing of Brad Penny, the Royals have announced that the club has inked another grizzled right-hander to a minor league deal: reliever Guillermo Mota. (Twitter links.) The 40-year-old last threw in the bigs in 2012 for the Giants. Since he started his career in 1999, Mota has made more relief appearances than all but five pitchers, the club noted in its press release. Mota receives a Spring Training invite.
  • The Giants have signed right-handed reliever Rafael Dolis and invited him to Spring Training, according to the club's list of non-roster invitees. Dolis, who just turned 26, had spent his entire career in the Cubs organization. He only saw five games in the bigs last year, but made 34 appearances in 2012. In his MLB career, Dolis has a 5.48 ERA in 44 1/3 innings pitched.
  • With the release of Vernon Wells, there are currently no players sitting in DFA limbo, as the MLBTR DFA Tracker reflects.

NL Notes: Amaro, Nationals, Cordier

Wondering what your team still can or should do to improve before the start of the 2014 season? ESPN.com's Jim Bowden lays out the "missing links" he sees for each of the National League's clubs. On the free agent side of things, he thinks that the Reds (Nelson Cruz), Pirates (Kendrys Morales), and Mets (Stephen Drew) could all stand to add an impact bat. Elsewhere around the NL …

  • In an interesting piece on Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that the Phils' top baseball man will continue to "take swings" at arguably risky acquisitions. "There are only so many chances to be a champion, and I will never stop believing that if you have a chance, you take the opportunity," Amaro says. "if you don't take a chance on Adam Eaton, then maybe you don't take a chance on Jayson Werth." (Of course, Amaro was referring to Eaton the retired pitcher, not the young outfielder by the same name.)
  • Amaro discussed his philosophies in relation to some of the club's recent moves, He acknowledged that the signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was a risk, but called him "a guy with a tremendous ceiling." And while Marlon Byrd will earn $16MM over two years to be "a decent role player" for Philadelphia, in Amaro's words, the GM explained that he had to balance the team's needs. "If I go get Carlos Beltran," said Amaro, "then I can't take a chance on Roberto Hernandez. We've got a lot of holes to fill, and our job is to try to make the right decision 70 percent of the time, not the wrong decision 70 percent of the time."
  • The Nationals recently added another bench piece in Jamey Carroll, and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post expects that the veteran will make the club out of Spring Training. But that does not mean that GM Mike Rizzo is done fiddling with his reserves, says Kilgore. Possible additions include a catcher, a left-handed bat such as Lyle Overbay, or a right-handed corner option like Mark Reynolds. Likewise, another southpaw reliever could still be added.
  • The powerful right arm of reliever Erik Cordier earned him a guaranteed deal with the Giants even though he's never thrown a big league pitch. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned that Cordier's new club had good reason to offer him a MLB deal, as two other clubs were likewise willing to use a 40-man roster spot on the 27-year-old. (Twitter link.) 

Pablo Sandoval’s Agent Forms New Agency

Gustavo Vasquez, agent for Pablo Sandoval, Salvador Perez, Luis Avilan, and others, left Morgan Advisory Group last year to form his own agency, MLBTR has learned.  Vasquez's new agency, SPS Sports Group, also represents Jeanmar Gomez, Miguel Socolovich, Edwin Escobar, Armando Galarraga, Victor Garate, Mauricio Robles, Adys Portillo, and Gorkys Hernandez.

Sandoval, 27, spent some time on the DL in June for a foot strain, but still managed his highest games played total since 2010 by appearing in 141 contests.  Sandoval hit .278/.341/.417 with 14 home runs in 584 plate appearances on the season, with the lowest isolated power mark of his career.  Having signed an extension in January 2012 covering only his arbitration years, Sandoval is in position to reach free agency after 2014 as a 28-year-old.  With a healthy campaign and offensive production closer to his career marks, Kung Fu Panda would be well positioned on the open market, though it's certainly possible the Giants will retain him.

For the latest on player representation, be sure to check MLBTR's agency database.


Giants Sign Loe, Gutierrez, Rosario

The Giants released their list of Spring Training invitees today, which included the minor league signings of right-handers Kameron Loe, J.C. Gutierrez and Sandy Rosario.

Loe, 32, posted a 7.09 ERA with 5.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 50.5 percent ground-ball rate in 26 2/3 innings for the Mariners, Cubs and Braves in 2013. A bloated 34.4 percent homer-to-flyball ratio was Loe's undoing last season, as it led to an unthinkable 11 homers in those 26 2/3 frames. Loe's career mark is just 13 percent in that category, and the league average was 10.5 percent, suggesting that he's due for some improved luck in that department. Loe isn't far removed from big league success, as he posted a 3.61 ERA in 229 1/3 innings from 2008-12 with the Rangers and Brewers.

Gutierrez, 30, pitched to a 4.23 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 42.6 percent ground-ball rate in 55 1/3 innings for the Angels and Royals in 2013. Formerly referred to as "Juan" rather than "J.C.," Gutierrez has 222 2/3 innings of Major League experience and spent a good chunk of the 2010 season closing for the Diamondbacks, collecting 15 saves in the process.

The 28-year-old Rosario saw the most extensive action of his big league career in 2013, totaling 41 2/3 innings of 3.02 ERA ball for the Giants. His ratios weren't as impressive as his ERA, as he averaged 5.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 to go along with a 44.7 percent ground-ball rate.

All three pitchers in this group will hope to win a spot alongside closer Sergio Romo and relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Santiago Casilla, each of whom is a lock for a spot in manager Bruce Bochy's relief corps.


Giants To Sign Dontrelle Willis To Minor League Deal

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that left-hander Dontrelle Willis will sign a minor league deal with the Giants (Twitter link). Willis is a client of Sosnick/Cobbe sports.

Willis, who turns 32 on Sunday, initially began the 2013 campaign pitching for the Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks but found himself in the Angels' Triple-A rotation to close out the season. Willis posted a 2.57 ERA in 87 2/3 innings for the Ducks but struggled to a 6.43 ERA in a small, 21-inning sample size with the Halos' Triple-A club. He's consistently battled command issues over the past several seasons and did so again last season, walking 14 batters in his 21 Triple-A innings.

"The D-Train" won National League Rookie of the Year honors with the Marlins back in 2003 as a 21-year-old, and two years later he had an NL Cy Young runner-up finish under his belt heading into his age-24 season. Willis regressed a bit in that 2006 campaign, saw his ERA spike over 5.00 in 2007 and was traded to the Tigers that offseason. It's been a struggle for Willis since 2007, as he's posted a 5.65 ERA in 404 1/3 Major League innings in that time.

There's virtually no risk in the signing for the Giants, and the upside with Willis is greater than with many non-roster invitees, even if it's been years since he has succeeded at the big league level. This will be his second minor league run with the Giants, as he inked a similar deal prior to the 2010 season that didn't pan out.


West Notes: McHugh, Astros, Mariners, Giants

Pitcher Collin McHugh has published a fascinating chronicle (at ESPN New York) of his year in baseball, which includes stints with the Mets and Rockies. McHugh ended the calendar year by getting claimed by the Astros, and at the end of his article, he lists what seem to be the key differences between the two franchises, at least for someone in his situation. One of the more interesting of those is that the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs is just 45 minutes from Denver, while the Astros' Triple-A team in Oklahoma City is six hours from Houston. That's not something a fan would consider, but it's part of the reality of life on the fringes of the big leagues. Here's more from the West divisions.

  • The Astros announced that they've named Kevin Goldstein their Director of Professional Scouting. They also named Stephanie Wilka their Specialist of International Operations and Associate Counsel, and Pete Putila their Coordinator of Baseball Operations. Goldstein, who joined the Astros organization in 2012, was previously a writer for Baseball Prospectus and ESPN.
  • The Mariners want to add a top-notch starting pitcher, and the Robinson Cano signing demonstrates a kind of "urgency" or "desperation," so their pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka could get wild, Jeff Sullivan of USS Mariner writes. The market for Tanaka could reach the point where paying his price no longer makes sense, though, and if it does, it might be better for the Mariners to sign someone like Ubaldo Jimenez for half of what Tanaka will cost.
  • It's unclear whether the Giants might consider signing Brandon Belt to an extension, but if they did, the Anthony Rizzo, Allen Craig, Paul Goldschmidt and Billy Butler deals might provide a basic framework, writes Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles. Belt is a Super Two, which means the Giants control him for the next four years, but at arbitration prices. Brisbee suggests a fair deal for Belt might be something like five years and $42MM, with an option for 2019.